Blood orange and chocolate chip sorbet

Saturday, February 25, 2017

As the end of winter is approaching, I couldn’t be more excited to share a regular winter dessert that we make when blood oranges are in abundance. When we took a trip to Rome for our honeymoon many years ago, I was surprised to find that my favorite part of visiting Rome was not the sightseeing or the pasta, but tasting all the different gelati and sorbets. At just about every corner, you’ll find a gelateria claiming to have the best flavors in the eternal city. Instead of ordering a decadent dessert at the end of our meal, we would head to a gelateria and grab a scoop (usually two or more) to cool down in the scorching summer heat. With the cones in our hands, we made our way to the steps at Trevi fountain to enjoy our gelato and sorbets and people watch. 

One of my favorite sorbets was blood orange and chocolate chip because it was unlike anything that I had in the US. The flavor of orange was intense with a raspberry undertone and nicely balanced with the dark chocolate chips peppered throughout. Since our trip to Rome, I tried to recreate that sorbet every winter when blood orange is in season. This is the closest I got to recreating the blood orange and chocolate chip sorbet from memory. Enjoy!

Blood orange and chocolate chip sorbet

½ cup of simple syrup
2 cups of freshly squeezed blood orange juice, strained
pinch of salt
¼ cup of your favorite dark chocolate chip, chopped
2:1 simple syrup
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of water

1. To make the 2:1 simple syrup, whisk water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved completely.

2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool completely.

3. To make the blood orange sorbet, add the simple syrup, orange juice, and salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

4. Remove the mixture from heat and let it cool completely.

5. Refrigerate the mixture for 4 hours or overnight to let the flavor develop.

6. When ready to churn, pour the blood orange mixture into the your ice cream machine, stir in the chocolate chip, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instruction. (My machine takes about 25-30 minutes to get a lovely soft serve consistency.)

7. When the sorbet is ready, scoop out the sorbet into a freezer proof container. The sorbet can be served after 4 hours or stored up to two weeks.

Pho Ga Vietnamese chicken noodle soup

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Can you believe it’s 2017?!!! It caught me by surprise how the new year came upon us in a blink of an eye. I did away with New Year’s resolutions years ago because I never seemed to stay on top of them. One intent I did want for the blog in 2017 is to share with you more of the food from my culture. Yes, that means more Vietnamese recipes! For the first post of the year, I’m sharing one of my all time favorite recipes, my mom's pho ga, as part of the #noodleholicsparty that Soe of Lime and Cilantro is hosting. 

Pho has always been my comfort food for as long as I could remember. It’s a quintessential food of Vietnam, as ramen is to Japan. Growing up, I ate pho bo (beef noodle) because beef was a commodity. I didn’t really appreciate pho ga until my husband introduced me to Pho Ga An Nam in San Jose when we first dated. It was the best pho ga in town, almost two decades ago. From then on, I begged my mom to cook more pho ga instead of pho bo. She always uses free range chicken because the meat remains firmer after cooking. The spices used in pho ga are similar to pho bo and lend a fragrant and intoxicating broth. During cold weather and rainy seasons we find ourselves gravitating toward pho ga. Each family has their own variation but most of the ingredients are very similar. We hope this will become your go to pho ga recipe!

Pho Ga (4-6 servings)

1 3-lb free range chicken
2 lbs of chicken carcass
12 cups of water
1 medium yellow onion
2 thumb sized pieces of ginger
1 cinnamon stick
10 cloves
5 star anise
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsps fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 16-oz package of rice noodles (pho noodles)

For the garnish

1 bunch of Thai basil
½ cup of chopped cilantro
½ cup of chopped green onion
1 green jalapenos pepper, sliced thinly
2 cups of mung bean sprouts
1 lime cut into wedges
Freshly ground pepper for serving
Hoisin sauce for serving
Sriracha sauce for serving

1. Char the onion and ginger pieces on both sides over a gas stove. If you don’t have a gas stove, broil them for a few minutes in the oven. Set aside.

2. Roast the spices in the oven at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes until fragrant. Place the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, and cloves in a piece of muslin/cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Set aside.

3. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken carcass, chicken, onion, ginger, and spices and let everything simmer over medium-low heat. Occasionally remove any scum from the surface.

4. Prepare a large ice-water bath 30 minutes into cooking. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and immediately submerge it in the water bath to stop the cooking process and give the meat a firmer texture. Let the chicken stand for 15 minutes until it’s cool enough to handle.

5. Remove the chicken meat from the bones. Set aside. Throw the bones back into the stockpot.

6. Continue simmering the broth for another 90 minutes. Season with salt, fish sauce, and sugar to taste. Add a little more water if too much water has evaporated during the cooking process.

7. While the broth is simmering, bring a small sauce pan to a boil.

8. Add the noodles and cook for about 2-3 minutes or just until al dente.  The noodles will finish cooking in the broth.

9. Prepare the plate of garnishes with Thai basil leaves, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges, and jalapeno peppers.

10. In a small sauce bowl, add the Hoisin sauce and the Sriracha sauce for serving.

11. Chop the green onion and cilantro.

12. To assemble divide the noodles between soup bowls. Top with chicken meat, scallions, and cilantro. Ladle the hot stock over the top, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately with the garnishes. 

Cook's note: for a less fatty broth, make the broth a day ahead and leave the broth in the fridge overnight.  Remove the layer of fat at the surface before rewarming the broth.   For a cleaner broth, strain it before serving.

For more delicious noodle recipes, check out all the other #noodleholicsparty dishes from bloggers from all part of the world!

Rakhee Yadav |Vegetarian manchurian with stir fry noodles by Boxofspice

Erin Clarkson |Beef ragu with pappardelle by Cloudy Kitchen

Ingrid Goesnar |Indonesian boiled noodles (mie rebus) by Piquecooking

Christine Leong |Malaysian Laksa with Pumpkin by Vermillionroots

Ashley Cuoco |Chestnut Tortellini & Fettuccine in Sage Cream Sauce by Cuococontento

Ryan and Adam |Vegetarian Tteokbokki by husbandsthatcook

Regan Baroni |Shrimp Scampi with Tagliatelle by Regan Baroni

Nevada Berg |Juniper Berry & Barley Noodles with Creamy Chantarelles by North Wild Kitchen

Joanne |Vegan Jjajangmyeon by the Korean Vegan

Lindsay Radcliffe |Duck Noodle Soup by Lindsaysfeast

Lyndsey Eden |Avocado pesto cream sauce with homemade fettuccine noodles by Lyndsey Eden

Aimee Twigger |Homemade soba noodles in a lapsang souchong broth with crispy tofu by Twiggstudios

Haiya Tarik |Malaysian Laksa by Passmethedimsum

Maggie Zhu |Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodle (Cong You Ban Mian) by Omnivorescookbook

Lauren McDuffie |Oak-Smoked Pasta Cacio e Pepe by Harvest and Honey

Soe Thein |Noodle in Burmese coconut and chicpea broth (Oh- no-khao-swe) by Lime and Cilantro

Marvellina Goh |Aceh noodles (Mie Aceh) by Whattocooktoday

Mahroo |Persian Noodle (Reshteh) by Noghlemey

Spiced hot chocolate

Thursday, December 15, 2016

On a recent trip to Seattle, I was introduced to Intrigue Chocolate Company where I had the best hot chocolate ever. I initially picked the Jamaican hot chocolate because of the interesting name but was completely blown away by the flavor when I had my first sip. No ingredients were listed on the menu but I could taste the richness of dark chocolate spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, a slight note of vanilla, and a touch of rum. Since coming back from Seattle, I have been obsessed with recreating that Jamaican hot chocolate. While this cup of hot chocolate won’t be the exact replica of Intrigue Chocolate’s, it’s pretty darn good and perfect for sipping on these chilly fall days.  If you're serving it to the kids, don't forget to skip the rum.

