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[ a little delay for weekend herb blogging ]...

>> Monday, November 29, 2010

If one thing a food blogger needs - internet connection!

My internet connection is suffering from some serious issue. Hope it will be back on track really soon, and I will do the roundup for weekend herb blogging right away. Sorry for the delay...

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Delicious Vietnam #8 announcement

>> Friday, November 26, 2010


 I'm so sorry for the lack of update on this event on A food lover's journey! It's been quite hectic for me, but I thought I should make an effort to announce this event every month so it's easy for you guys to follow :).

For Delicious Vietnam #8, please welcome Deb from Bear Head Soup as our host!

If you are new to Delicious Vietnam, here’s a summary of the event along side with some rules and recaps of past editions.

You have until the second Sunday of October (US time) to post about anything related to Vietnamese cuisine – recipes, food writing, review or reflection.

In your post, please include the phrase “Delicious Vietnam #8” with the link to your host.

Please submit to your post by the deadline December 12th 2010, which is:

+) 12 noon, Monday, 13 Dec 2010 – Melbourne (Australia) time
+) 7 pm, Sunday, 12 Dec 2010 – Los Angeles (US) time
+) 9am, Monday, 13 Dec 2010 – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city time

Send your entries to
bearheadsoup[at]gmail[dot]com


with Delicious Vietnam #8 in the subject with the following details:

• Your Name
• Your Blog Name/URL
• Your Post URL
• Your Location
• A photo (optional): 300px wide

Looking forward to next month round up!

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Gluten-free coconut mango clafoutis

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

{Monthly mingle – baking with fruits}

Gluten-free coconuty clafoutis

Are you sure you don’t like clafoutis?” My co-worker raised the question in one of our food chat over lunch ages ago. “But no one dislikes clafoutis. Maybe you didn’t try a good one”. With that she emailed me her tried and true recipe and insisted me to give clafoutis a another try, especially “with mangoes”..

A few months passed. She had left the firm for the brilliant adventure of motherhood. Mango season has started, and I finally took a look at her treasure recipe. No flour, no dairy… Uhm, would it even set in the oven? Would it even work…?

And I am so glad I gave that recipe a try. True to her promise, this must be the best clafoutis I have ever tried! Like, I am in love!

You see my usual problem with the traditional clafoutis is it seems to be a little heavy, like eating thick pancakes with fruits… This version, however, produces a lighter, custard like batter, which blends beautifully with the fruit, especially softer ones like mangoes. I have also tested it with early season apricots. Work like a charm. Happy me!

Gluten-free coconuty clafoutis

I’m sending this tried and true mango clafoutis to the sweetest Deeba, who is the current host of Monthly Mingle. The theme ‘baking with fruits’ is just pure genius, and I cannot wait to see what others come up with.

Gluten-free coconuty clafoutis

Gluten-free coconut mango clafoutis

A recipe from V.
{Printable recipe}

This recipe works with any fruits I am sure, but mangoes lift it to another level. Play around with the ratio of fruits and clafoutis to get your favourite combo. I like mine studded with fruits.

Ingredients
2 medium mangoes (or fruits of your choices)
2 eggs
3 tbps brown sugar(or 4 tbps if you use less sweet fruits)
25g tapioca flour
1 small lemon, grated and juiced
20g desiccated coconut
200ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Some chopped pistachio to sprinkle (optional)
1 tbp icing sugar to garnish

Method

First prepare your fruits – peel and slice your mangoes thinly. (Do the same with other fruits).

Turn your oven to 200C. Prepare baking dishes. You can bake your clafoutis in mini dishes like me, or use a square 20cmx20cm baking dish. Arrange the mangoes onto the dish(es).

Beat the egg with the sugar. Sift the flour over, and whisk well until combined. Next, add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, dry coconut, coconut milk and the vanilla extract. Make sure everything is combined well together.

Pour the mixture over the fruits. Sprinkle with some chopped pistachio if you like. Bake in the oven for 200C for 15 minutes (or until the batter is set). Sprinkle with a bit of sugar and bake until the surface is golden brown.

To serve: dust the clafoutis with icing sugar and/or some whipped cream (mine is the mixture of cream and mascarpone).

