Tag Archives: gluten-free

Chocolate orange almond cake (gluten-free)

19 Jul

A few weeks ago I met a friend at one of his favorite new coffee shops in Philadelphia, Frieda’s, which is maybe called FRIEDA for generations and has a very cool mission of essentially being a cool hip young coffee shop that welcomes old people.  I spent three hours there working on math and eating breakfast and having an incredible chocolate cake that had this beautiful aromatic orange flavor and big chunks of orange in it.

We spent a long time raving over this amazing cake, and the chef/co-owner walked over and chatted with us (he’s on a first-name basis with my friend, who goes there all the time) and told me the recipe orally.  Oral recipes include things like “add some cocoa powder” and “top with chocolate ganache,” so this was an adventure!  I also busted out the digital scale for this, but then measured stuff out for all y’all in the recipe at the bottom.

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Spouse bought me the new bag of flour. Why settle for just dia-monds when you can have ALL-monds?  

The cake has very few ingredients, though I forgot to add the cocoa powder above.  First you boil the oranges for 2 hours as you’re a very patient person.  Just kidding!  I covered these in water, considered putting a plate on top but didn’t, and microwaved them for 15 minutes.

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When it comes to American playwrights, do you prefer Williams, or Inge?

Boiling the oranges pulls out the bitterness from the pith (the white part), which is great for what happens next.  But while the oranges are microwaving, you might as well measure out your ingredients and mix them: sift together the almond flour and baking powder and cocoa powder.  I don’t have a sifter so I use a whisk, but sifter would be better for end-result cake texture.  Whisk up the eggs to get some air in there, then whisk in the sugar.

My action shot was too exciting for this!

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I was too eggs-ited!

You can also, if you want, skip all of those steps and dump everything in the food processor after you blend up the oranges!  CAREFULLY pull the oranges out of the hot microwave water and CAREFULLY cut them in quarters.  They’ll be soft but not falling apart, but the juice inside might be HOT.  It helps to buy seedless oranges for this part, because you don’t have to fish them out.  Then throw ’em in the food processor or the blender!

 

Orange puree!  If you’ve got a big food processor you can throw in all the other ingredients now and pulse it all together.  If you don’t, mix the puree with the eggs and sugar, then mix in the dry ingredients.  It’ll be lumpy because of the almond meal.

We’ve been really into The Great British Bake-Off lately, and my spouse thought he’d try to make a Mokatine despite the fact that he never bakes… in fact this was the first thing I’ve EVER seen him bake.  Anyway, we ran out of parchment paper so I told him to “butter and flour” the pan.  He did not know what I was talking about, so here are pictures:

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He’s a stick-ler for details and wanted to know “how much butter”.  I said “enough?”

Using your fingers or a paper towel or a stick like I did, rub butter all over a pan until the whole pane has a thin layer of butter on it.  Then spoon a few (2-3) tablespoons of flour into the pan and shake it around, rolling on each edge, until it’s evenly covered in flour.  Dump out any remaining flour.

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Who needs flowers when you can have flour? (but darling if you’re reading this I still like flowers)

Note that I didn’t do a great job above: you can see where the flour didn’t stick to a part I didn’t butter enough.  That’s exactly where the cake stuck to the pan later.  SO BE THOROUGH with your buttering and flouring.  Or, yknow, keep parchment paper in stock so there’s no flour on your gluten free cake…

Bake!  Let cool completely before frosting (but don’t leave it out too long for fear of losing moisture).  Frosting is MAGICAL GANACHE.

Did you know about ganache??? Somehow I had not made ganache before, despite having a baking blog for almost four years… it’s SO EASY and SO MAGICAL.  I’m into caps today.  You just pour hot cream onto chopped chocolate, and stir it until it’s frosting!  I am lazy so I used chocolate chips, which have extra stuff on them to keep them in their shape, so my ganache wasn’t perfectly smooth.  But still, it’s so delicious and wonderful (ganache is the center of truffles!  I didn’t know!)

 

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All of the photos were in different shots so I couldn’t gif it for you.  It starts out looking like failed hot cocoa when you pour the hot cream on the chocolate and wait for a minute, then like good hot cocoa as you stir it, and then shiny dark melted goodness, and before you know it (after a few minutes of cooling) you have frosting!  Then you can just spread that thick delicious stuff all over the cooled cake, and serve!  We actually don’t like chocolate very much and I made this for a friend’s chocolate-themed birthday party.  I will definitely make this cake again, sans cocoa powder (it’s SO orange-y and SO almond-y and SO easy).

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Chocolate orange almond cake (adapted from David Hong at Frieda’s)

For cake:

2 oranges

300 g (3 c) almond flour

200 g (1 c) sugar

6 eggs

1 TB baking powder

1/3 c-1/2 c cocoa powder (I did 1 c and it was too cocoa powdery; 3/4 c is the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe, I think 1/2 c would be great)

For ganache:

1 c heavy whipping cream

1 c good chocolate, chopped, or fancy chocolate chips

  1. Put oranges in a bowl, fill with water so oranges float, and microwave for 15 minutes.  Every five minutes, rotate the oranges so that a different side is floating out of the water.  Or put a small plate on the oranges to keep them submerged.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the almond flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder, or whisk them well.
  3. Vigorously whisk the eggs until frothy, then whisk in the sugar until light and fluffy and pale.
  4. Carefully chop the hot, soft oranges into quarters, then puree in a food processor or blender.  Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Whisk orange puree with the eggs and sugar.
  6. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet and mix well.
  7. Butter and flour a springform pan or line with parchment paper.  Should work on any pan; I just used a springform.
  8. Fill the pan, bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (up to an hour).  Let cool completely before frosting.
  9. Heat up the cream over medium heat in a small saucepan.  It doesn’t need to boil, but should be pretty hot (if you aren’t sure, take it almost to boiling).
  10. Put the chocolate chips in a bowl, and pour the hot cream over.  Let sit for a minute, then start stirring with a wooden spoon or whisk.  Keep stirring until it turns into ganache.
  11. Frost your beautiful cake!

Pão de Queij-ish (mochi flour in Brazilian cheese bread) [gluten-free]

15 Mar

There’s a Brazilian place next to campus that we grad students sometimes go to for happy hour and cheap margaritas and appetizers.  One of the apps is magical, delicious, fluffy, chewy, cheesy, amazing pão de queijo, which are essentially tapioca and cheese rolls but they’re SO GOOD.  The nth time she heard me waxing poetic about these cheese rolls, my officemate suggested I make them and then blog about them.  So here we are!

