bánh xèo – vietnamese crepe

bánh xèo

scenes from a weekend:
i spent the better part of the weekend
running around
like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter.
i stockpiled the freezer
with dumplings/gyozas/wontons
for the coming winter.
i baked bread for the week’s breakfast
(acorn squash + hazelnut loaf,
adapted from this recipe)
and made soup for the week’s lunch
(roasted chicken noodle).
all in addition to
doing both CSA runs
during the city’s running festival,
getting an oil change,
AND
most importantly,
Date Night.
we saw the Skeleton Twins
have you seen it?
i loved it.

bánh xèo

the final day we made bánh xèo,
a dish that, for me, signifies
the close of summer,
as we put away warm weather kitchen toys,
dust off cold weather kitchen toys.
it wasn’t a particularly warm day,
sunday,
but the sun was out,
the game was on,
and we had somehow managed to
do all our chores in two days.

how was your weekend?

bánh xèo

bánh xèo

*note: we used a mix. dw mentioned something about making the batter from scratch, rice flour + turmeric + a bunch of other starches and i nixed that notion. it’s a special kind of flour, used in special proportions and frankly, my interest in making things from scratch doesn’t extend going to those lengths. i’m not loyal to any brand, at least not yet. we used two bottles of beer + some water. in this instance, it was instinctive: we gauged how thin the batter was based on our experience when making with my family during summer cookouts. you want the batter to be loose, not thick like pancake, but not straight water either. it was hit or miss for us the first few we made then we got our groove.

batter:
1 bag of bánh xèo mix
2 bottles of beer (whatever you have, i used an IPA) if you want to nix the beer, water is fine
approx 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
3 green onions/scallions, chopped and added to the batter

mix the bánh xèo mix with beer (or water) and stir until fully incorporated. add in the scallions. set aside.

filling:
1 lb pork belly, sliced thin
1 pound shrimp, deveined and tails off
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 bag of bean sprouts, rinsed
1/2 cup of chive blossoms, cut 3″ long

oil, i used a mix of canola + coconut

to serve: nuoc mam cham, or soy sauce + lettuce and whatever herbs you like, ie: mint, basil, cilantro

have your mise en place together, everything in a line in order of succession:
1. oil
2. onions
3. sliced pork belly
4. shrimp
5. batter
6. mix of bean sprouts + chive blossoms

heat a non-stick pan coated with a light layer of oil on medium-high.
add in a few onions and 4-6 pieces of sliced pork belly. allow the onions to sweat a smidge.
add in 2-3 shrimp.
using a ladle, pour 1 ladle full of batter into the pan. swirl the pan to coat it evenly, but thinly.
grab a handful of bean sprouts/chive blossom and pile it on one side of the pan.
lid the pan for about 1 minute (if you don’t have a lid, use a foil)
remove lid and allow the bánh xèo to cook through, get crispy around the edges, about 4-5 minutes.
carefully, fold the bánh xèo in half, like omelette.

serve hot.

BAM!

bánh xèo

three bean chili -vegan

3 Bean Chili - vegan

it began with a simple idea:
lunch.
what can i make that will
last a week in the fridge,
will warm us through,
be easy peasy to put together,
and still be delicious
by the very least,
4th day,
ideally 5th day?

chili.
stew.
soup.
same thing.

as i told dw
“we are going to have stoupli
the entire winter.
prepare thyself.”
this is likely going to be
an ongoing theme around these parts.
sorry about that
bring on the cold!

what do you have for lunch?

3 Bean Chili - vegan

three bean chili
as inspired by will cook for friends and something for sunday

*note: it’s early in the season, or late, but i was able to use all fresh vegs. as the season progresses i will likely turn to canned tomatoes and the make up of the recipe will differ slightly depending on what vegs i can get at the market. adjust accordingly, use your best judgement.
**note: we don’t do canned beans, we’ve been trying our hand with dried beans. by all means, for convenience and preference, use canned if that works for you!
***note: the use of cocoa powder and coffee is not new. for Cincinnati chili, it uses a very generous amount of cocoa and wendi once fed me her commitment chili that has coffee in it. it adds a dark richness to the stew. if you’re against caffeine, or darkness and whatever, use broth or water.

