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Bosnian Donuts / Krofne

One day, my twin came home with some krofne or Bosnian donuts from her sister-in-law’s BBQ and left it on the kitchen counter. They looked so good that I had to have one, even though I generally do not eat sweets and fried food. One small bite became four large donuts later and I knew I had to have this recipe. Luckily, Azra decided to teach us so we can share it on this blog. This recipe has just the right amount of sweetness that it doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds and keeps you coming back for more.

Difficulty: Easy to Medium/ Time: 2 hours including 1.5 hours of dough rest time / Servings: enough for a BBQ

Ingredients:

6 cups / 900 gram of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

300 ml of lukewarm milk

300 ml of water

3 teaspoons of instant yeast

2 tablespoons of sugar

Pinch of salt

Oil for deep frying

Powder sugar to sprinkle on the donuts

Directions:

Mix 3 teaspoons of yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour and 300ml of lukewarm water. Stir to incorporate and cover for a few minutes to let the yeast bloom.

Whisk together 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add 6 cups or 900 grams of flour and a pinch of salt.

Mix 300ml of milk to the yeast water and stir to incorporate.

A. Form the dough by hand:

Add the eggs to the flour mixture.

Slowly add the yeast water to the flour while stirring to incorporate the liquid.

When all the yeast liquid is added to the flour, knead until you have formed a ball.

Mix the ingredients by hand to start forming the dough

Remove the dough from the bowl and placed onto a well-floured surface once it comes together to make it easier to knead into a firm ball.

Kneading dough by hand
Forming dough into a ball

This will take approximately 5-10 minutes of total kneading time. You will know when it’s done when the dough have some firmness and stretch. When you press on it, there should be a slow bounce back.

B. Form the dough with a mixer:

On a slow mixing setting or # 2 on a Kitchen Aid, add eggs to the flour mixture and then slowly add the yeast liquid. Once the dough starts to take shape after 1-2 minutes, increase the speed to medium or #4 on Kitchen Aid for around 5 minutes until the dough have formed into a ball.

Same as with the manual kneading, you are looking for firmness and stretch. There should be some spring to the dough when you press on it and it should slowly bounce back. If not, keep mixing for another minute and continue to check the dough.

Cover and rest the dough in a warm spot for 1 hour until it doubles in size.

C. Make the donuts:

Take the dough out from the bowl onto a well-floured surface and knead for about a minute to form back into a ball. Cut the dough into two to make it more manageable.

Dough is fully fermented when it has doubled in size and all the gluten strands have formed.

Roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/2 inch thick.

Using a round cutter or any cutter of your choice, cut out the donuts. You can use a water bottle cap to cut the donut holes for a classic donut shape.

Cover the donuts and rest them for another 30 minutes.

Donuts have rested and fluffed up.

Prepare a tray lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil and another tray to dust the donuts.

Heat up the oil, at least a few inches of it in the pot, on medium heat until the temperature reaches 350-375F. Add donuts and fry until golden brown on one side and then flip over to do the other side. It takes around 1-2 minutes for each donut.

Remove donuts from the oil when they turn golden onto a tray lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Dust generously with powder sugar and served warm or hot from the fryer for the most scrumptious taste.

This is such a crowd pleasing dish, especially with the kids, that it will make you a star at the next gathering.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Azra Hadzihasanovic and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Lemongrass Shrimp Noodle Bowl

More than ever, we are cooking our meals at home. Vietnamese noodle bowls make for an easy, quick and healthy lunch or dinner. This version has grilled shrimps marinated with lemongrass and fish sauce. This recipe is easy to make ahead and requires whatever vegetable that you have on hand to complete the dish.

Difficulty: Easy / Servings: 4 / Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound of jumbo shrimps (deveined and without shell)

2 and 1/2 tablespoons garlic

3 tablespoons minced lemongrass (If you don’t have lemongrass, you can still marinate the shrimps with the remaining ingredients. It won’t be as fragrant, but it will still be tasty. Squeeze some lime juice onto the shrimp before eating to mimic the refreshing citrus notes of lemongrass.)