Any recipe for pão de queijo calls for tapioca flour, but I made these fairly impulsively with stuff in my house, so I used mochi flour instead.  This paragraph is me attempting to compare the two.  Tapioca flour makes the middle of the rolls chewy and mildly rubbery, like the bubbles in Taiwanese bubble tea/boba.  Versus the chewiness of mochi flour in these rolls has none of the pleasant rubberiness and more of a sticky bite, remarkably not too much like actual mochi but more like Dots, the candy.  Tapioca flour gives you a satisfying snap after some chewy give when you bite one of the rolls, as if you were pulling salt water taffy and took a sharp bite out of it.  While the mochi flour is all gummy give, like eating a Swedish Fish.

That’s all to say, this cheese bread I made is good, but it’s not exactly Pão de Queijo if that’s what you’re looking for.  It’s the mochi-fied version of pão de queijo.  And it’s super delicious, because butter, milk, eggs, and cheese together are so yummy.

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Cheese louise I’m trying to grab life by the eggs but I keep getting assalted by conflicting ideas of how to live wholly

I took a basic recipe and substituted Mochiko (the brand of sweet rice flour carried by an Asian supermarket near you!) for tapioca flour.  They probably react a bit differently (I think the dough is supposed to be salt-water taffy like when the tapioca flour is beaten in, instead of slightly clumpy) but the technique worked.

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Butter?  I hardly know ‘er!  Milky?  That’s neither grammatically correct nor anatomically possible, plus I hardly know he!

Lots of recipes out there call for oil, but… butter.  I don’t even need verbs for that sentence.  Butter is its own justification.  Butter.  Melt the butter with milk and salt until it just gets to boiling.  Then drop in your starchy flour of choice and stir stir stir until there aren’t any big dry clumps lying around.

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If your mochi flour comes from Japan and you stir slowly, you could be seeing a real-life instance of Tokyo Drift in your pot!

Alternative that I did not do: put the flour in your stand mixer and pour the hot salty butter-milk over it and turn on the mixer.  Because I at least ended up using the stand mixer anyway: not as necessary with mochi flour, definitely necessary with tapioca flour (that stuff is strong).

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a bowl of cottage cheese; I feel like I should do so but only if I’m sitting in a cottage or on a tuffet.

Upon first mixing, the dough looks like cottage cheese, all clumpy and mildly wet.  Then you beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth, and then fold/beat in the cheese.  Note that I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer instead of the hook or whisk- you don’t want to add a ton of air (so doing it by hand is great!)

If using tapioca flour, it’ll take a few minutes to get smooth.  Mochi flour takes about one minute.  Then stir in your cheese.  I had a mix of shredded grana padano and shaved parmesan cheese and I just threw it all in, hoping the beater would take care of the shaved cheese.  Also I threw in lots of cheese, which I recommend.  Almost too much cheese, but of course there’s no such thing.

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The best kind of droppings (but don’t tell music record makers that)

Then you just bake these in your preheated oven while playing Dominion (if you’re me), and take them out after 20 minutes, let them cool a minute, and serve.  We actually ate almost all of them before I remembered to take a picture of the last two.  See those big cheese moles all over the rolls?  That’s because they’re so so cheesy.  They might not be as pretty but they sure are good!

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Mochi Pao de Quiejo, adapted from thekitchn and allrecipes

1 c milk

1/2 c butter (2 sticks)

1/2 tsp salt (I always use salted butter, increase this if you use unsalted butter)

2 c sweet rice flour (I use Mochiko)

2 eggs

1 1/2 c mixed shredded or grated cheeses: I did half parmesan, half grana padano

Preheat oven to 450 or some crazy high temperature (you won’t actually cook the bread at this temp; it’s just to blast it with heat and hopefully puff it up when it first pops in)

Melt the butter, milk, and salt together, heating and stirring just til it boils, then turn off heat.

Stir in the rice flour, stir stir stir, until not cottage-cheese-y looking anymore (smooth).  Beat each egg separately, then stir in one at a time until smooth.  Add in all the cheese and stir.  This is like 10 solid minutes of stirring or using a stand mixer.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Turn heat down to 350, bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

I am [not a] bro (sia)

5 Dec

The first time I had ambrosia was in my college’s dining hall salad bar, senior year.  I saw the label “ambrosia” and noticed mandarin oranges, so I grabbed a scoop.  FOOD OF THE GODS.  Who knew mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and coconut went so well together with whipped cream?

Since I’m sometimes interested in health (or since I always dislike the idea of cool whip and sometimes dislike the idea of washing my mixing bowl and beater), I used full-fat yogurt + honey + vanilla instead of whipped cream.  Honey makes everything better!  The tang of yogurt + honey really complements the pineapple and sweetness of everything else.  I also added some green grapes and toasted pecans for color and texture.

I had to make an extra broceries trip since I don't usually have mini marshmallows in my house

I had to make an extra broceries trip since I don’t usually have mini marshmallows in my house

This is one of those cut up everything, mix, and let sit sort of “salads”.  More like a dessert which happens to live in the salad bar.

The bodega downstairs is called Go Grocer, but only men seem to work there so my friend calls it Bro Grocer

The bodega downstairs is called Go Grocer, but only men seem to work there so my friend calls it Bro Grocer

I wish I could tell you how to cut pineapple.  If I wasn’t operating on such sleep debt I would have looked up several links/researched, then taken step by step photos of the process.  But instead I just hacked at the pineapple and tried to cut out the eyes using a paring knife, which didn’t work great.  The point is, you need your pineapple in bite size chunks.  Canned pineapple would also work, but theoretically fresh will be better (because it’s not soaked in syrup).

I wonder if the star of The Pianist was in a frat.  They'd call him Adrian BROdy.  Oh they already call him that.

I wonder if the star of The Pianist was in a frat. They’d call him Adrian BROdy. Oh they already call him that.

My husband prefers ambrosia without pecans- I’ve made it three times since having the baby, with/without grapes and with/without pecans.  I like the nuttiness that helps weigh down the salad, but that also keeps it from tasting like angels are breathing into your mouth, which is maybe the point of ambrosia.  If you opt for pecans, chop em up and throw them into a frying pan on medium heat for a few minutes.  I left them for as long as it took me to cut the pineapple and grapes.  You can tell when they’re done because they’ll start smelling toasty and nutty and yummy.

According to urban dictionary, I am not a bronut- I am not your friend willing to share my donut.  Nor am I a crazy friend.

According to urban dictionary, I am not a bronut- I am not your friend willing to share my donut. Nor am I a crazy friend.

So you’ve got half a pineapple, a big handful of grapes, a handful of pecans, about a cup of mini marshmallows, a can of mandarin oranges, and a cup of shredded sweetened coconut tossed together in a bowl.  Now stir up your yogurt + honey + vanilla, and toss the whole thing with the dressing.  Let sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld, and enjoy.  I think it’s better if you let it sit overnight so the marshmallows and coconut melt a little bit due to the acidity of the pineapple.