Spiced hot chocolate

1 ¾ cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
¾ cup of semi sweet chocolate, chopped
7 cardamom pods, crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp rum
1 vanilla bean, splitted
½ tbsp sugar (to taste)
Marshmallow and cocoa for serving

1. In a small saucepan, heat milk and heavy cream over medium-low heat.

2. Add the crushed cardamom, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean. Let it simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

3. Add in the chopped chocolate and whisk until dissolved.  Whisk in the sugar.

4.Remove from heat and strain the hot chocolate.5.When ready to serve, stir in the rum, garnish with marshmallow and cocoa powder.

Hidden Rose Apple Tart

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I could hardly believe that December is here and in a blink of an eye the new year will be upon us. I’m not ready for fall to be over let alone for 2017 to arrive. So many fall dishes still on my list to cook and bake. Another squash and apple soup. A pear and chocolate tart. Chicken stewed in apple cider. A savory fig and goat cheese tart. Butternut squash and ricotta ravioli. And many more apple cakes and tarts. I'm like that little girl that kept on asking for one more song at the end of the party. One dessert that I was really happy to cross off my list was this hidden rose apple tart. These hidden rose apples came all the way from Oregon and are famous for their deep red fresh and crisp with balanced flavor of tart and sweet. I was lucky enough to get my hands on them soon after they arrived at Specialty Produce.

When it comes to desserts, I kept things simple to enhance the flavor of these delicious apples. Paired with puff pastry for a shell and flavored with a touch of cinnamon were all they required.

Not too long after the tart came out of the oven, my little guy caught sight of it and demanded to try it. So there we sat in the kitchen, just the two of us, and polished off this tart. He picked off the best part, the apples and crunchy crust, but I didn’t mind one bit. He liked it so much that I made it again the next day. And hopefully again next year when these apples are in season.

Hidden Rose Apple Tart

½ pound of puff pastry
2 hidden rose apples, sliced thinly
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
2 tbsps granulated sugar
2 tbsps almond meal
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
¼ tsp Saigon cinnamon
powdered sugar for dusting
vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche for serving

1. Place the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Peel, core, and slice apples into ⅛ inch with a mandoline. Gently toss with the lemon juice to prevent the apples from discoloring.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick and trim it into a 10 inch circle.

6. Sprinkle the sugar and almond meal over the top, leaving a 1 inch border.

7. Arrange the apple slices on top of the dough with slight overlap, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges.

8. Fold the edges of the puff pastry over the apple slices and press gently to seal. Pop the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes or until the dough is firm.

9. Mix the the turbinado and cinnamon until combined.

10. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apple slices and edges.

11. Bake the tart for 30-40 minute on the middle rack, turning halfway through to ensure even baking.

12. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

13. When ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.  Slice the apple tart and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

14.The tart will keep for another day in an airtight container.

Cookbook Review: French Country Cooking

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I was really looking forward to the release of Mimi Thorisson’s French Country Cooking given how wonderful her first book is.  French Country Cooking is as gorgeous as her first book and similar in term of style but it delves deeper into how her family bought their chateau in Medoc and turned into a restaurant/workshop space.  

From the sweet recipes I really enjoyed Plantia’s tarte tatin, fig and pistachio cake, beignets with apricot filling, and strawberry tart.  The beignets were so good warm and tasted similar to the beignet mix we got from Cafe du Monde but we skipped the apricot filling since it wasn’t apricot season.  For the savory recipes, chanterelle and garlic tartlets, roast duck with cherries, and lobster bisque. There were other recipes that looked really interesting but ingredients were hard to find like the guinea hen ravioli, quail stuffed with foie gras, and turbot with vin jaune sauce.  

Even though I really enjoyed the recipes from French Country Cooking, they do require a lot of planning and prep work.  These recipes aren’t meant for a beginner cook.  Overall French Country Cooking is a beautiful book full of delicious recipes and perfect for anyone who wants to delve deeper into French country cooking or entertain family and friends.          

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher 

Roasted kabocha soup

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A few weeks ago I caught a bad cold, or so I thought. It started with a sore throat and progressed to complete exhaustion, nausea, and vomiting. I knew something was wrong when I could barely move or eat. My husband drove me to urgent care and I was diagnosed with Strep throat. I had to take time off from work, was put on antibiotic, and quarantined myself. The first three days were the worst. I felt like there were pins poking at my throat everytime I tried to talk or eat. My mom’s kabocha soup came to the rescue. 

