Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)

Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)

Bò Lúc Lắc was a staple in our house growing up. Mom would make it in several different variations depending on her mood—with tofu, mushrooms, fried potatoes, or over a bed of fresh and peppery watercress.

The three key components to Bò Lúc Lắc are simple and straightforward. First, you need a high-quality cut of beef for a deliciously tender Bò Lúc Lắc. Mom preferred Filet Mignon but ribeye can be substituted. Second, due to the quality of the beef, you have to stirfry the meat quickly and over high heat. And lastly, the Maggi. Completely unique in flavor, the Maggi Seasoning Sauce is referred to as xì dầu” (soy sauce) in Vietnamese–although completely different in flavor profile than your average soy sauce. In dire circumstances, you could substitute Maggi with light soy sauce. However I would highly recommend stocking up on a bottle if you ever plan on cooking Vietnamese cuisine. Trust me, it’s totally worth it.

Have a great week!

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Bò Lúc Lắc Xà Lách Son (Vietnamese Shaking Beef over Watercress)

Ingredients:

1 Pound Filet Mignon or Ribeye Beef, cubed
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Maggi Seasoning Sauce
1 Bunch Fresh Watercress, washed and dried (about 3 cups)
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil
Fried Shallots (optional)

In a large bowl, mix beef, garlic, sliced shallots, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season heavily with pepper.

Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and when it begins to slightly smoke, carefully toss in the beef. Quickly stir-fry for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in the butter and add several dashes of Maggi to taste. In a separate bowl, quickly toss the watercress with the rice vinegar and plate. Pour the beef and the juices over the top of the watercress and season with additional black pepper. Optional: Sprinkle the top with the fried shallots.

Seester’s Fav–Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

For well over a decade, my SEESTER, T,  has been obsessed with Berri’s Cafe in LA. As in, SO OBSESSED that she will face driving through LA traffic from Orange County to get her beloved Berri’s. Correction….she will make her husband face the LA traffic so she can get her Berri’s fix.

And guess what? She orders the same thing EVERY TIME–the Berri’s Original Pizza. In the many times I’ve gone there with her (and I mean MANY since I used to live down the street from Berri’s), she’s only let me order the same thing too!

T  has a fixation with their Original Pizza and compares EVERY pizza with it. She even said it’s better than the pizzas she’s had in Italy! Hey….don’t yell at me–she’s the one whose infatuated. In fact, one night when we had gone out, yours truly had a little too much boozy goodness and got sick. Instead of driving her poor little sis straight home so she could properly pray to the porcelain gods, T made a pit stop at Berri’s and had the valet keep an eye on me while she ran in to get the pizza! Good Grief! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Actually…it’s pretty hilarious.

Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

This past weekend was my SEESTER’s (yes, purposely spelled that way) birthday. She and her fam headed up to San Francisco for a celebration weekend with our other sis, P. My work schedule wouldn’t allow me to join in on the fun but I was so bummed to be missing out on her bday festivities—not to mention all the yummy food and trip to Napa :(

So in her honor (and to make her feel a little “jelly”), I decided to take a spin on Berri’s Original-– a thin crust pizza with shrimp, prosciutto and topped with fresh arugula. And you know what? I think I did it justice!

I added fresh Bufala mozzarella which gave a level of creaminess that played off the crunch from the shrimp and saltiness from the prosciutto. The pile of peppery arugula was so bright and fresh that heck—this pizza was almost like a salad!  Ok….maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEESTER!!!!!

And yes, I’ll make this again for you.