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If these captions aren’t enough I can just tell you straight up I know zero about bro culture.

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Health-conscious frat guys love their brogurt!

This dish just bros me away

This dish just bros me away

Ambrosia- cobbled together from the internet

1/2 fresh pineapple or a can of pineapple

1 c mini marshmallows

1 c green grapes, halved

1 c shredded sweetened coconut

1 c pecans

1 can mandarin oranges

3/4 c plain yogurt

1 TB honey

1 tsp vanilla

Toast pecans in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, maybe five minutes while you cut up the pineapple and grapes.  Mix yogurt, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss.  Leave in fridge for at least an hour, preferably 6-8 or more.

 

(almost Paleo) gluten-free Ice cream cake construction

23 Sep

For my husband’s birthday last month I decided to make him an almost-Paleo ice cream cake.  This is easily made fully paleo (by which I mean no refined sugar, no flour, no dairy).  I’d never made an ice cream cake before- I think next time I’ll go more classic and just do a cookie crust with ice cream on it and frosting, instead of an actual cake which is then frozen.

I've been sorta blah lately, but I'm doing o-ca(k)e

I’ve been sorta blah lately, but I’m doing o-ca(k)e

For the record, two years ago when I did this for his birthday I made this incredible paleo birthday cake with coffee in it.  Fun fact: I had to fly it down to Austin (where he lived) for the party, and went through TSA with a tupperware of definitely-liquid-ish way-more-than-three-ounces homemade coconut frosting nestled into the cake caddy I’d bought for the occasion.  When they asked what it was, I said “frosting for this surprise birthday cake!”  I think I looked super cute that day AND I had a cake as my personal item (+backpack for carry-on) so they let me through.

Anyway, this year was more low key cake-wise.  Also I somehow didn’t have cocoa in my house so I cheated and used some fancy-pants hot chocolate mix we had instead, and cut down on sugar.  You are most definitely not supposed to do this, per the internet and baking mavens, but whatever.  I live on the wild side.

I think the pregnancy is driving me a little COCOa.  In fact, I'm sure it is because the word I'm looking for is "loco," right?

I think the pregnancy is driving me a little COCOa. In fact, I’m sure it is because the word I’m looking for is “loco,” right?

This cake is super easy to put together.  Whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Recipe calls for agave, I’m also pretty sure you could use sugar if you aren’t picky.  I cut down on my syrup because of the sugar in the hot cocoa mix.

They should warn you that the hormones maple you in all different directions at once

They should warn you that the hormones maple you in all different directions at once.

Then add the almond flour and sprinkle with salt, baking soda, and cocoa.  If you aren’t lazy you could mix the dry ingredients separately, but why do that?  Because it’s more uniform and better generally and what’s the problem with making one more bowl dirty, Yen?

Anyways.  Mix until mixed.  I thought this batter looked a little suspect and reviews said that it was a bit dry, so I pulled a Hershey’s and added 3/4 cup of boiling water to moisten the cake up.  Totally works.  Butter and flour a springform pan (this part is important if you want to make an ice cream cake!!!) and toss your batter in.

Everyone dislikes taxes, but what about the paper that we use?  Are any of those sheets like one day, I want to be used for taxes?  I'm an aspiring form?  (springform pan...)

Everyone dislikes taxes, but what about the paper that we use? Are any of those sheets like one day, I want to be used for taxes? I’m an aspiring form? (springform pan…)

Bake until done, about half an hour.  Then let cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, take out your dairy free homemade possibly paleo avocado coconut chocolate chip ice cream (or any flavor of ice cream) and let it soften.  Once it’s soft (maybe half an hour depending on your freezer), spread it as evenly as you can on your cake.

This recipe is far, far from canon.  How could we imbue it with an air of dignity/conservativism?  Just Pat it more and it'll Bu-canon.  (I really felt like making a Pat Buchanan pun)

This recipe is far, far from canon. How could we imbue it with an air of dignity/conservativism? Just Pat it more and it’ll Bu-canon. (I really felt like making a Pat Buchanan pun)

Then let it freeze again.  For frosting I went with whipped cream, which you can also do with coconut cream.  Since you’re freezing it, you’ll want to add a tablespoon of unflavored gelatin or agar-agar (which I for some reason have, despite not having cocoa powder) so that the frosting doesn’t just melt when you take out the cake.

Un-springform the cake and frost it with the whipped cream, then freeze it again.

Next on Discovery/Food Net-channel: Naked and Afraid- A Story of Frosting

Next on Discovery/Food Net-channel: Naked and Afraid- A Story of Frosting

Next up on ESPFood: Interviewing the NY Knicks on Frost(ing)- an epic battle for the truth (actual tagline for Frost/Nixon)

Next up on ESPFood: Interviewing the NY Knicks on Frost(ing)- an epic battle for the truth (actual tagline for Frost/Nixon)

To decorate, I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave and stuck them in a plastic bag.  Snipped off the corner and wrote on the cake.  It was great because the cake was so frozen it immediately made a Magic Shell effect.

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Paleo ice cream Cake:

Chocolate cake, adapted from epicurious:

2 c almond flour

1/2 c cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 c maple syrup

2 eggs

1 TB vanilla

3/4 c boiling water

Prep a springform pan: butter and flour it (or oil and almond flour it).  Mix the maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla together.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add the boiling water and mix.  Pour into the pan and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely

Ice cream, whatever flavor you want that’ll go well with chocolate.  Let soften while the cake cools.  Spread on the cake (do not un-springform the pan yet!).  Refreeze for an hour.

Whipped cream for frosting:

1 c of whipping cream, or 1 c of the thicker stuff from the top of a can of coconut milk

2 TB of powdered sugar, to taste (up to 1/4 cup)

1 TB of gelatin or agar-agar

1/2 tsp of vanilla

Whip all ingredients together until it looks and tastes good.  Spread on your frozen cake (unspringforming it now seems good so you can get the sides).  Refreeze for an hour.  Decorate!

My mom’s rau muong xao toi (Vietnamese-style morning glory with garlic)

2 Sep

Since my mom’s thit kho recipe is one of my most popular posts, I thought I’d share another traditional Vietnamese recipe.  While I was in Boston, I got to visit the new small Korean grocery store, H Mart, in Cambridge.  So I looked up if they existed in Chicago, and lo and behold there’s one in the suburbs!  We took a trip out there last weekend- I love this grocery store!  There’s a food court in it with delicious Korean food!  And they sell marinated meat, and lots of other goodies that are hard to find elsewhere (the best instant Ramen, enoki mushrooms, Korean melons, lychees, kimchi… I’m just listing stuff we bought.)  In particular, they sell a vegetable under the name ong choy, which is also known as water spinach, morning glory, and in Vietnamese, rau muống.  If you ever go to Vietnam, Rau muống xào tỏi is pretty much the cooked vegetable side dish you’ll get.  Maybe some veggies in a soup, but overall there it’s a lot of fresh veggies with whatever you’re eating, or this garlicky tasty side dish.

