Archive for the 'Family Recipe' Category

Cháo Cá – Vietnamese Fish Porridge

Chao Ca - Vietnamese Fish Porridge

I called dibs on the fish carcass following our baked catfish feast at Phong Dinh. While little was left of the fish’s flesh, I saw great potential in the remaining bones. Namely, an opportunity to transform what would have been waste into one of the most comforting dishes ever: cháo cá (Vietnamese fish porridge).

To start, I made a light stock using the bones along with fresh ginger, scallions, and cilantro. According to Mom, the aromatics are essential for balancing the fish’s intrinsically “fishy” flavor and aroma. Next, I added rice to the broth and let it simmer for the better part of an hour. Once the rice was fully bloomed, thickening the porridge just so, sautéed fish and mushrooms were added in. Chopped cilantro and scallions topped each bowl to finish.

Even though cháo cá  is essentially made with kitchen scraps, the flavor coaxed from the humble ingredients is rounded and rich. It’s hard not to feel utterly satisfied after finishing a bowl of this soulful porridge.

  • 1 large fish carcass, with any remaining flesh removed and set aside
  • Water
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • Small knob ginger (1.5 inches long), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated
  • Salt
  • Fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
  • Chili powder (optional)

Make broth

Chao Ca - Vietnamese Fish Porridge

In a large stock pot, combine 4 quarts of water, fish carcass, cilantro (stems only), ginger, and half of the scallions (white part only, halved lengthwise). Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.

Remove broth from heat and discard fish carcass and aromatics. Season with 1 tablespoon salt and 3 tablespoons fish sauce.

Make porridge

Chao Ca - Vietnamese Fish Porridge

Over medium-low heat, return the broth to the stove and add in rice. Simmer until desired thickness has been achieved, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Continue reading ‘Cháo Cá – Vietnamese Fish Porridge’

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Boiled Chocolate Icing

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Is it too soon to decide June’s first birthday cake? Even though we’re still six-plus months away, I can’t resist dreaming up confections that our little sweetie will have a ball “smashing” on her big day.

This Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting has been a Chaplin family favorite since The Astronomer’s father’s post-doc days. The recipe originated from a colleague of his named Katy, a gal who clearly had a penchant for unabashedly sweet sweets.

While The Astronomer preferred frosting-less bundt cakes for his birthdays growing up, his brother Daniel and sister Rosalind adored this simple sheet cake. And though I’m 33 years late to the “Katy’s Chocolate Cake” party, I love it all the same.

The batter of the matter, seriously moist and cinnamon-kissed, is finished with a classic, Southern-style boiled chocolate icing. Eaten together, it’s an unstoppable avalanche of buttery, chocolatey, sugary, sprinkle-y goodness!

If June’s palate is anything like her mother’s, this cake will get mauled to pieces in 60 seconds flat. I can’t wait.

For cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For icing

  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare cake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, sift together sugar and flour and set aside.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

In a saucepan, combine butter, oil, cocoa powder, and water. Bring to a boil and pour over sugar and flour mixture. Add in buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Continue reading ‘Chocolate Sheet Cake with Boiled Chocolate Icing’

French-style Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Instead of spending Christmas Day in Birmingham like we usually do, The Astronomer and I are rendezvousing with the Chaplins in Charleston, South Carolina. As much as I love Alabama, I am very excited about our holiday destination.

I was inspired this past weekend to make a trio of Chaplin Christmas favorites since we’ll be exploring Charleston’s culinary scene rather than eating at home this year.

Between The Astronomer and me, we whipped up a big pot of oyster and wild rice bisque, a batch of molasses spice cookies, and best of all, enough French-style hot chocolate to take us well into 2014.

“Here’s the Christmas elixir—for soul chill, fat deprivation, or ordinary happiness deficit,” wrote my mother-in-law when she emailed me the recipe last week.

This recipe for “Authentic French Chocolate” comes from Eat, Drink, and be Chinaberry, a cookbook first published in 1996 that’s a staple in The Astronomer’s mother’s collection. One of the book’s contributors’ father brought this recipe home following his time in France during World War II.

What’s really special about this hot chocolate is its light and frothy texture and incredibly rich profile—the result of melted bittersweet chocolate swimming in a sea of whipped cream. Dolloped generously into a mug of warmed milk and sipped (or maybe even slurped), it’s like no other hot chocolate I’ve ever experienced.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas ’round here.

  • 5 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Milk, to serve

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Begin by finely chopping the chocolate.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

In a small sauce pan, combine the chocolate and water and melt over medium heat. When the chocolate has completely melted, add the sugar and salt, whisking to incorporate. Cook for four minutes and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and cool to room temperature.

Continue reading ‘French-style Hot Chocolate’

Bún Bò Huế – Vietnamese Beef & Lemon Grass Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue

With the help of Grandma and my aunts these past couple of years, I’ve learned how to prepare almost every noodle soup that I giddily slurped as a child and hungrily craved as an adult. Grandma taught me how to tame pho bo and bo kho from her home kitchen, while my aunts showed me the ins and outs of bun rieu and hu tieu through detailed emails and patient telephone calls.

I’ve amassed quite a repertoire of recipes on this site over the years, preserving a small piece of family history in the process and guaranteeing that all future cravings are swiftly satisfied.

Most recently, Grandma and I tackled bun bo Hue, a complex and heady beef noodle soup scented with lemongrass, packed with pork trotters, and littered with congealed pigs’ blood.

While the city of Hue is known for its spicy fare, Grandma’s version of the former imperial capital’s famous noodle soup is quite tame because she’s needed to refine and adjust it over time to placate the palates of her American-born, spice-averse grandchildren. What can I say? My cousins and I were weak when it came to heat when we were younger.

The most magical part of making bun bo Hue happens around hour three when the beef, pork, and lemongrass broth is transformed into the familiar fiery orange soup. Grandma uses a sizzling mixture of vegetable oil, scallions, fish sauce, and paprika to impart the broth with its characteristically bright hue and rich, umami flavor. Never in a million years would I have guessed that a jar of paprika resided in Grandma’s cupboard for this very recipe.

A heavy dose of fermented shrimp paste, along with a touch of sugar and salt, add the finishing touches to the broth. The soup is ready to be served when the slices of beef and the pigs’ feet are both perfectly tender, after approximately 4 hours total.

For broth

  • 2.5 pounds pigs’ feet, cut into chunks
  • 2.5 pounds beef shank
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons salt, separated
  • 9 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts only, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon monosodium glutamate, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar

For garnish and noodles

Bun Bo Hue

To prepare the broth, begin by cleaning the pigs’ feet under running water to remove any bits of bone debris that the butcher left behind. Don’t forget to run your fingers beneath the skin where unsightly debris may have gotten trapped.

Bun Bo Hue

Place the cleaned pigs’ feet and beef shank in a large stockpot filled with enough water to submerge them and bring to a boil. The shank and feet are full of impurities, so once the water comes to a boil, dump it out and collect the feet and shank in a colander.

Continue reading ‘Bún Bò Huế – Vietnamese Beef & Lemon Grass Noodle Soup’

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...