Made with roasted kabocha squash, scented with lemongrass and ginger, and enriched by coconut milk, my mom’s soup was the perfect antidote to my sore throat. Her kabocha squash soup is one of my favorites not only for those times I’m feeling under the weather but for those chilly, autumn and winter days.  

Roasted kabocha squash soup

1 2-lb kabocha squash, quartered

2 tbsps olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 knob of ginger, peeled and crushed
1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into 2 inches, crushed
1 can of 14 oz coconut creme
1 cup of water
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
Micogreen for serving
Freshly ground pepper for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. To prepare the squash, scoop out the seeds and remove as much of the soft, sticky pulp as possible. Brush the squash pieces with olive oil, place cut side down on a roasting tray, and roast in the oven for 60 minutes, turning halfway through.

3. Remove the squash from the oven, remove the skin with a knife, and chop the squash into chunks.  Reserve 1/2 a cup of squash chunks for serving.

4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the ginger and lemongrass.

5. Add in the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil.

6. Add in the squash and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

7. Remove the ginger and lemongrass pieces and set aside.

8. Use a handheld blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Add back the ginger and lemongrass.

9. Season with fish sauce and sugar and let it simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes.

10. Ladle soup into serving bowls, top with squash chunks, microgreens and freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately.

Salted Caramel Quince Tarte Tatin

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A few weeks ago, I took a short trip to Seattle and fell in love with the Emerald City all over again. I had forgotten how gorgeous fall in Seattle is with all the red, orange, and ochre foliage lining streets and city parks. The rain, fog, and its melancholy made me miss the bay area, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time meandering different parts of Seattle, from Pioneer Square, Belltown, Capitol Hill to Ballard, popping in random shops and restaurants.  My favorite meal was at Lark where I indulged in oysters and ended the night with a delicious quince tarte tatin, smothered in salted caramel sauce and topped with old fashion vanilla ice cream.  It was probably the best thing I ate on that trip!

 The next day, I drove around Seattle for looking for quinces and totally lucked out on my way to the airport. I stopped by a gas station and spied a small market across the street. With three hours to spare, I made my way to the market.  It had a nice selection of fruits and to my delight a huge bin of pineapple quinces. I probably bought about five pounds and carefully stuffed them in my carry on. Instead of taking a nap on the plane, my thoughts were occupied with how to recreate the salted caramel tarte tatin from Lark.

When I came home, I left the quinces in my kitchen and let their heavenly fragrance fill my favorite space. After a few days, I dug out an old recipe for apple tarte tatin and substituted the quince for the apple. I altered the cooking time for my tarte tatin since quinces are virtually inedible raw and required a little more cooking than apples. It’s a bit of work to make this classic French upside-down dessert but worth every bite. The quince tarte tatin that I had at Lark was paired with vanilla ice cream and I wouldn’t eat it any other way. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Tarte Tatin 

4 small quinces, peeled, cored, and halved
¼ tsp salt
½ cup of sugar
2 tbsps of water
½ stick of unsalted butter, cubed
1 lb all butter puff pastry
All purpose flour for dusting
Vanilla ice cream for serving
One 8” flameproof tart pan or heavy-based, oven proof pan

1. In a flameproof tart pan, on low heat, add water, salt and sugar, and cook gently until sugar has dissolved.

2. Increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Cook without stirring for 7 minutes or until light golden.

3. Add the butter and stir until melted and well combined.

4. Put the quinces, cut side up, into the pan. Return to low heat and cook for 10 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

6. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry on a floured surface. Cut a round circle slightly bigger than the pan.

7. Place the pastry circle over the quinces and fold the edges under to tuck in the apples. Use a small knife, make 3 small slits in the center of the pastry.

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden.

9. Let the tarte tatin stand for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges and carefully turn out the tarte tatin onto a serving plate. 

10. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream. The tart is best eaten on the day of baking but will keep for 1 day.