Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ritz Carlton Tea Time

One of my girlfriends is getting married. What better way to throw an intimate bridal shower then having tea time at the Ritz! Yeah, I talk like I"m a pro, but last weekend was our first experience ever with it.

I was expecting a bunch of old, rich people, drinking tea, and wearing hats. It was nothing close to that.
It was all women, and it seemed like they were either celebrating Bridal Showers or Baby Showers too. The options came in 3 price ranges. I can't remember what, but you can find the menu on their website.

The tea itself was good. The little cucumber and lunch sandwiches were excellent. In fact, we wish they served us more of those, than the sweets they hounded us with.

Dessert with tea was good, but I've had much better desserts at other places. There was nothing really exotic about the dessert. Just your usual fruit tart, eclairs, and chocolate cake. Overall, it's a nice atmosphere if you want to spend the afternoon munching and drinking tea with your friends. However, I highly recomment it for a special occassion, and not just because you want to spend $50 on tea and sandwiches one afternoon. hehehe.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crabcakes from Costco

Ok, so I cheated on this recipe a little at one of our dinner parties. It consists of Jumbo Lump Crabcakes from Costco, French Beans, and Corn. Not really being my own creation, but it still looks good right! And healthy tooooo.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goi Cuon - Vietnamese Summer Roll with Peanut Sauce

This is a pretty mainstream Vietnamese appetizer. Not sure what the correct name for this would be, but many people call it "Vietnamese Summer Roll", so we'll go with that.

I think of it as a more healthy appetizer to it's more greasy sister, the eggroll (Cha Gio).

Ingredients Needed:

Package of Rice Paper (Banh Trang)
Shrimp, Boiled and Peeled
Pork Loin, boiled
Vietnamese Herbs (Any type)
Vermicelli Noodles

1) Boil shrimp for 10 minutes, or until slightly pink
2) Boil pork for about 30 minutes and then slice in thin pieces
3) Boil Vermicelli noodles for about 15 minutes, then drain in cold water until not soggy
4) Dip rice paper in water and make sure it's not too soggy
5) Place all the lettuce, vermicelli, shrimp, and pork and roll like you would normally an eggroll

I've seen this sauce made with other ingredients such as tamarind and mung beans. This is my mom's recipe I inherited, and it's the quickest and most authentic tasting, so I just stick with it. Just make sure it's not watery or it will kill the entire dish.

This is good for 6 portions/guests:

1 bottle Hoison Sauce
4 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Tapioca Starch (Bot Nang)
2/3 cup water

1) Heat up a sauce pan to medium heat and pour in Hoison Sauce and Peanut Butter
2) Stir vigorously until it melts and does not clump together, if you're using chunky peanut butter make sure to process in a blender, until smooth
3) Pour in the water, sugar, and taste, add more if you like it sweeter
4) Pour in Tapioca Starch and stir until mixure is slightly thick

*Serve at room temperature or slightly warm
** The sauce should be slightly thick, and not watery

Margaritas, Mojitos & More

So you like to entertain? Like mixed drinks? But you’re not skilled like me? Well, I highly recommend this book. I just ordered it a few months ago, because I’m one of those people that like to drink Mai Tais, but I’m not too confident about my mixing capabilities. Well, this book came to my rescue!

I spotted it at my local World Market store, and after skimming through it I ordered it online. Because you know everybody knows that books are always cheaper online right? I love the full page color photos of the drinks, easy-to-follow recipes, and creative drinks like Kiwi Mojito! And they even have non-alcoholic drinks like Lemongrass Lemonade. Mmmmmmm, you know you wanna try.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bo Luc Lac - Shaking Beef

A Vietnamese beef dish, typically served over rice. The "shaking" part name for this is literally translated into English. I've never really understood where the "shaking" part originated from, but it's good still!
Filet Mignon tastes BEST with this dish, but if you don't have the budget for it I find beef shank works well too.

1 lb beef filet mignon or beef shank
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion
Sesame Oil
Vegetable oil, butter, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper

1) Dice beef into cube-sized pieces
2) Mix with minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, pinch of sugar, pepper, and sprinkling of sesame oil
3) Marinate 4 hours or overnight
4) Heat oil and 1 spoonful of butter over a wok
5) Add garlic and onions and stir until onion is slightly translucent
6) Add in beef (You can do the entire batch or half at a time)
7) Turn or shake to cook all the sides, add onion to cook
8) Throw in your choice of veggies (I added some sliced tomatoes in mine)
9) Can be served with tomatoes or cucumbers on the side as well
*Serve over rice

Monday, September 15, 2008

Drink Obsession of the Month

A mojito. Yes, that's my current drink obsession of the month. A relaxing night is when there's a mojito waiting after dinner.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seafood Pan-Fried Noodle - Mi Xao Gion

One of my FAVORITE dishes in the entire world.
This is typically a Chinese dish, but since we have varations of it in Vietnam, I'm calling it a Vietnamese dish. There are many variations of it, but since seafood is my favorite I'm only posting the Seafood part.

