Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sushi and Onigiri (Rice Balls)

I am a HUGE avocado fan and that means I LOVE avocado sushi. I had a few avocados lying around so I made some sushi out of them.Very simple but very delicious! I felt a little creative so I added a few delicate touches of mayonnaise and (fake) caviar for some fun flair. Fake caviar is vegetarian-friendly, with the exact aroma and taste of salmon or sturgeon, minus the killing and extraction of the fish's belly. The little pearls are made from kelp extract and is a result of molecular gastronomy. You can find some here.
The remaining sushi rice I used to make onigiri, a Japanese snack that usually has some sort of filling or served plain with seasonings or dried seaweed.

Avocado Uramaki, topped with mayo and salmon eggs (veggie)

Avocado rolls with tempura bits

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chewy Caramel Almond Candy

Um...I actually have no idea what this would be called but it's a type of candy in Vietnam that originally has peanuts and chewy caramel sandwiched between two thin pieces of rice wafers. My mom wanted to make this after we found ready-made wafers at the Italian supermarket. Instead of peanuts, we used almonds, roasted and arranged on the wafer rounds, which I then smothered with the caramel. I never made chewy caramel before so this was something new for me. And my verdict? I loved it. Buttery and not too sweet cause of the little bit of salt added. My mom and I want to sprinkle on some course sea salt in our next batch for an extra kick in the tastebuds. Yum Yum Yum!!!

Chewy Caramel

1 cup corn syrup or 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup agave nectar
1 cup of sugar
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp vanilla

In a non-stick pot or saucepan, combine all ingredients and leave the heat on medium-high until the mixture begins to boil. Stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the mixture seems thickened, golden and all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup butter, on medium heat, until the mixture is foamy and light. Remove from heat, and stir until the tiny bubbles disappear and leave to cool for around 2-3 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the spoon. Pour on the pre-arranged almonds and wafer, careful to no go over the edge.
Let to set completely for 2 hours or over night.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Loaded Vegetable Lasagna

My dinner.
Lasagna, layered with tomato sauce, white sauce, ricotta, and vegetables. Yum, yum, yummeh!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Che Troi Nuoc-Glutinous Dumplings in Ginger Syrup

Also known as "Che Xoi Nuoc" in the southern regions of Vietnam, the dessert literally means "floating in water" dessert, due to how the dumplings rise or "float" to the surface of the boiling water as soon as it is cooked.
This is a dish that my grandfather loved when he was with us and since today was 3 weeks since his passing, as an offering, I made him his favorite dessert.
The dough is made of glutinous rice flour and water, mixed to the right dough consistency. Each dumpling is filled with a slightly savory filling of mashed mung beans, salt and deep fried leeks. Afrter the dumplings are boiled and cooked through, they are let to simmer in a pot of palm sugar, water, and ginger until the syrup browns and sweetens the outside of the dumplings. This dish is usually served with a coconut reduction and toasted sesame seeds but my grandpa always opted out of those condiments, so I made it without.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yellow Sweet Potato Bead

It's been so long since I made bread...I've been stressed out with school and some financial mish-mash so I needed a stress reliever and kneading dough was it. There's just something so satisfying about it, punching out the air-bubbles and kneading that sucker with all my might...
Check out my other bread page!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quick and Easy Noodle Soup

My favorite type of comfort food is noodle soup, especially when it is freezing cold and I just got home with a frazzled brain due to an exam. This egg noodle soup that I whipped up used instant noodles that I found in my pantry, discarding the soup base packaging and cooking up my own soup stock using water, sesame oil, mushroom granules, salt, pepper, mushrooms and broccoli (or whatever vegetable you have in your fridge like carrots, bok choy, cauliflower, etc. or if need be, veggie stock). I found some frozen veggie bbq pork and I defrosted that to use as a toppingg, along with an egg, leek and fried onions.
All this took me 10 minutes. It`s my kind of fast, healthy, comfort food. No msg!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Somalia Charity Bake Sale

