Sunday Family Dinner

Our Fishermen Bring it in for Family Dinner!

Fishing Wknd.2

Several weeks ago we sent our boys out to reel us in some fish.

Well actually, they didn’t go on our bidding but rather my B.I.L.(s)–brothers in law, took off for their annual deep sea fishing trip off the coast of San Diego.

But BOY, oh BOY did they come through!

In years past, they’d come back with some beautiful fish (mostly tunas) that would immediately be inhaled as sashimi, poke and other forms of sushi. Sure, we’d keep a few fillets in the freezer for a rainy day but those, too, would quickly disappear.

Fishing Wknd

But this year, those boys must have been doing some crazy praying to Poseidon because it was raining Dorado and Yellowfin for them!

Look at all of those beauties!!!

Someone pass me some soy sauce and wasabi because I’d totally be Gollum up in there!

Don’t judge my LOTR reference….

Fishing Wknd.3

The entire haul was split up among all of the guys on the boat but it still left each person with a hefty amount of Yellowfins and Dorados.

Heaven…….

With all of the beautifully fresh and wonderful fish, our theme for Family Dinner was born.

Simple really—we wanted to focus on creating dishes that were fresh and in season.

Fishing Wknd.4And as always, it started off with cocktails. Because cocktails make the world go round….at least we like to think so.

Since it’s Autumn (despite the 80 degree weather we’re having), I decided to serve up a bunch of Apple Moscow Mules. They’re super easy to make and I love how it’s a delicious spin on one of my favorite cocktails.

Apple Moscow MuleSeester T also served up some Champagne Cocktails which was essentially chilled sparkling wine with about an ounce of elderflower cordial. The cordial adds a lovely floral profile to the cocktail. Since elderflower cordial can be a bit on the sweeter side, I’d recommend choosing a brut sparkling wine to balance it.

Wondering how Champagne is seasonal in the Fall?

Champagne season is year round silly.

CocktailLobster season begins in late September here in California.

And since my family gravitates towards lobsters like teenage girls to a Taylor Swift concert, it had to be on the menu in some shape or form.

Lobster2
Sweet, tender and just so damn good.

LobsterSeestrah N chose to make little Chipotle Lobster & Avocado Sliders using Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.

In all honestly, I would have been happy with 2-3 of these beauties and call it a day. But we’re gluttons during Family Dinner– so we noshed on them as appetizers to tie us over.

Lobster RollOf the two catches the boys brought home, we chose to serve the Dorado over the Yellowfin.

Dorado, commonly known as mahimahi or dolphinfish, isn’t a fish that I have too often. Rarely when I do order it out, it’s either in a fish taco or prepared with some type of blacken Cajun seasonings. So when T said she was going to grill it, I thought–heck, if you say so.

She marinated the fillets in a clarified butter-anchovy-capers-herb mixture before the boys grilled them. The Dorado was then finished with some of the sauce it was marinated in and then topped with chopped parsley.

It was awesome.

Surprisingly moist and tender—nothing like I’ve ever experienced with Dorado before. I’m certain it has to do with how fresh the fish was but I am definitely going to give it another try next time I see it on a menu.

SFD

T served the fish with a warm Cannellini Bean and Arugula Salad. The vinaigrette had some of the same ingredients as the fish marinade but she also added briny olives and crunchy diced celery. It was a wonderful light pairing to the Dorado.

On a side note, the leftover salad was fantastic the next morning with a runny fried egg on top. Brunch goals and all…..

Cannelini SaladAnd finally, Dessert.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of fruit tart since the prior few Family Dinners were all chocolate desserts. The week leading up to Family Dinner, I had seen figs EVERYWHERE at my markets in San Diego. Because of it, I was inspired to make a Pistachio-Fig Tart filled with a Marscapone Cream.

But when I had gone up to Orange County for the weekend for dinner, I couldn’t find figs for the life of me! I had gone to 5 different stores in search of them but apparently they must have all gone to San Diego on vacation.

N had convinced me to go with plums instead since it was nearing the end of its season. It wasn’t too bad. Although I had grilled the plums, we all agreed that it would have been better had I sprinkled it with sugar and brûléed it. Still, the flavor was good–despite the elusive figs.

Tart

All in all, it was a great Family Dinner and was even on the lighter side…..for us, at least 🙂

BIG THANKS to my B.I.L.s for bringing in the greatest catch for us to date!

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Apple Moscow Mules and Champagne Cocktails
Appetizers: Chipotle Lobster and Avocado Sliders
Entrees: Grilled Herb Butter Mahi Mahi with Cannellini Bean & Arugula Salad
Dessert: Pistachio-Plum Tart with Marscapone Cream

Sunday Family Dinner

Our Shellfish Boil and a Nguyễn Siblings Reunion

July 2015 Fam Din

There are 5 Nguyễn Siblings.