2 tablespoons of diced onion

3 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon +3 tablespoons of fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce

1 cup of Coco Rico soda (coconut soda) – (This is for the vinaigrette sauce. If you do not have coconut soda, I have also provided an alternative for this recipe below.)

1 minced Thai chilies

1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1 package of vermicelli noodles or rice noodles cooked according to directions on the package.

Toppings (suggested or use what you have in the fridge):

1 to 2 cups of romaine lettuce, julienne

1 cucumber, julienne

A handful of mint leaves

A handful of parsley, rough chopped

Directions:

Marinate the shrimps for 5 minutes with the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon of diced onion, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of minced lemongrass, 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of oil.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil with 1 tablespoon of diced onion and 1 tablespoon of minced lemongrass on high until the onions become translucent.

Saute the shrimps until they turn pink and the flesh are firm. This will only take a few minutes.

Cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package. A trick that I used to cook rice noodles quickly is to soak them in cold water while I prepare the dish. This will shorten the cooking time to just a few minutes.

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Make the sauce:

Option 1: Combine 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 cup of coconut soda, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 minced Thai chili and 1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional).

Option 2:

If you do not have coconut soda, you can make the sauce by combining 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of garlic, 1 minced Thai chili and 1 teaspoon of chili paste (optional).

In a bowl, combine cooked vermicelli noodles, julienne lettuce and cucumber, mint and parsley. Top the bowl with shrimps and pour the sauce over everything. Mix well and enjoy.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors: Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Easy No-Knead French Baguettes

I have successfully made traditional French baguettes with the stretch and fold kneading techniques; however, the whole process can be quite labor-intensive and require some acumen to work with the wet dough. After teaching my younger cousin how to make traditional baguettes and seeing how he struggled with the wet dough, I wanted to make a beginner-friendly version. I tested different techniques and proofing time and came back to my No-Knead Artisan Bread recipe. I figure why not use that as a basis since the bread came out with a nice crust and airy insides. Low and behold, it works! Although the no-knead baguette will not be as crusty or springy as using the stretch and fold technique, it still has a similar texture and taste of a more traditional baguette. The differences between the two baguettes are marginal unless you are a die-hard bread connoisseur.

Serving Size: 3 large baguette / Difficulty: Easy / Time: Rest time of  up to 26 hours – Work time of 15-30 minutes

Ingredients:

450 grams of bread flour

340 millilitres of lukewarm water

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast

Optional: 8 grams of bread improver. I find that bread improver (organic enzymes) helps to make the dough crustier and airier, especially for these no-knead baguettes. This bread improver really helps to bridge the gap between the traditional baguettes and this beginner friendly version.

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I didn’t provide measurements in cups as I found that you do need to be precise with bread making to have the best results. You can buy a good digital baking scale for less than $15 on Amazon.

Equipment:

A baking stone or flip your baking tray upside down to create a flat baking surface.

Water spritzer

Tray for water

Optional: Lava rocks or river rocks that can hold onto heat. This helps to create the initial burst of steam and keep the oven misty. 

Directions:

Microwave 340 ml of tap water for 30 seconds until it becomes lukewarm. Add 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and stir to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes to activate.

Mix 450 grams of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 8 grams of bread improver (optional).

While stirring the flour mixture, slowly add water and mix until there is no dry flour left.  (This takes just a few minutes.) Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature (approximately 72F-75F) for up to 24 hours. The longer the dough rests, the more air bubbles will form in the dough, which creates the airy texture without much kneading.

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Flour your work surface and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough. Flip the bowl over and let gravity dump the wet dough (smooth side down) onto your work surface. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour.

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Pull up, lightly stretch, and fold each side of the dough inward to form a ball. Do this twice.

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Divide the ball into 3 equal parts.

Using more flour as needed, pinch the wet cut side of the dough together to form into smaller balls.

Flip the dough over.  While using your palms to turn the dough in one direction, press your palms lightly into the bottom of the dough to create tension. This will shape the dough into a tighter ball that we are looking for. I usually do this for around 3 to 5 full turns.  If the dough still feels sticky, just sprinkle more flour onto your hands and the dough.

Let the dough rest for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, form the baguettes by doing the following:

Step 1: Pull one side over. While pressing down with both thumbs at the seam, push the dough away from you seal the seam.

