Homemade popcorn (4 flavours: browned butter, chocolate, spicy, black sesame)

I remember back when I was in middle school, I went to Hanoi to visit my relatives. At that time my older cousin just bought a popcorn machine, so we were really excited to try it out. I don’t know if it was because the machine was not functioning well or there were some problems with the corn, but the machine was running for over 10 minutes straight without any kernel popping, although the sweet smell was already penetrating the whole house. My mom after that tried to make popcorn on the stovetop but did not succeed either. When I read about popcorn machine online, the sites that sell it often say that it’s really time and effort consuming to make popcorn on stovetop: you have to adjust the fie often, to shake the saucepan often, that the corn kernels can be easily burned or not popped, etc, so I was really hesitant when it comes to making popcorn at home.

Homemade popcorn

It was not until I stumbled on this video, and saw that she made it so easily, that I wanted to try making it again. I read the original recipe, tried it out and…succeed! The whole process was really hassle-free, you only have to keep one level of fire from start to finish, and there is almost no corn kernel that is burned or not popped. I said ‘almost’ because of course the fact that the kernels pop or not also depend on the quality of the corn, whether the corn is new or old, etc. But I’ve used this method for over 10 batches, and the result were all amazing. In this post, besides introducing the method, I will also introduce 4 popcorn flavours, both sweet and savoury.

Homemade popcorn

Công thức tiếng Việt: Cách làm bắp rang (4 vị: bơ nâu, chocolate, cay, mè đen)

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Vietnamese ham for Vietnamese sandwich

When ‘Vietnamese sandwich – banh mi’ is mentioned, what comes to your mind? The crispy thin crust? The flavourful pâté? The crunchy pickled vegetables? Personally for me the ‘soul’ of the Vietnamese sandwich is the ham (or usually referred to as red meat). The thinly sliced meat, balanced meat-fat ratio, flavourful marinate, the flavour just combines beautifully with every other ingredients in the sandwich. When I was in France, I missed this dish a lot, especially since most stores that sell Vietnamese sandwich replace this ham with charsiu. It’s not that it’s not tasty, it’s just not the same as it does at home.

Vietnamese ham

It’s for this reason that when I found out that making this ham was way easier than I’ve thought, I was so excited! Even though it takes a bit of time to make, it’s pretty low maintenance, and every time I’d make a big piece of pork belly, thinly slice it and store it in a freezer, it’s really worth it.

Vietnamese ham

Công thức tiếng Việt: Thịt nguội ăn bánh mì

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“Tứ bảo” rice balls / 4-filling rice balls

I love everything glutinous rice, so I actually have that for meals even more than normal rice. Sometimes just plain glutinous rice served with sesame salt is tasty enough for me.

Tu bao sticky rice ball

About this “Tứ bảo glutinous rice balls”, ‘tứ bảo’ basically means ‘4 types of fillings’, and it usually includes: chicken breast, minced pork, Chinese sausages, and shrimps. However over time, the fillings are changed according to the person who makes it, and vegetables are also added to the mix. The interesting thing about this dish is that the glutinous rice will be spread thinly, then the fillings are added on top and then the whole thing is formed into a ball. When you cut one open, you can see a thin layer of white rice surrounding the colourful fillings. With this shape, this dish is very suitable for picnics, plus one ball of rice has everything from meat to vegetables and rice, very convenient right?

Tu bao sticky rice ball

Công thức tiếng Việt: Xôi tứ bảo

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Preserved peach & Peach tea with tapioca pearls

Peach season is now in its peak, every time I go to the market or the supermarket there would always be trays of plump and crisp peaches and nectarines on display, and for such a cheap price as well. My refrigerator is therefore always full of white crisp nectarines for dessert, and yellow peaches or nectarines for making preserved peach for peach tea with tapioca pearls. Just imagine, on a hot sunny day, you’re back home and find a big jug of cool peach tea, all the heat will be blown away in an instant.

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Preserved peach is surprisingly easy to make, and although I only use it for tea, it can be used in a lot of other dishes like cakes, mousse, ice-cream, etc.

Preserved peach & peach tea

Công thức tiếng Việt: Đào ngâm & Trà đào trân châu

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Husband and wife cake (Bánh phu thê)

“Husband and wife cake” or “Banh phu the” is a traditional Vietnamese sweet cake, it basically means “Husband and wife cake. (“Phu” and “the” are Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary, they mean “husband” and “wife” respectively).