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Shrimp and Prosciutto Pizza with Fresh Arugula

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough:
1.75 Cups Lukewarm Water
½ Tablespoon Granulated Yeast
½ Tablespoon Kosher Salt
3.75 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
*Makes enough for 4 12-inch pizza crusts

Toppings:
2 Ounces Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
2 Pinches Red Chili Flakes
¼ Cup Marina Sauce, or your choice of Tomato Sauce
½ Shallot, thinly sliced
2-3 Fresh Basil Leaves, torn in pieces
2 Tablespoons Shredded Mozzarella
2 Ounces Fresh Bufala Mozzarella, sliced and patted dry
1-2 Thin Slices Prosciutto, torn in pieces
1-2 Handfuls Arugula Leaves
Kosher Salt
Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Prepare the dough the night before. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl. Add in the flour and mix in a heavy stand mixer (with paddle attachment) until everything is uniformly moistened, without dry patches. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. After rising, cover the container tightly and refrigerate overnight.

One hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a pizza stone on the lower rack. If baking the pizza on a sheet, preheat 30 minutes before baking.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the work surface and top of the pizza dough with flour. Using kitchen shears, pull up and cut a piece of dough about the size of an apple. Hold the piece of dough in your hands and add more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch and fold the dough underneath itself to create a ball. Allow the dough to rest, covered with plastic wrap on the work surface for about 20 minutes.

While dough is resting, mix the shrimp, garlic, chili flakes, pinch of kosher salt, and drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

When the dough has rested, flatten it with your hands and use a floured rolling pin to make a crust about 1/8 of an inch. Transfer the dough to a pizza peel (if baking directly on stone) or onto a baking sheet. Spread the marina sauce on top of the crust so it creates a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the fresh basil, cheese, shallots, and shrimp all over the pizza.

Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza peel, carefully slide the pizza in the oven on the stone. If using a baking sheet, place pizza in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pizza midway for even cooking. In the last 1-2 minutes of baking, add the prosciutto to the pizza and continue baking.

When done, remove the pizza and top with fresh arugula. Drizzle the top of the pizza with olive oil and serve.

Pizza Dough Adapted From: Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

 

 

Growing up, whenever my family celebrated a special occasion or holiday, we would head out to enjoy Bò 7 Món – 7 courses of beef. This may seem strange as Vietnamese cuisine isn’t really known for heavy amounts of beef but maybe that’s why this specialty is often saved for momentous occasions.

These days you can find many restaurants that offer Bò 7 Món, but in my family’s opinion, no one does it better than Pagolac Restaurant in Westminster, California.

 

 

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

My family has been coming to Pagolac Restaurant for over 20 years. Most of the dishes you order, you cook yourself on table top grills or mini boiling pots of vinegar water. All proteins are meant to be wrapped in the rice paper sheets with assorted veggies then dipped in a very pungent and savory sauce called mắm nêm.

And although there are a standard set of items when eating  Bò 7 Món, my family typically orders à la carte as there are some of the dishes that just aren’t our fav. We always order the thinly sliced beef, shrimp, squid, meatballs with shrimp crackers—and my personal favorite, Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt  or Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves. I would always plead for my mom to order extra plates of it as the dish was amazing to me. Just the right mixture of spices in the beef and all enveloped in the fragrant betel leaves that tasted even better slightly charred from the grill.

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Betel leaves are used quite often in Việt Nam in food, medicine and also as a “chew” to produce a kind of stimulant.Though, the latter does cause some serious ICK counter effects over extended amounts of time such as black teeth.  Yikes! However, the leaves are quite fragrant and literally produces a trigger effect for my mouth to start watering when I smell it being grilled.  :)

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Once wrapped and grilled up, Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt can be enjoyed a number of ways…..with rice or vermicelli noodles and even as a đồ ăn nhậu (beer food). But my favorite is to wrap some in Rice Paper Sheets (bánh tráng) and throw in a few veggies such as the pickled cucumbers or carrots. Delicious balance in texture and taste!

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)

Truth be told, I can’t recall a time when Mom made Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt at home but that doesn’t stop me from associating them with her.  Because when I think about this dish,  it makes me reflect on happy, celebratory times and images of Mom come flooding back to me as she stood over the table top grills at Pagolac Restaurant laughing and distributing all the sizzling items to our plates.

