This shake sounds very strange to those who have never had it. Most people who see this on a Vietnamese menu will usually order the strawberry version. I can’t even remember the first time I tried this. I believe it was at Phuoc Loc Tho (or Asian Garden Mall) in Westminster, California.
I get excited every time I see Sinh To Bo on the menu. However, I am disappointed most of the time when I order it. Most restaurants skimp on the avocado and all you get is milky crushed ice.
Here’s a list of some of the varieties:
Sinh To means fruit shake in Vietnamese.
Sinh To Bo = avocado shake.
Sinh To Dam = aloe vera shake.
Sinh To Chuoi = banana shake.
Sinh To Cam = orange shake.
Sinh To Dau = strawberry shake.
The weather in Denver has been a bit strange lately. It snowed last Wednesday and the temps are still pretty chilly. I had a ham bone tucked away in the back of my freezer so I decided to make a bean soup. I checked pantry to see what types of dried beans I had on hand. I went with black beans but this can really be made with your choice of beans or even split peas or lentils.
To soak or not to soak? The soaking of dried beans is a controversial subject. Some people do it and some people do not. The other question is: To salt or not to salt? I salt at the end because my mom said so. I personally like the quick hot soak method. I sort and rinse the beans, boil for few minutes, turn off the heat, let them sit about an hour and then another rinse.
Some people simply toss the beans in with the soup stock. I would recommend at least rinsing and scrubbing the beans first. Who knows what sort of grime is stuck on the exterior?
Another method I’ve read about is the oven method. It involves preheating the oven to a pretty low temp, bringing the beans to a boil on the stovetop and then 90 minutes in the oven.
Black Bean Soup
1 pound dried black beans 1 teaspoon oil ½ onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced ¼ cup sofrito ¼ cup recaito water 1 ham bone or 2 ham hocks or 1 smoked turkey drumstick, remove meat from the bone and set aside 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon cumin ¼ teaspoon Mexican oregano salt pepper cilantro, chopped
1. Sort through beans and discard any debris or stones. Thoroughly wash beans with cold water. Transfer to a medium pot and cover 2 inches with water. Bring beans to a boil, boil 2-3 minutes and turn off heat. Allow to sit, covered for 1 hour. 2. Heat a medium dutch oven; add oil when hot. When oil is heated - add garlic and onions. Saute about a minute. Add sofrito and recaito. Saute another minute. 3. Drain and rinse soaked beans. 4. Add water, ham bone, beans and bay leaf to dutch oven. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a medium boil. Cook until beans are soft. 5. Remove ham bone. Add ham and season with salt, pepper, cumin and oregano. Serve with cilantro.
I eat a lot of chicken. I went through a long semi-vegetarian phase and just started eating red meat not too long ago. I still have an aversion to red meat that tastes like meat. Because I eat a lot of chicken, I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. I usually like my chicken marinated with lemongrass but the bf hates lemongrass. I still wanted an Asian marinade so I decided on Thai gai yang.
Authentic Thai gai yang is usually made with a whole bird that has been spatchcocked or flattened and cooked over a charcoal grill. I looked in the freezer and found a tray of chicken leg quarters. I marinated the leg quarters in a Thai-style marinade and then I roasted them in the oven.
Thai Style Roast Chicken
3 pounds chicken leg quarters or whole chicken 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons coriander root, minced 2 tablespoon fish sauce ½ cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon ground tumeric 2 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoon maggi sauce MSG black pepper
1. Marinate chicken in marinade at least 6 hours or overnight. 2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer on baking sheet. Cook until chicken is golden.
We visited the Paint Mines Interpretive Park last weekend. It is located east of Colorado Springs. It was beautiful out.
These structures are called hoodoos and are the inspiration for Big Thunder Mountain ride at Disney.
