Japanese yogurt cotton cheesecake

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I rarely make cheesecake, significantly due to the high calorie from each bite of it. However, the cheesecake craving usually jumps into my daily abstemious food portion at least once a week. That’s why I have to find a way to loose some part of the cream cheese in the cheesecake ingredients, certainly because of the calorie lowering demand. The consuming of this new version Japanese cheesecake went up quickly right after the cheesecake had gone out from the oven.

There’s no need to be verbose in describing Japanese cheesecake. That cake is softer and lower in calorie than the original cheesecake due to the egg white increase and the cheese decline in the cake’s structure. But I still wanna reduce more cream cheese to satisfy my cheesecake craving.

Yogurt can be a good substitute for cream cheese if you know how to use it. Of course, the yogurt’s structure differs from that of cream cheese then many amateur bakers ( similar to me ^^ )feel hard to deal with yogurt in cheesecake baking. My experience is to choose the best store-bought plain yogurt and drain it overnight before using. The yogurt therefore would be no soggy but firm enough to be ready for subbing the cream cheese in this cake. In this recipe, I cut down half the normal cheese required, replaced it by drained yogurt. Because of the significant reduction of cream cheese, the corn flour would be doubled to make the cake more sturdily. The yogurt flavor definitely would be more delightful than that of the cream cheese.

Ingredients (for 7 inch round springform pan or removable pan)IMG_6203

–          150g cream cheese

–          150g plain yogurt

–          80g butter

–          30 ml milk

–          30g sugar for cream cheese and yolks

–          50g plain flour

–          40g tapioca starch or corn starch

–          5 eggs, separated yolks and whites

–          100g sugar for egg whites

–          1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Method

– In a double boiler, melt cream cheese, butter, milk and 30g sugar. Stir until they are smooth then take it out from the boiler.

– Add the yogurt and stir well til combined.

– Add the flour mixture. Use a whisk to fold the flour until it disappears.

– Gradually add the egg yolks and stir until everything is incorporated.

– In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites at low speed until it’s frothy then add the cream of tartar.

– Beat the whites at speed 2 while gradually adding sugar. Beat until the whites reach stiff peak but not dry. Note: you should stop beating as you see the beater is raised.

– Gently fold the beaten whites into the cheese mixture. Pour the mixture into the pan.

– Steam bake for 1 hour at 300F (150 C) at the lowest rack of the oven.

– Let the cake sit for 20 minutes before take it out from the pan.

Serve: you can use the cake when it’s cold or even when it’s warm. I prefer the warm cake with a cup of black coffee.

Here’s my tutorial video for this cake

Basic Chicken Biriyani – Cơm gà biriyani Ấn Độ

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Indian food is one of the most colorful savory food in the world, of course in my point of view. At least 3 colors you can find in any Indian dish: red, yellow and green. I have figured out an enigmatic coincidence of Indian traditional costume and food: they are both very colorful. I’m not kidding, I truthfully conceive that thing as I had a chance to join an Indian party last year.

Listing the condiments’ names can acquire you one thousand and one nights as the princess Scheherazade had to spend those equal nights to tell the story to avoid the death penalty. I don’t wanna flood you in those condiments. You have to know several basic seasonings to make a good Biriyani. In Persia once upon a time, Biriyani meant “roasted” or “fried” and that decent food was served for Kings. It’s so happy that we’re gonna eat a royal food, aren’t we?

This following picture shows you all the condiments needed for a simple Biriyani ( I don’t  have mace, mint and nutmeg on hand but my chicken biriyani turned out really resembling what I ate in the Indian restaurant). Don’t be intimidated or run away. You can easily find these condiments in any Indian grocery or any store that sell seeds for planting.  Biriyani is really good if you’re on a diet due to the low calorie. The only trick to cook a perfect biriyani is to strain the yogurt before marinating the chicken. It will prevent the half boiled rice to be so mushy during the cooking process.

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Ingredients (for 8 – 10 servings)

Seasoning

– Bay leaves: 4  (lá thơm)

– Cinnamon sticks: 2  (quế)

– Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp ( you can use dried or fresh leaves)    (rau mùi)

– Green cardamom: 10 pods  (bạch đậu khấu)

– Black peppercorns: 10 (tiêu đen nguyên hạt)

– Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

– Cloves: 12  (đinh hương)

– Cumin powder: 2 tbsp   (hạt thì là Ai Cập)

– Coriander powder: 3 tbsp  (hạt mùi)

– Turmeric powder:  1 tsp   (nghệ)

– Ginger paste: 1 tbsp + 1 tsp

– Garlic: 1 bulb, finely chopped

– Chili powder: 1 tbsp

Rice + marinate

– 4 cup basmati rice (or long grain rice), soaked in cold water for 30 minutes

– 2 1/2 cup plain yogurt

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1 tbsp + 2 tsp salt

– 2 1/2 pound chicken thighs, boneless and cut into big chunks

– 1 drop red food color

– 1/4 cup fried onion

Method

Marinate

– Combine all the seasoning with oil + yogurt + salt then massage with the chicken thighs. Let it sit for 30 minutes while you’re preparing the rice.

