Homemade Mascaporne cheese

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You know Tiramisu, don’t you? Tiramisu is a cake that every Italian girl makes it in the Valentine’s Day. I’m not distracted in this topic because you’ll see why I wrote this post of mascaporne cheese today.

Well, mascaporne cheese can be called a cousin of cream cheese. Preferably for me, mascaporne has more sweet taste and tangy feeling than its cousin. Of course, there is no sour flavor too in this very  styled Italian cream cheese. My fridge rarely has mascaporne because I know the homemade one could make it up to my work. With only heavy cream and lemon juice, you can easily make this cheese. I had some experiences working with Tiramisu. First you need to beat well the storebought mascaporne before adding it to the egg mixture, otherwise your Tiramisu wouldn’t be set firm to be ready for serving. Secondly, if you can’t remember the first tip, let’s try making mascaporne cheese at home. This easy to follow process would give you a no flaw Tiramisu, even if you forget to beat it well for having a good shaped Tiramisu. Certainly, this homemade cheese is cheaper than the store-bought one.

Ingredients

– 2 cups heavy cream

– 1 tbsp lemon juice (lime juice is okay but try to find lemon juice to have a better taste)

Method

– In a medium heat, heat the heavy cream to a boil.

– Add lemon juice and stir well frequently. You’ll start to see the water separates from the milk curds.

– Stir for another 10 minutes until you see the water is translucent.

– Remove from the boil.

– Use a find mesh strainer or cheese cloth, pour in the cheese. Cover by a plastic wrap and let it sit in fridge overnight for at least 12 hours.

– Press the cheese against the cloth or strainer to remove all the water. Your cheese is ready for making Tiramisu or any type of cake that requires Mascaporne.

Green tea ice cream – Kem trà xanh

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Any tea flavored ice cream has its unique flavor that you will not feel bored each time you try it again. The bitterness from the tea, the sugary crunchy from the sugar cane and the fatty bite from the yolks make your ice cream unforgettable. This time we come with the common but famous tea, the matcha or green tea.

There’s a funny thing but useful tip for us when buying green tea. The darker green color the tea has, the worst flavor it brings to your ice cream. We should memorize the simple thing “Let make the green tell its color”. In other words, we have to be persuaded that it’s not possible to have a “green” green tea. Green tea is natural so its color can not be compared to the green food coloring. Another important thing of green tea is that it’s expensive and lots of other greenish green tea imitates the authentic green tea. Just as the way you memorize your chemistry’s lessons, you should be able to understand why the store bought green tea ice cream has a very attractive green color ^^.

Ingredients

– 4 egg yolks

– 2 cup half and half cream (you can use regular milk if you want to reduce the fat)

– 2 cup heavy cream

– 3 tablespoons green tea powder

– 1 cup sugar

Method

– In a sauce pan, heat the half and half cream with 3/4 cup sugar in the low heat. Set it hot but not bring to a boil

– Beat egg yolks with the remaining sugar until it’s fluffy then add in the green tea. Beat it well just until the beaten yolks incorporates with the green tea.

– Pour in a thin stream the hot milk and stir well.

– Use a mesh strainer, strain the yolk and milk mixture back to the sauce pan.

– In a medium heat, use a flat spoon and stir frequently the yolk mixture. If your heat is too hot, keep it at low-medium heat.

– Stir until the custard coat your spoon. The custard cooking process is done when you run your finger on the back of the spoon, there’s no other custard cream comes back to your finger running way. It should take about 10 – 15 minutes for making the custard.

Note: Don’t ever heat the custard in a medium high heat. It would be easy to bring your sauce to a boil and your unexpected baby food will appear. 

– Remove the custard cream from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream.

– Keep your custard cream in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight before pouring it in the ice cream maker. Do as the manufacturer guides.

Uzbek Plov (Rice and Lamb of Uzbekistan) – Cơm thịt cừu của Uzbekistan)

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Plov is a very famous traditional rice dish of Uzbekistan. Loosely speaking, if Indian has Biriyani, Italian has Risotto, Uzbek Plov can be called the sibling of the other two. Who says food has no relatives?

