Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Easy Sweet Curtard Buns (Bánh Bao Ngọt)

Custard buns are a very popular dish in the Chinese cuisine and are often sold in dim sum restaurants. There are two types of flour that can be used to create this bun. One type of flour is the one used for making yeast bread with the help of a bread machine that I showed in my blog not so long ago. Today, I will introduce a different way using the self-rising flour, which is often sold in American grocery stores or ready-made Bột bánh bao sold in Asian grocery stores. This method is very fast and easy. If using Bột bánh bao, just follow the directions shown on the package. I like to use the self-rising because it is available to me, and the Asian markets are located a long distance from my house. Try both methods to see what suits your taste.


Dough ingredients:
2 ¼ cups self-rising flour
1/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbs oil
 Filling ingredients:*
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut into cubes
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (your choice)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbs vanilla
2 drops of red color (optional)
1 cup milk

To make the filling:
In a mixing bowl, combine all the filling ingredients except the vanilla. Use an electric handheld mixer to beat the ingredients well. Pour the filling mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Add vanilla.

Pour the custard into a small bowl. Add 1 tbs butter on top, cover with plastic wrapper, and allow to cool off.

To make the dough:
Put all the dough ingredients into a KitchenAid mixer bowl and use the dough hook to beat the flour for 10 minutes. Remove and cover with plastic. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Cut twelve 3” x 3” pieces of parchment paper and set aside.

Fill a steamer pot with water and bring to boil, and add 2 tbs of vinegar into the water.
To assemble the buns:
On a flour-dusted countertop, roll dough into a long rope and divide dough into 12 equal portions of dough.

Use a small rolling pin to flatten each piece to form a thin circle. Place 2 tbs of filling onto the center of a dough circle.

 Wrap the dough to enclose the filling. Shape the dough circle by pleating and pinching the edges to form the bun. Continue with the other buns in the same manner. Let dough rest for 10 minutes and then place in the steamer pot.

 Steam buns for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and serve.

*The quantity of filling produced will usually exceed the amount necessary to fill the 12 buns. Increase the quantity of dough ingredients to utilize the extra filling.

Stir-Fried Kohlrabi with Chicken

1 large kohlrabi, peeled and shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
1 chicken breast, sliced
1 tsp cooking wine
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp cornstarch
Sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp seasoning powder 
Other ingredients:
Chives, cut into 2 inches about 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs vegetable oil
Fresh basil
In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken breast with cooking wine, salt, and cornstarch. Let combination marinate for a few hours.

Have all the ingredients prepared and set aside.

Heat oil in a wok until hot. Add chicken and stirfry until chicken is no longer pink.

Add kohlrabi and cook for a few minutes, Add sauce and mix well.

 Add bean sprouts and chives.

 Remove from the stove and serve with rice.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tomato & Seafood Soup

My family had a very happy vacation here in my house, and they just left yesterday. I have mixed emotions when they left, but, I am also very happy to be able to return to my blog after nearly a month caring for my mother when she was here. There is a slight feeling of emptiness, but I am now rested a bit and anxious to return to normal activities that I prefer, which include introducing dishes that I make daily for myself and then share them with everyone on the Internet. Most of the tomatoes in my garden have ripened, and it is a good time to harvest them. There are so many ways to use tomatoes, but today I will introduce a healthy tomato soup with seafood. I think this is a very good soup for me to prepare after a month of only cooking my mother’s favorite dishes containing beef or pork.

5 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
2 sprigs of parsley, chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 lb. of tomatoes, chopped
Egg whites from 2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz. tuna, cut into bite size pieces
1 package of mixed seafood (about 1 lb)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped green onions for garnish

Bring 5 cups of chicken broth to boil. In a mixing bowl, combine carrots, onions, celery, parsley, thyme, tomatoes, and egg whites. Add mixture to the chicken broth and simmer for one hour or until the broth looks clear.


Drain the broth through a fine sieve .

Pour broth back into a soup pan and bring to boil. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.

Add seafood, and tuna. Bring back to boil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes.

Ladle soup into a serving bowl. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top and serve.

Valuable Lessons for Life

A millionaire suddenly died early. His widow inherited 19 billion heirs and decided to marry her driver. The driver joyfully said: "Before, I thought that I worked for the boss, but now the boss is actually on par with me."
+ Lesson learned: Living longer is unimportant, but more importantly are staying young and healthy. Everyone should strengthen themselves with regular training and paying attention to proper healthcare. In this life, we do not know ahead of time who will be working for whom at the last minute.
70% of advanced phone functions are redundant.
A luxury car: 70% of excess speed is too much.
A luxury villa: 70% of the area is empty.
A room full of fashionable clothes and cosmetics: 70% is seldom used.
A person's life spent trying to earn more money is 70% left for other people to spend.

+ Lesson learned: Life is inherently very simple, enjoying life approximately 30% is good enough.
Life is a race. The first half of the race is running for power, status, achievement, and wages. The remaining half of the race is running to avoid high blood pressure, blood fat, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc. Wish that you consistently always win both.