1 bag fresh chow mein1 small can chicken broth
1 dozen Shrimp1 package cuttlefish 2 medium tomatoes, sliced1/2 yellow onion
4 springs of Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)
1 small package of Oyster Mushrooms (Or any other type you prefer)
1 red or green bell pepper (Red is usually better for coloring the dish)
1 large carrot
Handful of fresh minced parsley
3 Tablespoons oyster sauce
1 Tablespoons corn starch mixed with water
3 cloves garlicSoy sauce, salt, pepper, sugar

1) In a large pan, fry the Chow Mein Noodles until brown
2) You might want to do this in portions to allow the noodles to fit flatter on your plating
3) Place on paper towels to drain oil
4) To prep slice all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces
5) Stir-fry with oil, minced garlic and sliced onions
6) Stir in shrimp, cuttlefish, and any other seafood you’d like to the dish
7) Add in carrots and bell peppers first, since they take longer to cook
8) Add in oyster sauce and a dash of salt and sugar
9) Pour in 1 can of chicken broth and ½ cup of water
10) Add the rest of the vegetables and mix
11) Add your corn starch mixture in be sure that you added some water to the corn starch before doing so. Sauce should be slightly thick
12) Taste and add more salt or soy sauce as necessary

Garnish with green onions or parsley

The sauce should be thick like this:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Parmesan Chedder Bowls

This creation was from my friend PeachyMangoDelight. Created during one of our dinner parties.

It's baked Parmesan cheese, that's been shaped into a bowl.

Prettttyyyy right? I think it's a perfect compliment to any salad dish, and tastes delicious too.

Cucuzza Squash Soup - Canh Bau

This is a Vietnamese squash soup that is normally a compliment to an entrée during dinner. The Chinese have it too, but since I’m Viet I’m going to say that it’s Vietnamese squash. You can add ground pork or minced shrimp to the dish. Pictured is my plain version of it. Cucuzza Sqash can be found in most Asian grocery stores.

Also known as "Italian Squash"

1 Cucuzza Squash
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 dozen shrimp heads
Fish Sauce, Salt Pepper to taste

1) Boil 3 quarts of water
2) Mince shrimp by hand or in a food processor with pinches of salt and pepper to marinate
3) Cut squash into long strands
4) Once water has come to a boil spoon bite-sized pieces of the shrimp into the water, until small clumps form
5) Add 1 cup of chicken broth and stir for more dense flavoring
6) Add squash and simmer on high for about 15 minutes, until you feel the squash softening

* Top with hot peppers or green spring onions and serve over rice entrée

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Swans' Fruit Arrangements with Fondue

I found inspiration for this from:
One of my favorite desserts to make. I wouldn't say that it's quick and easy, more like very time consuming, but the results are worth it in the end, don't you agree?

These are two different arrangements I made to dip with fondue, or to simply eat alone. I often like to do this when I'm entertaining a large group of people, and it's often a hit at the majority of my parties.
Can you tell the difference between them?

My New Backsplash - Loving It!

The highlight of my hard day of work is coming home to my kitchen. I like it clean, sleek, and cleannnnn. The hubby worked 2 weeks upgrading "my space in the house" and here are the fantastic results. Having the backsplash gives the kitchen the extra Ooomph it needs to create gourmet meals and inspires this blog.

Shrimp Simmered in Garlic Onion Sauce - Tom Kho Tau

1 lb shrimp or large prawns

2 Tablespoons Shrimp Paste in Soya Bean Oil Sauce

2 shallots2 cloves garlic

2 green onions

Salt, pepper, fish sauce, sugar

  1. Heat frying pan on high
  2. Mince garlic and dice onion pieces about 2 inches long
  3. Stir-fry garlic and onion rapidly for a few minutesPlace shrimps or prawns into pan and toss until golden
  4. Add shrimp paste with soya bean oil in and stir (Paste can be found in most Asian supermarkets)
  5. Season with fish sauce, salt, pepper, and sugar to your tasting
  6. Simmer for about 5 minutes

*Can be served with your choice of veggies. I added stir-fry squash in mine.