I'm part of a Sociology club at my university and we joined another club to help fund raise for the Somalia Famine. Most of us fasted while other managed a bake sale. My contribution was 3 dozen Somalia-themed cupcakes, in vanilla and chocolate flavors (blue cupcake is just vanilla with blue food coloring) with good-ol' buttercream icing. For the blue tints in the icing, I used a duo-tone swirl technique for the blue swirls and the dollop of icing I sprayed with blue cake graffiti spray by Duff. The stars where homemade by piping out stars with melted white chocolate on parchment paper.
We raised a total of $750 sum over the course of three days for the bake sale.
It was rad!
The Somalia Flag

With a little of batter left over, I made mini cupcakes! <3

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn Pot Pie

I love pie, either desert or savory, I love them all! I came across a pot pie that used squash as a filling and since I love squash and I love pie, I decided to try it with my own revision of the recipe.
My fillings for the autumn pot pie had kabocha squash, carrots, potatoes, leek, celery and some spices such as nutmeg, cloves and coriander powder. All were simmered with some water in a pot to make something like a stew, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
Of course, you can add whatever you want as the filling but that was what I had and wanted in the pie.
I doubled a basic pie crust recipe, which made approximately 10 pies with some dough left over. I divided the crust into aluminum pot pie pans, filled them up with the filling, covered with a vented pie top and brushed with milk (you can brush with egg white to give it a better shine).
Yum, yum, yum, I'm going to make these again!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mommy, I Made Pho

This is the first time EVER that I made pho all by myself, without the help of my mom, who is not back from Vietnam yet. Today is my dad's birthday and his favorite dish is Pho. If you do not know, pho is a Vietnamese noodle dish consisting of rice noodles, spiced beef broth, beef slices, beef meatballs, beef brisket, beef tripe and tendons, accompanied with white onions, basil, mint leaves, bean sprouts, lime, chili peppers, cilantro, green onions, culantro/Eryngium foetidum (ngo gai), hoisin sauce, chili sauce and fish sauce. A lot of ingredients, I know. The pho I made only featured rare beef slices, beef meatballs and beef tendon.
There are many other variations, such as chicken pho or seafood pho but traditionally, it is beef. Sometimes an egg is added for EXTRA protein haha.
The most crucial part of a good bowl of pho is the broth. The criteria includes it being clear NOT MURKY, aromatic and full of flavor from hours of simmering beef bones, charred yellow onion, charred ginger and toasted spices such as cardamom, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and coriander seeds. The entire dish took me 3-4 ish hours to prepare...phew.
Also, beef tendons are a bitch to cook. It takes waaaay more than 3-4 hours to get soft all the way through, so I suggest you put it in a slow cooker and cook it over night if you ever want to make pho. PAH.
No, this is not a quick dish.
Why did I want to go through the endeavor to make it from scratch? Because I am passionate about my food and it's my daddy's birthday. It's worth it either way. Plus my brother slurped up his entire bowl of soup, so I know it is good (he never slurps up an entire bowl of broth if it is not good, no matter who makes it).
So, if you want Pho without cooking it, go ahead and go buy a bowl at a Viet restaurant. I assure you they use msg, sweeteners and not a lot of good ol beef bones for the broth. Or, if you want to make it, then go ahead and go buy those pre-packaged pho spices and add it to a pot of ready made beef broth from Campbell. I promise you, it won't be the same.