Step 2: Turn the dough 180 degree. Pull both sides inward and repeat step 1.

Step 3: Pull the side farthest away from you over and press down and away from you to seal with your 2nd fingers (for a smaller seams). Do this 2 times.

Step 4: Put your left thumb at the seam and while moving your left hand toward the left side of the baguette, pull the dough over the thumb with your left or right hand and press down hard with your right palm to seal the seam. This will help to create a straight and clean edge. Do this until you have sealed the entire baguette.

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Step 4: Place both hands lightly in the middle of the baguettes with both wrists touching the work surface (this will help you to not put too much pressure on the dough). Lightly roll the baguette back and forth 2- 3 times to shape.

Next, keep stretching the dough by rolling lightly as you move your hands outward to create the desired shape. You are looking for the dough to have a long straight line with tapered edges.

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Step 5: Placed the baguettes on a floured parchment paper placed on top of a kitchen towel to create a makeshift baker couche. I didn’t want to buy a baguette pan or a baker’s couche so this method works well as a replacement. Pull up on the kitchen towel to create a barrier between each baguette, which also helps the dough to keep its form.

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Cover with another kitchen towel and let the dough rest for another 1 hour.

Prepare the oven 30 minutes into the final 1 hour rest time:

Place a baking stone or a sheet pan upside down in the middle rack. Your oven should start cold so you do not crack the baking stone due to the fluctuation in temperature.

A) Add a tray filled with baking rocks (if you have them) to preheat underneath the baking stone or sheet pan. Prepare boiling water. OR

B) If you don’t have baking rocks, add a tray filled with hot water below the baking rack to preheat with the stone. 

Prepare and preheat the oven to 500F. (It takes my oven around 30 minutes to fully preheat.)

Score the baguettes right before you put them into the oven.

  • Prepare a water sprayer.
  • Using a razor or the thinnest and sharpest knife that you have, make 3 slashes to the surface of your baguettes evenly spaced out. Do not cut it too deep or you will let too much air out and the baguettes will deflate. As this is a no-knead bread, there isn’t as much gluten holding the form together.
  • Spray the slashes with some water. This will allow the bread to expand and not bake right away. The slashes and water will also help to create a light and fluffy bread.

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* You will see that the bread has grown in size and doesn’t appear to have as much structure as a traditional baguette to hold itself up. That is why having a “couche” helps keep the baguette shape and using the parchment paper underneath will make it easier to maneuver the wet dough into the oven.

Bake the bread. Read this part carefully as this will be a quick process that requires a few steps.

  • Once the oven is preheated, cut the parchment paper so each bread is on an individual sheet. This makes it easier to move the baguettes into the oven.
  • Use another tray or baker’s peel (board with a long handle) to quickly and carefully move the bread from the tray onto the baking stone or upside baking tray.

A) Add boiling water to the baking tray with the preheated rocks underneath and close the oven ASAP. Turn the temp to 485F and bake for 10 minutes. Do not open the oven. OR

B) If you don’t have a the tray with the baking rocks- Once you have placed the baguettes into the oven, quickly and vigorously spray the sides of the oven with water to create the initial burst of steam. Close the oven door ASAP.

  • After 10 minutes, remove the water tray if there is still water left and move your baguettes around the oven. (Most ovens have hot spots. Moving them around will allow for even baking.) Turn the the temp down to 425F and bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on your preference for color.
  • Optional: After the last 10 minutes, I like to flip my baguettes over to bake for another 2-3 minutes so the undersides can be crustier.

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Remove from oven and let it cool before eating. Try this bread with our simple and addicting garlic mayonnaise. (Recipe here)

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For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Mom’s Superghetti / Easy Spaghetti with Sausage and Meat Sauce

One of the first American dish that my mom made after emigrating to the US from Vietnam was spaghetti. Since we didn’t know English, spaghetti sounded like superghetti and that’s what we have called this Vietnamese fusion pasta since then. My mom’s version of spaghetti has a lot of depth with traditional Vietnamese flavors, which takes this simple Italian American dish up a notch. It’s slightly savory, slightly sweet and filled with umami that makes it hard to just eat one serving.

