Category Archives: Recipes – lunchbox ideas

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!

6 recipes/ideas to start your amazing journey with Paneton French Bakery’s new chocolate pastry


If you have ever tried making short crust pastry, you would know that while it isn’t very difficult (at least when compared to making puff pastry), it does take a bit of time to make and rest before you can roll it out for baking. Add to that my preference for a chocolate shell to go with a dark chocolate ganache – I end up making far fewer tarts than other desserts.

Cue Paneton French Bakery. Their short crust pastry has always been, in my view, an exemplar of pastries.  When they released the ready-rolled chocolate pastry, I felt as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders – I can finally make tarts quickly!!! I then went about challenging myself to see how many things I can make using this gem! Here are my 6 recipes/ideas, for now 😉

1. Chocolate tarts – Solomon’s Gold 70% smooth dark chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream

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The pastry is not very sweet and it serves as a very good base for any dessert tart. Here are my favourites:

– Solomon’s Gold 70% smooth dark chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream

– Solomon’s Gold dark orange chocolate ganache with Lewis Road Creamery double cream and Fresh As Freeze dried mandarin segments

– Forty Thieves‘ salted macadamia butter with chocolate ganache

– Forty Thieves‘ cacao hazelnut butter with chocolate ganache

Makes 10 individual tarts

Ingredients:

  • 500g roll of Paneton French Bakery Chocolate Pastry,
  • 300g Solomon’s Gold smooth dark chocolate or dark orange chocolate, chopped into small pieces in a heat proof bowl
  • Forty Thieves nut butters
  • 375ml Lewis Road Creamery double cream
  • Decorations – Valrhona crisp pearls, batons, Fresh As Freeze dried fruits, Solomon’s Gold cacao nibs

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Instructions

    1. Thaw pastry overnight in the fridge.
    2. Carefully unroll the pastry to prevent any breaks (but it is ok if it breaks! Just push it back together)
    3. Using a sharp knife, cut out squares or circles of pastry to fit your tart mould.
    4. Push the pastry into the moulds carefully, be sure to mend any breaks. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.
    5. Blind bake in 180C oven for 9 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
    6. Make ganache by heating cream in a pot till just starting to boil, then pour over the the chocolate pieces.
    7. Let is sit for a minutes for the chocolate to soften, and then mix it till the mixture becomes glossy and thick.
    8. If using nut butter, add a dollop onto the baked shells before the next step.
    9. Pour ganache into individual tart shells, and decorate!

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2. Ice cream bowl – individual dessert bar

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Here the pastry is shaped into a bowl (I used the Wilton’s cookie bowl mould ) and used to serve up Kohu Road Cookies and Cream ice cream. Perfect with a tray full of garnishes for you to decorate to your heart’s content. Halzelnut praline, freeze dries raspberries and Manuka honey, Valrhona chocolate crisp pearls and batons…hmmmm

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3. Ice cream sandwich with Kohu Road Cookie and Cream

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Scoop the ice cream into a flat container and refreeze to solidify the ice cream again. Cut out rectangle slices of ice cream and sandwich them between rectangular shaped pastry cookies.

4. Biscuits with Fresh As freeze-dried powders
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J made some rocket ship and butterfly biscuits here with cookie cutters. We then dipped them into melted chocolate, followed by a sprinkle of Fresh As freeze dried raspberry powder. The acid tang was sooo good with the bitter pastry biscuit.

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5. Tim tam cheesecake

Instead of lining the whole mould with the pastry, place a disc of it on the bottom of the mould. Bake and after cooling, pour in your favourite no-bake cheesecake filling (see my Tim Tam cheesecake) and let it set in the fridge.

6. Chocolate soil

This is as simple as baking the chocolate pastry and then crumbling them in a food processor or by giving them a good bash in a zip bag with a rolling pin. Sprinkle over or on the sides of desserts and voilà you have a Masterchef style dessert 🙂
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Hope this gets you going with your adventure using Paneton’s Chocolate Pastry!