I know what you’re thinking…..

How can THAT much awesomeness exist in the world? Oh, but let me assure you…we’re real.

And although I’ve written this little blog for over 5 years now, I’m not sure if I have ever introduced each of my sibbies to you. Let’s break it down….

First up, we’ve got the eldest seester, N, who lives in Orange County. She’s a PT extraordinaire by day and expert bowler by night. N and her husband, C, have two daughters—my nieces Nina and Stephanie….and are the fur-parents to my pug niece, Princess Leia.

Now

Next up, seestrah P who lives in the foodie land of San Francisco. P is a clinical pharmacist but in her spare time she enjoys hazing her family by making them hike up and down the hills of SF….for MILES and MILES! She is the mama bear to our newest little niece – Kaelani.

Phooey

Next up, we have our brother V who resides in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. V is a hustlin’ entrepreneur by trade and a Jedi Master/random knowledge guru the other 16 hours of the day. He and his wife, L, have two little munchkins….my niece —Luna and nephew —Leonidas.

V also loves it when people misuse the word “literally”. I literally just fibbed…..he hates it.

Viet 2

Last up, we have seestrah T. T is an attorney in the LBC and is a retired 90’s hip-hop back up dancer…..ok fine–it was dance team but it’s practically the same. 80% of the time she follows a strict all-meat, all-vino, forget-the-carbs diet. She and her husband, R, also live in Orange County with their kids Maya and Lucas.

Tuong

Why all of this background info now? Because for last month’s Family Dinner…. we were ALL here!!! Yup, all 5 Nguyễn sibs with their fams in N’s backyard eating up a storm. With everyone scattered around, this doesn’t happen very often–maybe once or twice a year. So it’s definitely a special time when it can occur.

We started it all off with how fam dins always begin….grocery shopping.

We crammed the five of us into one car (which hasn’t happened for nearly 20 years!) and headed down to Little Saigon to pick up the goods. We had intended to remake our N’awlins Seafood Boil we did a couple of years ago with tons of crawfish, clams, lobstahs, etc. But even though crawdads were plentiful the week before–they were NO WHERE to be seen that particular day.

Seriously….10 stops and no fresh crawfish. Boo 😦

Nguyen Sibbies

So instead, we went with a standard Shellfish Boil theme.

And we had a little fun while picking up the groceries too.

July 2015 Fam Din

Shrimp, stone crabs, clams, locally made sausages, corn and taters.

Aren’t these clams lovely???

July 2015 Fam Din

And there were also lots and lots of mussels.

July 2015 Fam Din

So we put V and L to work cleaning the little buggers.

July 2015 Fam Din
And while they did that, C had some cuddle time with Leonidas who had just spent time in the pool with his cousins.

July 2015 Fam Din

Since it was Kaelani’s very first Family Dinner with us, we HAD to take tons of pictures with her. I mean, come on….look at that face. How could we not?

July 2015 Fam Din

This also happened to be the first weekend where all 7 little cousins were together.

And can I just say how difficult it is to get a picture where all 7 munchkins have their eyes open, aren’t squirming and are looking at the camera??

July 2015 Fam Din

This is the best one we got….and it only took 4.7396 trillion takes.

I counted.

July 2015 Fam Din

In between takes, Nina and Leo would break out in dance…..

July 2015 Fam Din

And Nini and Kaelani would be adorbs…..

July 2015 Fam Din

But after a long morning and early afternoon of shopping and prepping…it was time to get down to business. And yes, by business, I mean cocktails.

I pureed a huge watermelon with a bit of lemon and mint to make some fragrant watermelon juice for the kiddos. And then took a bunch of it to turn it into Summer Watermelon Sangria for the adults. LOTS of Summer Watermelon Sangria. 

July 2015 Fam Din

To prevent a h’angry crowd, I steamed up some of the fresh clams and Nina used them to make a few of these White Clam Pizzas for us to nosh on.

July 2015 Fam Din

And then N went to town and boiled up all the seafood for us.

SOOOO much seafood.

Yes, Friends….we got Seafood Wasted.

July 2015 Fam Din

And P loves it.

July 2015 Fam Din

Look at all that crab roe I schmeared on a baguette. Rich, decadent….perfect with a sprinkle of sea salt.

July 2015 Fam Din

After an hour of gluttonous shellfish consumption, we put the kids to work.

“Lucas and Luna–no dessert until all the dishes are done!!”

Just kidding….not kidding.

July 2015 Fam Din

For dessert, N whipped out two icebox pies. They’re quickly becoming our faves for the summer.

Here is her spiraled beauty — Peach Divinity Icebox Pie.

July 2015 Fam Din

And since there was a ton of us, she also made a Key-Lime Buttermilk Icebox Pie.