And when all is said and done, anything that can evoke those precious images while making my tummy happy is a  Nguyen-Win Situation. :)

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Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaves)
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:

2-3 Dozen Betel Leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
½ Pound Ground Beef
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Shallots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Lemongrass, very finely minced (s bm)
1 Scallion, chopped
1½ Teaspoon Fish Sauce (nước mm), or more to taste
½ Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
¼ Cup Green Onion infused Oil (hành mơ)*

Accouterments
1 Cup Slightly Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers**
¼ Cup Roasted Peanuts, crushed
1 Cup Dipping Sauce (nước chấm)***
Rice Paper Sheets (bánh tráng)

In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Mix well and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. While beef is marinating, prepare the accouterments:

Scallion Oil (hành m
ơ): In a sauté pan, slowly heat ¼ cup of canola oil. Add ½ cup chopped scallions. Cook the scallions on very low heat until they are wilted but still bright green. Approximately 2-3 minutes. Pull from heat and set aside.

Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers: Cut carrots and cucumbers into small matchsticks and place in a small bowl. Cover them with Rice Wine Vinegar and a pinch of Sugar.

Dipping Sauce (n
ước chấm): Combine ½ Cup Fish Sauce (nước mm), ½ Cup Sugar, ½ Cup Fresh Lime Juice, ¼ Cup Warm Water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 Teaspoon Chili Paste. Adjust amounts to desired to taste.

To assemble the rolls, take one betel leaf and place it shiny side down. Scoop out about ¾ tablespoon of the beef mixture and shape it towards the center of the leaf in a row. Slowly and tightly roll the leaf from tip to base. Once you get to the base, use a toothpick to prick a hole in the center of the roll and tuck the stem of the betel leaf in the hole to secure it. (Alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks or skewers to hold the rolls together).

Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush it with the scallion oil (hành mơ). Place the rolls, seam side down, on the sheet and brush them with additional scallion oil (hành mơ).

If cooking with an oven: Turn broiler on high and place baking rack directly underneath it. Transfer baking sheet with rolls to the oven. Broil for 6-8 minutes, turning the rolls every 1½ minute to cook evenly and prevent burning.

If cooking on a grill: Place rolls in a wire mesh grilling basket. Grill rolls on each side for 1 minute.

Transfer rolls to a plate and brush with scallion oil (hành mơ) and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. Serve with nước chấm, pickled vegetables and moistened rice paper sheets.

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #19 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to  Sandy from ginger and scotch for hosting this month!**

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) are deliciously flaky pies with a savory filling.

I know what you’re thinking. Puff pastry isn’t exactly among the first things that comes to mind when you think of Vietnamese cuisine. But, like the baguette and coffee, we’ve taken these items initially introduced by the French and have given them a Vietnamese makeover.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Bánh Pa Tê Sô are usually cut into round shapes but if you want to minimalize the waste of excess pastry dough, you can shape them into squares, rectangles, or triangles. But for the record, when I shape them into rounds, I never throw away the excess dough. Instead, I take the leftover strips, twist them and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking them. That way, I get a little sweet treat, too. Yum.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

 

 

The pork filling I use is essentially a riff off of my Chả Giò (eggrolls) filling with the slight adjustments of a few things—such as the addition of peas. I also make a curry-lemongrass pork filling that is really fantastic with the buttery puff pastry, too. But whatever you choose to fill your Bánh Pa Tê Sô with, just be sure to not over stuff them or it will not cook through and may bulge out of the seams.

 

 

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

You can also freeze the pre-baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô. Just wrap them up individually with plastic wrap and freeze. Before baking, thaw them out to room temperature and bada-bing, bada-boom. Freshly baked Bánh Pa Tê Sô, whenever your heart desires.

Of course if you’ve got some time and ambition on your hands, homemade puff pastry dough would be ideal. I just don’t have that kind of patience and think the store bought pastry dough works just fine for me.

