Friday, February 29, 2008

Anemones and Weeds

I think these have to be the nicest flower pictures I've taken, even if several of them are weeds. :P A pretty anemone.
Anemones and Weeds 1
A random weed I discovered in the yard. Unless it's not a weed and someone has a name?
Anemones and Weeds 2
And another bunch of weeds.
Anemones and Weeds 3
I don't mind that they're weeds since they sure look nice.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taiwanese Popcorn Tofu

Popcorn Tofu

This is my vegetarian take on Taiwanese popcorn chicken, the kind of snack you get at tea houses such as Pa Pa Walk - San Gabriel, Tea Station - Alhambra, and 85 Degrees C Tea House - San Gabriel. After making Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken), I realized that the batter was reminiscent of popcorn chicken and mentally filed it away for future recipe experimentation.

The result, except for the very square shape, looked and tasted pretty good. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw (Filipino Squash and Long Beans in Coconut Milk)

In honor of Marvin of Burnt Lumpia's recent appearance on tv, I decided to finally post my recipe for Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw (Filipino Squash and Long Beans in Coconut Milk). (And whoohoo! I'll take credit for him very, very briefly mentioning Vietnamese food on tv. ;) That's one of the nicest aspects of food blogging -- learning about another culture through food. Beyond pancit noodles and lumpia egg rolls, my knowledge of Filipino food was very limited. But through Burnt Lumpia, I'm finding that there's actually quite a few similarities with Vietnamese food. Both cuisines have sour soups, sinagang = canh chua ca (Vietnamese sour fish soup). Both have shrimp paste, bagoong = mam ruoc. Both have coconut milk desserts, halo halo = che. So one evening back in November, when UnHipLA said she ate really yummy Filipino food and had leftovers, I told her to come on over. The lumpia and calamari (I'm sure my readers can tell me the proper Filipino word for this.) were good but nothing unusual. It was the squash in coconut milk with green beans, spinach, and fresh large chili peppers that really made me take notice. While I could see what the ingredients were and could probably figure it out on my own, a little Googling turned up some recipes as well as the name of the dish. I used the last of my precious sugar pumpkins that I had frozen for this recipe but it was so worth it. This recipe can easily be vegetarian by omitting the shrimp and substituting plain salt for the shrimp paste and fish sauce. Although the flavor is largely because of the shrimp paste and fish sauce. :P Ginataang Kalabasa at Sitaw (Filipino Squash and Long Beans in Coconut Milk) Adapted from Filipino Recipes For a 2-quart pot, you'll need: 1 lb squash cut into 2-inch chunks, or thick slices About 1 cup green beans As many shrimp as you'd like, peeled and deveined 1 to 2 cups of baby spinach leaves 1 16-oz can coconut milk 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 small onion, diced 1 small knob of ginger 1 tblsp shrimp paste (mam ruoc or bagoong) fish sauce, to taste Optional: I didn't have any on hand when I made this recipe, but I recommend adding fresh chili peppers. Look for large-sized varieties like the orange and white kind. Halve and de-seed them. If you're using a fresh squash, microwave for 5 to 8 minutes until softened and easy to cut into. Peel rind and cut into 2-inch chunks or thick slices. Don't shake the can of coconut milk. Skim the cream off the top and set aside. In a wok or saute pan on high heat, add a few drizzles of oil and saute garlic and onion until softened. Add shrimp paste and mash until combined. Add squash and quickly saute. Then pour the mostly clear coconut milk into the pot. Fill the can with water to rinse out the last bit of coconut milk and pour that into the pot as well. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes to half an hour. The consistency should be similar to a thick Thai curry. Check to see if squash is softened and liquid is reduced. Add fish sauce to taste. When squash is softened, add the coconut cream that had been set aside, along with the shrimp, spinach, and green beans and let simmer another 5 minutes or so until shrimp is cooked and flavors have combined. You can also add fresh chili peppers at this point if you wish. Serve with rice. Enjoy! So Marvin and Dhanggit, how'd I do for my first attempt at Filipino cooking? And yay! I can now add Filipino to my recipe index. :) I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers. If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting this week. WHB is hosted this week by Zorra of Kochtopf. ***** 1 year ago today, a mini tour of Chinatown, Los Angeles.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter)

