MINI BRIOCHE BREAD IN CUPS

This recipe was adapted by Artisanbreadinfive. I have to admit that I haven’t made any breads before since it takes too much time to knead dough; for saving time, I used to buy breads at Costco then froze in a freezer and took them out to use whenever I need to. However, the fresh-baked bread is always drive me crazy that make me want to make my own breads. Fortunately, I’ve found the Brioche dough recipe (here) and decided to give a try.

Mini Brioche Breads in Muffin Cups

I followed instructions, mixed the dough and stored in the fridge for 1 day before using it. It was such a cool feeling when touching the soft, moist and not too buttery texture of dough. I made long dough sticks and cut into small cubes before placing into 12 muffin cups, then I covered and let the dough rest for 1 hour. (you will see it raise almost double its size)

Mini brioche breads (before)

Then I placed the muffin tray in the oven that I pre-heated at 450 degree. Taking the muffin tray out, waiting until those mini breads (in muffin cups) cool down a bit and then make a BIG BITE…yumm…Those mini breads are not only cute but they are tasty too – taste like sweet breads but not too sweet and easy to eat with anything such as pâté, butter, cinnamon sugar, etc.

Mini Brioche Breads (after baked)

I mix some with chives and other ones with cheese before baking to bring out different flavours

I am so glad to even try out their master recipe and fall in love with the breads. Now I can have fresh-baked breads everyday and don’t have to worry about storing frozen breads in the freezer. You can get their  master recipe at here:

Hope you find it is useful

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VIETNAMESE SWEET CORN PUDDING (Chè bắp)

Corn

Ingredients:

Sweet corn pudding

  • 4 corn cobs
  • 1/3 cup white sticky glutinous rice
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 cups water

Coconut milk

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. fat flour or tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Pandan extract (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Directions:

For the sweet corn pudding

  1. Remove the husk and silk from the corn cob. Cut the corn kernels with a sharp knife.
  2. Wash the sticky glutinous rice with cold water and strain until the water is clear (about 3-4 times).
  3. Add 4 cups water and sticky glutinous rice in a medium saucepan to cook at medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly every 5-7 minutes.
  4. When the rice expands (after 20 minutes cook), add corn kernels and sugar. Stir pudding constantly every 5 minutes until the rice has puffed and sticked to the corn (there will be a very little liquid remain in the saucepan)

For the sweet coconut milk

  1. While cooking sweet corn pudding at step 4, add coconut milk, water, sugar, salt and pandan extract in another small saucepan  over low heat. Bring boil and stir coconut milk to mix all ingredients well.
  2. Combine the fat flour with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and stir to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  3. When coconut milk at boil, slowly pour the bowl of fat flour mixture in the saucepan while stirring constantly the coconut milk
  4. Continue stirring until the coconut mixture starts to thicken. Take off the heat.
  5. When both corn and coconut milk are done. Serve warm sweet corn pudding in small bowls and topped with full tablespoons of sweet coconut milk and toasted sesame seeds.

Vietnamese Sweet Corn Pudding

*Store extras in a fridge. Sweet coconut milk is good for two days in the fridge.

Enjoy! Happy Cooking!

CANDIED PINEAPPLES AND GRAPEFRUITS FOR LUNAR NEW YEAR

As I said in last post, Lunar New Year is fast approaching in a couple of weeks, I planned to make a few traditional dishes to celebrate Tết. Mứt, candied fruits are sweet treats cannot be missed out on this big festival. I have decided to make dry candied grapefruits and pineapples for this year; I will show you how to make those yummy snacks today 🙂

Vietnamese Candied Pineapples (Mứt Thơm)

IMG_2375

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pineapple, skin and “eyes” removed, cut into slices, about 0.5 inch each slice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (if your pineapple is too sour, use 1 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Place pineapple slices in a cooking pot and then add brown sugar on top. Cover lid for 5 hours.

    Place pineapple slices in a cooking pot and then add brown sugar on top. Cover lid for 5 hours. 
    After 5 hours, you will see a liquid of sugar and pineapple in the pot. Cook at low heat.