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A moment in life #46 - the first peaches...

>> Saturday, November 20, 2010

... of the season! Quite expensive, but I took it as a sign that more stone fruits are coming. Summer, I am waiting for you (and cherries, plums, nectarines, apricots, peaches...) :D

the first peaches of the season...

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Turkish carrot yoghurt dip

>> Tuesday, November 16, 2010

{Weekend Herb Blogging – 5th year anniversary}

Turkish carrot yoghurt dip.

Weekend Herb Blogging turns 5 this week!

In case you don’t know, WHB is one of the longest blogging events. Created by Kalyn, it is the weekly event where participants can showcase their love for herbs, vegetables and flowers. I have learned so much from WHB, it is an event close to my heart. On this occasion, Haalo from Cook almost anything at least once, the one who is in charge of WHB, is planning something special. Take a look at her announcement and join the fun if you can.

I wasn’t sure what to prepare for this week WHB. Then, I decided on something simple and keep cooking to the minimum. No fancy ingredients, just the usual stuff from your fridge – carrot.

I’m talking about the delicious Turkish Carrot Dip, which has recently won my heart over and ranked number 2 in my top favourite dip. Baba Ganoush is still number one, but this is much easier to prepare. No broiling, no special equipment needed. Just a few minutes, then it is done. Paired with some fresh bread and vegetable sticks, it is just perfect for a light snack. Of course, it pairs wonderfully with meat and fish, especially if grilled/BBQ.

And yes, I do notice that yoghurt makes a very regular appearance on this blog recently. It’s about time! I love all thing yoghurt, and have substituted it for cream in most dishes. Such a versatile ingredient it is.

Turkish carrot yoghurt dip.

Turkish carrot yoghurt dip

Depending on how thick and sour your yoghurt is, adjust or do not use lemon juice at all. Some places put mayo in the dip, which I think is unnecessary. Keep it simple and use premium quality yoghurt, the dip will taste wonderful.

{Printable recipe}

Ingredients

4 medium sized carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 tbp olive oil
1 tsp salt and a bit more
1 cup natural yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
A gentle squeeze of lemon juice
A sprinkling of sumac, paprika or garnish with parsley or dried mint, your choice

Method
In a large skillet, cook the carrot with the oil and some salt until just cooked through. Set aside to cool down a bit.

Mix the carrot with the yoghurt, garlic. Taste for salt and add lemon juice if needed.

Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle sumac, paprika or garnish with parsley or dried mint, your choice.

Serve with bread, veg stick or accompany meat or fish dishes.

Turkish carrot yoghurt dip.

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Yoghurt panna cotta with orange blossom syrup & pistachio

>> Thursday, November 11, 2010

{Settling in}

Yoghurt panna cotta with orange blossom syrup & pistachio

It always takes me quite a while to settle in a new place. A strange thing, given that the number of times I moved during the past two years.

But, it does take time to have some sense about a new house - the sense of space; the sense of how time passes by, how the lighting condition changes throughout the course of the day. And I like to chase after sunlight, particularly in the early or late hours of the day.

Then, there are boxes to unpack, to organize. I thought I would have enough energy to do a bit of unpacking last week. How short-lived was that thought! Instead I found myself lying on the couch falling asleep while trying to read through a book or watching a TV show. That’s surely part of the whole ‘settling in’ process…

I confess I haven’t shot any food photos at my new place. My props are still in boxes. And I still have a lot of photos from my wonderful time in New York to go through. But that is going to change soon I hope!

Meanwhile, let’s all enjoy this sweet and simple dessert. Yoghurt panna cotta, how easy! I like mine really creamy with just enough gelatin to lightly set the pudding (very unlike the yoghurt and strawberry jelly I made earlier). The orange blossom syrup and crushed pistachio are inspired from a rice pudding dessert I always ordered at a small Lebanese restaurant called Almazett in Melbourne. In fact, I still travelled across town to dine at that place. It’s certainly not fancy or has the best food around. But Almazett is one of a few restaurants where I really feel at home.