Back when I was little, whenever I go to a wedding with my parents they’d give this “husband and wife cake” to the guests. The cake is usually squared shaped, fit in the palm of my hands, wrapped in transparent cellophane sheets (or sometimes in boxes made out of coconut/banana leaves), bright green coloured, some sesame seeds sprinkled on top, with yellow mung beans and coconut filling. Take a bite, and it’s the perfect combination of the chewiness of the skin, the crunchiness of the coconut or papaya flakes, the richness of the mung bean filling, simple yet magically delicious. For some reasons though, this cake started disappearing as I grow up, and it has been a long time since I’ve last tasted one.

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I would have never thought that I would be able to taste this cake again in France. My brother’s family was moving at the end of last month, and when I came to help my mom told me that there were a bit mung bean and tapioca flour left, and she wanted to make this cake with me. We spent a few hours in the afternoon making a dozen cakes. When the cakes finally cooled down, I unwrapped one and took a bite, and was immediately taken back to my childhood, as the cake is 90% the same as the store-bought ones (the other 10% is really, in my opinion, just because dried tapioca flour can’t really be compared to the fresh one).

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The story of the origin of the “husband and wife” name for this cake has some variations, I will ửite dơn my favourite version at the end of this post so you can read if you’re interested.

Công thức tiếng Việt: Bánh phu thê (xu xê)

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No churn ice-cream recipe

I myself have an ice-cream maker that I bought on sale. However the kind that I have is one that you have to place the container in the freezer at least 12 hours before you want to make ice-cream, so it’s not all the time that I would crave at the right moment and have enough freezer space to fit the container. Furthermore the price for a good ice-cream maker is not generally cheap and it’s not a common family kitchen tool, so I still like to research on ice-cream recipes that don’t require a machine to share here on the blog.

No churn ice-cream

I introduced a recipe for ice-cream from frozen banana, and today I’m gonna introduce a no churn recipe that I absolutely adore, with only two basic ingredients which are sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. I’ve first known of this no churn – no machine recipe from the ice-cream cake video of Eugenie Kitchen, and it is now very popular everywhere on the internet. I was a bit skeptical at first, so I started with a small batch and was really surprised with how smooth and tasty the ice-cream turned out, there was no ice crystal in sight. It was just perfect!

No churn ice-cream

Công thức tiếng Việt: Công thức làm kem không cần dùng máy

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Japanese charshu

This is also one of the dishes that is in my list of “storing-in-the-freezer-food”. I’m not sure if I’ve talked about my habit of storing premade food on this blog?  Anyway when I started moving out, I formed a habit where every time I go for a big grocery shopping at the start of the month for the whole month’s food (I usually buy all my proteins, portion and store them in the freezer, so that during the month I only have to buy vegetables and fruits), I will spend the first weekend to make a big batch of several dishes, divide them into boxes and store them in the freezer. Whenever I’m home late or I just feel lazy to cook I just have to take one out of the freezer, reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave and I’d have a nice hot meal in no time.

Japanese Charshu

Back to this Japanese charshu pork. Actually I wanted to make char siu in the beginning, but all the char siu recipes require roasting the meat. I don’t have an oven at the moment, so after surfing our dear friend Google for a while I found out about Japanese charshu that only require simmering on the stovetop, I guess it can be considered a distant cousin of char siu. Looking at photos of those mouth-watering shiny and tender slices of meat, I decided to give it a go and was not disappointed at all. This meat is usually served in ramen in Japan, so I think it would go great with bread, noodles, or rice as well. The original recipe has sake and leek, I simplified it a bit to ingredients that would be easily found in Asian supermarkets everywhere, and I find it not much less tasty.

Japanese Charshu

Công thức tiếng Việt: Thịt xá xíu kiểu Nhật

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Plum syrup & jam

Paris in May, which means we’re half way through spring already, but for some reasons the weather, for the past few weeks, has been really gloomy, with rain most of the time, and it’s really rare to see a day of sunshine. Spring shower, that sounds pretty romantic, but seriously the feeling of walking out on the street feeling the freezing wind blowing rain in your clothes and face is not fun at all. At times like these, spending time in the kitchen cooking up good food is my way to keep my mood from spiralling downwards. I actually made and photographed this recipes a few months back, but looking at these photos of the beautiful ruby red jam and writing down the recipe makes me feel a whole lot better.