And no, that’s not cheating–despite what my sister, P, would say :)

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Bánh Pa Tê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

Ingredients:

1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets (typically contains two 10×15 inch sheets)
½ Pound Lean Ground Pork
¼ Cup Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushrooms, minced
¼ Cup Rehydrated Bean Thread Noodles, minced
¼ Cup Peas
1 Small Shallot, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
½ Teaspoon Ground Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together pork, mushrooms, noodles, peas, shallots, garlic, fish sauce and pepper until well combined.

Using a 3-inch ring biscuit cutter, cut rounds of puff pastry. Place one tablespoon of the filling in the center of one round and place another piece of puff pastry on top. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of the rounds to seal the pastry. Transfer the Patê Sô to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining pastry rounds. Brush the tops of each Patê Sô with the beaten egg.

Bake the Patê Sô for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #18 a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Bonnibella for hosting this month!**

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

When our clan gathers, you can be sure that there will be a massive array of delicious food. One can always count on the usual favorites such as Bánh Ít (sticky rice dumplings), Bún Bò Huế (spicy beef noodle soup),and Cua Rang Mui (salt roasted crab). And intermixed with all the Vietnamese goodies would often be a sprinkling of “American” dishes such as mom’s Turkey.

Growing up, each dish became linked to one of the aunties or Mom as they each refined the recipes to make it their own. But as my generation grew older, the proverbial baton was passed and we in turn began to make these iconic family favorites.

And I find comfort in knowing that these dishes that my siblings, cousins, and I create will pass on my family’s traditions through food.  It’s kind of remarkable to think that the Phở Gà I’ll make for my kids will be exactly the same recipe my mom would have made for them.

Incredible, really.

One dish that I hope to continue is Gỏi Mít Trộn. At the heart of the salad is Mít Non—young, unripe jackfruit. The flesh of the young jackfruit is tender and mild in flavor. In the states, Mít Non is sold both canned and frozen. However, if you use the frozen type, you’ll need to boil it for a bit.

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

After being washed and well drained, the Mít is stir fried for a few moments before it’s tossed with shrimp, pork and several herbs like Rau Răm (Vietnamese Cilantro).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The Gỏi Mít Trộn is then topped with fried shallots, crushed peanuts and accompanied with nước chm (dipping sauce).

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

It’s best served with Bánh Đa – crispy rice crackers flecked with black sesame seeds. Want to know something funny? When I was little, I used to think that the black sesame seeds in these were ants and stayed clear of these crackers for many years :)

 

 

 Bánh Đa

 

I like to eat Gỏi Mít Trộn by drizzling nước chm with lots of chili on top of the salad with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then I take a piece of the Bánh Đa and use it to scoop up the goodness. YUM!

 

Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)

 

The layers of flavor and textures in this Gỏi really rock it out. Extremely savory from the proteins and fish sauce with bright herbaceous notes from the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. With each bite you get a lovely crunch from the rice crackers and peanuts that balances so well with the tender Mít.

If done correctly, everything is in perfect harmony.

I doubt my Gỏi Mít Trộn will ever be as good as my mom’s or aunties’. But one thing is for certain— in due time, our kids will be trying their hand at it, too :)

 

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Gỏi Mít Trộn (Vietnamese Young Jackfruit Salad)
Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 Cans (20 ounces each) Young Jackfruit
1 Pound Shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Pound Pork Loin, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Shallots, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
½ Cup Scallions, chopped
1½ Cups Rau Răm Leaves (Vietnamese Cilantro), roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
N
ước Mm (Fish Sauce)
Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Accouterments:
Bánh Đa (rice crackers)
N
ước chm (dipping sauce)
Fried Shallots
Crushed Roasted Peanuts
Lime Wedges
Thai Chilies

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, ½ tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon shallots, and a few dashes of fish sauce. Mix and season with black pepper. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