Ever seen gallon-sized containers of ghee before? I didn't either until I went to Little India in Artesia.
Ghee at Farm Fresh Inc - Artesia (Little India)
In case you didn't know, according to Wikipedia, ghee is made by simmering unsalted butter until the water has boiled off and the proteins have settled to the bottom. The clarified butter can then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration, which makes it very important to Indian, Egyptian, and Ethiopian cuisines. Farm Fresh Inc 18612 Pioneer Blvd Artesia, CA 90701 562-865-3191 ***** 1 year ago today, musings about my family's tradition of sending care packages in the form of banh tet (Vietnamese lunar new year sticky rice cakes).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Naan (Indian Leavened Flatbread)

Doesn't the naan (Indian leavened flatbread) in the back look lovely?
Let's get a closer look shall we? No, it's not quite as nice as the naan you get in restaurants that are actually cooked in a clay oven, but I got pretty close didn't I?

Since naan is a leavened bread, make sure you allow for about 3 hours of rising time.

Naan (Indian Leavened Flatbread)
Adapted from Manjula's Kitchen (Watch her video. She's awesome.) I've increased the yogurt and yeast in her recipe just a tad to make the naan more leavened since I thought her version was a bit doughy.

For half a dozen naan, you'll need:
2 cups white all-purpose flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tblsp oil
3 tblsp yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Optional: Ghee or melted butter for brushing on naan. Add minced garlic or cilantro to topping.

Dissolve 1 1/2 tsp yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 3/4 cup lukewarm water.

In a large mixing bowl, add 2 cups white all-purpose flour, 2 tblsp oil, 3 tblsp yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Slowly pour the yeasty water mixture into the flour. Lightly knead the dough into a ball like so. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel on top and let rise for 3 hours or until doubled in size.

When the dough has sufficiently risen and you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a pizza stone in the oven to preheat. If you don't have one, substitute with a thick metal baking pan or oven-proof stoneware.

Flour your hands and divide the dough into 6 balls. On a heavily floured surface, you can roll the dough out with a rolling pin or stretch it out with your hands. I actually like naan with thicker and thinner parts so I just kept pressing on the dough with my palms and stretched it out with my hands.

Then, cooking three at a time, lay the naan on the pizza stone and bake for 3 to 5 minutes. Brush with ghee (Indian clarified butter) or regular melted butter before serving.

Enjoy!

My other Indian recipes:
Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower)

*****
1 year ago today, Lien Hoa Chinese BBQ Food To-Go in Westminster is where I go for $1.50 quails.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower)

Purple is my favorite color. So while my recipes for roasted purple cauliflower with bacon and balsamic vinegar and gratin with purple cauliflower, fennel, and leeks were good, they didn't really strike at the "fun food" part of my soul. And after months and months of seeing Marvin of Burnt Lumpia make purple ube pancakes, purple ube ice cream swirled with blueberry sauce, purple ube gnocchi, and most recently, purple ube cupcakes with macapuno frosting, well, I was positively purple with envy. So while my purple cauliflower was lovely, it wasn't enough to stand alone. I had to pair it with another purple -- Okinawan purple sweet potatoes. The outside conceals such a lovely purple color doesn't it? Here they are -- purple cauliflower and purple sweet potato. The purple cauliflower has disputed origins from either South Africa or Italy. The Okinawan purple yam is obviously from Japan. However will the two vegetables get together? Perhaps India would be a good halfway meeting point? Ahem. *Clears throat* With much apologies to Lionel Richie and totally ripping off a scene from Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. "Aloo! Is it me you're looking for? I can see it in your eyes I can see it in your smile..." What greater recipe to celebrate the love between purple cauliflower and purple sweet potato than Indian aloo (potato) gobi (cauliflower). I told you their love affair wouldn't be a pretty sight. Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower) Adapted from Bend It Like Beckham via Chuck Darwin For a 2-quart pot, you'll need: About 1 lb cauliflower, cut into florets 2 Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, or blue potatoes, or ordinary potatoes if you must, chunked 1 small onion, diced 1 tomato, diced 1 small knob, about 1-inch, ginger, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp garam masala 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground turmeric 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp salt A few sprigs of cilantro/coriander, chopped Cut cauliflower, potatoes, onion, and tomato into large chunks. Set aside. In a saucepan on high heat, add a few drizzles of oil and add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala, and 1/2 tsp coriander seeds. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and saute until fragrant and onion is softened. Add cauliflower, potatoes, and tomato, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix thoroughly and turn heat down to medium-low to simmer for about 20 minutes. Test to see if the aloo gobi is soft enough to your liking. Adjust spices or salt if necessary. Add chopped cilantro for topping. Serve with rice or naan (Indian leavened flatbread). (And yes, I made my own naan too.) Enjoy! My other purple cauliflower recipes: Roasted purple cauliflower with bacon and balsamic vinegar Gratin with purple cauliflower, fennel, and leeks My other Indian recipes: Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) ***** 1 year ago today, I ruminated on whether Chinese restaurants were intimidating while eating dim sum at Dragon Phoenix Palace Chinese Seafood Restaurant (Long Phung Lau) in Westminster.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gratin with Purple Cauliflower, Fennel, and Leeks