Yoghurt panna cotta with orange blossom syrup & pistachio

Yoghurt panna cotta with orange blossom syrup & pistachio

Choose the best yoghurt for this dessert. I got mine from a Greek deli – the yoghurt is extra smooth and creamy. I can eat the whole jar just by itself!

Adapted from taste.com.au.

Printable recipe

Ingredients
1 cup natural yoghurt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey or to taste
1 cup thickened cream
1 tbs hot water
2 tsp gelatine powder
Orange syrup: mix 1 tsp orange blossom water with 1 cup of sugar syrup (made with equal amount of water and sugar).
Crushed roasted pistachio – to serve

Method
Place the cream and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the mixture is heated through.
Place the hot water in a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle with the gelatine. Place the bowl in a small saucepan and add enough boiling water to come three-quarters of the way up the side of the bowl. Use a fork to whisk until the gelatine dissolves.
Add the cream mixture and gelatine mixture to the yoghurt, whisking until well combined. Strain through a fine sieve into a large jug. Pour evenly among the moulds. Place in the fridge until set (preferably overnight).
To serve, add a spoonful of syrup on top of the panna cotta, sprinkle generously with pistachio.

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A moment in life #46 - The part of everyday life

>> Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is the part of everyday life

More photo. Less words. Except "I'm craving for some eggs with vegemite on sourdough!".


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Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce – Delicious Vietnam #7

>> Friday, November 05, 2010

Vietnamese beef meatballs

It’s been a long time! So much has been happening in my life outside of the blog. We moved. We travelled. We had some amazing time in New York, and now a new venture has started. It seems so hard to keep up with all the events around us, so many things to do, so many friends to catch up…

Yesterday, I opened my google reader. 1000+ unread posts. There was no way I could ever go through them all. ‘Mark all as read’, and I feel better. No guilty feeling and a fresh start.
It’s good to return to the blog world with a fresh start!

I am still getting used to my new kitchen. Gotta say though, this is perhaps the best kitchen I have ever had. Mind the mess, I know several ladies who loved this red kitchen bench top. Chic and cute, isn’t it? :-). That, together with the park at the front, makes me incredibly happy.

Beautiful spring light from the park in front of my place

But. I need to talk about this scrumptious Vietnamese inspired dish – beef meatballs in tomato sauce. It is my concoction of the ever popular pork meatballs (xíu mại) – the kind you see in Vietnamese baguette (bánh mì).

I know that the Italian has done a fabulous job with their meatballs. I love them. Rest assure though that this recipe is something you need to make if you are big fan of meatballs as much as Mr. B does. The Vietnamese version has crunchier texture, benefiting from the addition of finely chopped water chestnuts and the steaming process. Yes, you read it right. We steam our meatballs and collect all the delicious juices. The juices are then added to the soft tomato mixture, creating a mellow sauce to coat those lovely meatballs. Delicious by itself, or used as a filling for baguette together with other sweet-sour pickles and herbs.

This dish was prepared well in advance for Delicious Vietnam #7. Hosted by Nina of MissAdenvture@Home. All details can be found here.

Until next time. Have a great weekend!

Vietnamese beef meatballs

Vietnamese beef meatballs in tomato sauce

Loosely adapted from a recipe on foodforfour.com

Ingredients
1 kg beef mince (lean mince is okay)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
3 green onion, white part only, finely chopped
1 small can water chestnut (220g), drained and chopped
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Tomato sauce
3 gloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons sugar

Method
In a large bowl, combine the mince, garlic, shallots, green onions, water chestnuts, egg, sugar, salt, fish sauce and pepper, and mix well with your hands. Form the mixture into 4cm balls then place them on a plate or tray.

Now steam the meatballs and collect their juices. I used a bamboo steamer and did it in batches. [Edit] Steam until the meatballs are just cooked through and hold their shape well. Set aside.[Edit]

In a large heavy based saucepan, heat a small amount of oil then add the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the tomato paste, water, fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Then add the meatballs and their juices.

Simmer the meatballs for about 25 minutes or until cooked and sauce is reduced.

Taste test and add more seasoning if required. Remove from heat.

Serve meatballs as fillings in a crusty baguette with coriander, cucumber, red chillies and pickled radish and carrots. Or serve meatballs with white rice.

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