I'm not really spoon-feeding you this recipe (muống means "spoon" in Vietnamese)

I’m not really spoon-feeding you this recipe (muống means “spoon” in Vietnamese BOOM BILINGUAL WORD PLAY)

You can also get this dish in Chinese restaurants, where they often put oyster sauce on it.  But we’re cooking Vietnamese today, so fish sauce all the way!  Also, I haven’t seen this dish a ton in Vietnamese restaurants, but it’s in most homes- we compared it to how most American restaurants don’t have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ubiquitous.

My great-aunt has a nifty tool for splitting the woody stems so you can eat them.  But I’m lazy/don’t like stems so I just cut them off and discarded them.  Make sure you wash the veggies really well- just like spinach it’s easy to get dirt in the leaves.  Then chop them into two-inch segments.

Y'all have too many expectations of me and my puns- why can't you leaf me alone?

Y’all have too many expectations of me and my puns- why can’t you leaf me alone?

Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a big skillet over medium-high heat.  Then roughly chop up some garlic cloves and put into the oil.

Garlic can be so sixy (I split one of the cloves in half when peeling it)

Garlic can be so sixy (I split one of the cloves in half when peeling it)

I mean, it's in the name: garlic cLOVE.

I mean, it’s in the name: garlic cLOVE.

Let that cook for a few minutes until very lightly brown, then dump in all of the veggies.

After the chief of police in Houston went on a radical diet, people started calling him light Lee Brown

After the chief of police in Houston went on a radical diet, people started calling him light Lee Brown

If you’ve washed them thoroughly and not dried them, the water sticking to them should be enough.  But if it’s not (like if you start seeing dry looking leaves around), add a handful of water (a couple tablespoons).

This cooks pretty fast- 5-6 minutes fast.  Just like spinach!  Give it a good stir every minute or two; I’m not a constant-stirring kind of person (so I’ve never made risotto).

Cheerleaders eat a lot of salad, right?  They're always cheering RAW-RAW!

Cheerleaders eat a lot of salad, right? They’re always cheering RAW-RAW!

I wonder if some of them like to mix it up and chant PARTIALLY COOKED PARTIALLY COOKED!

I wonder if some of them like to mix it up and chant PARTIALLY COOKED PARTIALLY COOKED!

Just kidding, I know no cheer routine would be so ridiculous.  That just isn't DONE.

Just kidding, I know no cheer routine would be so ridiculous. That just isn’t DONE.

While that’s cooking, make your nuoc cham-dipping sauce.  This is a lot of sugar, some lime juice, some fish sauce, minced garlic, and water.  My mom always says to do it to taste, but it’s roughly equal amounts of sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce as a base, then add an equal amount of water (so double the volume by using water).  Then add a tiny pinch more sugar, and whisk it all together.  Taste it and see if it’s too limey or too fishy, and add water/sugar/lime until it tastes good.  You can mince a few garlic cloves and/or a few hot peppers and add them too- I went with garlic this time.

You could call my mom Ursa Major- she's a big dipper

You could call my mom Ursa Major- she’s a big dipper

My mom likes to dip the cooked veggies in the sauce, but I was feeling lazy so I just poured a bunch of it over the vegetables.  We don’t like adding fish sauce to dishes that are cooking because then the whole house smells like fish sauce- just add it afterwards.  Then I took the leftover garlicky sauce and poured it over some steamed salmon, and we had a meal with white rice.

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Rau muong xao toi (from my mom)

A bunch of ong choy/water spinach/morning glory

Six-eight cloves of garlic

1-2 TB Fish sauce

Half a lime

1-2 TB Sugar

1. Wash the greens WELL.

2. Heat up some oil in a big pan.  Cook rice/protein now if you want.

3. Roughly chop five or six cloves of garlic and add to the oil.

4. Chop up the greens into two inch pieces.  Discard woody stems.

5. When garlic is lightly brown, add the greens to the pan.  Stir.  Cook for five-six minutes, until everything is wilted and cooked-looking.

6. Mix juice of half a lime with 1 TB of sugar.  Add 1 TB of fish sauce and 3 TB of water, stir until sugar is totally dissolved.  Add a pinch more sugar.  Taste.  Add more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar to taste.  Optional: mince two more cloves of garlic and add to dipping sauce.

7. Either serve warm greens with dipping sauce, or pour sauce over greens.  Eat!

Stop what you’re doing and make avocado coconut chocolate chip ice cream

22 Aug

I was in the middle of writing a blog post about the apple-blueberry-yogurt pie I made for the fourth of July, but then I tasted this ice cream that I just finished and changed my mind.  It’s SO GOOD.  The light avocado flavor plus the coconut milk and a teensy bit of lime and salt just make the creamiest indulgence.  This still has cream in it, but could be done vegan (just use more coconut milk).  I’m in love with this ice cream.  And also, I’m in love with ice cream (I didn’t bring the ice cream maker with me to Boston, but since coming back I’ve made strawberry ice cream and strawberry-lime-mint sorbet which were both also awesome and I’ll put the recipes at the bottom of this post).

If I used maple syrup or agave or something instead of sugar, this would be paleo, right?  It’s my husband’s birthday on Sunday and I want to make him something as good as the cake I made two years ago.  I’ve been going through a big carb phase for the past seven months, so this would be a thank-you to him for putting up with all the pasta/bread/not-paleo-at-all stuff we’ve been eating.  And what would be better than an avocado coconut ice cream cake with an almond-chocolate base?  I’ll update if I do that!

Incidentally, let me brag about him for a second: he’s currently in the woods in Oregon, running in one of the world’s largest relay races from Mount Hood to the coast.  I’m currently sitting at home with a bowl of ice cream and a laptop.  This is exactly what I imagine we look like right now:

I've never been in an eating contest.  I'm more of an amateur-portion person- you can tell from this picture (because it's not in PRO-portion)

I’ve never been in a competitive eating contest. I’m more of an amateur-portion person- you can tell from this picture (both because of the size of the bowl, and because it’s not in PRO-portion)

Anyways.  I picked up five small avocados for a dollar at the amazing produce shop down the street earlier this week, and I set them in a basket with some bananas waiting for them to ripen.  The problem with buying five avocados at once when it’s just you at home is you have to use them all at once, or you’ll have overripe ferment-y ones (remember the raw avocado pie from last summer?).  So I thought of ice cream or massive smoothies- avocado is definitely for sweets in Vietnam, with avocado smoothies being a huge thing (blend an avocado with ice and sweetened condensed milk.  Drink.)  I also didn’t have any milk at home, but I did have two limes and a can of coconut milk.  Also some friends brought me chocolate with coconut in it.  So that’s what happened!