Drain the cans of jackfruit. Remove any seeds (including the shell layer surrounding the seeds) and cut off and discard any hard sections. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the jackfruit and transfer to a large bowl that has been filled with cold water. Repeat until all the jackfruit has been cut and rinsed. Using clean dishcloths, gently squeeze out the excess liquid. If too much moisture is left, your salad will be really wet and mushy. Set the jackfruit aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium flame. Add pork and shrimp and sauté until cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the same skillet, add another 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium flame. Add the remaining shallots, half the scallions and sauté until softened before adding the rest of the garlic. Stir and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the jackfruit and remaining scallions and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes before seasoning with a few dashes of fish sauce and black pepper. Remove from heat and mix in the shrimp and pork. Toss in the Rau Răm, mint, and cilantro. Taste and adjust accordingly, keeping in mind that additional Nước chm will be used. Plate the contents to a large dish. Sprinkle the tops with fried shallots and crushed peanuts.

Serve the Gỏi Mít Trộn with Bánh Đa, Nước chm, limes, and chilies. Enjoy!

 

 

 

**This is my submission to Delicious Vietnam #15, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese cuisine which was started by Anh of A Food Lover’s Journey and Hong & Kim of  Ravenous Couple. For more information, please visit Delicious Vietnam Thanks to Angry Asian Creations for hosting this month!**

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

If you were to ask me, “What do you want on your pizza?”———–I will almost always say, Sausage and Mushrooms.

You just can’t go wrong with this delish combo.

I do, however, like to add a few special touches when I make my Sausage and Mushroom Pizzas. And those little extras comes in the form of roasted garlic and grape tomatoes. I try to squeeze in my veggies anyway I can.

Wait a second. Can I really consider garlic a “vegetable”?

Eh…… Sure, why not!? :)

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

For this pizza, I tried out the dough from Cooks Illustrated. I’m happy to report that it came together really easily—especially since I used my KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the dough hook attachment for the kneading. The dough came out beautifully silky before baking and had a wonderful texture when it was done. I definitely recommend it!

Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I take a spin on one of my all time favorite desserts :)

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Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

Dough (From Cooks Illustrated):
½ cup warm water (for yeast)
2½ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface and hands
1½ teaspoon salt
olive oil for oiling the bowl
*Makes enough for 4 medium sized crusts

Toppings:
1 cup spicy Italian sausage, browned
1 cup Crimini mushrooms, sliced
1½ cups marinara sauce (more if you like it saucier)
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grape tomatoes, diced
¼ roasted garlic
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare pizza dough. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add room temperature water and oil and stir to combine. Combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 7 to 8 minutes, using a little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Divide the dough into quarters. Take one of the pieces and roll/toss/stretch the dough into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread the roasted garlic all over the crust. Cover the crust with an even layer of marinara sauce. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border around the perimeter. Top with the grape tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley and serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

Note: If you aren’t planning to use the extra dough right away, there are a few options for you. First, you can shape each piece and parbake them. Wrap them up tightly in plastic wrap and foil—then, throw into the freezer. Another option is to oil the inside of a Ziploc bag with cooking spray. Throw in one ball of dough per oiled bag and remove any excess air before sealing and place it in the freezer. Transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to use it. Then place it on the counter to get it to room temperature for 1-2 hours before you bake it.

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

Tonkatsu is such a delicious meal to pull together when I need a quick Japanese fix.

Since the pork used is so thin, it fries up in a flash! Even if you need to make your own sauce, you can have the whole dish done in 20 minutes. Which, let’s be honest, is “Buddha-sent” for weeknight meals!

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

A lot of Japanese markets carry a perfectly yummy bottled Tonkatsu sauce. But if you don’t have some on hand, it’s just as easy and delish to make. Though, I have been just as happy to dip the crispy cutlets into BBQ sauce :)

Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)

I also should have sliced the pork before snapping the pic—as that’s the way Tonkatsu is traditional presented. But my tummy won over and I didn’t realize it until I had polished half of it off already! DOH! :)

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Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Tonkatsu:
4 Pieces Pork Loin, ½ inch thin
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Flour
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Milk
¼ Cup Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper

Tonkatsu Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Barbecue Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
½ Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
½ Tablespoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Prepare the sauce by mixing whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside while preparing the pork.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and place the flour in another. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the pork in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step.  Repeat with the remaining pork.