More purple cauliflower love... Normally I make gratins with potatoes and fennel. And since I love mashed cauliflower (Have you tried? It's like mashed potatoes but without the carbs. Hmm. I should have made mashed purple cauliflower!), I figured the taste would be similar enough if I added fennel, leeks, and topped with parmesan bread crumbs. The beauty of this recipe is that if you still have leftovers from my roasted purple cauliflower with bacon and balsamic vinegar recipe, you can add that to this dish as well. Gratin with Purple Cauliflower, Fennel, and Leeks For an 8X8 inch pan, you'll need: Half a head of cauliflower, about 1 1/2 lbs, sectioned into florets or sliced thinly 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, sliced thinly 1 large leek, sliced thinly 1 cup bread crumbs, or crushed homemade garlic croutons 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup milk or cream 2 to 4 tblsp butter, sliced into pats 2 tblsp corn starch Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Section about half a head or 1 1/2 lbs of cauliflower into florets or slice thinly. Sprinkle salt on top to absorb excess moisture. Set aside. Thinly slice fennel bulb and leek. Press cauliflower to remove any moisture and then toss with fennel and leek. Place mixture into a lightly greased 8X8 inch pan. Depending on how much you like butter, add about 2 to 4 tblsps on top of the mixture. Dissolve 2 tblsps corn starch into 1 cup milk. Then pour mixture over cauliflower, fennel, and leeks. Mix 1/2 cup parmesan cheese with 1 cup bread crumbs. Add to top of cauliflower. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes or until milk has turned into a bechamel sauce and topping is crispy. I like my vegetables tender-crisp, but you may need to leave the gratin in the oven longer if you want them softer. Look at the gratin's lovely lavender cream. Enjoy! My other purple cauliflower recipes: Purple Aloo Gobi (Indian Potatoes and Cauliflower) Roasted purple cauliflower with bacon and balsamic vinegar ***** 1 year ago today, French pastries made by real Frenchmen in the heart of Little Saigon at Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie - Garden Grove.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar

Isn't the purple cauliflower so gorgeous?

About five months ago, I saw this purple cauliflower at the Farmers' Market in Alhambra and couldn't resist taking it home with me even though it was a whopping $4!

According to Wikipedia, purple cauliflower is from anthocyanin (Hey! That's also the pigment that makes blood oranges red!), which is also present in red cabbage and red wine. So even though it was an arresting color and I like cauliflower and all, I didn't love it. I mean, what was I going to do with a whole head of cauliflower?

Turns out, I came up with three recipes. :P

Except, while purple cauliflower looks pretty in the raw, when cooked, eh, not so much. So these recipes were sitting in my queue until FoWC (as in friend of) Oanh of Halfway between Ca Mau and Saigon said she'd be "mondo-chuffed" if I would post these recipes for her. Well, I've never had anyone get "chuffed" over? about? for? me so how could I turn down such a request? ;)

Picture taken without flash.

And with flash.
See! I told you purple cauliflower doesn't look so pretty when cooked. Obviously you can make this recipe with regular white cauliflower as well.

Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from Elise of Simply Recipes

You'll need:
As much cauliflower as you'd like, cut into 2-inch florets
A few strips of bacon, diced
A few garlic cloves, minced
A few drizzles of balsamic vinegar, or juice of half a lemon
A few drizzles of olive oil
A few dashes of parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut up about a quarter of a head of cauliflower, about 1 pound, sectioned into florets. Tossed with two strips of diced bacon and two cloves of minced garlic. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over it all. Add a few dashes of parmesan cheese on top.

Bake in oven for about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender. Toss again before serving as a side dish.

Enjoy!