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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Moist Chocolate Feijoa Cake


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I’ve been blessed by friends giving me a whole lot of feijoas recently and our kitchen has been churning out lots of dishes with feijoas – feijoa macarons, feijoa jelly and now of course the much awaited chocolate feijoa cake.  I must admit, this was my cunning plot to get J to eat feijoas – for she will not turn down anything that has chocolate in it. I’ve added chocolate ganache in between the two layers and on the outsides of the cake, but you can equally leave that out and serve it as it is, if you have a reason NOT to have chocolate ganache.

This is a moist cake which is best served the next day, and even better the day after that.

Moist Chocolate Feijoa Cake

Ingredients
1.5 cups feijoa flesh
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
185g butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, size 8
1.5 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup sour cream (or buttermilk or greek yoghurt)

Chocolate ganache

300g Dark chocolate (62% cocoa)
320ml cream
50g butter

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil or spray two 6″ round tins. Line the bottom of the tins with a round of baking paper. Heat the oven to 180C. You can also bake these as small muffins for the lunch box.
  2. Cut ripe feijoas in half, scoop flesh out and then slice thinly.
  3. Measure 1.5 cups of the sliced fruit and place in a bowl with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Cream the softened butter and caster sugar in a small bowl with an electric beater.
  5. Beat in the eggs one after the other, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  6. Stir in the prepared feijoas, the dry ingredients and add the sour cream, ideally in two batches.
  7. Transfer the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top evenly.
  8. Bake at 180C for 28 minutes, or until a skewer exits cleanly from the middle of the cake. If you baked them as small muffins, adjust the baking time to 18 minutes.
  9. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the baking papers. Allow to cool completely.
  10. Make chocolate ganache by placing chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a pan and when it starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 2 minutes before you stir to allow the chocolate to melt gently and smoothly. Leave in the fridge to cool and firm up for 1-2 hours.
  11. Spread chocolate ganache onto the top of one cake, then place the other bottom side up on top of the first cake. Spread chocolate ganache over to cover the top and sides.
  12. Garnish as you wish, with berries, confetti sprinkles or chocolate shards.

Soft Yoghurt Bread


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If you want to have at least one little piece from this loaf, take my advice and make a double batch. This is because after making a single batch, about 11 small rounds, half of it disappeared within 20 minutes of it coming out of the oven. Two hungry hippos came home and gobbled them up while I was busy cooking dinner!
They said it was delish and there was a dash this morning to breakfast for the rest of the loaf.

Crunchy outside and soft within, no wonder we almost had to fight for the last piece 😉

Ingredients
100g greek yogurt
60g milk, warmed
5g yeast (1 tsp)
30g egg (about half an egg)
30g oil
275g bread (high grade) flour
15g sugar
3g salt (1/2 tsp)

Directions
1. Place yeast in the warmed milk for 5 minutes.
2. Place milk and yeast into bowl of bread machine and add yoghurt, egg and oil.
3. Add dry ingredients.
4. Mix in bread machine in ‘dough’ mode for 20 minutes.
5. Tip the dough into a slightly greased larger bowl. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or cling-wrap and leave it to proof in a warm place till double its size (about 1 hour).
6. When doubled in size, punch down the dough to release the air.
7. On a floured board, divide the dough into small portions of about 50g. Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Roll the dough up from the bottom edge. Flatten the dough lightly. Roll the dough into thirds, like a snail. Shape each portion into a smooth ball and place them into a loaf pan.

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8. Cover the loaf pan with a cling wrap and allow the dough to go for a second proofing until double its size again. I sometimes leave it in a switched-off oven which had been heated to 50C, for about 20 minutes.
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9. Take the loaf pan out and turn the oven temperature up to 170-180C.

10. Egg wash the top of the buns.

11. Bake for 20 minutes until the top turns golden brown.

12. Remove bread from loaf pan to cool completely.

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See how soft and pillowy they are – simply gorgeous.

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