Half boiled rice

– Bring 4 quart water to a boil with 1 tbsp cooking oil + 2 tsp salt. When the water comes to a boil, add the basmati rice and cook for 4 minutes, exactly, otherwise your rice would be so soft and become mushy in the later step.

– Strain the half boiled rice immediately to drain all the excess water.

Biriyani

– Fry the chopped onion until it’s brown.

– Add all the marinated chicken in a large stock pot to make the first layer.

– Add the rice as the second layer.

– Mix the red color with 3 tbsp water and “sprinkle” it together with the onion onto the rice layer.

– Bring the stock pot to a boil at medium heat for around 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low-medium heat  for another 25 minutes.  After 30 minute cooking, bring the heat to medium high for 3 minutes then the biriyani is done.

– Serve: stir the rice gently with the chicken. The rice is fully cooked but no mushy.

Matcha (Green tea) swiss roll – Double rich with chocolate- Bánh cuộn trà xanh

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No matter what you call it swiss roll, jelly roll or roulade, this cake is just a sponge cake that is rolled with jam or cream filling.

I don’t like matcha (green tea) if it’s served as a drink, unless adding some sweeteners and whipped cream with shaved ice to it.  Nonetheless, matcha is a perfect element for enhancing flavor for cake. The popular mistake for most of the cake makers that use matcha is the very small amount of it added to the cream or the sponge cake. Don’t ever worry about the bitterness of matcha. I really intimidate the bitterness when making this cake: bitterness from green tea, and bitterness from dark chocolate. Voila, this roulade ( I used to like to call rolled cake as roulade, but left the swiss roll as the title’s name of this post because a lot of people like that name) really worths my try. It’s not bitter at all, I promise you!

Ingredients

For the chocolate sponge cake 

– 28 g unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1/6 cup (40g) boiling water

– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 tbsp + 1/3 tsp unsalted butter (about 19g)

– 88g sugar

– 4 eggs, seperated whites and yolks

For the cream filling

– 2 tsp matcha powder

– 4/5 cup heavy cream

– 1 tbsp sugar

Method

For the chocolate sponge cake

– Leave 1 tbsp cocoa powder (don’t pack it) in a bowl and set it aside.

– Stir the hot water in the remaining cocoa powder until well blended. Add the butter and stir until the mixture is smooth

– Beat the yolks with half the sugar until yellow pale and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until the egg mixture is smooth

– Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl at the lowest speed until it’s frothy, about 30 seconds. Then gradually add sugar and beat the whites until stiff peak ( the whites should be glossy, not dry)

– Add 1/3 beaten egg whites to lighten the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula.

– Fold the egg yolk mixture back into the beaten egg white and gently fold until well blended.

– Bake in a jelly roll pan at 350 F for 10 minutes.

– Sift 1 tbsp cocoa powder onto the hot surface of the cake. Gently invert the cake onto a towel and roll the cake.

Assemble

– Beat heavy cream with matcha and sugar until fluffy but not dry

– Unroll the cake and spread the cream filling.

– Gently roll the cake and cover with the plastic film. Refrigerate the swiss roll for at least 3 hours to firm the roll.

– Sift 1 tbsp cocoa powder onto the swiss roll.

– Slice the swiss roll for 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick and serve.

This is my video for making this swiss roll

Braised Carp and Pork belly with Galangal sauce – Cá chép kho riềng

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I know Tet holiday in Vietnam (Lunar New Year for several Asian countries) has ended today. But it’s not late to introduce this traditional Vietnamese braised fish coz it’s a good serve for any dinner, or any lunch, or any brunch, or …even breakfast. Braised fish is very simple, except you have to give the fish a long time to be fully cooked. Do not use deep sea fish coz it would loose its smell if braised. Fish which resides in sweet water like river works best for braise.

Any fish dish requires you to remove the seafood’s odor, no matter what the fish is so pricey that the customers sometimes even don’t wanna loose the fresh smell of the fish. Well, don’t ever think that sushi is just fresh nice cuts of fishes. Sushi makers have to use their secret method to cut off the odor of that chosen fish sushi, ironically, the chefs never share their mystery. I use dried galangal and green tea to get rid of all the smell of the fish.

Fish braised with some fatty is a good choice. The fish itself has high protein so that it would be dry when braised. Believe me, the skin on the pork belly would be soft and tangy after the cooking time. And believe me again, you would like to eat the pork belly even more than the braised fish.IMG_5700

Ingredients

Seasoning mix

– 1 pound dried galangal (riềng khô)

– 1 tsp turmeric powder (bột nghệ)

– 4 tsp salt

– 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

– 1/4 cup light soy sauce

– 2 tsp whole black peppercorns

– 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

– 2 tbsp green tea powder

– 2 tbsp sugar

Fish and meat

– 1  8 pound carp ( about 3.5 kg)

– 4 pounds pork belly

Method

– Marinade fish and pork belly with the seasoning mix, except the galangal, green tea powder and sugar, for at least 2 hours. Note: use sugar when the cooking is finally done, otherwise sugar makes the meat tough during the cooking process.