Lately I've been very clumsy and stubbing my toe a lot.  This makes me mix up things- am I an avocado for this ice cream, or an AdVOCAte?  Stubbing my toe made me lose the extra 'o' (and also made me anagram)

Lately I’ve been very clumsy and stubbing my toe a lot. This makes me mix up things- am I an avocado for this ice cream, or an AdVOCAte? Stubbing my toe made me lose the extra ‘o’ (and also made me anagram)

Non-custard ice creams are so easy- just put everything in a blender.  Plop your avocado pieces in (I cut avocados in half, then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh), some sugar, some cream, the juice of two limes, and a can of coconut milk.  Blend.

Ah, the admirable avocado (certainly not PIT(i)ful in this picture)

Ah, the admirable avocado (certainly not PIT(i)ful in this picture)

She's been in some complicated relationships-it's still hard for the coconut milk to open up.

She’s been in some complicated relationships-it’s still hard for the coconut milk to open up.

She's just sick of all the li(m)es, but realizes that we all li(m)e sometimes to make life a little smoother (or perhaps more zesty- have i mentioned you look REALLY good in that?)

She’s just sick of all the li(m)es, but realizes that we all li(m)e sometimes to make life a little smoother (or perhaps more zesty- have i mentioned you look REALLY good in that?)

Blend that up til smooth, then toss it in the fridge while you go do other things.  Also, cut up a chocolate bar into little chunks.

We could try to be honest all the time, but everyone has a DARK side- and BARing all might not be a great idea

We could try to be honest all the time, but everyone has a DARK side- and BARing all might not be a great idea

People will CHOC up outcomes to what yOu say- so there's no need to explain you're LATE because you want to spend less time with them.  Just blame traffic- a little li(m)e won't hurt anyone.

People will CHOC up outcomes to what yOu say- so there’s no need to explain you’re LATE because you want to spend less time with them. Just blame traffic- a little li(m)e won’t hurt anyone.

This was my first time leaving the mixture in the blender instead of transferring to a bowl.  It makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE because then you don’t splash all over when you pour the cream into the ice cream maker.

I'm not advocating lying all the time, but hey, any PO(u)Rt in a storm!

I’m not advocating lying all the time, but hey, any PO(u)Rt in a storm!

Note: DON’T put the chocolate chips, nuts, mix-ins, whatever in when you first pour in the mix.  Wait until it’s about the thickness of greek yogurt so that the chips get evenly distributed.

IMG_20140822_175735793

Avocado coconut chocolate-chip ice cream (vegan, paleo options available)- adapted from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from this awesome looking cookbook Absolutely Avocados.  Makes about 1 quart.

1 can coconut milk

3-4 small avocados or 2 big avocados

3/4 c sugar (or agave syrup/other sweetener for paleo)

2 limes

1/2 c cream (or more coconut milk)

pinch of salt

chocolate (I used a 3 oz bar of dark chocolate with coconut in it)

Blend all ingredients except chocolate together.  Chill in a fridge for at least 20 minutes.  Start your ice cream maker and throw in the blender-ful of stuff.  Chop chocolate into small chips, and add in about 10 minutes into churning process.  Enjoy!

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Bonus recipe: Strawberry-lime-mint sorbet, adapted from the Cuisinart recipe book that came with my ice cream maker

Note: While for ice cream I just throw the sugar in, by now I’ve decided that simple syrup is the way to go with sorbets.  Otherwise you’ll get grains of sugar ruining the smoothness of the sorbet

1 c water

1 c sugar

1 bunch mint leaves (I took them from my garden so I don’t know how many there were.  Maybe 15)

3 limes

2 c strawberries (one pint according to this helpful website)

pinch of salt

Bring the sugar and water to a boil to make a simple syrup.  Let it boil while stirring for a minute, then turn off the heat.  Throw in the mint.

Meanwhile, cut up and measure your strawberries.  Blend them with the juice and zest of the limes and the salt.  Discard the mint.  Add about 1/4 c of the simple syrup to your berry blend, and blend.  Taste.  This is probably too sour.  Add more syrup 1/4 c at a time until the mixture is a little bit sweeter than you’d like.  Chill in the fridge, clean up, and throw in the ice cream maker.  Yum!

I used my leftover mint simple syrup (I had about 1/4 c) in a strawberry iced green tea.  Delicious.

The best burger ever

2 Jul

I went through a big burger phase a few weeks ago (we may have had four burgers in three days), and this recipe really is the best burger ever.  It was better than the $14 burger at the fancy butcher shop across the street.  It’s better than any burger I’ve had.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good barbecue and grill marks and all that (in fact I had my first grilled burger of the summer last night!).  But you just can’t get the same juiciness on a grill as you can in your cast-iron (because that juiciness will just drip down the grill and away from your burger).  Honestly I’m not sure how much the “smashing” step does for the crust of the burger (wouldn’t throwing a patty into a searing hot cast iron sear it just as well?), but I do it anyway because this recipe has worked out so well for me.  It’s also made me realize why people follow recipes closely- because they work, over and over again!

After we got that cast-iron for Christmas, I started cooking a lot more meat.  By now I’ve made these burgers three or four times and they’re delicious every time.  I also got a meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid (thanks in-laws!), so the first few times I ground my own meat (half chuck, half sirloin).  But we live across the street from an excellent butcher and their fresh-ground meat is just as good.  However, if you don’t have access to fresh-ground meat and just see the stuff in the store, I highly recommend seeking it out.

Yeah, I work out.  That's how I got such nice-looking buns.

Yeah, I work out. That’s how I got such nice-looking buns.

I love ketchup, but these burgers are so good that ketchup would just distract you from the flavor-all you need is that melty cheese and sweet grilled onion (pressed right into the patty), and maaaaybe a slice of tomato/lettuce.  Honestly I put on the tomato just to please my husband (because then there’s a bit of health on the plate).

Anyways, let’s start with meat grinding.  If you’re using the one I used, you’ll want to slice your meat into strips (maybe 1-2 inches wide), and then throw it in the freezer while you put together your machine/do something else for awhile.  Don’t forget when cutting chuck to AVOID the white ligament-y parts (they’ll get stuck in the grinder and be a hassle).  Another reason to use sirloin (which is delicious!)

I was really nervous to meat his parents

I was really nervous to meat his parents

I thought it'd be a terrible grind

I thought it’d be a terrible grind

Apparently if you want it to be as finely ground as at the store, you should grind your meat twice.  I didn’t do that and it was still delicious.