Serving Size: 6 servings / Difficulty: Easy / Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

4 sausages of your choice

1 to 1.5 pounds of ground beef

1 jar (28 oz) of marinara sauce

2 cups of low sodium chicken stock

1 package (16 oz) of thin spaghetti or pasta of your choice

4 stalks of celery for about 1 and 1/2 cup diced celery. Peel the outer layer.

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

Yellow onion

  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of onion sliced approx. 2 inches width

OR just diced or cut the onion to your preference

Optional:

Tapioca starch water to thicken the sauce (2 tablespoons of tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. You can substitute tapioca starch with corn starch.)

Green onion for garnish

Directions:

Season the ground beef with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper and 2 tablespoons of sliced onion.

In a large pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high. Sautee 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced onion until translucent.

Add 4 sausages and brown evenly. This takes approximately 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the seasoned ground beef to the pan and brown the meat. Add a jar of marinara sauce. Mix well and let it come to a boil.

Once the marinara sauce starts to boil, add 2 cups of low sodium chicken stock.

While the sauce continues to cook, cut the sausage at a diagonal (it’s prettier to look at).

Peel the outer part of the celery and diced. This will give you approximately 1 and 1/2 cups.

Once the meat sauce reaches a roiling boil, add the sausages and turn the heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the celery and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Next, add 1 cup of thickly sliced onion and tapioca starch water while stirring the sauce to thicken it. Let it simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve.

Spaghetti sauce is thickened and ready to serve.

Boil the spaghetti according to direction on the box.

  • My mom likes to break the spaghetti in half before cooking the pasta to make it easier for kids to eat.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Coffee and Coconut Jelly Cake

Jelly cake was very popular in Vietnam in the 1990’s. It required few ingredients and is inexpensive to make. I remembered creating gelatin in rainbow colors with my mom growing up and pouring it into fun molds to create visually stunning cakes. This is our equivalent of Jello and is also a very refreshing dessert for those warmer days.

Serving: Makes a 4-inch and 6-inch cake

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

1 cup of sugar

4 tablespoons of Vietnamese instant coffee with creamer and sugar mix (If you do not have Vietnamese coffee mix, just use any instant coffee with cream and sugar mix.)

1 can of coconut milk

1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon or 10 grams of agar agar gelatin powder (The Vietnamese agar agar gelatin brand that we used is platinum strength. You can buy it at any Asian supermarket.) If you have regular gelatin, the ratio should still be the same.

6 cups of water

Equipment: Any mold that you would like to use. I used a 4-inch and 6-inch cake pan for this post.

Directions:

Mix 1 tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon of gelatin and 1 cup of sugar together.

Bring 6 cups of water to a low boil.

Slowly add the sugar and gelatin mix while stirring one way until everything dissolves. This takes approximately 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk to the gelatin water and let the mixture comes back to a boil. Keep stirring so nothing clumps for approximately 5 minutes. Skim any foam and turn off the heat to cool the mixture.

Take 2 cups of the gelatin coconut liquid and add 4 tablespoons of Vietnamese coffee mix while continuously stirring until everything is fully dissolved. Strained the coffee gelatin into a mold and chill in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.

While the coffee gelatin chills, occasionally stir the coconut gelatin mixture so it doesn’t set.

After 5 minutes, remove the coffee gelatin and check to see if it’s lightly set. You will need to check if the top layer has set enough so that when you add the second layer, they will not mix together. If the coffee gelatin is too gelled, lightly prick the top with a fork so the coconut layer can stick to the coffee layer.

Ladle the coconut gelatin softly on top of the coffee gelatin and let the cake chill in the fridge for 3-4 hour before un-molding and serving.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Bosnian Cheese Pie / Pita Sirnica

My brother-in-law family’s emigrated from Bosnia to the US during the Bosnian War. With it, they brought along their culture including the wonderful rustic cuisine from the Balkans region. My brother-in-law’s mother, Sefira, bakes really delicious traditional cheese pie called pita sirnica with phyllo dough made from scratch. I was very intimidated at the thought of making phyllo dough by hand rather than getting it from the friendly frozen section of the supermarket. Her recipe and handed down phyllo technique are actually beginner friendly and not as laborious as I had expected. Try this delicious cheese pie today.

