No Other Dish The Same: Sesame Noodles with Sweet Peppers and Cucumbers

This polar vortex business has been no joke in my apartment. Yesterday morning I woke up to my windows looking like this.

From the INSIDE. Needless to say, I haven't been wanting to cook, much less set foot in my apartment
(unless I've been wrapped up in my bed under three blankets). Yet I had a mission today - to make a dish for book club. I cooked in my kitchen with a space heater right nearby.

I settled on Cook's Illustrated Sesame Noodles with Sweet Peppers and Cucumbers. I can't actually link to the website since it's members only, but if you like the sound of this recipe, let me know if you want to read the whole thing and I'll send it to ya.

I really like Cook's Illustrated because they always tackle recipes like they are detectives on a case they're ready to crack. They always start with the problem ("The problem with noodles is usually that they're gummy and pasty...") and then they explain, step by step, the solution. As long as you follow each direction exactly, there's no way you can screw up a Cook's Illustrated Recipe. If you know me at all, you'll see where I'm going here.

Anyways, the recipe is fairly straightforward. You take sesame seeds, garlic, chunky peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and water and blend them all together to make a sauce.

You chop up the pepper, cucumber, scallions and carrots. See all my little bowls of pre-prepared veggies? Very chef-like, don't ya think? The lack of counter space means my stove doubles as a counter.

You then cook the noodles. You can just use plain old spaghetti, which is what I did. I got kind of impatient waiting for them to cook. A watched pot never boils...

Next came the one step that I ultimately forgot. Cook's Illustrated says to rinse the noodles in cold water so they aren't gummy and stuck together. I was so fixated at that point on the fact that I didn't have sesame oil (a major ingredient in sesame noodles) that I totally ignored that step. I settled for olive oil instead. Major Cook's Illustrated fail.

The result? Kind of exactly what Cook's Illustrated warned me about. The pasta stuck together in one big chunk. However, once I got to book club, I borrowed some of my friend's sesame oil, drizzled it on top, managed to divvy the dish amongst my friends, and it was ultimately tasty.