Two cheese spaghetti with Bluefish, Caramelized Onion and Anise leaves

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I like any pasta cooked with dry wine. Seafood works well in combination with wine, preferably for me dry red wine with its pungency can delete any trace of seafood’s odor.

Many people get confused when they buy anise from the supermarket. Actually, we should call it the fennel bulb rather than anise to clarify this misunderstanding. Anise star has a much much much stronger flavor than Fennel. We can meet Anise star easily in most of Indian curry or Pho of Vietnamese. Fennel somewhat has a similar flavor like anise star, however it’s really a good idea to combine fennel with spaghetti. Don’t throw away your fennel leaves, which are the green part of the fennel. It’s a really really a unique condiment.

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

– 300 g dry thin spaghetti

– 1/2 cup dry red wine

– 6 green part of anise, remove the firm part and keep the leaves and the soft part only, chopped them well

– 2 green onion, chopped

– 1  1.5 inch thick cut of bluefish

– 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

– 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

– 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

– 2 tbsp unsalted butter

– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

– Salt and pepper

Method

– In a large pot, boil 5 quart water to a boil with 1 tbsp salt. Cook the bluefish for 5 minutes or until it’s just cooked. Don’t over cook it, otherwise the fish would be dry and lose its flavor.

– Shred the fish

– Retain the fish water. Add the pasta and cook until it’s just al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Drain it. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.

– Heat a shallow large pan with olive oil. Saute the onion at medium heat until it’s caramelized then reduce the heat, slowly add the dry red wine. When the dry is boiled, add butter.

– Add the pasta along with the cheeses. Stir evenly with the shredded fish, chopped anise and green onion. Slowly add the pasta water up to 3/4 cup to thin the sauce.

– Add more salt to your taste. Sprinkle pepper and serve.

Vanilla bean Charlotte cake

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Charlotte cake is a perfect combination of rolled sponge cake and custard cream. You can make any variation if you do not like the traditional style.

I don’t underestimate this cake when saying that anyone can make it, given you give it a little patient. Well, tradition always makes every baked things completely excellent. As Rose Levy Beranbaum said “A beautiful cake usually gives you a good feeling”. I absolutely consent her saying. This Charlotte is adapted from “Cake Bible” of her.

Ingredients

For sponge cake (fit 17 x 12 inch jelly roll pan)

– 2 eggs, seperate egg yolks and egg whites

– 2 eggs + 1 yolk

– 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar (113g)

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/3 cup + 3 tbsp (56g) cake flour

– 1/2 strawberry jam

– 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For syrup

– 3 tbsp sugar

– 1/8 cup hot water

– 1 tbsp brandy, or your favorite liqueur

For custard cream

– 1  cup heavy cream

– 1 1/3 cup whole milk

– 1 vanilla bean

– 5 egg yolks

– 1/3 cup sugar

– 1 tbsp brandy (or your favorite liqueur)

Method

Sponge cake

– Beat whole eggs and egg yolks, except 2 egg whites until very fluffy. It takes around 10 minutes

– Sift the flour and gently fold in the beaten egg in 3 times

– Beat the egg whites until they’re frothy then add cream of tartar. Beat at low speed. Gradually add 1 tbsp sugar and beat until stiff peak but not dry

– Fold 2 cups of egg mixture into the beaten egg whites until it’s smooth. Fold the egg white mixture back into the eggs and flour mixture again until two mixtures are smooth

– Grease the bottom of jelly roll pan. Add the mixture to the pan and spread it evenly.

– Bake at 400 F for 5-6 minutes.

– Cool the cake for 10 minutes then roll it gently. Let the cake cool down for 20 minutes then unroll. Spread 1/2 cup strawberry jam evenly. Roll the cake again and refrigerate the cake while making the custard cream

Custard cream

–  Combine gelatin, whole milk, egg yolks, sugar, liqueur and let it sit for 5 minutes.

– In small sauce pan, stir the custard mixture at low heat frequently until the custard is slightly thick and coat the flat spoon. Don’t bring it to a boil or you’ll get the lumps. The stirring can take 10-15 minutes.

– In an ice cold water bowl, stir the hot custard until it’s cool down at room temperature.

– Beat the heavy cream until it’s fluffy at medium speed. Stir in the custard until the heavy cream and the custard are smooth.

Assemble

– Place a wrapping plastic paper at the bottom of the 2 quart bowl.

– Cut the roll into 1/4 inch thick. Arrange them in the bowl. Making the syrup by combining 3 tbsp sugar + 1/8 cup water + 1 tbsp liqueur. Drizzle the syrup over the cake.

– Pour the custard cream in to the bowl and refrigerate the Charlotte for at least 6 hour before invert the cake.