This recipe makes approximately 6 to 8 cheese pies depending on how large the phyllo sheet will be at the end of the stretching process.

You can also use store bought phyllo dough and skip to the filling section. Buy the largest sheet that you can find.

Ingredients:

Phyllo

4 and 1/3 cups / 600 grams of all-purpose flour

1 and 3/4 cups / 400 grams of water

1 teaspoon of salt

Approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil (any type)

Filling and Topping

2 to 2.5 cups of crumbly goat cheese or feta cheese

  • The amount of cheese will depend on how large your phyllo dough will be at the end. Generally, 2 cups of cheese are good for a dough stretched to table size for 4-6 people and 2.5 cups for a table size for 8-10 people.
  • If you are using cheese preserved in salt water like what we used to make this recipe, you will need to soak the cheese for 15-30 minutes to get rid of the excess salt.
  • If you are using regular feta, you will need to add a little bit of salt, approximately 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, to the filling to give it more flavor. The amount of salt will be to your preference.

1 large egg or 2 small eggs depending on how many cups of cheese you end up using

  • 1 large egg for 2 cups cheese
  • 2 small eggs for 2.5 cups of cheese

1 tablespoons of oil (any type)

3 tablespoons of Mexican cream or crème fraîche thinned with a bit of lime juice or water. The taste should be slightly tart and thin enough to drizzle.

Goat cheese that we used for this recipe

Equipment:

A clean tablecloth and large table

Optional: A stand mixer

Directions:

You can form and knead the dough by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough becomes a smooth ball or use a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid below. The process is still the same with either method.

Add 4 and 1/3 cups or 600 grams of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon of salt to a mixing bowl.

Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, put the setting on low (Kitchen Aid #2). While stirring the flour, add 1 and 3/4 cups or 400 grams of water and 1 tablespoon of oil. Keep mixing until the dough has incorporated all the water and comes together. This will take around 1 to 2 minutes.

Dough after 2 minutes on #2 / stir setting

Turn the setting to medium (Kitchen Aid #4), knead the dough for another 5 minutes. The dough should have formed into a ball, but will still be a little tacky.

After 5 minutes on #4 setting

Remove the dough from the mixer and placed onto a floured surface. Knead by hand for another minute until you can form a smooth ball. Add more flour if the dough is still sticking to your hands. Rest for at least 2 to 3 hours or best overnight. (For beginners, I would recommend resting it overnight to make the dough much more pliable and easier to stretch out.)

After the dough has rested, roll it out into a disk (like a pizza) to 1-inch thickness.

After resting overnight

Brush 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil on top and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare a large table with a clean tablecloth. Move the dough to the center of the table.

Table fit for 8-10 people

Starting from the edge of the disk, slowly and carefully pull the dough toward you until there is no more give. Do Not break the dough. Move onto the next section if the current part of the dough has no more give and repeat. Rest the dough for another 10 minutes. 

Repeat this step until you have stretched the dough as thin as possible to the edge of your table. If your dough starts to have holes along the edges after stretching 2-3 times, then it has been fully stretched.

After stretching and resting the dough 2 times. This table fits 8-10 people.
Aim to get stretch the dough to be this thin and transparent

Trim the excess dough off the edges to make a clean and even phyllo sheet. (I used the leftover dough to make the crust for a small tomato and mozzarella pizza.)

Make the filling by mixing 2 to 2.5 cups of crumbled cheese, 1 to 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of oil.

Add the filling sparingly along the edge of phyllo sheet (use the edge of the shorter side) in a straight line.

Pull the tablecloth up so gravity can help you roll the phyllo dough over the filling. Stop when the filling has been covered.

  • Since the dough is so thin and sticky, it’s hard to maneuver it by hand.
  • Using gravity to roll the phyllo over makes this process quicker and cleaner.

Cut the strip of phyllo with the filling and form into a circular shape like a snake.

Move the cheese pie into a greased baking tray. Repeat this process until you have used up all the filling and phyllo dough.

I was able to make 8 pies with phyllo dough stretched out on a table for 8 to 10 people.