Broth for two people:

1-2 lbs of beef bones
1 lb of oxtails
half a small cabbage

1 medium yellow onion, unpeeled
1 medium sized knob of ginger, unpeeled

4 sticks of cinnamon
5 anise stars
4 black cardamom bulbs
1 tsp of cloves
1 tsp of coriander seeds

1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and mushroom granules for taste

In a large pot that can hold up to 6 cups of water, bring the bones with 1 tbsp of salt to a boil and skim off any foam and fat that emerges to the surface. Add in the cabbage once there is no more foam to skim and simmer for 30 minutes.
During the wait, char the onion and ginger on a grill or over a mesh on a gas burner until the onion skin and ginger are almost completely black and become aromatic. Let cool and under running water, scrap and peel off as much of the blackened bits as you can. Add to the pot of broth and simmer for 30 minutes.
Dry roast the spices in your oven or in a skillet over the stove until aromatic. Let the spices cool and tie it up in a spice bag or make a spice package with coffee filters, tied with kitchen twine. Plop that into the broth and simmer under medium-low heat for 1-2 hours. DO NOT COVER with a lid. If you feel there is not enough water, then you better turn the heat lower and add more water.
After 1-2 hours, broth should be aromatic with the spices. Gently stir in sugar and season with salt and mushroom granules to your taste. If you don't have mushroom granules, then salt should just be fine. Turn the heat to high and bring to a quick boil. Spoon hot broth over cooked rice noodles and your choice of toppings. Best served hot ;)
Enough for four servings.

Pho with beef balls, rare beef slices and beef tendon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Montreal Steak with Dirty Mash and Bleu Cheese Salad

Finally got around to cooking a decent meal for my brother and dad since I got back from Vietnam. I've been gone for two weeks for a family issue and my brother and dad stayed at home...from what I heard, they haven't been eating very good meals, which makes me sad!
So, after school (technically a midterm), I went grocery shopping for some ingredients. My dad lovesss steak, so that was what I planned to make. Everything took me an hour to prepare and cook. Hooraay for rush hour cooking! :)
So, some cuts of top sirloin steak, dry-rubbed with Montreal steak spice and pan-grilled to medium-rare perfection. I allowed the steaks to rest 10-15 minutes before serving, and used the au jus as a sauce for the dish. Served with dirty garlic mashed potatoes (dirty as in I left the peel on the potats) and a side of fresh and crisp romaine lettuce, cucumbers and grape tomatoes tossed in a tangy Bleu Cheese vinagrette with extra crumbled bleu cheese; the salad was served in a very cold bowl to keep it fresh.
Brother and dad enjoyed it very much...I've never seen Tommy eat that much meat before, especially beef; just goes to show how much he missed his sister's cooking hahaha!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Breakfast....

...That I could barely swallow cause my throat hurt so bad :( I HATE being sick...
Despite that, I think the pics turned out nice :)
Over-easy eggs on a bed of smoked maple flavoured tempeh "bacon" on buttered, sliced rye. Simplicity PWNS!



Thursday, October 27, 2011


Geese egg, duck eggs, factory-produced hen eggs, quail eggs

I am always amazed at the selection of eggs available in the markets in Vietnam. You get the factory produced eggs, the range eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, geese eggs, ostrich eggs and of course, different types of balut (which I will not discuss now).
Anywhos, I went out and got a few selections and the kinds I fancy most are duck eggs and geese eggs. Duck eggs are hard to come by in the western world and geese eggs are just as rare.

During my stay in Vietnam, I had nice sunny-side up hen eggs with Vietnamese baguette. Yet, since I have adventurous culinary-blood, I decided to poach duck eggs and soft boil geese eggs in the following days, to see what the difference in texture and taste would be like. And I must say...poached duck eggs are supremely delish and geese eggs have a fantastically big, rich yolk.

Hen Eggs

Sunny-side up hen eggs
 Duck egg-whites are firmer than hen eggs and the yolk is much bigger. To some, duck eggs may have a distinct smell, most likely due to the fact that ducks are water birds.

poached duck eggs

Look at the gooold!!
 I soft boiled a geese egg but forgot to take a picture...oops. Geese eggs are not "smelly" like it's duck counterpart and are much larger in yolk size. The yolk thickens quicker though, so eating it is tricky when you have so much gold to mop up with your bread :)