  2. After 15 minutes of cooking, add vanilla and lemon juice in the pot. Use chopsticks or tongs to turns pineapple pieces up side down to make sure they all coat sugar evenly.
  3. Let it simmer until there is no more liquid in the pot.
  4. Take those pineapple slices out and place nicely on  baking trays at 200 degree for 1 hour 
    OR - [Place on dry racks close to windows hot sunny day; but it takes about 4- 6 hours to dry if you don't want to use the oven)

    OR – [Place on dry racks close to windows hot sunny day; but it takes about 4- 6 hours to dry if you don’t want to use the oven)

  5. Put those candied pineapples into a clear jar, cover lid at cool temperature or in a fridge.

Now you have tasty sweet-sour candied pineapples, you can serve to family and guests at any time, or just enjoy them by yourself with a cup of hot beverage; guarantee you will love it!

Vietnamese Candied Grapefruits (Mứt Bưởi)

Candied Grapefruits

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Asian white grapefruits (or 3 small red grapefruits)
  • 1  cup pure honey
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup wine (optional, any kind)

Directions:

  1. Peel grapefruits skins and place in a cooking pot filled with water.Bring to boil
  2. When the water is boiling, leave grapefruit skins cook for 5 minutes then pour water out and fill new water into the pot to cook again.

    When the water is boiling, leave grapefruit skins cook for 5 minutes then pour water out and fill new water into the pot to cook again.

  3. Repeat step 2 three more times
  4. Soak grapefruit skins to salted cold water (3 cups water + 1/2 cup salt). Leave it soak over night.
  5. On the next day, cook again grapefruit skins with water, bring to boil to completely remove the bitter taste. Dump water out and drain the skins
  6. Cut grapefruit skins into thin slices, 4 inches lengthwise
  7. Add into a cooking pot 1 cup of fresh grapefruit juice, fresh orange juice, 1 cup pure honey, 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla and grapefruit slices at medium-low heat. Cook until there is no more liquid in the pot.
  8. Take grapefruit slices out and place nicely on  baking trays at 200 degree for 30 minutes

    Take grapefruit slices out and place nicely on baking trays at 200 degree for 30 minutes

  9. Add 1 cup sugar powder into a zip-lock plastic bag, put all grapefruit slices in, zip the bag and shake it up side down to make sure coat evenly sugar on the grapefruits.
  10. Take grapefruit slices out and place nicely in an empty clear jar. Cover tightly with lid and store at a cool place.

Related post: Kumquat Jam & Recipes For Lunar New Year – Pickles Week

Happy Lunar New Year!

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

VIETNAMESE BANANA FLOWER SALAD ( Gỏi Hoa Chuối)

Banana flower is an ingredient commonly used in Vietnamese and Thai cooking and, yes, it comes from growing bananas . It can be eaten raw or steamed, and a great source of vitamins A and C. Raw banana flower has a dry crunchy tacky taste, but when you mix with fish sauce, herbs and cabbage, they all help banana flower taste fresh, juicy and smell great. The banana flower salad recipe can be done in 15-20 minutes; follow me to know how to make it.

Vietnamese Banana Flower Salad

Ingredients:

1 ounces Banana Flower

1 ounces Purple Cabbage

Culantro & Coriander leaves

Vietnamese dipping fish sauce

Banana Flower Salad Ingredients

Directions:

Use mandolin to make banana flower and purple cabbage slices. It will come out about 3-4 inches lengthwise thin strips, looks very nice. If you don’t have mandolin, you can just cut it with knife.

Wash and soak banana flower and cabbage in salted lemon cold water separately for 10 minutes before drain.

Place banana flower and purple cabbage on a serving plate. Garnish with coriander and culantro leaves.

Pour  Vietnamese dipping fish sauce on top and serve as a side dish with fried shrimp chips (optional)

Enjoy!!

RECIPES FOR LUNAR NEW YEAR 2014 – PICKLES WEEK

It’s getting close to Lunar New Year (January 31, 2014), I am extremely over-excited at preparing foods, cleaning up and decorating the house. Lunar New Year festival is the biggest holiday in Vietnam; in fact, it is as big as Chinese New Year and many Southeast Asia countries celebrate their New Year on the same day such as China, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.
 
Vietnamese people call Lunar New Year is Tet Nguyen Dan, and we celebrate this festival at least three days up to two weeks (depend on family’s financial). Plenty of foods will be cooked and served for families and guests within fun atmosphere and respectful attitude. People bring gifts to visit each other’s house; adults never forget to bless and give out red pocket stuffed with cash to children.
 