Vietnamese Asparagus Crab Soup - Sup Mang Cua

A Vietnamese soup normally served at dinner parties or special events.

For a 5-quart stock pot:
1 can of frozen lump crab meat
3 cans of the large chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can baby corn
1 small bunch of fresh asparagus
2 or 3 eggs
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (bot nang), dissolve in water
Salt, pepper, fish sauce

1) Boil the chicken broth on medium heat, or you can use fresh cooked broth as well (works even better)

2) Wash asparagus and remove the hard bottoms. Drain and wash baby corn. Slice corn and asparagus into bite-sized chunks

3) Beat 2 or 3 eggs, depending on how many egg drops you want in your soup. Set aside for use in last step

4) Add corn and asparagus to the pot

5) Dissolve about 3 tablespoons of tapioca starch (bot nang) to 1/2 cup of cold water. Add the mixture to the pot and stir rapidly, until you see the soup becoming thick. You can add an additional tablespoons of tapioca if you like your soup extra thick, but remember after it cools the soup will thicken more than what it is currently

6) When your soup pot starts boiling, add in the crab and start stirring the ingredients

7) Slowly pour the bowl of scrambled eggs into the pot, while stirring rapidly in large strokes to create long egg strands

8)When the eggs are all in, turn the heat down to medium to simmer for 10 minutes

9) Add a pinch of salt and about 3 tablespoons of fish sauce to your desiring and taste the asparagus and corn to see if they have by now softened enough to your liking

Korean Glass Noodles - Jap Chae

I like the chewy texture of these noodles

1 bag “Malony” Japanese noodles
3 Carrots
3 Celery Sticks
1 pound Shrimp
1 Red PepperSeasame Oil
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
5 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 teaspoons Granulated Garlic, Dried Onions, Scallions

1) Cut carrots, Red Peppers, and Celery into desirable pieces

2) Boil hot water, add a pinch of salt, then add celery, pepper, and carrots (Boil until slightly done)

3) Drain over strainer w/ cold water

4) Boil shrimp seperately until done

5) In a big mixing bowl place shrimp, peppers, celery w/ sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce (about 3 tablespoons or until desired taste)

6) Boil noodles about 10 minutes until soft, then drain w/ cold water

7) Mix noodles with, some more oyster sauce to your tasting and a teaspoon of virgin olive oil, and granulated garlic

8) Put in vegetables and shrimp into noodles and mix well

9) Add dried onions, pepper, dash of sesame oil, and scallions to garnish

Monday, September 8, 2008

Korean Pickled Cucumber - O-I Keem Chee

A recipe I inherited from my neighbor. One of my quick and delicious recipes.

1 English Cucumber
½ Yellow Onion
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Tablsespoon Honey
2 Tablespoon Korean Red Pepper Flakes
2 Minced Garlic Cloves Seasame Oil
1/2 Teaspoon White Vinegar

1) Slice cucumbers into rounds and slice onions into thin strips

2) Pour red pepper flakes, soy sauce, honey, garlic, and sesame oil and mix together until well coated

3) Let stand in refrigerador for 15 minutes

4) Pour white vinegar and mix one last time before serving

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pate Chaud

A Vietnamese meat pastry, inherited from the French

½ pack ground pork
1 small onion
1 tablespooon garlic powder
2 boxes of Pepperide Farm square pastry shells
Salt, pepper, sugarRegular fork for decorating the edges of pastry shells

1) Mix pork with, chopped onions, and garlic powder
2) Flavor w/ pinch of salt/sugar/pepper and let marinate for 1 hour
3) Cut pastry shells into fourths
4) Spread meat mixture into spoon-sized pieces into pastry sheets
5) With the other cut square place on top, and close with the edges of a fork
6) Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes
7) The shells should start to puff out
8) Spread yellow egg yolk onto top layer of each shell about 5 minutes before done
9) Let sit in oven for another 5 minutes, so that the egg yolks can set
10) Can be served at room temperature or hot

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Fried Rice

One of my favorite all-time easy dishes to make. Good for lunch or dinner. I think this is normally a Thai dish.