Preheat the oven for 420F. Bake the pie for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzled with 3 tablespoons of Mexican cream and bake for another 7-10 minutes until it is golden brown.

Let it cool and serve.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Sefira Mujanovic and Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Sauce

Nothing says summer quite like a berry dessert. One of my favorite restaurant treat is panna cotta. The mixture of creamy panna cotta with a sweet and tart berry sauce is simplicity at its best. This dessert is super easy to make, but still has that wow factor whenever I serve it. Enjoy this summer treat at the end of your next meal.

Ingredients:

Panna Cotta

200 ml of milk

200 ml of heavy cream

2 and 1/4 sheet of silver grade gelatin (160+ bloom) (You can buy this easily online or Amazon. I prefer to use sheet gelatin as it is much easier to dissolve and use.)

Or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of powder gelatin. (You will need to bloom the gelatin in some cold water and then melt over hot water before adding it to the warm cream mixture. Fine Cooking has a good how-to guide on using powder gelatin here.)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Berry Sauce

2 cups of frozen berry mix

1/4 tablespoon of lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of sugar

Directions:

Make the panna cotta:

Soften 2 and 1/4 sheets of gelatin by soaking them in 1 cup of cold water. Set aside.

  • If you are using powdered gelatin, you will need to let it bloom.
  • This is good video to explain the difference between leaf and powdered gelatin and how to use it.

While stirring, heat up 200 ml of milk, 200 ml of heavy cream, and 1/4 cup of sugar on low until the temperature reaches 90F-100F. (Gelatin will dissolve around 90F-100F. If you boil the liquid and then add gelatin, the high heat will reduce the effectiveness of the gelatin.) Turn off the heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Gently squeeze the excess water out of the softened gelatin and add to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin has fully dissolved, which takes less a minute.

Portion the panna cotta into 4 cups. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or until the panna cotta has set.

Make the berry sauce:

In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups of frozen berry mix, 1/4 tablespoon of lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon, and 1 tablespoon of sugar on medium-low. Stir the mixture until sugar dissolves and berries have broken down into a runny sauce. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

To Serve:

Add the berry sauce to the set panna cotta prior to serving. Garnish with some mint and fresh berries for a restaurant-worthy treat.

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For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

 

No-Knead Artisan Bread with Dutch Oven

As I dive deeper into my quarantine bread baking journey, I became fascinated with different baking and kneading techniques with essentially the same four ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The variety of bread is endless. As much as I love making French baguettes from scratch, it can be a process. Using the same four ingredients with a 75% target dough hydration, I tested different proofing time and folding techniques that I learned from my research. I came up with my new favorite rustic bread recipe. It’s so effortless and only requires some patience for the yeast to do its magic. This will be your go-to recipe for a weekday bread…it’s just too easy not to try.

This recipe makes 1 large round boule.

Ingredients:

I didn’t provide measurements in cups as I found that you need to be precise with breadmaking to have the best result. You can buy a good digital baking scale for less than $15 on amazon.

450 grams of bread flour

340 milliliters of lukewarm water

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast

Optional: 8 grams of bread improver. I find that bread improver (organic enzymes) helps make the dough crustier and airier. 

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Equipment:

Dutch oven – Look for a Dutch with a 5-7 quarts capacity. If you have a smaller capacity, there won’t be enough headspace for the bread to rise, and in larger pots, bread can spread and flatten out in the process.

Directions:

Microwave 340 milliliters of water for 30 seconds until it becomes lukewarm. Add 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and stir to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a 5 minutes to activate.

Mix 450 grams of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 8 grams of bread improver (optional).

While stirring the flour mixture, slowly add water and mix until there is no dry flour left.  (This takes just a few minutes.) Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature (approximately 72F-75F) for up to 24 hours. The longer the dough rests, the more air bubbles will form in the dough, which creates the airy texture without much kneading.

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Flour your work surface and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough. Flip the bowl over and let gravity dump the wet dough (smooth side down) onto your work surface. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour.

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After 24 hours proofing at room temperature

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Pull up, lightly stretch, and fold each side of the dough inward to form a ball. Do this twice.