Here’s the link guiding you to make this cake:

Alfredo spaghetti with Salmon and Lemon

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Salmon has lots of fat on its skin. And seared salmon makes it best to combine with spaghetti. Alfredo itself is so fatty with mainly based on butter. Lemon can balance the overwhelming buttery flavor of Alfredo so well that I even don’t recognize I’m eating Alfredo.

Among cheeses serving with spaghetti, Pecorino Romano has unique pungent flavor. Pecorino means any cheese product that is made with goat milk. I like inhaling the airy flavor every time grating this cheese.

Ingredients (4 servings)

– 7 tbsp unsalted butter

– 4 sprigs parsley

– 1.5 pounds fillet salmon with skin on

– 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 pound dry thick spaghetti

Method

– Boil the water with 2 tbsp salt and cook the spaghetti until it’s just al dente (around 11 minutes). Drain the pasta thoroughly and reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

– Chop the parsley finely. Wash the salmon and break it into 4 portions.

– In a smoky pan, sear the salmon with its skin side first. Cover the pan for 3 minutes. Flip the salmon and sear the other side for 3 minutes more with no lid on. The salmon should be just cooked to prevent the dryness

– Heat the butter until it’s super hot but not burned. Add the cheese and stir until it’s smooth. Note: Pecorino Romano has high protein so it’s difficult to melt in low heat. If you don’t do that, the cheese would be no smooth but lumpy

– Toss the pasta in the cheese mixture. Add more pasta water gradually to thin the sauce if you want a thin sauce. Add salt to your taste.

– Serve with salmon, freshly ground black pepper and lots of lemon drops.

Simple pickled vegetables – Dưa góp

Pickled vegetable tastes good only when it’s fresh and especially healthy for us if there is no alum (phèn chua) added. Actually, refined crystal of alum with a proper amount is okay with our health. However, the point comes from the customers, who usually require crunchy pickled veggie. That’s the reason why merchants use lots of alum, most of that alum used are not refined and thus, harmful to our health.

If you live in Vietnam, you can see that pickled vegetable is everywhere in every meal. Look at Nuoc cham (fish sauce) of Bun cha (Grilled meat dish in Hanoi) or of the most famous springroll, you easily find these pickled carrots and papaya. The sour and sweet flavor of pickled vegetables help the foodie balance the taste of the oily meat. IMG_5686

Ingredients

– 1 medium papaya

– 5 medium long carrots

–  1 bulf of garlic (you can decrease the garlic to 2 cloves, however the garlic would not so strong during the fermentation)

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup rice vinegar

– 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp fish sauce

– 2 tbsp salt

– Chili pepper (optional)

Method

– Use a mandoline, slice the papaya and carrots into thin slices. You can use a knife instead, but your knife has to be sharp.

– Sprinkle salt on the vegetables and sit them for 1 hour.

– After 1 hour, squeeze all the excess water from the vegetables. Put them in a clear bowl.

– Combine all the seasoning (with chopped pepper if you like) and pour the seasoning mixture in the vegetables. You finish your action here.

– Let the vegetables sit in room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. After 1 day, keep the pickled vegetables in the refrigerator. The pickled vegetables would be sour fast in a hot day.

– Papaya and carrots can retain their crispy for 10 days without using any alum.

Cream cheese Mousse

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I know that mousse has lots of fat, but a portion of it is not so bad. Mousse is the one that costs me time most in eating among other cake, albeit making this is pretty simple. I like mousse with a base of genoise, though this indulgence costs me more time in the kitchen. It reduces the overwhelming of fat in your mouth after several spoons of mousse  if you eat the traditional mousse.

IMG_5644Ingredients ( 9 inch springform pan)

For the chocolate genoise

(adapted from Cake Bible)

– 4 eggs, separated

– 124 g sugar

– 32 g cake flour

– 5 oz bittersweet chocolate

For the cream cheese mousse

(adapted from Chocolately chocolate)

– 1 1/3 cup heavy cream

– 1/3 cup sugar

– 2 tbsp water

– 3 egg yolks

– 1 3/4 tsp gelatin

– 1 8 oz package cream cheese

Decorating

– Chocolate shavings

Method

Chocolate genoise

– Melt the chocolate by using a double boiler or microwave (20 seconds a time, stir and microwave again for 3 times)

– Beat the egg yolk with 2 tbsp sugar until it’s fluffy then add the melting chocolate. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

– In a clear bowl, beat the egg white with sugar until it’s glossy and soft peak. Note: start beating the egg white slowly with the medium speed until it’s frothy then increase the speed to the highest. Gradually add 1 tbsp sugar a time. Beat until the egg white reach triple its original volume and very glossy.

– Add 1/3 egg white into the chocolate mixture to light it. Then sift 1/3 flour and gently fold the mixture. Continue this step for 2 times more.

– Spray the baking oil onto the bottom of the springform pan, except its side. Pour the mixture into the pan.

– Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

– Wait 10 minutes after the cake is out from the oven. Remove it from the pan and let it cool completely before assembling with the cream cheese mousse.