Next, start heating up that cast-iron skillet on medium-high or high if you like to live dangerously.  The cast-iron skillet is key.  Incidentally, the original website I got this from uses a big green egg for cooking, and a friend of ours has a crazy amazing website all about the Big Green Egg if you’re into that.  I’m very impressed by it.

While that’s heating up, slice your onion up (not the smart way) laterally so you get some rings, and separate those out.  Take out your cheese of choice.  Defrost your buns.  Slice your tomato.  Then make some meatballs!  Each of mine was 1/4-1/3 lb.

I was afraid my jokes would be too cheesy, I'd turn red as a tomato, I'd make someone cry, or flip out, and/or all of the above.  But my in-laws think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread!

I was afraid my jokes would be too cheesy, I’d turn red as a tomato, I’d make someone cry, or flip out, and/or all of the above. But my in-laws think I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Now put two or three meatballs in your cast iron and let cook for 30 seconds (I used my microwave timer).  Reset your timer for 2 minutes.  Smash down the meatballs (I need a metal spatula!), and press some onion rings into each one.  Then generously toss on some salt and pepper (THIS IS ALL THE SEASONING YOU NEED- use good meat!).

I shouldn't have worried- neither of us has ever really gone ball-istic in stressful situations.

I shouldn’t have worried- neither of us has ever really gone ball-istic in stressful situations.

Overall it was a smashing success!

Overall it was a smashing success!

I just had to remember to be myself, not un-Yen.

I just had to remember to be myself, not un-Yen.

Now’s a good time to think about toasting those buns.  I thought the next step would be hard, but it was actually super easy- flip the burgers so that they land on the onions.  You can smash them down a little to hold the onions there.  Let that cook for another two minutes, then put on a slice of cheese (if you want).  If you don’t want the cheese, you should still do the next step: cover with a lid and let cook for one more minute.

Cheese Louise I'm done with the in-law stories, I promise

Cheese Louise I’m done with the in-law stories, I promise

You can put a lid on your complaining already

You can put a lid on your complaining already

All of my worries have melted away

All of my worries have melted away

I generally do a double stack of these for a meal, and a single stack for a snack (yes I’ve impulsively stopped at the butcher, bought a half pound of chuck, and made burger snacks for the two of us at 3 p.m.  I also bought two slices of cheese from the butcher).  You can always make more if people want them- it only takes 5.5 minutes from start to finish.

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Best burger ever: link here (they also have better pictures than me)

Incidentals: this is my 100th blog post!  Huzzah!

I am currently in Somerville, MA doing this super cool research program.  What this means is that I don’t have access to a lot of my usual baking tools, or central air.  So we’ll see how the posts go for the next several weeks (maybe I’ll be more mathy!).  I am planning on making a rhubarb pie since the postdoc who was living with us for a week made a delicious and beautiful one twice.

Cantaloupe-mint sorbet, or we got an ice cream maker!

6 Jun

I can now point to a time when Twitter actively changed my life.  My internet pal/fairy blogmother Evelyn Lamb  tweeted a few months back about how great homemade yogurt is, and she sent me her recipe for it (future post).  Then she mentioned that it also makes great HOMEMADE FROZEN YOGURT.  I love frozen yogurt and what other people spend at Starbucks, I spend at frozen yogurt joints.  I asked (this entire conversation is somewhere on Twitter) if it’s worth it to get an ice cream machine, and she said yes, so I added it to our crate and barrel wedding registry, not thinking anyone would get it for us (we had 25 people at our wedding).  Turns out people who don’t come to your wedding still like buying you gifts, so now we have an ice cream maker!  WOOHOO!

Speaking of gifts, husband got me some flowers as a welcome-home present from that conference I went to in Ann Arbor (more on that later).

This is the least flour-y photo ever put on a baking post in this blog

This is the least flour-y photo ever put on a baking post in this blog

I loved the arrangement, and I especially loved that they put fresh mint into it!  Immediately after getting me from the train station we went grocery shopping, and I picked up a cantaloupe and a lemon.  I came home to that new ice cream maker, and knew what had to happen.

Sugar and water might be a great match, but their parents are traditionalists- they can't elope.

Sugar and water might be a great match, but their parents are traditionalists- they can’t elope.

Sometimes it's hard for me to tell if I'm joking, or if I mint every word in my captions

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m joking, or if I mint every word in my captions

Sorbet is actually pretty easy: make a sugar syrup (or use honey or agave), and blend it with your fruit+ flavors.  I boiled a cup of water with a cup of sugar, then let it simmer while I cut up a cantaloupe.

Mmm... melons

Mmm… melons

He's water.  And boy, he'll

He’s water. And boy, he’ll (BO-IL)

be excited to see his sweetheart.

be excited to see his SWEETheart.

Let's give them some privacy to mix

Let’s give them some privacy to mix

I have yet to figure out a reasonable way to cut up a melon.  I just sort of hack it into chunks.  That’s fine for this, because you just throw it in a food processor/blender with the juice of a lemon and some mint leaves until it’s pureed.

Water might start getting jealous- cantaloupe is looking very (c)hunky!

Water might start getting jealous- cantaloupe is looking very (c)hunky!

Did ya hear there was a breakout at the Spooner grove?  Jemons on the loose!  Err... Lemons on the juice!

Did ya hear there was a breakout at the Spooner grove? Jemons on the loose! Err… Lemons on the juice!

Then you mix in enough sugar syrup to taste.  I made a cup of simple syrup, but only used about 3/4 of it.  You want to make the mixture a little bit sweeter than you like, since freezing it makes it less sweet (ice crystals… science… stuff…).

I sometimes wish I'd been born two weeks early so I could be a Torus, sign of the bowl (wow that doesn't make any sense!  Worst bowl ever!)

I sometimes wish I’d been born two weeks early so I could be a Torus, sign of the bowl (wow that doesn’t make any sense! Worst bowl ever!)

Then throw it in your ice cream maker and let it run for 20 minutes or so!  I’ve never used one before so it was pretty amazing to see it go from complete liquid to this thickened substance stuff.

Everything was mixed up earlier.  Glad we got it SOR(be)TED out.

Everything was mixed up earlier. Glad we got it SOR(be)TED out.

By the time this was done, our steak was resting and salad on the table, so I scooped it into a tupperware and put it in the freezer until we were ready to eat it.  I love the brightness of the mint and lemon popping out of the sweet taste of cantaloupe (which I evidently love from that smoothie post).

Missed the sorbet this time...

Missed the sorbet this time…

Cantaloupe-mint sorbet, adapted to be an easier version of this Better Homes and Gardens recipe:

1 cantaloupe

1 c sugar

1 lemon

5 sprigs of mint

 

Bring 1 c of water + 1 c sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer until thickened while you dice the cantaloupe, leaf the mint, and slice the lemon.

