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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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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Black bean sweet soup with tapioca and sweet potato pearls

I was given a package of basil seeds by my friend 2 weeks ago, and I immediately thought of the refreshing black bean sweet soup with basil seeds. I still have some tapioca starch left in my pantry, so I decided to make two more treats that are now all the rave in Vietnam: tapioca pearls and sweet potato pearls. Come to think of it, I am quite obsessed with tapioca pearls, so it’s a bit weird that I haven’t written a proper post on how to make them, better late than never I guess tongue

Black bean sweet soup

Making black bean sweet soup, tapioca pearls, and sweet potato pearls is not difficult at all. The only thing is that it takes a bit of time to make the black bean sweet soup, since you have to soak the beans before cooking, and you have to hand-roll the tapioca pearls. I usually take advantage of the soaking time to make tapioca dough, then put on a movie and roll the pearls while watching, killing two birds with one stone wink Home-made tapioca pearls is better than store-bought in many ways: it’s much bigger and much more satisfying to chew on, you can make as much or as little as you want, in any flavours you’d like to, and you are sure about what goes in the pearls.

Công thức tiếng Việt: Chè đậu đen trân châu khoai dẻo

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Oatmeal milk

My facebook newsfeed is now filled with status about how hot it is in Vietnam. I’m quite lucky since Grenoble is pretty much surrounded by mountains, so even though the weather is warmer now, it’s not yet at the point of making you feel like melting. Still, the temperature is enough for me to crave cool drinks and desserts. My kitchen, therefore, has been pumping out a bunch of desserts the past few days, which I of course will share with you guys on this blog.

To kick things off I want to introduce a very simple and quick recipe: Oatmeal milk. I bought a box of oatmeal milk from the supermarket once and was quite satisfy with the taste, so I wanted to try making it at home. I have to be honest though, when I first taste the homemade version I was a bit…disappointed, because the milk doesn’t have the same rich taste as the store-bought version, and after reading from other bloggers, they all say that homemade oatmeal milk taste very different from store-bought, since the method is different and store-bought also have added ingredients.

Oatmeal milk

I didn’t want to waste the milk so I had to try and drink everything, and the taste started to grow on me. The homemade version is less rich, true, but it has a much more prominent  natural ‘sweetness’ of the oatmeal, and it also feels much fresher. I added a bit of vanilla extract and sugar so it’s much easier to drink. It’s very quick and easy to make oatmeal milk so if you have some oatmeal to spare, you should really give this a try, after all, homemade version is still safer and more authentic than store-bought wink

Oatmeal milk

Công thức tiếng Việt: Sữa yến mạch

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Broccoli soup

Yet another dish with broccoli: Broccoli soup big grin

Because my Poached broccoli with oyster sauce only used up half a broccoli, so I used the rest of the broccoli to make this soup. This is also a dish from broccoli that I find very easy to eat, and it would be delicious as an appetizer or as a main dish served with bread wink

Broccoli soup

Công thức tiếng Việt: Súp bông cải xanh

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Banana & coconut milk sweet soup

Last week, Matthias came to Grenoble for his study. A few days before his arrival, I went to do some grocery for ingredients to cook dishes that I don’t normally cook alone. This time I went to a fruit store that I’ve passed by a few times, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality and the very reasonable prices. I even found out that they sell mini bananas, which I don’t often see a lot, so I just had to buy a small bushel, and from the store back to my house, I can only think of the warm and sweet banana coconut sweet soup.

When I studied in England, the Vietnamese supermarket there sells these mini bananas from times to times, and I would usually buy them to make this sweet soup, which was liked a lot by my housemates. However due to the transportation, the bananas are often badly bruised, a bushel of almost 10 bananas sometimes yield only 2-3 that can be used for the pudding, and for 4 people it’s really a treasure hunt for the banana pieces in a ‘sea’ of coconut milk and tapioca pearls laughing This store’s mini bananas are very nice and ripe, so a pot of the sweet soup is more than enough for Matthias and me, the bananas are so fragranced. I was busy with a presentation last week, so it took me long to share the recipe with you guys.

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Công thức tiếng Việt: Chè chuối nước cốt dừa

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Hulled mung beans and lotus seeds sweet soup

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Matthias just came to Grenoble last weekend, and he came back to Paris to work. He only stays a short time, but already I feel that the house is much livelier, it’s much easier to cook, and I have the chance to make dishes that I wouldn’t usually make when I’m alone. One of said dishes is this Mung bean sweet soup with lotus seed, simply because (for me) if you make a small amount of sweet soup it just looks sad, and eating sweet soup alone is no fun either. It’s autumn now so the weather is a bit chilly, eating a bowl of warm sweet soup with Matthias, watching a movie, ignoring the cold outside, happiness is really this simple love

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I learnt this dessert from one of my previous housemates. I am not a huge fan of yellow (hulled) mung bean sweet soup, because usually it’s done with a very thick texture, and is overly sweet, so I find it very heavy and cannot eat a lot. This sweet soup, although made with a very similar method as the thickened mung bean sweet soup, has much more water so it’s thinner, and with the addition of lotus seeds I find it much lighter and easier to eat.

