Authentic Bánh Mì – Vietnamese Sandwich recipe


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On our recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, we came across many bakeries and stores selling traditional Vietnamese sandwiches – Bánh Mì. These are the result of French and Vietnamese cuisines coming together, and boy, what a glorious effort.

Bánh mì sandwiches are different to the normal western sandwiches. The bread is crunchy on the outside and pillowy inside, serving as a light encasement for the delicious fillings inside. More on that later.

While watching our sandwiches being made, I duly noted what was included – the ingredients all play a part in achieving the balance of sweet, sour, savoury, spicy, umami, warm, cold, softness and crunch. That’s a lot achieved in one sandwich.

Here are the list of ingredients for you to create your very own bánh mì!

    • Bread – choose a light bread with pillowy centre and light crusty crumb. (J’s wanted to make sure I mention not to get bread that is so crunchy that it scrapes the roof of your mouth. Coz that will hurt. Noted, darling 😊) Baguettes or Ficelle from Paneton French Bakery would be my choice (in New Zealand).
    • Mayo – adds a creamy flavour to the sandwich.
    • Pate – this is essential to any good Bánh Mì, giving it the umami flavour.
    • Cucumber – Cucumber adds freshness and crunch, juxtaposing the other soft elements of the sandwich. Slice them lengthwise for even layering.
    • Herbs – for freshness and an earthiness, coriander leaves and sliced spring onions are added. I would also suggest Thai basil as well, if you wish.

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    • Pickles – this is a must! Easy to make: 1:1.5 ratio of white or apple cider vinegar to caster sugar to fill to just over half of a glass jar. Warm jar and sugar slightly in microwave to dissolve the sugar. While it is cooling, sprinkle a bit of salt over thin batons of carrots/daikon/rings of onions. Massage and squeeze the carrots the diakon (no need for the onions) to get rid of their juices. Pat dry and add to the cooled jar of pickling liquid. Ready to use in just an hour.

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  • Protein – you have lots of choices here: vietnamese ham, lemongrass pork or beef, grilled pork, chinese BBQ pork, chinese roast pork or even grilled tofu. Champagne ham works too if there is nothing else!

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  • Sauce – You can add squirts of hoisin sauce or Maggi Seasoning for extra flavour. For me, a good grind of black pepper was enough.
  • Fresh Red Chillies – a spicy element is a must and thinly sliced red chillies are commonly added to taste.
  • Fried shallots for extra crunch.
  • Add more meat if you wish.
  • Close the sandwich and enjoy!

Perfect scrambled eggs


Eggs on toast. Simple. Breakfast.

As a child, I very much disliked scrambled eggs. I think I decided this in association with the airplane breakfast smells, which was very disagreeable with my stomach. So attached was I to this memory, I decidedly refused to cook or order it throughout the years. I didn’t see a need to change.
In 2016 I stumbled upon a new way – THE Gordon Ramsay video – to make it and was surprised at how wrong that memory was! Now it is a fav at home and an easy weekend breakfast. Scrambled eggs, where have you been all my life! Thank you Gordon Ramsay!

Ingredients (for 2 hungry adults)

  • 6 large eggs
  • 25g cold butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • freshly ground pepper and flaky sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 4 slices wholegrain or sourdough bread, toasted, to serve

Directions

  1. Break the eggs into a cold, heavy-based pan, place on the lowest heat possible, and add the butter. Using a spatula, stir the eggs continually to combine the yolks with the whites.
  2. The eggs will take about 4-5 minutes to set and scramble – it should still be soft and quite lumpy. As the eggs set, keep moving the pan off and back on the heat to make sure the eggs don’t overcook.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread.
  4. Add the crème fraîche and season the eggs at the last minute, then add the chives (optional). Put the toasts on warm plates, pile the softly scrambled eggs on top and serve immediately.

The key to creamy, fresh-smelling eggs is:

  • Use a heavy based pot
  • Stir eggs gently instead of whisking
  • Cook at low heat with constant stiring
  • Season only at the end

You can stop reading here if all you were looking for is the scrambled eggs recipe. However, I am going to share some thoughts/reflections about this photo above and the year 2016.

Hand thrown ceramics plates bowls

In 2016, I had a go at pottery and made these plates. The process was like nothing else. From a clump of clay to something functional. All in your hands. I was incredulous at the calmness and out-of-this-world happiness I experienced from such a hands-on activity.

The amazing thing about it was, I could decide what to do with it, whether it is to be a plate, a bowl or a mug. It didn’t matter that it didn’t look perfect, what mattered was the learning and relieving myself of the need for it to be perfect, because that stopped me from enjoying the process.

Hand thrown ceramics

Sometimes you can’t get too comfortable. Life will be boring without constant challenges, which are all learning opportunities. I was forced to get very uncomfortable this year. It was hard with the unknown, but my faith carried me through. I accepted the learnings and faced the challenges head on, knowing that God’s grace is enough, it is always more than I ever need.

I also believed in myself and that is sometimes the biggest help you can get when facing difficult situations.

Give yourself a chance.

Learn new things.

Face your fears.

You will thank yourself for it.

Welcome, 2017!

#learnings
#2016
#2017
#fatherslove

Hand thrown ceramics plates bowls

Cassis, chestnut and Valrhona Satilia Lactée ganache macarons


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Unlike the more premium Gran Cru line, the Valrhona Satilia range of chocolate is made from a blend of cocoa beans from different regions. Nonetheless, it is as delicious as ever: strong chocolate flavour with 35% cocoa, slightly sweet and a little biscuity. Kinder to the wallet so why not!

Here I’ve paired it with blackcurrants and chestnut, to simulate a Mont Blanc-esque flavour.

Macarons shell ingredients
(makes about 40 macarons)

  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 150 g almond meal
  • 110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 38 ml water
  • 1 g meringue powder
  • daffodil yellow gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.

Ingredients:

  • 120g Valrhona Satilia Lactée fèves
  • 80ml pure (heavy) cream
  • 3-4 tsp Cassis paste or blackcurrant jelly
  • a few whole cooked chestnut, broken into pieces

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Instructions:
Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge.

Spread cassis paste on half of your shells. Add two pieces of broken up chestnut and pipe a teaspoon of ganache on top. Top with the remaining half of your shells.
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The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

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Here’s my cone of macarons!

Healthy Easy Kids’ Mac and Cheese (Baked pasta with vegetables and cheese)


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Who doesn’t like mac & cheese? Even when J still had a bit of intolerance to dairy, she managed to scoff down mac & cheese. An easy meal that with a few changes, becomes the quick go-to meal that you know your child will eat any time.

Instead of the cheesy buttery sauce, I’ve swapped that for some pesto and tomato-based pizza paste, which gives the dish a fresh, light and herby taste. The addition of milk is optional, it just makes a bit more sauce for the dish. I’ve added ham and sausages for protein (not too much as overdoing the processed meat is not a good idea either) and vegetables for fibre.

Keep some in your freezer for those emergency dinners.

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Ingredients

2 cups macaroni or other medium shaped pasta (like shells or spirals)
3 tablespoons butter
4 tbsp pesto
4 tbsp pizza paste
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup ham slices and sausages, diced
1/2 cup vegetables – mushrooms, courgettes
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees.
Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and reserve some of the pasta water.
Add the pesto, pizza paste, milk, ham and vegetables, mix.
Add half of the cheese, mix.
Spoon the pasta into little ramekins or a large casserole dish.
Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.
Bake for about 7-8 minutes, until it is brown on top.

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A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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