Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Party food

So, this past weekend, I had a party for everyone (in the general area) who has ever purchased a puppy from me, plus other friends who have Cavaliers. I think we wound up with about 20 dogs, all Cavaliers, and maybe fifteen people. Sorry, I was too distracted to take pictures of the crowd!

But I made (among lots of other things) a really great and very easy dish that I have used for parties at least half a dozen times, and since I still haven’t finished reading all the Hugo-nominated novellas and can’t post about that, I thought I’d take this post to share that with you. After all, I know some of you cook! And everyone can use a great party recipe, right? This is always popular, and if there isn’t any left over, I always wind up making it again right away just for me.

Szechuan Sesame Chicken, otherwise known as Szechuan Cold Noodles

12 oz angel hair pasta
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb chicken breast
1/2 C tahini OR 1/4 C each tahini and peanut butter
4 tsp minced fresh ginger, and by the way the best way to store ginger is in a jar in the fridge, peeled, sliced, and covered with rice wine (or vodka). It lasts nearly forever that way.
6 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground, or 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorn oil, optional — I get things like this at a place called Global Foods in Kirkwood, an eighty mile drive that is so worth it.
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp chili oil (or more)
4 Tbsp sesame oil
6 Tbsp soy sauce (Kikkoman is always a good choice)
4 Tbsp sugar
1/2 C. sliced green onions
1/4 C. toasted sesame seeds, optional

Cook the angel hair al dente and toss with 1 Tbsp sesame oil. Set aside.

Poach the chicken — cover it with water, bring it to a simmer, simmer very gently fifteen minutes, turn off the burner and let set, covered, until cool enough to shred. Shred the chicken. Set aside.

Combine the tahini with the ginger, garlic, Szechuan peppercorns, rice vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar. Whisk to blend.

Toss angel hair with chicken, sauce, green onions, and toasted sesame seeds.

This dish is supposed to be served at room temperature, which is one thing that makes it such a great choice for parties. One great way to make it is to poach the chicken and make the sauce ahead of time, and chill both separately. Then at the last minute cook the angel hair and toss the hot pasta with the cold chicken and sauce, plus the green onions and sesame seeds. Poof! The dish will wind up exactly the right temperature.

I also made a salad with wheat berries, garbanzos, and broccoli, and Israeli couscous with mint and lemon (it mellowed too much and I should have added a little more lemon juice, salt, and sugar, but I guess it was okay), and a smoked salmon roulade, and . . . um, what else? Well, a cheesecake and chocolate gingerbread, I know that. And dog biscuits!

We had beautiful weather (by some miracle), and it was SO MUCH FUN watching some of the dogs who live in homes with small yards really find their hunting instincts kicking in once they had an acre-and-a-half yard to explore. And of course I love seeing my puppies come back to visit! I’ll definitely do this again sometime.

Still involved with the Black Dog short story I’m working on, I figure two more days for that, but at some point I MUST read the other Hugo nominees! So far I love the Sanderson novella.

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