Turn off the heat under the simple syrup, and if you have electric, move the pot to let the syrup cool.  Meanwhile, puree the cantaloupe, mint, and lemon in a food processor (you will probably have to do this in batches) until smooth.  Then add cooled sugar syrup to taste (somewhere between 1/2 c and 1 c, depending on your melon).

Refrigerate while you do other stuff, or don’t (I put in a load of laundry, read a bit of math, and started dinner, which took about two hours).

Throw it in your ice cream maker and let it whir for 20 minutes until it looks good.  Put in an airtight container in the freezer.  It’s so good.

Homemade flavored salts, or quick wedding favors

13 Apr

Many apologies for delay since last post.  My Yale talk went over great, and I meant to make a Q&A: Grad School post with all the questions the undergraduates asked and my answers, but my amanuensis didn’t take any notes!  Since then I’ve been reading a lot of cool stuff, including this awesome paper by the awesome Matt Clay.  So hopefully I can get that paper into a blog post, as well as some cool math from the SECOND annual Midwest Women In Mathematics Symposium (the first one was last year at UIC, mentioned in that blog post).  But this is not a math post.

I cannot imagine doing this for a wedding of more than 25 people (and really I did favors per household so I only made 14), but if you had helpful friends then knock yourself out.  These are also “fill in the blank” favors or small gifts (housewarming?).  I made four types of flavored salts, which are SUPER EASY and fairly quick if you just let them dry out for a day or two instead of baking them.  They mostly follow the same idea:

Take X amount of salt, and mix thoroughly with Y amount of flavoring using your fingers.  Spread on a baking sheet and let dry in a not-humid room for a day or two.  Package cutely.  Note the lack of equipment, expertise, or active time!

Most flavorful: Sriracha salt

This one is a darling of the internet and is straight from the Sriracha cookbook, which I do not own nor think I ever will (we own two or three cookbooks right now: my mom’s 1970s copies of “Joy of Cooking,” a Three-Ingredient Cookbook from my sister-in-law, and possibly his copy of Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals, which he claims is a misnomer).  I did 1 1/2 c salt + 1/4 c + 2 TB Sriracha.

It'd be great to make a robot that could play the music of British progressive rock bands.  It'd be called "Bot-Tull" (Jethro in case people didn't get the reference)

It’d be great to make a robot that could play the music of British progressive rock bands. It’d be called “Bot-Tull” (Jethro in case you didn’t get the reference)

Mix that up with chopsticks until there are just little clumps left, and lay it out for a day or two.  This ends up being pretty chunky, so people recommend beating it (wrap in a towel and hit with a rolling pin) or pulsing it in a food processor, but I am lazy so my guests got chunky Sriracha salt.

Orange you glad I only make bad puns sometimes?

Orange you glad I only make bad puns sometimes?

Prettiest: Rosemary salt

This one is the opposite of the last, in that it’s not all over the internet and the Martha Stewart website I got it off of kept being down.  Other recipes call for a food processor and just pulsing the rosemary to teeny bits, but I actively hate having pieces of rosemary in my food so I went with rosemary scented salt.

You should go lie down, salt, you're looking a little green around the edges

You should go lie down, salt, you’re looking a little green around the edges

You heat up rosemary with salt in a pot (I did 1 1/4 c salt + 4 stick/twigs of rosemary) and stir every minute or two for 10-ish minutes until little pieces of rosemary start falling off and it smells good, then put it in a tupperware and forget about it for a few hours.

Some parts fell off, but I'm at piece with that

Some parts fell off, but I’m at piece with that

Or you’re Martha Stewart and you remember about it after five minutes and cover it.  In any case, pop a lid on that and leave it for a day or three.  It’ll smell SO GOOD when you take off that lid.  For packaging, I popped a teeny piece of fresh rosemary in to each little jar and topped it with salt, discarding the big pieces and leaving in the little cooked parts.

Most unusual: Vanilla salt

I still don’t really know what to do with this one.  I bought a vanilla bean from the store, which I’ve never seen before, and mixed it into a cup of salt using my hands.  You use your fingernails and scrape out the inside from the bean-holder-thing (pod?), and then use your fingers and massage it into the salt.  It smells good!  Then spread it out and let dry like the others.

Best smelling/most versatile: Citrus salt

This is a fun one: take 1 1/4 c of salt, and zest a bunch of citrus over it.  I used two oranges, two lemons, and two limes.

We're naked... is that appeeling to you?  Actually 'fruit porn' is a thing (sometimes it's just food porn, and sometimes it's I don't know what I don't want to click on the links)

We’re naked… is that appeeling to you? Actually ‘fruit porn’ is a thing (sometimes it’s just food porn, and sometimes it’s I don’t know what I don’t want to click on the links)

Use your fingertips to crush the zest into the salt, releasing the yummy smelling oils, and then spread out a baking sheet.

A far better than usual interpretation of "yellow snow"

A far better than usual interpretation of “yellow snow”

I tried to dry this in the oven and hated the results and did it over again- I cooked it too hot and it sucked all the citrus flavor out. Plus you have to pay attention to the oven and who likes to do that?  (Possibly readers of baking blogs, but let’s forget about that…)

Sometimes I just want to yell, "Ogre in da house!" when I'm feeling the opposite of orange.

Sometimes I just want to yell, “Ogre in da house!” when I’m feeling the opposite of orange.

I packaged these in small jars I found on Amazon, but my maid of honor sent me cuter ones which I thought were too small: about two ounces of flavored salt is pretty good.

2014-04-08_08-34-15_232We buy 4 oz jars of flavored salts when we do so (it’s always truffle salt), so half that for a favor sounds perfect to me.  Plus the colored lids precluded the need to label each jar, which would’ve been a pain for ~50 tiny jars.  I threw them in clear favor bags I picked up a Target, along with a printout of a Bible verse/Byrds song, some suggestions on how to use the salts, and a thank-you tag.

2014-04-08_08-34-25_656 2014-04-08_08-34-38_2192014-04-08_09-05-09_289

Total cost:

20 count Favor bags (Target): $2

Ribbon (Target): $3

Printing (Fedex/Kinkos): $5

Salt (Grocery store): $4

Vanilla Bean (Grocery store): $3 (!)

=$17 if you don’t count stuff you’re going to use anyway

2014-04-08_09-05-23_226

Lemons, Limes, Oranges (store): $5? (and then we ate them later, so basically free!)

Bottle of Sriracha (store): $6? (we’ve had this for awhile)

Rosemary (store): $3 (and then we ate some lamb with it!)