3 Bean Chili - vegan

a swirl or two of olive oil, enough to coat the pan/pot
1 cup dried black beans (soaked overnight, cooked for approx 2 hours, until al dente)
1 cup dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans (soaked overnight, cooked in crockpot on high for approx 2-3 hours, until al dente)
1 cup dried navy beans (soaked over night, cooked for approx 2-3 hours, until al dente)
1 huge, gigantore ripe tomato, rough chopped (a can of whole tomatoes is fine)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 red bell peppers, diced
1 big tomato, rough chopped (a can of tomatoes is fine if not using fresh)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced
2 bay leaves
2 heaping tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TBL spoons italian seasoning
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp, more or less, smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
3 cups strong black coffee
1-2 cups leftover cooked bean liquid (or water or stock is fine)
salt/pepper to taste

one of the things that i’ve learned from watching cooking shows and competitions: season well! for every layer of vegs that i add to the pot, i sprinkle in salt & pepper.

in a big pot, heat olive oil at medium high heat. add in the diced onion and saute until translucent. next add in the other vegs, being sure to season between layers and allowing each veg proper saute time. you’re building flavors, don’t skimp.

add in the dry seasonings and mix thoroughly.

pour in liquids, coffee and bean liquid (or water), bring to a boil. lower temp to gentle simmer and cook until beans are soft, up to 45 min – an hour.

*if using canned beans, don’t add the beans until the final 30 minutes. but do allow the other vegs to simmer in the liquids.*

this is even better the next days when all the spices mingled and got merry.

serve with toast, sometimes i added diced avocado if i was feeling fancy, other times, i ate it simply.

BAM!

3 Bean Chili - vegan

travel | boston, massachusetts

Boston!

hihi!
i wanted to sneak a
very quick post
about our jaunt to
boston last month.
it was our first time
travelling to this area of
the country together.
southwest had a sale
early in the year
so we booked
our anniversary trip
while planning our honeymoon.

tips:
public transportation – boston is a great city for walking and hopping on the bus or metro. i only threw up ONCE due to my motion sickness; as a result, we walked 2.5 miles home after our anniversary dinner. no worries, it was a lovely time spent in the city with dw.

if you’d like, more pix below, as well as some links to the places we visited. stars are the ones that i highly recommend.

Boston!

Boston!

Boston!

Boston!

the elephant walk
eastern standard*
cafe beirut
the salty pig*
FoMu*****
harvard museum of Natural History*
Neptune Oyster
The Blue Nile*
Fiore Italian Bakery
dumpling cafe
b&g oysters*
airbnb apartment (the neighborhood, Jamaica Plains, is wonderful. not exactly central, but super easy to get around on the bus and metro lines)

blueberry swirl + coconut macaroons

Blueberry Swirl Macaroons

“Mr. McDowell. Sir, I was wondering, did you happen to catch the professional football contest on television last night? Oh it was most exhilarating. The Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay, and in the end the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pig skin through a big H. It was a most gripping victory.” – Coming to America

i get the basics of football,
what i don’t get,
i fake.
or ignore.
or if i’m feeling curious,
i ask what’s going on.
dw & i are casual ravens fans.
casual.
not rabid.
or biggest.
we know that if the ravens do well
then the city does well.
it also means the majority
of our friends will be nicer,
and our FB feeds aren’t
dotted with bad words.

these blueberry speckled macaroons
aren’t really seasonal.
they’re leftover blueberries
i froze right at peak,
saved for special occasions,
like watching our purple team
with friends,
who instead dotted our afternoon
with bad words.

Blueberry Swirl Macaroons

blueberry swirl + coconut macaroons
adapted from my chocolate + coconut macaroons, which was adapted from the Splendid Table

*note: any bright hued berries will do, the more vibrant the color, the better. truth be told, sans berries and the end result is still delightful. in the original post, i used just one bowl. in this reincarnation, i dirtied the food processor set and an ice cream scooper.
**note: i have to painfully but truthfully admit, this isn’t an original recipe. it was inspired by things we make who adapted it from a resource i cannot bear to mention. it makes use of egg whites and raspberries and almond extract. un gamine dans la cuisine recently made a blueberry version, too.
***note: i only used sweetened shredded coconut flakes because that’s what i had on hand. typically i like to use a mix of sweet & unsweetened. keep in mind, if unsweetened flakes are used, sugar may need to be added. use your best judgement.