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium high heat.  Slide in 2 pieces of pork and fry until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and drain the cutlets on paper towels. Repeat with remaining pork.

Serve Tonkatsu with rice, sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos with Fat Tire® Chavelas

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos and Chavelas

I don’t indulge in beers too much these days. Let’s face it—without my college metabolism, it just doesn’t sit that well with me (or my hips!) anymore. But I do make exceptions for an occasional New Castle® or Fat Tire® from time to time.

So you can imagine my delight when, as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was challenged to create a dish that featured and paired with a New Belgium Brewing Company beer. Which includes Fat Tire®! :)

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas

I immediately knew that I wanted to incorporate the “hoppy” amber ale into a slow braise pork—ultimately to create Carnitas. By adapting David Lebovitz’ recipe, I was able to achieve tender, flavorful pork that was beautifully crispy on the outside. O…M…G.

Wrapped in warm tortillas and topped with a few spoonfuls of pico de gallo, salsa negra and a squeeze of lime—the Carnitas were Delicioso!!!

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos

I confess, I turned to the local mercado for the fresh tortillas and salsas. I had every intention of making them myself but when I went to the mercado for some ingredients, I encountered these fabulous women making it all from scratch for a fraction of the cost it would take me to make.

Yep. I opted for the shortcut this time. But for the record……this gal can fix up some yummy salsas. :)

To wash it all down, I whipped up an homage to Taqueria Tlaquepaque’s Chavelas. Tlaquepaque was one of my beloved taquerias in San Jose that served up AMAZINGLY fresh and delish food. But the food was only 1/2 of the reason why my dear gal friends and I would congregate there. The other half was for the Chavelas —Mexican beer mixed with fresh lime juice and salt. Very few things in life are more refreshing than a frosty goblet of Chavela. True Story.

Fat Tire® Chavelas

Turns out that Fat Tire® in a Chavela is PDA.  (Translation: Pretty. Darn. Amazing.)

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos & Chavelas

Incorporating Fat Tire® in a dish? Not as difficult as one would think  :)

And as luck would have it—just in time for Cinco de Mayo!!!

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Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

5 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat
2-3 Tablespoon Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
2 Bottles Fat Tire® Ale (24 ounces)
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
1 Teaspoon Chile Powder
¼ Teaspoon Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
¼ Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Bay Leaves

Using paper towels, dry off the pork and generously season with salt.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the pieces of pork in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches. Be sure to take your time to get a deep brown color as it enhances the flavor. This usually takes me about 30 minutes to properly brown all the meat.

Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel. Discard all but one tablespoon of the grease that remains in the pot. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pot and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional one to two minutes.  Then pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.

Heat the oven to 350F degrees.

Add the pork back to the pot and add the remaining of the seasonings and spices. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3-3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.

Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces discarding any big chunks of fat. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized.

Serve with corn tortillas and your choice of salsas and toppings.

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Fat Tire® Chavelas
Serves One

Ingredients:

1 Bottle Fat Tire® Ale (12 ounces)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
Sea Salt
Lime Wedges

Chill glass in the freezer for 15 minutes. Rim the glass using a lime wedge and dip into sea salt. Pour the lime juice in the bottom of the glass and pour well chilled Fat Tire® Ale  over it. Serve and garnish with lime wedges. Enjoy!

Ribeye Steak and Frites

Ribeye Steak & Frites

 

I love steaks—-I am, after all, my mother’s daughter.

But I don’t eat it very often and I sure as heck don’t make it enough. Which is really unfortunate because it’s so easy and makes your home smell delicious. In fact, it took longer to bake my frites than it did for me to prepare and sear my Ribeye Steak.

