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Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Cafe Sua Da Vietnamese Iced Coffee

The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 19th century, and it has become an essential morning ritual of many Vietnamese.  Since then, you can find a coffee shop at every street corner in Saigon.  Early in the morning, men would fill up the coffee shops to get their morning fix before heading to work.  Some read their newspaper while other people enjoy coffee over a game of Chinese chess.  Today, coffee shops have become more modern, where young people can hang out and listen to the latest musicians.  Unlike my husband and mom, who are addicted to coffee, I like to drink mine on the weekend.  My favorite brand of coffe is Café Du Monde.  Using a metal filter, the coffee is extracted with hot water, slowly dripping until the last drop.  The sweetness of the condensed milk when mixed with the black coffee creates an unbelievable flavor.  I slowly sip it, savoring every drop.  If you are coffee lover, you will fall in love with Vietnamese coffee.

Ingredients

2 tbsps of coffee (Café Du Monde)
2 tbsps of condensed milk (Parrot)
½ cup of hot water
½ cup of ice

Instructions

Pour the condensed milk in a cup.  Remove the filter’s top screen and fill with coffee.  Put the screen back on and turn until you feel a bit of resistance.  Pour the hot water into the filter and put the lid over the top.

Let the coffee drip for about 15 minutes.  When the dripping stops, mix the coffee and condensed milk together.

Let it cool before adding ice.

Strawberry Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich

I have always admired Tartelette and wanted to try her macaron recipes but the ingredients are measured in metric and without a kitchen scale, I was sure to screw it up.  When we saw a digital kitchen scale for less than $20 at Costco today, I immediately grabbed it.  As soon as we came home, I prepared the macaron ingredients.  I used the exact ratio that Tartelette used for her raspberry mascarpone macarons.  Instead of making the mascarpone filling, I wanted to try something different, ice cream!  I used Wilton rose gel coloring to get the pink for the macarons and then I paired them with homemade strawberry ice cream.  It was a heavenly combination!

Macaron shells

90 gr egg whites (3 egg whites, aged in the fridge for 2 days if possible)
25 gr granulated sugar (2 tbsps)
200 gr powdered sugar (2 cups)
110 gr almonds (1 cup)
1/8 tsp Wilton rose gel food coloring

Strawberry ice cream filling

1 pint strawberries (puree)
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice

Directions

Pulse powdered sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times which helps the macarons have smooth tops.

Beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy.  Add sugar gradually and beat on high speed until stiff (when you turn the bowl upside down, nothing falls).  Add the rose gel color and continue beating on high speed until well blended and stiff.

Sift flour over mixture, and fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in three stages (don’t push down on eggs), continuing to fold until a ribbon forms.

Transfer batter to a ziplock bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Let them stand at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

While you are waiting for the shells to harden, prepare the ice cream by combining strawberry, sugar, cream, and lemon juice in a food processor.  Pour the combination in an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instruction.

Once you are done with the ice cream, put it in the freezer while you continue working on the macarons.

Preheat oven 280˚F. Bake until macarons are crisp and firm, and you see feet forming.  This should take about 10-12 minutes.

Let macarons cool on for 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.  If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 tbsp of ice cream.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Creme Brulee

Winter this year is a lot more cold and rainy compared to the usual San Diego sunshine.  I miss the summer weather and summer fruits like cherries and berries.  When I saw raspberries at Henry’s today, I grabbed them for my crème brulee.  I got my inspiration from an episode of Barefoot Contessa making raspberry crème brulee as a holiday dessert instead of the classic crème brulee.  Crème brulee is French for burnt crème, consisting of a rich custard base topped with caramelized sugar, but its origin is unknown.  The Brits claimed that the dish was invented in Trinity College in Cambridge while the earliest reference of crème brulee came from the 1691 release of Massialot’s cookbook in France.  I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten and it turned out wonderful, light, and creamy.  This recipe makes 4 servings but you can scale the ingredients to accommodate your guests.  The raspberries add a touch of red, making it a perfect dessert for your holiday dinner.

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4-6 oz of raspberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Whisk sugar and egg yolks together.

In a saucepan, heat heavy cream and vanilla bean paste just to a boil. While cream heats, also begin heating a pot full of water for baking the crème brulee.

Gradually whisk hot cream into the egg mixture. Strain the egg mixture to remove any lumps.

Place a few raspberries in the ramekins and divide mixture evenly between them.

Pour enough water into the roasting pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully place the roasting pan in oven.

Bake until the custards are just set, about 30 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from oven and cool slightly at room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and using a propane torch, hold it so the flame just touches the surface. Start at the center and spiral out toward the edges of the ramekins heat until the sugar caramelizes evenly.

Let the crème brulee cool for a few minutes before serving.

Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint.  Enjoy!

French Macarons with Chocolate Ganache Filling

I have waited months to reattempt this recipe.  The first time I had French macarons was at Cocola Bakery in San Jose when I was cake tasting for my wedding and saw how beautiful they look in the display.  Macarons in the U.S. pale in comparison to the ones in France.  While we were honeymooning in Paris, we stopped by the famous Laduree bakery and tried their macarons.  They were amazing.  Laduree had just about any combination you can think of.  We thought about bringing some back for our families but still had 5 days of travel before heading home.