=$31 if you count things you will eat

I’ll leave this post with something I thought was ridiculous when I went to Target.  Also, shout out to the amazing Alliance Bakery for the BEAUTIFUL job they did with our cake!  I’ll post pictures of that cake up when I get some.  It was lemon with a mango mousse filling.  Yum!

Why would you buy these?

Why would you buy these?

My mom’s thit kho (Vietnamese braised pork with eggs)

22 Dec

So I said in my one-year anniversary post that the next post would be this recipe.  I apologize for lying.  I’ll try hard not to!

This is one of my favorite comfort foods.  It reminds me of my dad.  He didn’t make a wide variety of foods, but the ones he did he did right- bo kho (Vietnamese beef stew) with fresh bread from the store, bun mang vit (duck noodle soup with bamboo), pho ga (chicken pho, using two chickens), prime rib with twice-baked potatoes, and thit kho.  I also remember a lot of broccoli covered in cheese whiz, green beans dipped in hard boiled eggs crushed into soy sauce, and crackers covered in pieces of banana and cheese (I just tried to google this and got a woman who ate bananas + cheez whiz.  I am not willing to recreate this to show you a picture, you’ll just have to imagine the glory).

I don't want to support Cheese Whiz, so here is a pretty picture from this blog with a recipe for real cheese sauce.  Click on picture to go to Iowa Girl Eats.

I don’t want to support Cheese Whiz, so here is a pretty picture from this blog with a recipe for real cheese sauce. Click on picture to go to Iowa Girl Eats.

Luckily my mom also knows how to make thit kho, and I have an old email from my dad with the recipe for bo kho.  I doubt I’ll ever have pho ga or bun mang vit as delicious as he made it, but I will eventually try those too.  When I have a little more confidence with my Vietnamese cooking.

Thit kho is a wonderful food- sweet, fatty, salty.  The caramelized sugars play so well with the coconut juice, and the hard boiled eggs soaked in sauce are awesome when mashed into rice, with more sauce spooned on top.

You might want to hit the gym- looking a little porky there

You might want to hit the gym- looking a little porky there

Lots of recipes for this use just pork belly, but that’s a little TOO fatty for me.  I think it’s good to do 1/2 pork shoulder and 1/2 pork belly, or even 1/3 belly and 1/3 shoulder.  Marinate the pork with salt, pepper, and some minced garlic for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, boil a bunch of eggs.  I like to put my eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, let boil for about a minute, and then turn off heat and cover.  Forget about them (or check on them after 10 minutes or so).  Then drain off the hot water and pour cool water into the pot so you don’t burn yourself trying to peel them.  To peel the warm eggs, crack them on the rim of the pot, then peel the shell off into the water, giving them a quick rinse to get rid of any extra eggshells.  Then you can dump the water through a colander to throw out the egg shells (or use them in your compost!)

Caution: it's about to get eggstremely hot in here

Caution: it’s about to get eggstremely hot in here

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Turns out eggs can’t handle the eggstreme condition (of being cracked and peeled), but who would?

My mom likes to brown the pork in a bit of oil first, but this is an optional step.

Come on over and meat the family!  We're all very close- you could say we're cut from the same cloth.  If by cloth you mean animal.

Come on over and meat the family! We’re all very close- you could say we’re cut from the same cloth. If by cloth you mean animal.

Not an optional step: cook rice!  My roommate has an awesome rice cooker that I love to use, but I guess now is a good time to start rice in a pot if you want to do that.

Ohhh yeah baby you know how to turn me on.  It's really not that hard.

Ohhh yeah baby you know how to turn me on. It’s really not that hard.

Now for the fun part!  Put some sugar in a pot (yes I’m going to be that vague.  Verbatim from my mother: “not too much.  Oh that’s sort of a lot.”)  Turn the heat to medium and WATCH IT CAREFULLY.

P1010479 P1010480 P1010481 P1010482 P1010483 P1010484

It’ll go from sugar, to a syrup, to light brown, and finally to a deep brown.  MAKE SURE YOU PAY ATTENTION HERE because you don’t want it to burn.  When it’s that pretty color, toss in the pork and stir it around.

That's weird, it's like everyone has changed since you met us.

That’s weird, it’s like everyone has changed since you met us.

The Canadian saw this cooking and said "Pork, eh?".  The chef was Mexican and answered "because it's food?"
The Canadian saw this cooking and said “Pork, eh?”. The chef was Mexican and answered “because it’s food?”

Then dump in a bunch of coconut water.

I'm coco for coconut water!  I go nuts for coconut water!  There's no con in coconut water!  I should go into advertising.

I’m coco for coconut water! I go nuts for coconut water! There’s no con in coconut water! I should go into advertising.

Add in the eggs, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is cooked.  Turn off the heat, and dump in a bunch of fish sauce and some black pepper.  Serve over white rice with steamed veggies or the bean sprout salad below.

Bean sprout salad: microwave a few handfuls of beansprout in a plastic bag for 1 min and 30 seconds.  Check how crispy they are.  If you like them softer, keep microwaving in 30 second intervals.

Make a dressing: mix a lot of rice vinegar, a spoonful of sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil.

We have all our labels on already, so we're willing to help out with someone dressing.  Don't know why someone would need help with that.

We have all our labels on already, so we’re willing to help out with someone dressing. Don’t know why someone would need help with that.

Cut up whatever herbs you have (we had cilantro and green onion, but basil, mint, parsley would all be fine too) very finely, and toss with the beansprouts and dressing.

These bean sprouts don't seem to be dressed... where's the paper?

These bean sprouts don’t seem to be dressed… where’s the paper?

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Thit kho (from my mom!)

2 lbs of pork- your choice of how much to do belly and how much shoulder/butt.

Garlic

Fish sauce

Sugar

Pepper

Eggs (1-2 per person)

Coconut water

Salad: bean sprouts, fresh herbs, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil

1. Cut the pork up into 2-inch chunks.  Season with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.  Refrigerate while you hardboil the eggs and start cooking the rice.  Since it takes awhile to hardboil eggs, if a half hour hasn’t passed yet this is a good time to make that salad- microwave the bean sprouts for 1-2 minutes.  Mix 2 TB rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil.  Mince herbs.  Toss with bean sprouts and dressing and set aside.

2. (optional) Quickly sear pork cubes on all sides to get them a little brown.  Alternately, parboil the pork for a minute or two to get rid of the gunk and have a slightly clearer sauce.  Alternately, do neither of these things (which I do most often).

3. CAREFULLY caramelize 3 TB or so of sugar (see pictures above). Immediately stir in the pork and pour in about a cup of coconut juice/soda (I love cocorico).  If you have a sweet tooth, use all coconut juice (I do!), but otherwise, add in enough water to cover the pork.  Bring to a simmer.

4. Peel your eggs.  Toss em in.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until pork is done.  Eat over white rice with the bean sprouts.

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