My other purple cauliflower recipes:
Gratin with purple cauliflower, fennel, and leeks

*****
1 year ago today, I introduced some OC food bloggers to bun oc (Vietnamese water snail rice vermicelli noodle soup) at Vien Dong Restaurant in Garden Grove.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pho Thang Long Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Pho Thang Long Restaurant in Little Saigon has been sitting in my queue since last July. It's not that I've been holding out on you, it's just that I thought I'd be back and I'd rather do a post based on more than just two items from the menu. Even though those two items were mighty tasty.


Pho Thang Long Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1


But then I realized that my "1 year ago today" link was my rather lengthy post on the history of Vietnamese Americans and Little Saigon. And well, I can't have that link at the end of just any old post, now can I? And because I don't venture into Little Saigon as often as I used to anymore, this was the only restaurant I had to offer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to Make a Scrambled Egg Omelet in a Wok

I've mentioned several times about scrambling eggs in a wok. They're not precisely scrambled eggs per se. It's sort of a cross between scrambled eggs and an omelet. The first time I made this, my brother was quite surprised to see all these layers in the eggs. I've since continued using the technique for all my fried rice and wok-fried noodle dishes.

I enjoy eating this simple dish for breakfast or as a nice side dish for dinner. Because I add a few dashes of fish sauce, this is sometimes my whole dinner. :)


Scrambled Egg Omelet 1


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fried Rice Yang/Yeung Chow/Duong Chau-Style

So now that I've shown you how to make Char Siu/Xa Xiu (Chinese Barbecued Pork), I'll get to a few recipes. One of my favorites is Yang Chow/Yang Zhou/Yeung Chow fried rice, a staple in most Chinese restaurants. In Vietnamese, it's known as com chien Duong Chau. OK, I'll give you a minute here to "ooh" and "ahh" at how pretty my fried rice turned out. ;)


Yang Chow Fried Rice 1


According to Wikipedia, Yang Chow fried rice was actually not created in Yang Zhou, although they have tried to claim it. And why wouldn't they when this is the most popular version of fried rice served in Chinese restaurants? Yang Chow fried rice was invented by Qing dynasty magistrate Yi Bingshou (1754-1815), who once presided over the region.

The main ingredients to make fried rice Yang Chow-style are char siu, shrimp, eggs, and something green, typically gai lan (Chinese broccoli). Gai lan is a member of the broccoli and kale family. It tastes a bit sweeter than broccoli but also has a slightly bitter aftertaste. You'll typically see gai lan at dim sum restaurants served steamed with oyster sauce.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Maggi Seasoning Sauce

I briefly mentioned Maggi Seasoning Sauce before as my preferred sauce for Banh Mi Trung Ga Op La (Vietnamese French Bread with Sunny Side Up Eggs). Maggi sauce is like a liquid version of bouillon cubes. I'm pretty frugal though and the Chinese and American version has always served me just fine.

Until I started food blogging.


Maggi Seasoning Sauce 1


Then when other bloggers would ask if I preferred the European or the American version, I couldn't reply. And well, curiosity was really getting to me!

And so it was that on a recent trip to the San Gabriel Superstore I stood there staring at all the bottles of Maggi sauce.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Old Canes

My camellias are blooming. My roses are not. I live in an 84-year-old house so I'm not sure how old are these roses. They barely have any blooms as the canes are old and wooden. Like really wooden. Any ideas on how to revive them? In a bit of whimsy several years ago, I bought a bunch of gazing ball garden ornaments. ***** 1 year ago today, really great banana bread, which I shared with my relatives for the Lunar New Year. It's so good that my youngest aunt asked if I made another batch to give away this year.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup)

Canh Bi Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Winter Melon Soup) 1

This recipe is at the request of Hung Huynh (No, not the Top Chef Hung Huynh.), who was searching for a recipe for Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup) because his mom always made it for the lunar new year. I'm in the can't-eat-it camp as it's just way too bitter for me. After all the eating I've been doing from the lunar festivities, I figured a few light Vietnamese soups were just the thing.

But as I'm not in the habit of making foods I can't eat, even for the blog, I made this with bi dao (Vietnamese fuzzy gourd winter melon) and bau (Vietnamese opo squash). If you wish, I finally made Canh O/Kho Qua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Bitter Melon Soup).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Persimmon Bread

Persimmon Bread 1

Are there still persimmons in the markets? Is this one of those recipes I should have posted way back when I made it it? Like months ago? Back when I still actually saw persimmons on the tree?

Sorry dear readers. The posting queue is so long. Sometimes I actually have stories about the food I want to share so those posts come first. Sometimes I'm too tired to even type out recipe only posts. But you understand right? Because you'd rather have a well-crafted post, or at least a moderately interesting one, than just a recipe index?