My sister in law has spent almost 12 years living in Russia where she learnt a lot of Russian staples and other Russia’s surrounding’s as well. She cooked Plov many times and my husband once was lucky to eat. He said that Plov is delicious but has more fat than any Biriyani or Risotto does. Yes, he’s right. Biriyani has least fat because it uses only several tablespoons of cooking oil for a huge stock pot of rice. Risotto is fatter than Biriyani with the main reason is the butter added to the rice at the end of the cooking process and the fat from Italian sausages. So what about Plov? Uzbeks use fat reserved from lamb to cook this dish. Don’t blame them on this unhealthy cooking style. Russian or other vicinities’ peoples has to live in the extremely extreme cold weather, thus surviving there requires people to have lots of energy.

The following picture shows you how much water should be added to make sure your rice can “drink” enough water to be cooked but still be ensured no sloppiness. This is the only trick to cook this dish, otherwise, you are the host of this dish.

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Ingredients (for 4 – 6 servings)

– 2 cups long grain rice

– 2 cups baby carrots or 2 mediums carrots, thickly julienne

– 2 yellow or sweet onions, chopped

– 1/2 tsp chili powder

– 1.5 tablespoons cumin powder

– 1 tsp cumin seeds

– 2 tablespoons coriander powder

– 1 tsp tarragon and barberries ( I don’t have these condiments but if you have, add it to have more flavor to your dish)

– 1 pound lamb, chopped into big chunks

– 1/4 cup cooking oil. If you have lamb fat, use it to have more original version.

– 2 garlic bulbs, peeled the outside layers

– 3 1/4 cups water

– 2 – 3 tsp salt, or to your taste

– Several leaves of sage, optional

Method

Prepare the rice

– Wash the rice gently 6 – 10 times to remove all the extra dust. Stop when you see the water comes out from the rice is almost transparent. Set it aside

– This technique would help the rice from being sticked to one another when you cook.

Making Plov

– Add 1/4 cooking oil in a deep and wide mouth pan, like a wok. Use medium high heat to heat the oil until it’s hot then add in the lamb. Sprinkle some salt ( 1/4 tsp) and stir fry it until the lamb chunks are brown. Remove from the pan.

– Reduce heat to medium. Add the cumin seed in the reserving oil and fry until it’s aromatic for 20 – 30 seconds. Add the chopped onion in and stir fry until it’s brown for 3 minutes.

– Add in the julienne carrots and stir fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and add in cumin and coriander powder, tarragon and barberries (if you have).

– Add water and bring it to a boil

– Add in 2 tsp – 3 tsp salt to the stock or salt to your taste. You should taste the salty of Plov at this time or you no longer have a chance to taste it later.

– Sprinkle rice onto the surface of the broth. Don’t stir.

– Makes 2 holes and add in 2 garlic bulbs in a way that you can see only the top of the garlics, other parts of them are submerged into the stock.

– Use medium heat for 15 minutes to cook, covered. Then reduce to low – medium heat for 5 minutes. In total, 20 minutes is required to cook this dish.

Serve

– The Plov is cooked through and the rice still retains its shape. The upper layer of the rice is firmer than the lower’s.

– Press the garlic bulb and stir well with rice and other ingredients. Serve warm. Each portion of Plov should have every ingredients on it.

Lemon glazed grilled spare rib – Sườn heo nướng mứt chanh

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My hubby is a big friend of grilled ribs, no matter what they are pork, beef or mutton ribs. He usually comes visit a vicinity of our current living town to find the best char grilled back ribs for at least every two weeks, thus making a cost to our very thin pocket. It hurts me.

Back ribs are the best choice in making good grilled, juicy and flavorful ribs because they have less fat than other parts of the animals. I’m fed up with eating BBQ ribs all the time in the town in that they have too much smokey flavor, no matter what that flavor is natural or artificial, and no fruity glaze on. I found that we can use some of the favorite jams or preserves (preferably for me) to glaze the grilled ribs. Some leftover in your jar can make a hit to your family’s dinner. I used to serve the grilled back ribs together with a simple but elegant mix veggie salad and some beautiful fancy mushrooms.