Popular Tet dishes include banh chung, a square-shape, sweet rice cake stuffed with mung beans and pork & banh day, a white round shaped, sticky rice with pork. It’s usually eaten with dua mon, a mixture of pickled radishes, peppers, carrots and other vegetables. Favoured snacks are dried watermelon seeds and candied ginger, coconut, pineapple, kumquat, orange and tamarind… I usually prepare different types of pickles firsts since they take longer time to fermented. Pickles are important side dishes to eat along with other Vietnamese dishes, just like burger cannot be without pickles. So let’s make it together!

Vietnamese Pickled Bean Sprout (Dua Gia)

Vietnamese Pickled Bean Sprout (Dua Gia)

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces fresh Asian bean sprouts
  • 2 ounces sliced thin carrots, 3 inches lengthwise
  • 3 ounces sliced chives, trimmed and cut into 3 inches lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare all vegetable ingredients (carrot, chives and Asian bean sprouts)
  2. In a separate large bowl, pour water then add salt, sugar and vinegar. Mix well
  3. Add all vegetables into the bowl. Leave it for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, the part that soak in liquid mixture will get softer. Now, you need to use chopsticks or hands to mix the vegetables up side down, leave it for 20 more minutes.
  5. Transfer everything into a clear jar or container. For fermented vegetable, cover tightly and let stand at room temperature for about 24 hours before put in a fridge.

Vietnamese Pickled Mustard Greens (Dua Chua)

Vietnamese Pickled Mustard Greens (Dua Chua)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb large head of Asian mustard greens
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. sugar

*Do not add vinegar, let it has natural sweet and sour taste.

Directions:

  1. Break the mustard greens leaves apart and clean thoroughly under running water.
  2. Cut the leaves to desired size, about 1-2 inches pieces. Make sure wash carefully before drain them.
  3. Combine water, salt, and sugar in a pot and bring almost to a boil. Turn off heat and wait until water completely cools. 
  4. Add all the vegetables into an empty jar or container, making sure everything is submerged. Leave your container at room temperature so it can pickle. Taste a piece every 24 hours until it gets sour enough for your taste, then transfer to the fridge.

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi

Ingredients:

  • 3 large cucumbers (or 6 in small size)
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. Korean red chilies flakes
  • 2 ounces sliced chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces thin slices carrot, use mandolin to slice carrot evenly
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Wash and cut cucumber into 3 inches long, then cut quarter it lengthwise (not all the way of cucumber, leave about 1 inch at the bottom)
  2. Soak cucumber with 3 cup hot water and 1 cup of sea salt. Leave it in hot water for 45 minutes. After that, take cucumbers out and soak in cold water to help keeping the crispness (20 minutes) then drain them.
  3. In separate bowl mix minced garlic, minced ginger, salt, sugar, sesame oil, red chillies flakes, fish sauce, carrot sliced and chives all together.Stuff carefully each cucumber with the filling, and try not to break them.
  4. Put all cucumbers in a jar, cover lid and leave in room temperature for at least one day before store in a fridge.

I really hope you enjoy those pickles recipes. Next time I will post banana flower salad recipe, please keep checking my blog for new easy-to-make recipes every week.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

Winterlicious Restaurants Must Eat In Toronto (January 31- February 13, 2014)

There are about 200 top restaurants within the Greater of Toronto area that offer their best Prix Fixe Winterlicious menus for both lunch and dinner. Based on my experience in the past, I would suggest to dine-in one of  these below restaurants – It’s affordable with excellent tasty foods.

The McEwan Group own several restaurants including North 44, Fabbrica, By Mark and McEwan –  Fabbrica‘s Winterlicious menu has 3 courses, $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner (49 Karl Fraser Rd., Toronto, ON)

Factory Girl ( 193 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON) – $15 lunch menu of 3 courses and $25 for dinner.  It is a great place for you and your friends to enjoy brunch with cheap price.

Pan on the Danforth (516 Danforth Ave.) – My husband love their Greek foods and you can’t go wrong with different variety choices of food they offer. And yes, again, they join Winterlicious 2014 to offer their best dishes with only $15 for lunch menu and $25 for dinner menu.

Windsor Arms Hotel (18 St. Thomas St.) – If you ever have a tea party at their tea room, you would fall in love with the display and foods. It is one of the high end hotels that has a fine dining restaurant. You can now try their formal dining at the price of $25 lunch and $45 dinner with 3 courses.