1 can of Phillips lump crabmeat
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 bag frozen peas
4 eggs
2 onions
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons Fish sauce
5 tablespoons Soy Sauce, or depending on saltiness

1) Cook 4 cups of jasmine rice and set aside to cool slightly
2) Drain crabmeat juice
3) Stir-fry crabmeat for a few minutes (Be sure to fry separately or crabmeat will separate)
4) Stir-fry frozen peas, set aside
5) Scramble the eggs and pour into pan and scramble directly in the frying pan, set aside
6) Combine rice and fry until crispy
7) Add onions, garlic powder, fish sauce, and soy sauce to your tasting in the rice
8) Combine peas, eggs, and crabmeat and stir-fry

*You can add other veggies to your liking as well


1 napa cabbage1/2 cup salt
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 bunch green onions
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1.5 cups gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)

1) Clean, rinse, and cut the napa cabbage in half, and slice into wide strips
2) Place a layer of cabbage into a large bowl and sprinkle salt onto each layer of cabbage, and repeat until all of the cabbage is salted
3) Let stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours
4) Rinse the salt thoroughly from the cabbage
5) In a small food processor chop the garlic and ginger together
6) Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of salt in
7) Mix cabbage, green onions, garlic, ginger, gochugaru and fish sauce in the large bowl
8) Put the kimchi into a sealable container and let stand at room temperature over night
9) Place the container in the fridge for 1 more day
10) Kimchi should be good to eat and left in fridge for another week or so

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Eggplant with Shrimp Paste (VN style) - Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom

3 Japanese eggplants
½ pound shrimp for 3 eggplants
2 cloves minced garlic
Fish sauce, sugar, salt

1) Peel shrimp, add 2 cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon fish sauce, pinch of sugar, into food processor until well blended

2) Marinate for 15 minutes or you may leave to marinate overnight

3) Wash an slice eggplants diagonally

4) Sprinkle lightly with salt, wash, and drain

5) Rinse the eggplant pieces and shake to dry. Spoon chunks of shrimp paste over the eggplant slices

6) Place in steamer tray and steam for about 15 minutes until the shrimp paste turns pink

7) Serve with soy sauce or sweet red chili sauce

*You either can bake them in the oven for an additional 20 minutes or pan-fry for 15 minutes.

**When the eggplant becomes slightly smushy and turns dark it’s ready!

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries are my new love at the diners!

3 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 teaspoon paprika, or other hot chilies of your choice

1) Cut sweet potato into wedges
2) Mix them with extra virgin olive oil, chili flakes, and a dash of salt and mix thoroughly
3) Bake in preheated oven at 375F or until crispy for about 30 minutes

*You can also deep-fry them for extra crispiness for 10 minutes, but baking is healthier of course

Quick Strawberry Cheesecake

Here's my quick and easy recipe for a strawberry cheesecake. Tastes delicious and easy. What more could you ask for?

Ready Made Graham Cracker crust
8 Strawberries
8 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz sour cream
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 375°
2) Beat eggs until thick
3) Beat 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and cream cheese into the eggs, until smooth
4) Pour filling into crust
5) Bake at 375° for 30 minutes and cool about 20 minutes until firm
6) Mix sour cream, 4 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla, and place in 400 degree oven
7) Pour on top of cream cheese layer and smooth out
8) Bake at 400° for 10 min or until firm
9) Cut strawberries into halves and decorate on top
10) Chill overnight

Vermicelli Snail Soup - Bun Oc

Bun Oc translates into Snail Soup with Vermicelli. Depending if you like tart soups, this will be the flavor for you.

3 cubes rock sugar
3 packs of frozen periwinkles snails
9 spoonfuls of chopped lemongrass
1 big garlic, grounded
6 spoonfuls of chopped ginger
2 cans of chicken broth
1 ginger, sliced
1 large canned whole tomatoes
1 handful of dried shrimp, soaked
2 spoonfuls of paprika powder (sautéed in oil to get the color)
Fish sauce
Ground pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 can of beer (any brand, but I prefer Heineken)
¼ package of Fresh tamarind or tamarind powder
3 Lemons
5 lbs chicken bonesgreen onion, cut
1 inch lengthGreen onion + parsley finely chopped
Mam tôm shrimp sauce

1) Defrost periwinkle snail and rub with salt to clean. Cook snail in chicken broth + sliced ginger until softened. Turn to low when boiled, slow cook around 1hr. When the snails are soft, drain and discard broth. Season snail with chopped lemongrass, fish sauce, ground pepper, rock sugar, sugar, chopped ginger.

2) Use chicken bones to make broth, add dried shrimp, slow cook without covering.

3) Add oil to skillet, when boiling, add green onion, garlic. Add tomato, paprika, saute’ until tomato get soft. Whenever the broth is almost done, add sauteed tomatoes.

4) Mix tamarind with hot water, drain to get just the juice. Mix tamarind juice with beer evenly and pour into broth. Taste broth accordingly to get a mixing of sour, sweet and salty.

5) Saute’ the seasoned snails. Keep separate as topping.Cook noodle, prepare vegetable.