Ingredients (for 2 – 4 servings)

– 1 big pork back rib

– salt

– pepper

– dried thyme

– 1 cup of lemon preserve

– 1/2 cup of your favorite marinating sauce

– 30 fancy mushrooms, or more to your favorite

Salad

– 3 cups of mix vegetables for salad

– 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt, to your taste

– Juice of a lemon wedge (or more to your taste)

Method

– Sprinkle salt, pepper and dried thyme over two sides of the rib. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

– Use an electric grill or char broil, grill the back rib for each side 15 – 20 minutes at 400 F (200 C) uncovered. Depending on the hot of your grill, the grilling time can be different but if you use a theometer, the temperature when the rib is done should be 160 F (80 C).

– Spread the sauce over each side of the rib and grill for 2 minute each side. Repeat 3 times.

– Spread the lemon preserve both sides and grill for 1 minute each side. Repeat 3 times.

– Grill fancy mushrooms (or any type of your favorite mushrooms) until their color is golden brown both sides.

Salad

– Mix all the ingredients with the vegetables well right 5 minutes before you serve the rib to retain the crunchy of the salad.

Healthy French Apple tart – Bánh táo kiểu Pháp

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Traditional French apple tart is so elegant that I sometimes don’t wanna break its beautiful shape by my greedy stomach.

This time I made French tart with all of apples, which are apple compote and rose shaped thinly sliced apple. Eventhough we change the original recipe, I believe the scrumptious taste of this tart still retains as we want our stomach does not upset too much. Provided that it’s apple, the tart is still delicious. The fun thing behind this tart is that I had lots of help from my hubby. It’s March 8th today. He helped me slice the apples, dice those fruits and made the shortcrust. I only had to shape the sliced apples.

Ingredients

Shortcrust (fit for 9 inch round pan) – Slightly adapted from SimplyRecipes.com

– 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

– 1 stick butter

– 3 tbsp cold water

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/2 tsp sugar

Apple filing

– 6 medium sized Granny Smith apples or any crunchy apples you have

– 1/4 freshly grated nutmeg

– 1 tbsp rum

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 1 tsp corn starch or potato starch

Glaze

– 2 tsp sugar

– 1/4 cup apricot jam

Method

Shortcrust

– Cut the butter into cubes

– Combine everything but the water in a food processor. Pulse for 8 – 10 times or until you have a coarse meal.

– Add 3 tbsp water a little a time with a pulse. In total, you should pulse for around 14 – 16 times. Don’t over pulse the dough or add more water than 3 tbsp, otherwise your dough would be tough

– Form the dough into a wrapping plastic and keep it refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Make apple tart

– Peel and core the apples

– Use 3 apples to chop them into small cubes.

– In a small sauce pan, combine cubed apples + 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 tsp nutmeg and bring to a boil uncovered. Keep the pan for 18 minutes uncovered at medium heat.

– Dilute the corn starch with 1-2 tsp water and add it to the apple compote. Remove the apple from the heat and stir in the rum

– Slice very thinly 3 apples.

– Roll out the crust until it reach 1/8 inch ( around 1/4 cm). Use your rolling pin to roll over the dough, add it to the pan and gently push the dough against the edge of the pan. Remove any extra dough ( My pan fit all the dough)

– Use a fork to make holes in the bottom of the crust.

– Add the apple compote and press it to the bottom of the pan evenly.

– Arrange the thinly sliced apples in your favorite shape ( I believe you would do much better than I did).

– Bake at 400 F (200 C) in the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 F and bake for another 15 minutes.

– Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the tart and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove the tart from the oven

– Warm the apricot jam and spread it over the tart to help it keep the shiny face.

Ratatouille

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I’m  sure that you know the famous cartoon mouse Remy with his unlimited passion for cooking. In case you have no idea about that movie, you should know this aromatic and elegant French dish. I love to inhale the fragrant flavor on the air from the baked vegetables each time Ratatouille runs out from the oven.

The only thing to succeed in this simple but delicious dish is that you should prepare a sharp knife to make sure you have the homogeneously sized sliced vegetables. Well prepared veggie would help the baking more evenly, and of course, yield a better eye catch to someone who thinks meat is the only one that can give us a good dish.