Café Pleiade (557 Mount Pleasant Rd.) – If you live in midtown like I am, you should drop by this cafe shop. The atmosphere is always fresh and comfortable, that make you and your friends cannot deny to try their brunch menu for only $15. They also offer $25 for 3 courses dinner menu. Highly recommend to try their fruit pie that they bake fresh daily.

If you work in downtown, you shouldn’t miss Canteen (330 King St. West) for lunch or dinner. I guarantee you would please with their customer service. As soon as you walk in, you would see two separate sections: one for dine-in, and the other side for take out with displayed fresh and tasty foods. I love their butter squash soup, but on their Winterlicious menus ($15 for lunch & $25 for dinner) you can try other dishes.

**I just wish Bucca and Lisa Marie (638 Queen St West) offer their own Winterlicious menus too. Since I have to wait until January 31, 2014 to taste different Winterlicious menus, I may drop by Copacabana Brazilian Steakhouse (150 Eglinton St. East), a buffet restaurant tonight to please my meat craving.

Happy Winterlicious! Happy Eating!

   

ZERO TO HERO: 30 DAYS TO A BETTER BLOG – DAY 6 & 7

I usually have two posts every week but since I join the  Zero to Hero: 30-Days blog challenge, I have blogged everyday (that is good to refresh myself and keep me actively on WordPress community).

DAY 6: PUBLISH A POST THAT INCLUDES A NEW ELEMENT

Today is still very cold in Toronto, Canada, around -20 degree but feel like -32 Celsius with wind chill; however, it is sunny outside – so it is a positive point to enjoy Winter. Since day 6 challenge request bloggers post something new, I decide to post a song that I just accidentally listen and fall in love with the lyrics while sipping my lotus tea. I find French accents is so soft, smooth and easy-listening and the song is called “Sophie Roux” by Lady Danville.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUxz4fSwyWc

Lyrics (in French/English):

Sometimes I wanna run and hide
I can’t even explain what I’m feeling inside
You say my name and let me go
Gonna have to work with what I already know

Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)

J’ai fais un voyage à Marseille
(I traveled to Marseille)
L’amour pour moi en France c’était comme une merveille
(For me the love in France was like wonder)
Elle fais un tour dans ma tête
(It makes a round in my head)
La vie à Marseille n’est plus juste un arrêt
(Life in Marseille is only a station)

Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)

Amour perdu à Marseille,
(A lost love in Marseille)
Histoire triste… ça je sais
(Sad story… I know that)
Histoire triste… ça je sais
(Sad story… I know that)
Histoire triste… ça je sais
(Sad story… I know that)
Histoire triste… ça je sais
(Sad story… I know that)

Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)
Je m’appelle Sophie Roux, comment allez-vous?
(My name is Sophie Roux, how are you?)

Sophie Roux
Sophie Roux
Je suis là…
(I’m here…)

"Chicken noodle soup"- Taken by Dylan + Jeni

“Chicken noodle soup”- Taken by Dylan + Jeni

DAY 7: DO SOME MORE PERSONALIZING

By any change, do you see my new background? Yes, it is a picture of Pink Chopstickspoon, taken by Dylan + Jeni when they visit Singapore.

I am always a big fan of their website – they take beautiful pictures wherever they go, edit and post on their site. Just by looking at their photos, especially foods images, make me feel like I am in the journey to those countries and have eaten those delicious foods too. One of the Southeast Asia countries they had traveled to is Vietnam, my lovely-sweety hometown :D; I could see my childhood in their picture captures and then try to remember the taste of real foods I used to eat in Vietnam.

Taken by Dylan + Jeni [ also on Eat, Drink + Be Merry website]

Taken by Dylan + Jeni [ also on Eat, Drink + Be Merry website]

 

BAKED PARSLEY POTATOES – A HEALTHY WAY TO EAT FRIES

Baking parsley potatoes

We all like French fries, but how can we enjoy eating without being afraid of gaining too much weights? I would like to introduce to you a healthy way to eat fries (without frying), it is baked potatoes fries. It has fresh potatoes smell, crunchy texture, and a little kick of spicy butter parsley flavour. The dish is super-easy to make plus it is a great snack to serve family and friends within little time.

Ingredients:

(Serving for two)

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. butter (I use unsalted butter, but if you prefer a little salty taste fries, you can go for salted butter)
  • Minced fresh parsley

Baking parsley potatoes_ cut potatoes into thin strips

Directions

Wash, peel skin off and cut potatoes into thin strips.

