Maybe it’s because I spent part of my childhood in backseat of our family’s Buick station wagon, driving back and forth from Denton to Fort Worth to eat Chinese food at Jimmie Dip’s, but Asian food has always been one of my top comfort foods. I love the balance of sweet, salty, acidic and spicy — it’s how I get my chile fix on a regular basis. Plus I’m no longer intimidated by making it at home. I learned awhile back it’s just like any other type of cuisine. Once you stock up on the key ingredients, putting together something new is pretty easy to do.

Like this cold noodle dinner I made the other night, with leftover chicken from GoGo Poulet (my new favorite rotisserie place — a bright red food truck that appears on market days each week), leftover roasted sweet potatoes, and a couple of handfuls of raw spinach. You can already see that there was little real cooking going on here. It was all about the assembly, which took maybe 5 minutes, tops.

Now that the temperatures in Paris are truly summerlike — it was 90 degrees yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be in that neighborhood for the next week or so — I’m looking for what I can make that’s cold, light, and on the healthy side.

And what doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen — and yes, I know this looks complicated, but I swear, it’s not. You might need to go to the market for a few things or to the Asian grocer, but once you’ve got everything you need, it comes together in a flash.

Cold Noodles with Chile Oil and Miso-Tahini Sauce

 Makes 1 serving (can be easily doubled)

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces Thai rice noodles, soba noodles or vermicelli
  • 1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • ¼ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Chile Oil, recipe follows
  • Miso-Tahini sauce, recipe follows
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  1. Chop your sweet potato into 1/4-inch cubes, and put them on a cookie sheet. Add the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, flipping the potatoes over halfway through cooking so they brown evenly. Let the potatoes cool.

 Time saver: do this step in advance and refrigerate.

  1. Put a medium pot of water onto boil. Add the noodles and turn the heat down to medium. Let the noodles cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they’re cooked through but slightly al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse immediately with cold water.

Time saver: do this step in advance and refrigerate.

  1. When ready to assemble, simply toss the cold noodles with the Chile Oil and put in a bowl along with the cold chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, cilantro, mint and lime. Sprinkle peanuts and chopped green onion on top of the whole shebang and spoon some of the Miso-Tahini sauce over it all, too. Eat with chopsticks. It’s more fun that way.

Chile Oil

Makes 1 cup

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit

  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced (seeds included)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil

Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the onions brown, about 15 minutes. Let the oil cool in the pan, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

Miso-Tahini sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • ½ tablespoon red miso paste
  • a few drops sesame oil

Put the tahini, miso and sesame oil in a glass measuring cup. Add as much warm water as needed — I used 1 to 2 tablespoons — to reach a spoonable consistency.




When it comes to homemade cookies, I can never decide which ones I like best — peanut butter, chocolate chip, or oatmeal. I’ve put chocolate chip in peanut butter cookies before and they might be the front runner most of the time, but I also love the texture of an oatmeal cookie.

I don’t know why I’ve not put them all together into one cookie before. It’s so obvious. And thanks to my grandmother’s original recipe, which I only tinkered with slightly, they truly are as good as I thought they’d be, which isn’t always the case with cookies. I like my cookies crunchy, so I let these go slightly browner than you might, and if you’re a dipper, this the way to go. If not, just take them to the earliest stage of brown, and you’ll have that classic crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle cookie.

I think I’ve just talked myself into making another batch.

PB Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 6 dozen

  • 1 cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I like Skippy crunchy)
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick)
  • 1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  1. Cream the butter and the two sugars until fluffy and light. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the peanut butter and mix until well combined.
  1. Sift the flour together with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add this to the dough and mix just until the flour is incorporated. Don’t overmix. Now add the oatmeal and chocolate chips and either stir this in by hand (so you don’t overmix the flour into the dough) or, if using a stand mixer, turn it on and off once or twice to combine these two last ingredients.
  1. Spoon the dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, leaving 2-inches between them. Gently press down the dough so the tops are flat before you put the cookie sheet into the oven. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. Let the cookies cool on a rack.

Cowgirl Tip: You may make the dough ahead of time and scoop into balls and freeze to cook later (same temperature and a minute or two longer) or keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and then bake it off.



Pizza Dough: A Half-Baked Idea

June 7, 2015

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been playing around with pizza dough, trying to figure out how to replicate the pizza I learned to make in Sorrento. What I’ve learned is this: making great Neapolitan-style pizza at home is easiest when you have a smokin’ hot oven. Even better, if you have a wood […]

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Neapolitan Pizza Sauce

May 14, 2015

I’m just back from Sorrento, which is pizza country, pizza centrale, where the thin, crispy, wood oven-baked pizza that we all love, Neapolitan-style, comes from. If there’s one thing in the world that I love as much as tacos, it’s pizza. I thought I knew all there was to know about pizza. I’ve been making […]

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Mon Petit Jardin

May 4, 2015

Last week, my friend Cat brought me some herbs from Normandy, and I thought, “Excellent! I can put these right outside of my kitchen window in a sweet little window box and that’ll be so handy!” Then I realized the dryer won’t let my large vertical window open more than a few inches, so I […]

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April 27, 2015

Rose has become a Frisbee dog. When she was first learning to catch the it’s-not-a-ball (!) but flying disc at the little park down the street from where we were living in Santa Fe, she’d quickly get tired and declare the Frisbee fetch over. Now we play every afternoon at the Bois de Boulogne and […]

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Roasted Potatoes with Ramp Pesto

April 7, 2015

“Hello, Texas!” shouted the vendor at my new favorite vegetable stand when he saw me walk past with my dog Rose in tow. I waved back.  “Bonjour! Ca va?” I said, and took my place at the back of the line. Then I saw these gorgeous green leaves popping out of the corner of the box of deep […]

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Lazy Bones Salad

April 3, 2015

About a half-bag of roquette. Parmesan curls. A small handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted. Some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. The add-ons: leftover olive fougasse, warmed in the oven till crisp, and the end of the baguette from the day before that, with fresh chèvre and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes. Perfect for those nights when […]

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Almost Salade Nicoise

March 20, 2015

Of course, if this were an authentic salade Nicoise, there would be potatoes. There would also be anchovies.  Haricots verts. Maybe some tomatoes. And the olives would not be Kalamata, which these are; rather, the smaller Nicoise. So I know this is something else, but it is very close, and more than that, it’s really good, […]

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Broccoli Spinach Soup with Lime

February 27, 2015

Because I can be a little obsessive, and because I love broccoli and spinach, this soup has both. Maybe I just forgot about all the rain and gray, but I don’t remember such a wet patch like the one we’ve been having and are still in the midst of. It’s been messy. And mostly cold, but […]

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