– Place the dried galangal onto the bottom of a large stock pot. If you have a clay pot, it works best but if you don’t, use any stainless steel stock pot that can fit both the fish and pork belly. Arrange the carp with the pork belly somehow that all the fish and meat are in one layer.

– Pour in enough water that the carp and meat all are submerged. Add green tea powder.

– Bring the fish mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low-medium heat so as to the heat just keep the water boil all the cooking time.

– Cook for 2 hours or until you skew the pork belly easily. That is done for the braising process.

– Cool the fish completely in order not to break the fish when you take it out.

– Serve: Use a big flat spoon to take out the fish, pork belly and enough sauce as you like. Microwave 1 minute covered for warming the fish and meat and serve with cooked rice.

Note: The braised fish can be refrigerated for 1 month without losing its flavor. Just reheat each time you crave for the braised fish.

New Orleans styled Chicken Jambalaya – Cơm gà kiểu New Orleans

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My friends told me, or maybe most of people I had a chance to talk about New Orleans of Louisiana, that city is an ideal heaven for drugs and guns, illegally. For me, I don’t care much about the evil face of that city but really am into its uniquely delicious food. It’s hard to name all of the famous dishes in New Orleans. The food here is a medley of French and Spanish style, thus easily to understand why their food is hot ( like Spanish favor ) and perfectly cooked ( as we can find in French cuisine ). My suggestion for those of you guys who are deliberating in chosing which place is the best for food in America, New Orleans is the one you can’t miss it. As long as you’re still the tourist, it’s safe for you in that city.

If you don’t have time or chance to visit New Orleans, it’s okay. For New Orleans styled food craving, this recipe is a good try. Jambalaya is rice cooked with a variety of vegetable and some chosen meat or seafood. Certainly, a kick of hot would be added to enhance the flavor of Jambalaya. You can reduce the amount of pepper if you’re not a big fan of hot (yes, it’s pepper, not chili, that makes you feel hot in Jambalaya). My recipe originates from the recipes in the cook book of Chef Paul Prudhomme  “Louisiana Kitchen”.

Ingredients ( for 8 servings)

Seasoning

– 3 bay leaves (lá thơm)

– 1 tsp red pepper (ớt bột)

– 1.5 tsp salt

– 0.5 tsp white pepper

– 1 tsp dried thyme leaves

– 0.5 tsp black pepper

– 1/4 tsp chopped sage (một loại lá thơm ướp thịt)

Vegetable

– 2 yellow onion, chopped

– 3 stalks of celery, chopped

– 1 green bell peppers, chopped

– 1 tbsp garlic, minced

– 1/2 cup tomato sauce (you can blend seedless tomatoes to have tomato sauce)

– 2 tomatoes, chopped

Meat and stock

– 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, if you don’t have any stock on hand, use water

– 1 1/2 cups rice, without soaking

– 3/4 pound (700g) chicken breast, cubed

– 1/2 pound (225 g) smoked sausage, cubed

– 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Direction

– Heat the butter until it’s hot  then add the sausage and cook until it’s brown for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is brown.

– Add all the seasoning mix and 1/2 of the vegetable. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the vegetable is soft. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 1 minute.

– Add the remaining vegetable, mix well and remove from heat.

– In a baking pan, stir the sausage mixture with rice. Add all the stock and bake uncoverd in 350 F (175 C) for 1 hour.

– Serve when the Jambalay is still warm.

Marzipan Roses – Làm hoa hồng bằng bột hạnh nhân

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Marzipan is a combination of almond meal, powder sugar and egg white. The ratio of each almond and sugar should be 1:1 and the egg whites needed based on how soft of marzipan you like it. Marzipan can be used as fondant, such as for rolling or molding into your favorite shapes. Here are my roses made by marzipan. Just simply color the marzipan by food color paste.

Strawberry mousse cake for a Valentine’s Day

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Do you have any idea for a perfect Valentine’s Day? Of course, rose and chocolate are definitely needed for this day. I hope you can enjoy my idea. Simplicity always brings agility to anyone who is thinking making cake is difficult. This mousse cake recipe is pretty easy to make, just a few patience for your lover.

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Ingredients

For strawberry mousse

– 1 1/3 cup strawberry puree

– 2 1/2 tsp gelatin powder

– 3 tbsp cold water

– 1 3/4 cup heavy cream

For chocolate genoise

– 3 tbsp (37 g) butter

– 1/3 cup (28 g) unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1/4 cup (60 g) hot water

– 5 eggs

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup ( 100g) sugar

Special equipment

– 12 1/4 x 8 3/4 inch ( 31 x 35 cm) jelly pan

– 9.375 inch x 2 inch mousse ring

Method

Please see my video