July 2015 Fam Din

We also celebrated all the July babies! N, P, bro-in-law R and Luna Bear. 

July 2015 Fam Din

With all of that sugar, the girls got a little silly…

July 2015 Fam Din

And good thing Luna was there to document it all.

Watch out Annie Leibovitz….

July 2015 Fam Din

And that folks, is how we do Family Dinner with all the sibs...Shellfish Boil style.

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And I have to tell ya…as the youngest of the 5, it was sure nice to have all my older sibbies and their fam together again ❤

July 2015 Fam Din

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Summer Watermelon Sangria
Appetizers: White Clam Pizza
Entrees: Shellfish Boil
Dessert: Peach Divinity Icebox Pie and Key Lime-Buttermilk Icebox Pie

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner – Summah’ Grilling and Chillin’

June 2015 Family Dinner

 Sunday Family Dinners in the summer are all about dining al fresco. Long days, warm and beautiful weather…it’s perfect.

June 2015 Family Dinner

I love summer family dinners where the pace is a little bit slower and we really get the chance to catch up with what’s new with each other.

June 2015 Family Dinner

A big topic of conversation at June’s fam din?

Backyard decor… obvi.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Seester just got a new set of fantastic patio furniture. And after lounging in the new chairs for a bit, I realized that something was missing. They need a brick pizza oven—STAT! A brilliant idea!

It got quickly vetoed.

Party poopers.

June 2015 Family Dinner

Our inspiration for dinner was not so much a “theme” but started off with an idea that the main dish should feature all kinds of skewers. Because who doesn’t love meat on a stick?

Plus, if there’s grilling involved, the boys get a hand in things.

June 2015 Family Dinner

And because y’all know us so well, you know that there were cocktails. In fact, we had a few different types that night (it’s how we roll), but Seester came up with this one after watching an episode of Tiffani Thiessen’s cooking show.

It consisted of an iced fruit tea, ginger simple syrup, lime juice, mint, tequila and fresh fruit.

Light and refreshing.

Kelly Kapowski apparently knows cocktails.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Cocktails

To munch on before dinner, my niece Nina fried up a batch of Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies. I loved the salty, smokey flavor the andouille gave to the hush puppies. To serve with them, I whipped up a quick sauce from random things I found in the fridge and luckily, it turned out great. Though–I kind of blew it and didn’t jot down what it consisted of but it had things like sour cream, mayo, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, fresh dill, garlic and pixie dust.

The last ingredient is not optional.

The recipe for the hush puppies can be found at here.

June 2015 Family Dinner-Hush Puppies

Then we put the boys to work! Fire up the grill, Dudes!

June 2015 Family Dinner

We did three types of skewers:

June 2015 Family Dinner-Skewers

Why three different skewers? Why not?!

Plus, we generally have a hard time just choosing one thing.

June 2015 Family Dinner- Skewers

To serve with the skewers, I whipped up a quick Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad which is a great accompaniment to any BBQ. It’s fresh, light, and essentially guilt free.

Though, I rarely experience guilt with food.

Carpe diem!

June 2015 Family Dinner: Watermelon-Feta Salad

We also made a bunch of Elotes – Mexican style street corn. Super simple to make and you can find out how from a previous post here.

Elote {Grilled Mexican Style Street Corn}

And lastly–dessert!

Now, most of us admitted that we underestimated this dessert. Don’t get me wrong–eldest seester can definitely bake but we didn’t really have a good point of reference for an icebox pie. But after one bite, we knew what fools we had been.

The texture was incredibly creamy and smooth which resulted in somewhat of an ice cream pie texture. She also tweaked the originally recipe that can be found here by:

  • Substituting mango schnapps with mango extract (she also used the extract in the whipped cream);
  • Used ataulfo mangoes as they generally yield a much sweeter and aromatic fruit;
  • Used about 1 cup of mango puree versus the listed 3/4 cup;
  • Used graham instead of saltine crackers for the crust and doubled the amount.

June 2015 Family Dinner: Mango-Lemon Buttermilk Icebox Pie

And after all the food was eaten and the dishes were washed–there was nothing else to do but get in some jacuzzi time!

June 2015 Family Dinner

Now if that’s not a fitting Summer Fam Din, I don’t know what is.

Stay tuned for the wrap up of July’s Family Dinner with all 5 Nguyễn siblings!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Spiked Ginger Iced Tea
Appetizers: Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies
Entrees: Jerk Spiced Shrimp, Buttermilk Chicken Tandoori with Raita Sauce, Steak Skewers with Scallion  Sauce, Elotes, Watermelon-Feta-Arugula Salad
Dessert: Mango-Lemon Buttermilk Icebox Pie

 

Drinks · Sunday Family Dinner

Japanese themed Family Dinner and Lychee Saketinis! Kampai!

