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!