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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Kompot / Fruit juice

I knew of Kompot when I was in secondary school. Back then we got a really big package of Satsuma Plums (which is a kind of plums that has green and red skin and maroon flesh), we couldn’t finish the whole thing and just left a few of them lying around, so my mom decided to make them into Kompot. The plums, which were ‘rejects’ before, after being turned into a cool, sweet and sour Kompot suddenly became the ‘diva’ of the household, and we were literally fighting for it.

Kompot fruit juice

I was cleaning my fridge the other day when I saw a bunch of fruits lying around: apples with skin starting to wrinkle, strawberries and raspberries being left-over from when I was decorating a cake, each with just 1-2 pieces or a bit less than half a container. I decided to throw them all into a pot, turning them into a pretty ruby coloured Kompot, which both helped cleaned out the fridge, and gave me a big bottle of water for my meals, which is much healthier than soft drinks.

Kompot fruit juice

Công thức tiếng Việt: Kompot / Nước hoa quả tươi

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Roasted BBQ ribs

I love roasts, especially this cold and cloudy weather make any roast dish that much more tasty. Plus, roasts always use little to no oil and is pretty much self-maintenance, so on days that I don’t feel like constantly watching a pot on the stovetop, I would always turn on the oven and roast something along the line of chicken wings, pork belly, etc.

One of the roasts that both Matthias and me really love is BBQ ribs. Usually roasted ribs takes a lot more time to make compared to the other roasts since beside the whooping 80-90 minutes cooking in the oven, you have to marinate the ribs for at least 12-18 hours for the flavours to soak in. However for someone who is absent-minded and is usually prompted by sudden cravings like me, I don’t always remember or crave at the right moment to defrost the ribs from the freezer and marinate it. That is why I had to look for a method to reduce the marinating time but still allow the ribs to be flavourful.

BBQ ribs

After reading a bunch of tips and recipes online, I chose to combine cutting the ribs into individual pieces (instead of roasting the whole rack), and start the ribs with a short dry rub marinate and then roast the whole thing in diluted BBQ sauce, hoping that the individual ribs and the diluted sauce will allow the flavours to cling more onto the ribs. The results did not disappoint me at all! The ribs were so flavourful and tender, with the thick and sticky sauce evenly coats every pieces. You can use store-bought BBQ for this recipe, but personally I prefer the homemade sauce since I find that it has a bit more depth to the flavours.

BBQ ribs

Công thức tiếng Việt: Sườn nướng sốt BBQ

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Peanut brittle (no corn/glucose syrup, no thermometer)

Nut brittle is a common name for a snack consisting of different kinds of nuts coated by hard sugar candy, and it’s usually served in the form of broken pieces (hence brittle) from a big chunk. The snack is named after the nut used (I used peanuts so it’s called peanut brittle).

Peanut brittle

I started looking into how to make this treat when I tried the Macadamia nut brittle flavour of Haagen Dasz and fell in love with the rich caramel taste that reminds me so much of the Alpenliebe candy I used to eat back home. I remembered that back then, the advertisements for Alpenliebe always emphasis on the love and care between couples, between family members, between friends, with the lovely tagline “Sweet as a loving embrace” (I think it’s now changed to “Connecting love”). Since Valentine is coming, I think is a very fitting gift to make and give to not only your lover but also to your family and friends, especially because the ingredients and the process of making this treat is so very simple. Plus, there is no glucose/corn syrup nor thermometer required for this recipe.

Peanut brittle

Công thức tiếng Việt: Kẹo đậu phộng ‘vỡ’ (Peanut brittle)

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Lunar New Year’s sweets and treats

This Lunar New Year my family went back to Vietnam (except me), so my new year’s eve dinner was spent with my Vietnamese friends here in Paris. I, of course, volunteered to bring sweets and treats for tea time and desserts, and also to keep up the gift box ‘tradition’ from last year.

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Bài viết tiếng Việt: Bánh kẹo ngày Tết

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