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Ingredients: (fit 9 inch round shallow pan)

– 1/2 smallish eggplant

– 2/3 smallish yellow squash

– 2 Roma tomatoes

– 1/2 zucchini

– 1 cup tomato puree

– 1/2 cup red onion, chopped

– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

– 1/4 tsp oregano

– 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt

Method

– Use a mandolin, or a superb sharp knife (as I used here) to slice the vegetables very thinly.

– Mix the tomato puree with chopped red onion and garlic. Sprinkle salt over the sauce.

– Arrange the thinly sliced vegetables on top of the tomato sauce into a way that each can overlap each other and you still can see the color from each’s edge of the veggie. Start arrange from the outside edge of the shallow round pan and continuously toward the center.

– Sprinkle 1/4  tsp salt + oregano over the well arranged vegetables.

– Cover the veggie by a parchment paper.

– Bake at 375 F for 45 – 50 minutes. The veggie should be well cooked but still keep its shape.

Serve

  You can serve itself or top a dollop of goat cheese or swiss cheese if you feel your Ratatouille is so lonesome. My hubby suggests that Ratatouille be served with swiss cheese works best.

You Tiao (Chinese – Vietnamese Crullers or deep fried crispy bread) – Quẩy chiên giòn

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Don’t tell me I’m the only one who loves crullers. These little longish, brittle like crunchy and hollowed things can be the final pieces needed to make your savory noodle or porridge a hundred percent perfect.

The story of fried crullers originates from China, when a devil couple made a bundle of evil actions to the Cantonese people. As a result, people caught and fried them in a giant hot oil wok. That’s why you see two parallel strips adjacent to each other in one cruller. It’s scary to hear this story, but the reason why ancient people ate crullers is so lovely. They ate crullers to reminisce of the evil things that their ancestors had in the past, thus avoiding to do brutal actions in practice.

I tried many cruller recipes but in the end of each time, I failed. My crullers are not hollowed inside no matter how I tried to adjust the heat. You know that it’s so annoying for me if I can’t dip a crunchy cruller into my Pho (Vietnamese Beef noodle) . I should be terse here or it’s gonna be a page of describing how perfect Pho combines with crullers. The problem in making crullers is that you have to know well about your ammonia – an old leaven in baking. Ammonia is very easy to evaporate, even though you try to tight it up in an air-tight container. Thus, don’t be greedy when you buy ammonia. A 1 or 2 oz ammonia container is enough for several months without harming the quality of ammonia.

I also figure out that do let the cruller dough rise for 12 hours instead of only 4 – 5 hours as some online recipes suggest. As long as the fermenting process is under 19 hours, your dough is still okie dokie. I almost forgot to tell you that you should be careful when open the cap of ammonia container. The smell of it would be compared to that of a baby’s diaper after she drinks a big bottle of milk.

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Ingredients  (yield around 10 – 14 crullers)

– 300 g bread flour

– 200 g water

– 1/2 tsp ammonia

– 1/2 tsp alum

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp salt

– Vegetable oil

Special equipment:  A wok or a deep pan. Crullers will need a lot of oil to be puffed.

Method

– Stir water with ammonia, alum, baking powder and salt to dissolve.

– Add in the flour and use a fork to stir until the flour is roughly incorporated.

– Knead the dough for 5 minutes until you see a roughly smooth face of the dough.

– Slightly oil the dough and cover the dough with a plastic film.

– Keep the dough in a clean place and forget it for 12 hours.

Frying

– Add too much oil into a wok (it’s best) or a deep pan at medium heat. The cooking oil will need 10 – 15 minutes to reach the right temperature for frying.

– Roll the dough into a thin rectangular. Cut the rectangle into two smaller rectangles lengthwise. Then cut it into 3/4 inch strips crosswise.

– Atop one strip onto a strip. Use a skewer or a chopstick, dip it into the water and press the dough to make sure two strips are stick to each other.

– Gently pull the strips to elongate them to 20 cm in length ( just eyeball it) and throw it into the oil.

– Turn the crullers frequently to make them puffed totally. Fry the crullers until they’re golden brown.

Serve : you can dip the crullers in any noodle, especially Pho. Or you can even cut it to your porridge. Or you can enjoy themselves.