So next time, forgo the bougie steakhouses. You’ll save a few bucks and no one will look at you weird if you’re wearing your pajamas at the dinner table. :)

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Ribeye Steak and Frites
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 Ribeye Steaks, approximately 1.5 inches thick and at room temperature
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch long strips
2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon Shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
¼ Cup Red Wine or Beef Stock
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with in 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

While the frites are baking, rub the steaks with the remaining oil. Heavily season all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan to high heat. Add the steaks to the pan and sear each side for 2-3 minutes. You want to develop a golden brown crust. Move the pan to the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 130-135 degrees (medium rare) or 140-145 degrees (medium). Remove the steaks to a clean plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the steaks to rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the steaks are resting, melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and shallots until they are golden brown. Add thyme leaves, wine, and cream. Cook until the sauce reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the steaks with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom sauce and frites.

 

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)

 

Growing up, our normal dinners would include several family-style dishes to be eaten with rice (cơm). We always had some type of soup (canh), vegetable dish, and a protein dish. This is what standard Vietnamese meals were for us and were referred to as “ăn cơm” or “to eat rice”.

Of course there were dishes that my siblings and I all dreaded…..Canh mướp đắng (Bittermelon Soup) being one of them. But then there were some that were general favorites……Mực nhồi (Stuffed squid), Tôm lăn bột (Battered fried shrimp), and of course Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes). In fact, the latter was my personal favorite.

What I loved most about this dish was the “gravy” that it produced…..which is ironic because it’s the gravy-like sauces of many Chinese dishes that turn me off from that cuisine! But somehow, this beef gravy was liquid gold as a kid and when you mixed it up with your rice–delish! In fact, I would always request that my mom make sure that the dish had lots of “gravy”.

The key to making a killer Thịt Bò Xào is a high quality beef—ribeye or filet mignon was my mom’s personal choice. Since the meat needs to be cut so thin and cooked quickly at high heat, other cuts aren’t as successful. It may seem a tad pricey for a beef stir fry but when you take into account how many people this dish will feed, it’s well worth the extra few dollars. And when you bite into the meat, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the tenderness of it. As for the added bit of cornstarch and butter at the end (optional), it will assist in making the coveted gravy.

And when that gravy is soaked up into the potatoes—SOOO GOOD! It won’t be long before Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây is your favorite dish when you “ăn cơm”.

Tip: My local Vietnamese grocery store sells ribeye packages that are already thinly sliced. But if your store doesn’t or you can’t convince your butcher to slice it for you, pop your beef into the freezer for a few minutes before you start slicing it. Slightly chilled meat is a lot easier to make thin slices out of—just be sure to use a super sharp knife.

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Thịt Bò Xào Khoai Tây (Vietnamese Stir Fry Beef and Potatoes)
Serves approximately 6-8

Ingredients:

1 Pound Thinly Sliced Ribeye Beef
1 Small Yellow Onion, quartered
1 Large Tomato, sliced into wedges
1½ Cups Mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1½  Teaspoons Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, plus additional to fry potatoes
2-3 Tablespoons Maggi or Soy Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Large Russet Potato, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, optional

In a bowl, mix together beef, garlic, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and set aside.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it reaches 375 degrees. Carefully add a handful of the potatoes into the pot stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown–about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while frying remaining batches.  *If you prefer to bake your potatoes, toss the potatoes strips in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread them in one even layer on a baking sheet and place in a 450 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure all sides are baked even.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until both have softened but not browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Push the items to the side of your wok (or remove to a plate if your wok is not large enough) and add the beef. Quickly stir fry the beef for 1-2 minutes or until lightly brown—this should not take a long time since the beef is so thin.  Stir in the onion/tomato/mushroom mixture and combine well. Add the butter (optional) and remove from heat. Stir in Maggi  (to taste) and additional cracked black pepper.

To serve, place potatoes in a layer on a plate. Pour beef stir fry over the top and garnish with additional cilantro.