Turn oven on to 450 degree.

Place a parchment paper over a baking tray. Spray a layer of oil on the parchment paper.

Place potatoes into a bowl, add 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. (Give a good massage to potatoes) Mix well all ingredients together.

Arrange nicely all potatoes strips on the parchment paper (do not place over lap because you want to make sure all potatoes got cooked evenly). Let it bake for about 20 minutes.

Baking parsley potatoes_a healthy recipe

After 20 minutes (or when you see potatoes are lightly golden brown), switch to broil and leave it bake for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile you add minced fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. butter and 1/2 tsp. olive oil into a mixing bowl.

Turn oven off and transfer all potatoes into the mixing bowl. Give couples toss to mix all ingredients together and serve right away when it still hot.

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Zero to Hero 30-Day Blog Challenge: DAY 4 & 5

DAY 4: EXPLORE THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Thank you for this challenge. There are so many great food blogs out there and today I have found and followed these new amazing blogs:

Can I have little Tastearoo

Morning stories 

Warmhotchocolate

Whistle and Blaster 

Foodie Spy

zero-to-hero-badge

DAY 5: LOVE YOUR THEME

Hmm…challenge of day 5 is quiet interesting. It really makes me thinking hard about other themes I would try to blog out (although I am happy with my Chopstickspoon food blog).

The first theme I would try is “Do It Yourself – DIY” – I love, love, and love craft. I could spend hundreds of hours to fold Origami & Kirigami, make scrap books, decorate furnitures in-house, play around with washi tapes, create cute little greeting cards, and design old materials to become household tools. Yes, I admit that I am obsessed with doing everything by myself, even my wedding was DIY theme as well…haha

I don’t think I will ever create a blog about “Politic” since I am so bad with it. Although I read newspapers and watch news on TV plus online but blogging about politic requires a thoughtful mind and a sharp look to describe issues…

Finally “Fashion & Beauty” could be another theme I would love to write about too. Just like other young female adults, I love to dress nice like a lady, put make up on and wear different accessories. But I won’t choose to blog about it because shopping is not my strength since I don’t like to wait in a long line or spend hours to look around. I usually walk quickly into the stores, scan a quick look and pay for what I really like then walk out. Also, My favourite beauty make-up Gugu is Michelle Phan. She is also Vietnamese and so artistic about what she is doing. If I ever create a blog about beauty, for sure I will end up write too many posts about her 😀

I had to asked my friend in New irk to order and ship to Canada to me since Em Cosmetic don't ship to international.

I had to asked my friend in New York to order and ship to Canada to me since Em Cosmetic don’t do international shipping.

**Counting down: 25 more days to overcome the 30-Day Blog challenge**

Happy Blogging!!

FRIED PORK WITH RICE FLAKES

Today I would like to introduce another easy-to-make recipe I have adapted from my home country, Vietnam. Have you ever heard or tried rice flakes (also called flattened rice)? I know there are plenty of ingredients you could use to fry, but rice flakes could be another extra ingredient to join the fried category. It tastes crispy like corn chips after frying, or soft like oatmeal when mixing with milk. It is a secret ingredient that I always want to share with everybody, who enjoy cooking and eating foods. You can try to fry rice flakes with shrimp, egg, chicken and even vegetables; it will bring a new flavour that you may look for…

Fried pork with rice flakes

Ingredients:

500 gram leaned pork (5-6 pieces)

1 tsp. seasoning salt

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. minced shallot

1 tsp. minced dill

fried powder

1 egg

oil to fry

 green rice flakes (You can find rice flakes at any Asian supermarket. It comes with white and green colours)

Fried pork with rice flakes

Directions:

– Cut pork into thin slices. Marinate with seasoning salt, sugar, pepper, dill and shallot. Put all meat into a container, cover lid and leave it in a fridge for about 20 minutes.

– Crack the egg in a small bowl, whisk with chopsticks (or other kitchen tools) until smooth

– After 20 minutes to chill in the fridge, take meat out to coat with a layer of fried powder, egg, and then green rice flakes.

– Turn oven on medium-high, pour oil into a non-stick pan.

– Slowly drop each pork slice into the hot oil, fry until both sides turn golden brown. (Make sure to place on paper towers or dry rack to get rid of extra oil, by doing this, your meat will stay moist and crispy)

*Taste best with steaming rice, noodle or creamy potatoes soup. Enjoy!