Cream cheese mousse

– Microwave the cream cheese for 30 seconds until it’s warm (not cold).

– Sprinkle the gelatin into 2 tbsp water. Let it sit for 10 minutes then microwave 15 seconds.

– Stir the cream cheese with gelatin. Note: the cream cheese has to be warm enough for adding the gelatin liquid, otherwise, the gelatin couldn’t be dissolved and return to its crystal.

– Heat the sugar with 2 tbsp water until it reaches 234 F. Beat the egg yolks while gradually pouring into a thin stream of hot sugar syrup. Beat the egg mixture until it’s yellow pale and fluffy.

– Stir well the egg yolk mixture with the cream cheese mixture. Let it cool for 30 minutes.

– Beat the heavy cream with 1 tbsp sugar until it reaches the soft peak. Don’t over beat the heavy cream, otherwise it would be separated into butter and buttermilk.

– Pour in the cream cheese mixture with heavy cream. Gently fold until the mousse is smooth.

– Pour the cream cheese mousse onto the chocolate genoise. Keep refrigerate for at least 6 hours then serving with shaved chocolate.

Fresh Fettucine with Romano cheese and Black pepper – Mỳ ý sợi dẹt với phô mai Romano và hạt tiêu đen

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Iron chef is the most favorite cooking show that even not only me, my baby also loves it. While she always like watching Alton Brown’s kitchen show every evening, I love Mario Batali’s recipe. He has a cooking talent that no other chef does though he looks a “little corpulent”. This recipe is so great that I gained 2 pounds in a week by over eating this pasta everyday. Only modification here is that I used fresh fettucine in place of packaged pasta. That makes a significant change to your taste. I promise you.

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Ingredients

Fresh pasta

– 3 eggs

– 2 cups Semolina flour (if you don’t have, use all purpose flour)

Romano Fettucine

– Fresh fettucine: 1 pound

– 1/4 cup olive oil

– 2 tbsp unsalted butter

– 4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese

– 1 1/2 tsp black pepper (freshly grounded)

– Salt to taste

Method

Pasta dough

– Mix the flour with 3 eggs for 5 minutes. Knead the dough for 5 more minutes until eggs and flour incorporate. If you have food processor, it’s gonna be easier by using the dough blade to knead the dough until it’s roughly incorporated.

– Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. The gluten of the flour has to rest so the dough would be easier for the rolling

–  Roll the dough until it’s 2 mm (or 1/8 inch) thick. Cut the dough by 5mm (1/4 inch) width. If you have pasta machine, just do it by the manufacturer’s instruction.

– Boiling the fresh fettucine in a boiling water for 3 minutes. It’s quickly cooked so that you should be careful about the boiling time. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water for adding to the sauce.

Romano pasta

– Heat the 4 quart pan until it’s super hot

– Add the butter and olive oil until the butter is melt down then add the romano cheese. Stir until everything incorporates

– Add the cooked fresh fettucine and mix well. Slowly add more pasta water to the pasta to thin the sauce.

– Add the ground the black pepper and you finish the pasta. You can add more salt to your taste but be cautious, the Romano cheese is really salty. For me salt is never needed.

Lê bụp – Poached pear with Amaretto and Cranberries

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Ice cream works well itself as the perfect dessert for anytime. It can work much better if it is served with a poached pear.

Since my baby was born, she gives me the motivation for making good eat for her everyday. You’re tired for sometime, but you’ll be even more fatigue if your baby has no interest with food. Baby likes poached pear a lot, at least for the case of my baby. Don’t be worried of the alcohol. The boiling process would kill any liqueur elements and it’s totally safe for baby’s health.

You should choose bosc pears for poaching or any pear that is firm and has little water if you don’t have bosc pears in hand. Pears are poached usually with marsala wine and vanilla beans. Why don’t you try this recipe of mine. That’s sweet and works really good with vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

– 3 bosc pears removed from skin with stem intact (the stem helps the decoration)

– 1 cup Amaretto

– 1 cup water

– 1/4 cup sugar

– 1 cinnamon stick (use 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder if you don’t have cinnamon stick)

– 1/4  to 1/2 tbsp corn starch or potato starch

– 2 tbsp water

– 1/4 cup dry cranberries

Method

– Boil the wine with water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Add bosc pears and boil them at low heat with cover for 15 minutes

– Add dry cranberries and continue to boil the pears for 10 more minutes or until the pears are tender but not so soft that can be fallen apart.

– Remove the pears from the liquid and keep them refrigerated until they’re cool down and cold for serving

– Use 2 tbsp water to mix with corn starch. Add the corn starch liquid to the poached pear liquid slowly until the liquid reach the consistence.

– Add more sugar as your taste. Cool the syrup in refrigerator.

Serving

– Pour the syrup over the poached pear and serve with vanilla ice cream.