Macarons are known as temperamental cookies and require a lot of patience.  I forgot how many failures I had.  The first time I made them, the mixture was runny and the macarons did not rise.  Another time, the oven was too hot and they all cracked.  My friend, Amy, came over for our poker party and gave me her macaron recipe and some awesome tips.  I followed Amy’s recommendation and did not age my egg whites.  Some recipes call for aging them in the fridge for up to 5 days, but I left my egg whites at room temp for a few hours.  After piping the macarons, I let them sit for 45-60 minutes to harden their shells.  I preheated the oven at 350˚F, and then turned the heat to 280˚F for baking to minimize overheating.  Everyone’s oven is different so you have to find your magic temperature.  I was so happy when I caught a glimpse of the macarons with their beautiful FEET through the oven.  FEET equal success.  I was jumping for joy!  Finally, after many attempts, the macarons came out perfect.  Hopefully, these tips will send you in the right direction on your macaron adventure.

Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour (just ground almond)
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream

Directions

Pulse powdered sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times which helps the macarons have smooth tops.

Beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy.  Add sugar gradually and beat on high speed until stiff (when you upside down the bowl, nothing falls).

Sift flour over mixture, and fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in three stages (don’t push down on eggs), continuing to fold until a ribbon forms.

Transfer batter to a ziplock bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Let stand at room temperature for 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and reduce oven temperature to 280 degrees. Bake until macarons are crisp and firm, and you see feet forming.  This should take about 10-12 minutes.

Let macarons cool on for 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.  If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.

For the chocolate ganache filling, melt the chocolate and heavy cream in a double broiler, stirring occasionally until well blended.  Let the ganache cool to room temp.

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 tsp of chocolate ganache.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Homemade Crab Bisque with Saffron

I was out of town for a pharmacy conference in Anaheim for a few days and have not had time to blog.  It felt really nice to be back home and back to my daily routine.  For dinner, I decided to make crab bisque, inspired by a crab dish that I had at Joe’s Crab Shack near our hotel.  French in origin, bisque is a smooth and creamy soup based on a strained broth of crustaceans, usually lobster, crab, shrimp, and even crayfish.  I paired the bisque with toasted baguettes and a glass of white wine.  If you are entertaining guests this holiday, this bisque would be a perfect start to your dinner party.

Ingredients

2 (1 1/2-pound) crabs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots or onions
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsps cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
chives for garnish

Directions

Fill a large stockpot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Place the crabs in the water and steam for 15 minutes.  Discard the water. (you can also save 1-2 cups of this original stock if you want a stronger crab taste)

Remove crab meats from the body and claws.  Save the shells.

Place 5 cups of water in a clean stockpot and turn on high heat.  Put the shells in the stockpot and cook for 30 minutes.  This should yield 4 cups of crab stock.

Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and turn on medium heat.  Add the garlic, shallots, leeks, carrots, tomatoes, and saffron and sauté for 20 minutes.

Add 4 cups of strained crab stock to the sautéed vegetables. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Press entire contents of sautéed pan through sieve into a clean sauté pan.

To finish the bisque, add heavy cream slowly, using whisk to blend.  Add white wine. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes; bisque will thicken slightly.

Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and slowly add to bisque with whisk.  Simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes.  Add pepper and sugar (more if you like a sweeter taste).

Place pieces of previous cleaned crab meat in bowl and add 1 cup of bisque.

Crepes with Mascarpone and Rhubarb Raspberry Filling

Crepe is one of my all time favorite desserts.  Crepes are very thin pancakes originating from Brittany, France.  Back in the old days, crepes are made with buckwheat flour.  Today, there are many adaptations making the possibilities endless.  You can prepare a savory variation by adding fresh vegetables and herbs, cheese, seafood, or meat as breakfast or even a main entrée. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can prepare different fillings with seasonal fruits and sauces, and pair with ice cream, or not.  When we were in Paris, crepe stands were at every corner and we ended up having crepes daily, a much cheaper alternative to expensive bistros.  This is my first time making crepes so bear with me.

Crepes

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tbsps melted butter
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
butter for coating the pan

Filling

4 oz of mascarpone cheese
4 oz of rhubarb raspberry jam (or your favorite jam)
fresh raspberries, whip cream, and powdered sugar for garnish

Directions

Using a mixer, blend all the ingredients together.  Press the batter through a sieve to remove any lump.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to reduce the bubbles which prevents the crepes from tearing during cooking.

Heat a small non-stick pan on low heat with butter to coat.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly.

Cook for 30 seconds or until golden and flip.  These crepes are paper thin so be careful not to tear them.  Lay them out flat on paperlined plate to remove any excess butter.

Spread mascarpone cheese and jam on half of crepe.  Fold the crepe into a quarter.

Serve with fresh raspberries and whip cream.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.  Bon appetit!

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