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Make sure your work surface still has a nice dusting of flour. Flip the dough over.  While using your palm to turn the dough in one direction, press your palm lightly into the bottom of the dough to create tension. This will shape the dough into a tighter ball that we are looking for. I usually do this for around 3 to 5 full turns.

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Prepare a round bowl and layer it with a large piece of parchment paper (enough to cover the bowl).

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Place the dough on top of the parchment paper with the smooth side up. Dust the dough with flour, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 2 hours.

  • Depending on how long your oven takes to preheat, you can time the preheating step, so that your oven is completely preheated before the proofing time ends.
  • My oven takes approximately 30 minutes to heat up fully so 1.5 hours into the final proofing time, I will start preheating the oven with the Dutch oven placed on the center rack.
  • Another trick I like to do is to place my Dutch oven on top of a baking stone. This helps keep a consistent temperature and creates a nice crust on the bottom of my bread.

Place the Dutch oven into the cold oven and preheat to 500F.

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When you are ready to bake, take out the bread. Dust the top with another light layer of flour.

Score the top part of the bread with a sharp knife. You can do one slash across the top of the bread or a cross sign. Do not cut too deep into the dough otherwise, the air deflates and you lose the firm ball shape.

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Spray the opening with some water. This will keep that section from baking right away and helps the dough expand, which makes the bread light and airy.

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Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the hot oven and place the dough with the parchment paper into the pot and close the lid.

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Place the Dutch oven back into the oven, turn the oven temperature to 450F, and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake at 425F for another 10 minutes. I would check it around 5 minutes and make sure that your bread color is not too dark and is to your preference.

After 10 minutes, remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a cooling rack.

Optional: I like to put my bread back into the oven without the pot or the parchment paper for another 3 minutes to get a little darker and crustier.

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Enjoy this bread at your next meal.

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For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)

Quick Caramelized Chicken

My niece’s favorite meal, whenever grandma comes around, is this caramelized chicken dish with rice. It comprises of classic Vietnamese salty and sweet flavors with tender moist chicken and crispy skin. It’s a flavor bomb and it never lasts long in this household. This is a very simple dish, which makes it a perfect weeknight meal.

Ingredients:

6 drumsticks or other cuts of chicken that you prefer

2 and 1/2 teaspoons of cane sugar (You can substitute with white sugar if it’s not available. Cane sugar gives a nicer caramelized color to this dish.)

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder

1 tablespoon of water

3 tablespoons of coconut soda

2 teaspoons of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of diced onion and thick slices of 1/4 of an onion to garnish

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

A few Thai chilis (optional)

 

Directions:

Prepare the drumsticks by removing the main bone, while leaving the end piece intact. You can also skip this step and opt for boneless chicken.

Filet the meat around the bone.

Cut through the bone here to keep the end piece intact.

The end result is a nice filet that will cook more evenly. Discard the bone.

Before and after  the preparation.

Marinate chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for 10 minutes.

While the chicken marinates, make the braising sauce by combining 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of cane sugar, 1 tablespoon of water, and 3 tablespoons of coconut soda in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a large pan with 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. Fry 1 tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the garlic turns golden brown, sear the drumsticks with skin side down. Flip the chicken over when they turn golden to sear the other side.

Once both sides are crispy and golden, which only takes a few minutes, cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. This will help steam the chicken to thoroughly cook them for approximately 5 minutes.

When the chicken is almost done cooking, add the sauce and turn the heat to medium-high to bring it to a boil. Once the sauce boils, turn the chicken over to smother the sauce on the other side. Options: Add the Thai chilis for some heat and color. Once the sauce is rendered down (approximately 5 minutes from the boiling point), turn off the heat and add the onion slices. The remaining heat will cook them.

Enjoy this delicious caramelized chicken with rice and fresh salad.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Authors:  Susan Tran and Chau Hoang

Bánh Tiêu Mật Ong/ Honey Glazed Sesame Hollow Donuts

Bánh tiêu is essentially the Vietnamese version of fried dough or donut. One can find them sold throughout any town from street vendors. These donuts differ from American donuts due to bánh tiêu having a hollow center. This creates a light and fluffy donut with a chewy texture, which also has a light crunch from the sesame seeds.