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nectarine Blossoms and Musings on the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

On the first day of Tet (Vietnamese New Year), I went into my backyard to take a photo of whatever was growing in my garden. I was happily surprised to see these gorgeous pink blossoms on my nectarine tree. As I was getting ready to post the photos, I decided to do a little blog hopping first to wish all my friends a Happy New Year. And found out that my friend Christine D.'s dear aunt Cindy had passed away from colon cancer. She was only 32 years old. I've never met Christine, but when her aunt was diagnosed with colon cancer a year ago, I followed her online journal as she underwent chemotherapy, planned her wedding, married her sweetheart, and then struggled with thoughts of death. She was too young. With too much life left to live. With too many people left behind who would miss her. Christine, I'm so sorry for your loss. Anything I say would be inadequate, but I thought of these blossoms to honor your aunt Cindy. I've been thinking a lot about community and connections lately. When I started this blog, I figured I'd share some recipes and some of my favorite restaurants. It seemed easier to have a central repository to direct my friends to instead of retyping a recipe again and again. But somewhere along the way, I formed unexpected connections -- some became real-life friends, but most are people I've never met. When mainstream media occasionally swoops in to write a story about some of the more popular food blogs, they often miss the whole point of blogging in the first place. Sure some people start blogs hoping to get famous, but most food bloggers do it purely out of a love for food and a willingness to share it with others. We're not trying to compete with mainstream media. Although many of the subjects people used to get from newspapers such as politics, sports, celebrity gossip, and food, they now get from blogs. And even though reporters and some cookbook authors now have blogs too, few of them actually engage with readers or other bloggers in the same way. Build a niche. Be unique. Or so goes the advice because everyone and their mother has a blog these days. No one cares if you ate a grilled cheese sandwich? Ah, but I beg to differ. Because over the course of the past year or more, I've discovered that people really do care if I ate a grilled cheese sandwich. Last summer when I was busy entertaining Norwegian cousin and hadn't blogged for weeks, several of you checked in with me to make sure I was OK. Last fall when the wildfires blazed all over Southern California, some of you again checked in to make sure I and my family were alright. Last year when I had just started blogging and whined about being sick in a post for chao (Vietnamese rice porridge), you checked in on me. And because it's Valentine's Day, I just wanted to say that I appreciate all of you -- my blogging friends and regular readers. Your comments and concern really do touch me. It's what keeps me blogging. So thank you. ***** 1 year ago today, chocolate buffet at the Sofitel Plaza Saigon, Vietnam.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cranberry Juice-Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream

Cranberry Juice-Poached Pears 1
Were you paying attention? Did you notice that between my Lunar New Year post and Valentine's Day, I showed you all red recipes? :) This recipe came about by using up cranberry juice left over from lil' sis's New Year's Eve party. Don't worry, I made this months ago, it's not juice that's been sitting in the fridge for months. :P Anyway, normally I love red wine-poached pears but I don't drink much wine these days and didn't want to waste a bottle. Also, this way, the cranberry juice creates a lovely thick syrup to drizzle over the ice cream. I had one lonely pear to use up, so obviously use more juice if you want to serve more than just yourself.
Cranberry Juice-Poached Pears 2
Cranberry Juice-Poached Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream For one serving, you'll need: 1 pear, sliced in half and cored 1 cup cranberry juice 2 tblsp sugar, or more if you've got a sweeter tooth than mine I used a somewhat ripe Bosc pear for this so that it wasn't too hard, but not too soft. Slice in half and hollow out the core. In a small pan on medium to medium-low heat, stir 2 tblsp of sugar into 1 cup cranberry juice until dissolved. Add pear halves and let simmer until the cranberry juice thickens into a sauce. This takes about 15 minutes or so. Make sure to check and flip the pears so the color is evenly coated. The sugars in the juice should form a nicely caramelized sauce. Spoon pears into a shallow bowl, add some vanilla ice cream, and drizzle hot cranberry sauce on top. Enjoy! ***** 1 year ago today, the best maple bars ever at Miss Donuts & Bagel - La Verne.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuong Ot Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Chili Sauce)

Each fall when the chili peppers ripened, my ba noi (paternal grandmother) would grind what seemed like endless amounts of fresh chilies in the food processor. There'd be jars and jars of chili sauce, which she doled out to everyone in the family. A spoonful here or there would liven up any dipping sauce. A few months ago when I came across Andrea of Viet World Kitchen's mention of adding lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and fish sauce, I knew it would kick up the chili sauce another notch.

