“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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Summer in France is quite long this year, so it’s not until mid-September that there starts to be chilly days. Although it’s not yet frezzingly cold, the chill is enough for me to feel like snuggling in my blanket, read or watch something, and eat some of my favourite food. This chilly weather makes me think of peanut butter. I don’t know why but peanut butter always give me a very warm feeling, and when I feel like having a snack, a few slices of apple with peanut buttle is a very tasty and healthy choice.
Peanut butter can be used for breakfast with bread, o you can serve it with apple, banana or carrot as a snack, add a spoonful into a fruit smoothie, make a dipping sauce, or you can even use it in baking, the possibilities are endless. Making peanut butter is one of the simplest thing in the world, you only need to know how to turn on your blender/food processor, the ingredients are simple too soit’s worth it to make yourself a jar right
I don’t really remember how I know of these cookies, since for kids born in the 90s like me these cookies are pretty much extinct (at least for me, because before making these cookies myself I don’t even know how they taste). It’s called ‘dipping cookies’ simply because when you make them, you mostly do…the dipping movement dipping the mold into the batter, then dipping the mold with the batter into the oil. I went back to Vietnam in summer 2014, I asked my mom to take me to the market to find this mold, and the sellers didn’t know what I was talking about as first, it took my mom a lot of describing for them to finally found me the molds.
I went back to France, feeling so excited with the molds, I looked for the recipe on the internet, read a bunch of tips and tricks, went straight into the kitchen to make them and…failed miserably. Either the cookies wouldn’t leave the mold, or the batter wouldn’t stick to the mold, I spent the whole afternoon trying, sweating like crazy, all my clothes and hair smelled like oil, and I ended up with around 10 cookies that were edible. To be honest, the cookies tasted incredible, but just thinking about fighting with the pot of oil and batter sends chills down my spine, so I just put the mold in the furthest corner of my cupboard after that time.
It was not until a few weeks ago, the weather was quite cool, I cleaned out my cupboard and saw the mold, and decided to give it another try. I was extra careful with the measurements this time, adjusted the heat of the oil, and tada…the cookies were a huge success!!! Looking at the cookies coming off the mold and slowly turn golden brown was an extremely satisfying feeling. After making these cookies a few more times, I have noted down some tips to successfully make them, which I will write down at the end of this post.
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
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 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.
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.
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
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
In the gift box that I gave my friends last week, there was a treat called “Longan fruit crackers”, and this has received a lot of positive feedbacks, even from French friends who’ve tasted it for the first time. Even myself when I read and learnt how to make this dish, I thought that it is a very interesting snack. The ingredients are easy to find, it’s not so hard to make it, and the end result is really delicious ❤ it’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and even though it’s deep fried you don’t feel the oil at all, add a cup of tea and you can finish a whole big batch of this treat in no time
Even though it’s called “longan fruit crackers”, there’s no longan fruit in the ingredients. Rather, the name is only to describe its appearance which resembles a longan fruit. The traditional crackers are made with only glutinous rice flour or plain rice flour mixed with egg and sugar, some other recipes that I’ve read suggest replacing sugar with condensed milk for a bit more richness, and also to mix some plain rice flour into glutinous rice flour to keep the crackers crunchy for longer.