I've been tinkering with a couple different pickling and fermenting recipes lately. One of my coworkers loves pickles so he has been testing out a few batches of my refrigerator pickles and pickling brines. He said the last batch was perfect. (I'm hoping to have a recipe perfected by summer. My spice drawer is currently filled with juniper berries and mustard seeds.) We even tested a few different types of cucumbers. As a joke, I pickled a few whole English hothouse cucumbers and mixed in a few Kirby cucumbers. Since Kirby cucumbers are still a little difficult to find, we've been mostly using English cucumbers.
I had a few English hothouse cucumbers in the fridge so I decided to try a cucumber kimchi. Cucumber kimchi is one of my favorite types of kimchi. I cannot decide whether I like cucumber or cabbage kimchi more.
2 English hot house cucumbers 5 cups water ½ cup pickling salt
Stuffing: ½ cup shallot greens or garlic chives (I used shallot greens.) ¼ cup green onions 2 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons fish sauce 1 tablespoon sugar or honey 1 carrot, shredded 2 tablespoons water ½ cup to 1 cup Korean red chili powder (I used the medium-fine ground)
1. Prep cucumber by cutting into 2 inch pieces and then cutting the pieces into quarters, without cutting them all the way through. 2. Heat water in a large stockpot. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. (You want the water to be pretty hot without boiling.) Add the prepped cucumbers and soak about an hour. 3. Combine the ingredients for the stuffing and set aside. 4. Rinse cucumbers with ice cold water and soak about 15 minutes. Drain. 5. Stuff the cucumbers with the chili mixture, rubbing the stuffing around the entire cucumber piece. 6. Transfer to a storage container, leave cucumber on the counter overnight and then refrigerate.
The inspiration for this salad comes from Udi’s Foods, a local bakery/caterer. Udi’s bakes some of the most wonderful breads in Denver. My favorite is their cranberry walnut. They also make delicious sides to go with their sandwiches and salads. Their sides include: Saffron Israeli Couscous salad, Cranberry Quinoa, Taboulleh, Crab Artichoke Pasta and other various pasta and potato salads. My favorite side is the Saffron Israeli Couscous.
Although it is my favorite, I can’t seem to remember the last time I actually had this salad. I haven’t attended any meetings where they served Udi’s and the Udi’s Bread Café in Stapleton doesn’t include the salad on their menu.
I had some Israeli couscous in the pantry and I wanted to try making the salad but I couldn’t recall the ingredients. I decided to just toss a few things together and it ended up tasting pretty darn good.
Israeli couscous is a toasted pasta that is pretty pale in color. I infused the water with saffron threads. The saffron turns the couscous a beautiful yellow color.
Saffron Israeli Couscous Salad: 1 ¼ cup water pinch of saffron threads 1-8.8 ounce bag Israeli couscous 2 tablespoons light tasting olive oil ¼ cup onions, diced 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced ¼ cup yellow bell pepper (or any color) salt pepper 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ¼ cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1. Boil water in a medium saucepan. Add saffron and the couscous. Return to a boil, lower heat and cover. Stir occasionally. Cook about 8 minutes. Turn off heat and allow couscous to absorb the water before fluffing. 2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat light olive oil. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until tender. 3. Fluff couscous and transfer to a larger bowl. Add sautéed onions and mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients. Toss everything together and refrigerate several hours before serving.
The first time I had rice cake ovals (Nian Gao) was at Luong Hai Ky Restaurant on Convoy in San Diego. It is simply called pan-fried rice cake on the menu. My brother and his fiancée ordered it as our appetizer. I didn’t know what to expect but I ended up really liking the chewy texture of the cakes. I forgot about the cakes until the last time I went to Mr. Dumpling with them. They ordered it again. This time, the rice cake ovals were stir-fried like chow fun noodles. The char flavor from the hot wok and the sweetness of the cabbage and onions made the dish really tasty.
I bought a huge bag of the rice cakes from the Korean market. (Apparently, there isn’t much difference in the Chinese and the Korean versions.) I had a huge bag but I really didn’t know much about them. I did some reading online but there is very little information on these tasty little morsels of goodness. To further confuse things, they are called Nian Gao, the same name for other types of sweet and savory rice cakes. Most of the blogs I found simply had pictures of Chao Nian Gao ordered at a restaurant. I couldn’t find a recipe for the version I had at Mr. Dumpling so I looked at the picture I took and attempted to recreate it. How difficult could it be? Isn't it basically chow fun?