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Công thức tiếng Việt: Chè đậu xanh hạt sen

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Watermelon sorbet & A simple tip to perfect sorbet mixtures

The frozen dessert that I want to introduce today is Sorbet. Compared to the banana ice cream recipe, sorbet only requires additional water and sugar, no fat included so it’s still somewhat suitable for people who are watching their weight or vegetarians/vegans. The bonus point of sorbet, especially homemade sorbet, is that the taste of fruit is very strong and the sorbet is very fragrant. I personally prefer fruit sorbet to fruit ice-cream that has additional milk and cream.

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Before we dive into the recipe, I want to talk a bit about the function of sugar in ice-cream recipes in general. I noticed that there are people who think that the sugar is only for the sweetness of the ice-cream, and thus they decide to increase or decrease the amount to their liking, and end up with rock-hard/full of ice crystals ice-cream (even with an ice-cream machine) or a slushy that wouldn’t freeze no matter how long it stays in the freezer. The reason behind all of this is usually the sugar.

When we freeze a mixture, the ice crystals will detach from the rest of the ingredients. These crystals will link together and make the mixture solid.  When sugar is added to the mixture, the sugar molecules will get in the way of these links, hence the time necessary for the mixture to freeze will increase and the ice crystal will be smaller. Because of that, a mixture with too little sugar will have a lot of ice crystals since there is not enough sugar molecules to prevent the ice crystals from forming. On the other hand, too much sugar molecules in a mixture will prevent the ice crystals from forming at all and the mixture won’t be able to freeze up at all. This can be applied to other sweeteners such as honey, agave honey, etc.

To sum it up, it is very important to achieve a balance of the sugar in an ice-cream mixture, especially with sorbet since it has a very high level of liquid, and sorbet doesn’t have any fat content so it totally relies on the sugar to prevent too much ice crystals.

(Sources: the kitchn ; Ice Cream Recipes ; Ice Cream Nation)

When I was reading about different types of ice-cream and sorbet I was very troubled by this ratio, I mean do I have to always follow a specific recipe without changing the sweetener or the types of fruits that is used, without messing with the sugar ratio? Luckily after a while of searching and reading into every possible documents available, I finally found a very simple and efficient tip to test if the sugar level is enough, and I will introduce that tip in this watermelon sorbet recipe.

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Công thức tiếng Việt: Sorbet dưa hấu & Mẹo để luôn có được một hỗn hợp sorbet chuẩn

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Ice-cream types & a super easy ice-cream recipe (no churning)

Summer is ice-cream season. Actually for me any time of the year is ice-cream season. It is obviously refreshing to have a nice cold ice-cream in the summer, but there is also a very interesting feeling when you at ice-cream in the cold winter. Is it such a weird hobby? tongue

Back in Vietnam I once made ice-cream with my mom, a very simple vanilla ice-cream with egg yolks, cream, milk and sugar, and we had to do the freezing in the freezer and using a fork to stir the mixture every 2 hours. After that I’ve always thought that every home-made ice-cream recipe starts from that same base. It was not until I bought myself a discounted ice-cream machine and started reading more on ice-cream recipes that I know the ice-cream base that my mom and I made is called “Frozen custard”, usually used in French and Italian recipes. Besides this there are more types of desserts in the frozen desserts family such as Popsicle, Granita, Sorbet, and so on.

Like I’ve said before, I want Miamivores to be more than just a food blog with recipes, I want it to also be a place where I share with you my day-to-day stories. My little ‘journey’ of ice-cream making has a lot of failed stories and experience. Therefore posts about ice-cream on Miamivores, besides introducing recipes, will also contains information that I’ve gain during my process of learning to make this refreshing desserts, as well as tips to ensure a nice and delicious ice-cream for your family. I’m only an amateur, so if you have any experience and tips please feel free to share.

Banana ice-cream 3

Công thức tiếng Việt: Các loại kem & công thức kem siêu dễ (không cần máy)

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Infused water

The last two weeks in France is so hot, as the country is having a heat wave, the temperature is always around 30°C, even in the evening. With this hot weather, medias never fail to remind people to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. To be honest, I am very lazy when it comes to drinking water blush as I only drink when I’m very thirsty, so with this heat wave, I try to think of ways to encourage myself to drink more. One of the ways that I found was to use fruit infused water.

Fruit infused water is simply plain water with chopped fruit in it, let sit and infused for a few hours. There’s no added sugar, only the natural taste and sweetness of the fruit blended in with the water, so it’s always so fresh and nice to drink. Thanks to this, infused water is packed with health benefits, first and foremost it makes drinking more water so much more fun and easy, I mean, just look at how beautiful a bottle of water with fruit is and already I want to keep drinking, and there is also the vitamin that is packed in the fruits themselves. Furthermore since there is no added sugar, infused water is usually used for detoxing and weight-loss.

It is very simple to make infused water, and the ingredients are very versatile, as you can choose and combine whatever fruits you want or have in your fridge, and you can change the ingredients as well as its quantities according to your taste and purpose. You can also do a small amount and infuse in a glass of water to serve right away.

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Công thức tiếng Vịệt: Nước ngâm hoa quả

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