Translated from Internet

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sweet Corn Dessert (Chè Bắp)

In the Vietnamese cuisine, corn is a type of vegetable that can make so many kinds of dishes from savory to sweet, such as the dessert called, chè bắp". I am a cook without a sweet tooth who seldom bakes cakes or makes a dessert. However, corn porridge is a very seductive dessert, and the time to perform this dish does not take as long as the finished product certainly makes people quite satisfied. Each time I make corn porridge reminds me of those days when I was young, and the voice of the sales lady with a distinct southern accent who sold this corn porridge uttered the words, “Who would like to eat sweet corn now?” At such times, I often ran to my mother and asked her for a little bit of money to buy this sweet corn dessert. This still warm corn porridge usually was presented inside a nylon Ziploc. Coconut milk was added over the top of the porridge. I just squeezed the bag gently to mix the corn and coconut milk together in a plastic bag and then bite the bottom corner of the bag to enjoy the natural sweet taste of corn and coconut milk that melted in my mouth. This is the best way to eat the very rustic corn porridge in Vietnam, but it is also one of many beautiful memories of my childhood. Today, I will introduce this special porridge of my homeland with easily found ingredients during the summer of the Pacific Northwest where so many farmers’ markets sell fresh corn.

5 fresh ears of corn

1/2 cup glutinous rice, wash and drain
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla
Coconut milk topping ingredients:
1 can coconut milk
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla (use as substitute for pandan leaves noted at the bottom)

From the ears of corn, remove the husks and silk. Wash and drain.

Use a sharp knife to slice off very thinly the corn kernels from the corncobs.

Add the corncobs into a pot with water to cover the cobs and bring to boil.

Cook the cobs for 20 minutes. Remove cobs and reserve the water. Measure about 6 cups of water including the water reserved from cooking the cobs. Bring to boil.
Add rice, salt, and shredded corn kernels to the boiling water and simmer until the rice and corn kernels are cooked (about 20 to 30 minutes).

 Add sugar and vanilla. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve corn porridge warm and cover with coconut milk topping*.

*While the corn is cooking, make the coconut milk topping:

In a small saucepan, add all the coconut milk ingredients and bring to boil (watch carefully not to allow the coconut mixture to boil over). Simmer for 5 minutes.

NOTE: If available, a handful of fresh pandan leaves or 1 tsp of pandan extract can be used for traditional flavoring when making both the corn porridge the coconut milk topping. If using fresh pandan leaves, remove them after cooking both the corn porridge and coconut milk topping.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Baked Coconut & Mung Beans Cake (Bánh đậu Xanh Nướng)

Mung beans are a very common type of bean used in the Vietnamese cuisine in general and in particular for making all kinds of desserts. When talking about mung beans, I am reminiscent of baked mung beans cake that my mother often made to worship at the Buddhist altar during Tet (New Year) in Vietnam. The taste of ​​coconut fat and flashy mung beans are the two kinds of special flavors of this cake. There are also many ways to make this very special cake among other Vietnam's culinary specialties. However, today, which marks the first day of my mother’s visit, I am re-creating the type of mung beans cake that my mother used to bake. Tonight, we'll have a nice picnic dinner at the park downtown and enjoy the concert being performed with the musical contributions by local artists.  So, this coconut and mung beans cake is very convenient for outdoor picnics to replace other desserts. This cake’s quality is not just very good, but it is also being presented for very simple processing.

Ingredients for cooked mung beans:
1 cup dry mung beans
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups water
Ingredients for the cake:
All the cooked mung beans*
1 cup coconut milk or cream
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs

*For cooking the mung beans:
Wash and drain the mung beans very well.  Place the mung beans in a pot. Add salt and water. Bring to boil and skim off the foam that arises to the surface. Cook beans until they absorb almost all the water (about 10 minutes). Cover pot and turn heat to simmer for another 10 minutes.

For making the cake:
Use 1/2 tablespoon of butter to grease a 9 inch diameter cake pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a mixing bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and use a handheld mixer to beat the batter until smooth.

 If you do not have a handheld mixer, you can use a food processor or blender. Pour the batter onto the prepared cake pan.

Dot the batter with some butter.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting.

Avocado Spread

Avocado is a kind of fruit that is very popular for providing many benefits for women's health. The fat in avocado is a very good. According to studies about the avocado, eating avocados in place of foods containing saturated fat can help achieve the major dietary goal of reducing the amount of saturated fat in the diet. Avocados are cholesterol and sodium free, and more than 50% of the fruit’s fat content is monounsaturated. They are naturally free of sodium, trans fats, and cholesterol, making them a great fruit to help meet eating recommendations required for the body. This fruit is a very popular ingredient in the Mexican cuisine, such as avocado salsa. “Avocado egg rolls” are enjoyed as an appetizer dish at the famous Cheese Cake Factory. Avocado is a very convenient food in terms of nutrition not only for vegetarians but can also be served with a burger in a sandwich to eat outdoors. As lactose intolerant person, I find the avocado spread is an excellent choice to replace mayonnaise. This is a very tractable formula that provides a lot of benefits for our health.

1 very ripe avocado 
1 tbs lime juice
1/4 cup nonfat ranch dressing or nonfat yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs fresh chopped cilantro
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper


Cut avocado in half. Remove the pit and discard.

Place avocado and the rest of the ingredients in a mini food processor and press start. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

 Some other spices can be added such as cayenne or chili powder (your choice). If not served immediately, a few slices of onion should be put on top of the avocado spread placed in a jar with lid to preserve the coloring and then stored in refrigerator.