I think it was a success. The bf took a few bites, looked at me and asked, "how much of these noodles do we have left?" He wanted to make sure we had more rice cakes for another meal. I assured him that I only used 4 cups and we still had quite a bit left.
Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (Chao Nian Gao)
4 cups rice cakes (rice ovals or ovalettes) 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pound chicken breast, thinly sliced (or pork or beef) ½ onion, sliced ½ head green cabbage , shredded 1 carrot, shredded 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce 1 tablespoon oyster sauce 1 tablespoon Shao Xing wine 1 tablespoon sugar MSG, to taste Salt , to taste Pepper, to taste Green onions 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (or other seafood)
1. Prep rice cake according to package directions. (It may take some advance planning if using dried rice cakes.) I’m using semi-dried refrigerated rice cakes. The directions on the package is for soup so I just went ahead and boiled them for about a minute, drained and set aside.
2. Prep the rest of the ingredients. This goes really quickly so mise en place is everything.
3. Heat a large wok or stir-fry pan on high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and onions. Sauté a few minutes.
4. Add chicken breast and sauté until cooked through. Add cabbage and carrots. Cook until moisture has evaporated. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, wine, sugar, MSG, salt and pepper. Toss everything together and taste. Adjust seasoning.
5. Add boiled rice cakes, green onions and shrimp. Toss to coat. Cook a few minutes until heated through. If the pan gets too dry, add a little water or chicken broth.
Feel free to use less meat and seafood. My version is protein-heavy since the bf likes a lot of chicken and shrimp.
I love it when I take pictures of food and capture the steam from the food. Someone once asked how to take pictures of steaming food and not fog up the camera's lens. The answer is simple: stand back and zoom in.
We often place lunch orders at a small catering company called House of Plantain. The owner of the company makes this delicious side dish she calls Arroz Blanco + Habichuelas. This version of rice and beans is different from any version I have ever had. The beans are slightly sweet and creamy in a tangy tomato-based sauce. I can never decide on the side dishes so I usually skip the entree and order a few of the side dishes instead.
I had a craving for this pink beans and rice dish but unfortunately, House of Plantain requires at least 24 hours notice. I talked to a coworker and she described her method for making Puerto Rican rice and beans. She has stashes of homemade sofrito in he refrigerator. I went out and bought a jar of Goya brand sofrito. I couldn't find the Goya brand sazon with coriander and annatto so I had to subsitute with coriander, cumin, annatto and garlic.
I ended up serving this on the side of some grilled chicken breast seasoned with Goya adobo seasoning.
Pink Beans: 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ onion, diced 2 cloves garlic 1 green chile pepper such as cubanelle or green chile, finely diced ¼ cup sofrito ¼ cup recaito 2 15.5 ounce cans Goya pink beans, rinsed and drained 1 8 ounce can Goya tomato sauce ½ cup water 1 potato, peeled and cubed salt pepper ¼ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano ¼ teaspoon ground coriander seeds ¼ teaspoon ground annatto seeds (optional - I don't think annatto has much flavor. It does give dishes a nice orange-red color.) cilantro, chopped
1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Add onion, garlic, chile, sofrito and recaito. Saute until fragrant. 2. Add beans, tomato sauce, water and potato. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. 3. Add salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, annatto and cilantro. Continue to simmer until sauce thickens and potato is fork-tender.
Rice 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cups long grain white rice 4 cups water
1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and rice. Saute rice until rice is opaque white in color and very slight golden on the edges. 2. Add water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil about 5 minutes and then lower heat to a low simmer. Stir rice, cover with a lid and cook for another 15 minutes or until rice is soft. Let rice sit 15 minutes and fluff using bamboo rice spatula.