To take this traditional hollow donut up a notch, I incorporated honey into the batter and also applied a light honey glaze. This version of bánh tiêu has just the right amount of sweetness that my family cannot get enough of. 

This recipe makes 12 donuts and takes about 2 hours with proofing time.

Ingredients:

2 and 3/4 cup of bread flour / 400 gram

1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup of 1% low-fat milk

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 and 1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 packet of vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of instant yeast

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 cup of sesame seeds

2 tablespoons of honey

Honey glaze (1/4 cup of honey + 1-2 teaspoons of water to dilute until honey is manageable with a brush. Use more or less honey according to your preference.)

Approximately 1 quart of vegetable oil for deep frying

Neutral cooking spray like PAM

Equipment: Stand mixer or hand mixer. You can also knead by hand. It just takes a lot more effort.

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Directions:

Mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of water and microwave for 30 seconds. The temperature should be lukewarm.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of instant yeast to the milk mixture. Cover with plastic and set aside for 5 minutes. (Instant yeast does not need to be activated but I find that you get the best results this way.) You should see some foaming from the yeast after a few minutes.

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In a mixing bowl, add 2 and 3/4 cup of bread flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 packet of vanilla sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of salt. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients.

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Using a standard mixer with a dough hook, put the setting on stir or #2 for Kitchenaid stand mixer. Slowly add the milk and yeast mixture to the flour until it is fully incorporated into the dough.

Add 2 tablespoons of honey to the dough as it continues to stir. This all takes about 2-3 minutes.

Turn the setting to medium or #4 for Kitchenaid and knead the dough for 7-8 minutes for a total of 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. (It’s important to go by the texture of the dough over the estimated timing.)

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at 5 minutes

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at 10 minutes

Grease another bowl and spray your hands with cooking spray. This will make it so that the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.

Remove the dough from the mixer and form into a ball. You can do this by pulling the sides under and sealing the edges. Do this a few times until it forms into a smooth ball.

Let the dough proof in the greased bowl covered with a kitchen towel or plastic for 1 hour or until it doubles in size. I put mine in the oven so the temperature is usually mid to high 70Fs.

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After 1 hour, take out the dough and place it smooth side down on a work surface. I spray my work area with PAM so the dough doesn’t stick. Knead for 1 minute to remove excess air.

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Divide the dough equally into 12 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and roll in sesame seeds. Let it rest covered for 20 minutes.

  • Press the wet side inward and press to seal.
  • Repeat until you have a smooth ball. 
  • This takes 2-3x.

After 20 minutes, heat up approximately 1 quart of oil to 350F to 375F (use medium heat). Depending on the size of your pot, you will need to make sure that there are at least 2 inches of oil otherwise you will not be able to fry the donuts properly.

While the oil heats up, use a rolling pin and flatten each dough ball into a disk with 1/8th inch thickness. Cover the disk while working on the next ball.

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Fry the dough when the oil temperature reaches between 350F-375F.

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  • Carefully slide the donut into the oil from the side so it doesn’t splash you.
  • It will take a few seconds for the donut to rise to the top. Count to 5 and flip over. You can use tongs to maneuver the dough. Be careful not to press into the dough so it doesn’t deflate while cooking.
  • Continue to count to 5 for each side and flip until the donut puffs up and turns golden brown. It will take approximately a minute for each donut so be careful not to burn it.

Remove from the oil and rest on some paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Brush the honey glaze on one side of the donut. Serve warm.

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Why doesn’t my donut puff up?

  • The first one will likely be a “throwaway’.
  • The yeast was not good. Sometimes your yeast may be old or just ineffective. This is why we activated the yeast first to check before adding to the dough mix.
  • You did not proof the dough enough so that it had time to rise and rest.
  • If it takes you a long time to heat up the frying oil or to flatten the dough so that each disk slowly shrinks back and becomes thicker. Flatten out the dough again to 1/8th inch thickness before frying.
  • Make sure your temperature stays around 350-375F by adjusting the heat to medium-low if your donuts start to darken too quickly.

For more recipes, visit our EAT page or Recipe Index.

Author:  Chau Hoang

Photo Editing: Kevin Nguyen (https://www.kevwin.com/)