Plum syrup & jam

It’s now the season of plums in Vietnam. Vietnamese-type plum is a rarity here, so I spent the last few seasons just staring at the photos and drooling. Fortunately somehow, back in the end of February, I stumbled over some plums in the supermarket neat my house, those with green skin, red flesh and a sweet sour taste just like Vietnamese plums. I must have consumed a kilogram over a week, and after stuffing myself I decided to make some jam and syrup (which turned out to be a good decision since after that, I couldn’t find any plums in the supermarket anymore).

Plum syrup & jam

If it’s plum season where you live, you should really try this recipe out. One process that yield two products that are both delicious and pretty, and you can use them for other dishes as well.

Plum syrup & jam

Công thức tiếng Việt: Xi-rô và mứt mận

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Chia seeds and berries smoothies parfait

Recently I’m kinda addicted to chia seeds, every day when I have my desserts with fruits or yogurt I would always sprinkle some seeds on top, even when I drink juice or milk I would mix some in for added crunchiness. Chia seeds have been ‘famous’ for a long time already, so I am actually a bit late to the trend since I’ve only started eating and getting addicted to it for 2 weeks.

The benefits of chia seeds are almost endless. First and foremost is the fact that this tiny little seed contains a lot of antioxidant, so us girls should really adore chia seeds to stay young and beautiful 😉 chia seeds also contains little calories and lots of protein, so it’s a very suitable ingredient for diets since it makes you feel full longer and supress cravings. That’s not all, chia seeds have a lot of Omega 3, a type of fat that is really good for your body, especially for the vascular system. Furthermore chia seeds are 40% fiber, and we all know that fiber is really good for digestion.

Personally for me, besides all the health benefits listed above, the reason that I’m addicted to chia seeds is because it’s tasty, very very tasty! Chia seeds themselves don’t have any distinctive flavours, when you eat it as it is the texture is kinda crunchy like sesame seeds, and when soaked in liquids they absorb the liquid and turn into a gel like consistency. Because of that, chia seeds can be paired with a lot of other ingredients: sprinkle on top of baked goods for added crunchiness, soaked in milk or yogurt to create a pudding.

Chia seed pudding and berries smoothie parfait

One of the dishes that I like the most from chia seeds is this Chia seeds and berries smoothies parfait, which can be used for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, and it’s both nutritious and delicious. Chia seeds is not the cheapest thing you can find (a 250g package sold in organic stores here costs €3,50), but for 2 pots of parfait like in this photo I only have to use around 15g of seeds, plus all the benefits of this seeds, I can say that this is definitely worth the price.

Chia seed pudding and berries smoothie parfait

Công thức tiếng Việt: Parfait pudding hạt chia và sinh tố dâu

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Dandelion jelly (without pectin)

It is officially spring here in France, with the clear blue sky dotted by white clouds looking like it stepped right out of a postcard. This is also the season for a flower that can be seen in almost every grass fields, flower pots, or even hiding in a corner in front of the gate: dandelions. Maybe for a lot of people, dandelions is just an ordinary kind of flowers, but for me the image of a green grass field dotted with dandelions as bright as the sun is utterly beautiful. It’s the reason why I sometimes just pick some flowers on my way back from doing grocery to put in a small pot like this, even though they would be wilted when night falls, the bright yellow flowers still manage to light up a whole corner of my room.

Dandelion jelly

Recently on a Facebook page about cooking that I join, there is a trend for dandelion jelly. I was really curious when I first saw it, because I’ve never thought that jelly can be made from flower. After some internet research, I found out that it’s a pretty popular thing in the US, and a lot of people go harvest the flowers and turn them into jelly whenever the season comes. Looking at photos after photos of the topaz-coloured jelly jams  made me want to just sprint outside, pick up flowers and make myself some, but the fear of flowers growing on the sidewalks or parks getting “marked” by puppies made me hesitated a whole lot.

Dandelion jelly

Luckily I went on the Facebook page of Vietnamese student union in France and met some girls that had the same interest of harvesting flowers and strolling in the forest. So we made a quick plan, and after exploring the forest and talking about anything and everything, I came home with a bagful of dandelions, and after that a jar of jelly was well in my fridge. If you can I really recommend you to make this jelly, the bright sunshine like colour will make your breakfast or the afternoon cup of tea much more pleasant.

Dandelion jelly

Công thức tiếng Việt: Mứt hoa bồ công anh

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