Tuong Ot Xa 1

So for my first experiment, I gathered a couple stalks of lemongrass, a handful of fresh chilies from my youngest uncle's garden, a handful of dried chili pods, some chili sauce I already had in my fridge, and Sriracha hot sauce for color. The result was so tasty that I figured I'd make some to share.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Blood Orange Granita

Blood Orange Granita 1

The moro blood oranges were so stunning, I just had to make a granita out of them. A granita is an Italian semi-frozen dessert of sugar, water, and flavorings.

The blood oranges were sweet enough on their own though that I didn't add anything. Just pure-squeezed moro blood oranges.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blood Orange Juice

It's one of my favorite times of year - blood orange season at the farmers markets.
Blood Orange Juice 1
According to Wikipedia, the color comes from anthocyanin, a pigment common in flowers and fruit, but not in citrus fruits. The blood orange may have originated in Sicily from a cross between a pomelo and a tangerine. Moro, the newest variety of blood oranges, is also the darkest in color. The flavor and aroma is also stronger. I find it a little sweeter too. Blood oranges supply 130 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin C, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and bad cholesterol build-up. So what else could I do but squeeze a glass of 100% pure blood orange juice?
Blood Orange Juice 2
The color alone makes drinking a glass of blood orange juice a pleasure.
Blood Orange Juice 3
I get mine for $1 a pound at the Farmers' Market in Alhambra. But if they're not as cheap and plentiful where you are, you can squeeze just a couple and add them to ordinary grapefruit juice to make blood orange grapefruit juice. Also, you can freeze some of the juice and make blood orange granita. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Banh Mi Xa Xiu (Vietnamese Barbecued Pork Sandwich)

Banh mi xa xiu 1

So now that you've got my recipe for Char Siu/Xa Xiu (Chinese/Vietnamese Barbecued Pork), it's simple enough to put together a recipe for banh mi xa xiu (Vietnamese barbecued pork sandwich). Again, this is more an assembly list of instructions than a recipe.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Char Siu/Xa Xiu (Chinese/Vietnamese Barbecued Pork)

Char Siu Xa Xiu (Chinese Barbequed Pork) 1

Last year for Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year), I made char siu bao (Chinese barbecued pork buns). I didn't like the bun part of the recipe but loved the char siu part. The original recipe was way too laborious though. I've heavily shortened a lot of the steps and adjusted amounts resulting in a moist and flavorful barbecued pork. The main difference with my recipe is that it's not so excessively sweet and omits that unreal pink color. So if you must have it, by all means use the packaged mix with food coloring. Or do as I do, use ketchup and the pork will be red, just not unnaturally red.  

Char siu, which means "roasted on a fork," is traditionally skewered and roasted over an open fire. Using honey in the recipe and cooking the meat in a shallow pan in the oven will achieve a similar shiny glazed effect. Char siu is Cantonese, in Mandarin it's cha shao, and in Vietnamese it's xa xiu.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat!!!

Happy Lunar New Year to all my blogging buddies and readers! May the Year of the Rat be filled with many good eats! I give fruit to my aunts and uncles for their Tet eve altar offerings, in return I get much better goodies. My oldest uncle's family game me lap xuong (Chinese sausage) from Quang Tran, Inc. (our family's preferred brand), banh tet (Vietnamese lunar new year sticky rice cakes), homemade Vietnamese head cheese with crunchy pig's ears (Yummy! I was totally craving this!), homemade sesame peanut candy, and dua mon (Vietnamese pickles). Last year, I wrote about my family's tradition of making and gifting banh tet. Hehehe. Look at the lovely crunchy cartilage bits in the head cheese. The two packages on the left are fish and shrimp paste from my youngest aunt (which I'll save for some recipes later on), the two big banh tet are from my youngest uncle's family, and the smaller banh tet and mangoes are from my second-youngest uncle. And cousin Q even made che troi nuoc (Vietnamese sticky rice dumplings). Check out my fellow Vietnamese bloggers for banh tet- and banh chung-making posts. Cathy of Gastronomy helped her great-aunt make banh tet in Saigon and then later gave instructions on how to store and eat it. Christine of Holy Basil has step-by-step photos of making banh chung. Yen of Viet Club helped her mom with the two-day process of making banh chung. ***** 1 year ago today, one of my comfort soups - canh bi voi tom (Vietnamese wintermelon soup with shrimp).