2 large eggs
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes
generous pinch of salt
good squeeze of half a lemon
zest of lemon, amount at your discretion
1 scant cup of thawed blueberries, give or take
if mixture seems a bit wet, add up to 1/3 cup almond or coconut flour. use your best judgement*

preheat oven to 350F.

in a food processor and whiz to break the flakes down a bit. if you need to, scrape down the sides. add in the zest & lemon juice and pulse to distribute the citrus love. scrape. add in the eggs, one at a time, whizzing and scraping in between.

scrape one last time.

now this is where it gets tricky. this is just an aesthetic thing but the goal is to have streaks of blue & white, so you’re not aiming to pulverize the berries and integrate them into the coconut flake mixture.

add in the berries, pulse a handful of times, just enough to break the berries, you want to stain the mixture, not dye it.

scoop with an ice cream scoop onto parchment papered cookie sheet.

bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

allow to cool on wire rack.

BAM!

Blueberry Swirl Macaroons

my other blueberry treats:
blueberry breakfast cookies – vegan
blueberry citrus scones – dairy free
blueberry clafoutis – dairy free
blueberry donuts - gluten free, dairy free
blueberry jam danishes – vegan
blueberry swirl muffins – dairy free

Blueberry Swirl Macaroons

365 days later: anniversary

lan-devin-eng-00762
photo courtesy of luke eshleman & used with permission

365 days ago
you hit it
and thank gawd,
you didn’t quit it.

i was a notoriously shitty student
who never reached full academic potential,
especially in the subject of math.
you join the legions of teachers
and tutors
and professors
who make me realize
what a mockery i am with numbers,
because i cannot begin to count
the infinite sum of reasons
as to why i love you so.

to further my grievance,
i cannot even fall back on
the one thing i usually can rely on:
Words.
because you always get me tongued tied,
and because you started reading way before i did,
and your vocabulary is worth more than $5.

instead,
i will feed you cake.
because you are my heart,
you who by some grace
not only loves me,
but acts loving towards me,
you who i dreamed of for so long,
but my limited imagination
never could fathom
just how fucking awesome you are.

i love you dw,
i will always be your
Ride Or Die Bitch.

Chocolate Tahini Cake + Rosemary infused buttercream

chocolate tahini cake + rosemary frosting
makes one 2 layered 8″ cake, entirely too big for two people, and yet, dw & i totally ate the entire thing. together.

*note: this is a riff on my sure-thing chocolate cake that i always fall back on because it’s amazing. the frosting has the heady essence of rosemary, dw calls it a mature flavor. if i make this again, i’d infuse it for a shorter period and make a bigger batch of frosting.

2 cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 cup 2% lactose free milk, i used organic valley
3/4 + 1 TBL cup Cocoa
2 TBL canola + coconut oil, i used Spectrum blended oil
6 TBL tahini
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup boiling water

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

grease 2 round 8″ cake pans

in a large mixer bowl combine dry ingredients.

gradually add eggs, milk, oil + tahini. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

remove from mixer; stir in boiling water. (batter will be thin).

pour into prepared pans.

bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans,or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

cool cake in rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans.

cool completely.

Chocolate Tahini Cake + Rosemary infused buttercream

rosemary infused buttercream
makes enough to just crumb coat the two layers. i had high plans to decorate the cake, as i like to collect pretty attired cakes, but when i finished crumb coating i realized that i didn’t have enough frosting, and i was over it. as dw said: “it’s like you finished crumb coating the cake and you went FUCK IT & started putting dishes away.” he knows me so well and yet he stays.

2 sticks of vegan butter, divided, i used earth balance
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 lb powdered sugar
splash of liquid, water or lactose free milk

the night before, melt down 1 stick of vegan butter and add in the sprig of rosemary. don’t let it go too long, just enough to warm through. allow to steep overnight.

next morning, warm up just enough to fish the sprig out. allow to cool to room temp.

add to mixing bowl along with other stick of vegan butter.

whip up with powdered sugar, until reach desired consistency. add more or less liquid to loosen up.

BAM!

Chocolate Tahini Cake + Rosemary infused buttercream