April 2013 Family Dinner

I know I should be more humble about this but we really knocked it out of the park for this month’s Family Dinner where we took a gastronomic trip to Japan.

Dinner  was at eldest seester’s house and we literally cooked and ate for 3+ hours straight! Right when we finished one dish, we would only take intermittent pauses to nosh while we worked on the next dish. Quite fun, actually!

My seester has been talking about a fishmonger near her house for ages but we’ve never had a chance to give it try. So with a Japanese themed menu, what better opportunity? We were able to snag a bunch of beautiful product from Dry Dock Fish Co. and lemme tell you—totally rad.

So instead of just describing our menu, how about I show you what we inhaled.

April 2013 Family Dinner

Using the oysters we got from Dry Dock Fish Co., I put together these indulgent beauties. I drizzled each oyster with an Asian inspired mignonette, topped some with uni and tobiko, and fresh chives.

Swoon…..

April 2013 Family Dinner

This gorgeous sashimi platter consists of salmon, hamachi, ahi and ahi poke. We picked up the ahi poke pre-made from Dry Dock Fish Co. but added additional scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil for a bit more depth. And of course, we had some beautiful spot prawns.

Drools….

April 2013 Family Dinner

The spot prawns were so incredibly fresh. How fresh? So fresh that they were still swimming when we brought them home. And for those a bit wary of eating prawns sashimi style–don’t be! These spot prawns were incredibly sweet and had a wonderful crunch to them.

Sorry, I just had to stop myself from licking the screen.

April 2013 Family Dinner

As for the heads—waste not, want not! My sis quickly flashed fried and then lightly salted them.

Crunchy and filled with unctuous goodness…….

April 2013 Family Dinner

There were also pork and shrimp filled gyozas (that I commissioned my niece, Nini to fold) and of course, some yummy maki rolls. The rolls above were my seester’s brainchild–filled with lump crab and avocado, then topped with seared steak, black sesame seeds, and chives (that she commissioned our niece, Nina to roll).

Yea, we put the kids to work that night….

April 2013 Family Dinner

And it would be hard for me to have a Japanese meal without some satisfying spicy tuna rolls.

Nina rolled these for me too 🙂

April 2013 Family Dinner

We also wolfed down these Honey Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps adapted from a recipe from the rad Nami of Just One Cookbook. Sis par cooked the pork on the stove and then finished them off in the oven which gave them a crunchy texture that was lip-smackingly awesome from the glaze.

April 2013 Family Dinner

And the salmon collar–which we nearly forgot about! Luckily Big Sis remembered them half way through dinner and crisped them under the broiler. Crispy goodness though it stayed quite moist. Not the greatest photo but it was darn oishii!

 

April 2013 Family Dinner

Finally, we finished the savory portion of our meal with my Uni Pasta —because apparently, we didn’t have enough to eat.

At this point, we were feeling a little guilty (okay, just a tad) and rallied for a walk before dessert. Well, the gals + Lucasaurus went for a walk while the big boys opted out—the guys had gone for a mountain bike ride pre-dinner so we gave them a pass.

April 2013 Family Dinner

Dessert was an Icebox Green Tea Cheesecake I made with a chocolate crust. Since it was considered a “no bake” cheesecake, it was actually quite light and fluffy and was the perfect dessert to end our meal. The matcha added a slight bitterness to the filling but not at all overpowering.

Divine!

Lychee Saketinis

Of course it wouldn’t be a Family Dinner if we didn’t mix up a few thirst quenching cocktails. To go with our theme, I shook up these delish Lychee Saketinis that were aromatic and floral. And although they went down smooth, don’t let these little buggahs fool ya. They pack a punch!

Lychee Saketinis

I’ll be sharing several of the recipes we enjoyed in the next few posts but for now, I’ll let you in on how to make these wonderful Lychee Saketinis.

Until next time, Friends — Kampai!

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Lychee Saketinis
Appetizers: Sashimis (Ahi, Salmon, Hamachi, Spot Prawn), Poke, Oysters topped with Uni & Tobiko, Spicy Tuna Rolls, Pork & Shrimp Gyoza, Crispy Ebi Head, Beef-Crab-Avocado Roll
Entrees: Grilled Salmon Collar, Uni Pasta, Honey Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps, Rice
Dessert: Icebox Green Tea Cheesecake

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Lychee Saketinis
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 20-ounce can of lychee (in light syrup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
ice
juice of ½ lime
1½ ounces vodka
5 ounces sake

Pour the can of lychee and its syrup into a blender. Add the ginger and puree until smooth. Strain the lychee puree through a fine sieve, using a rubber spatula to push down on the pulp to release the liquid. Discard the pulp and set the lychee liquid aside.

Fill a large shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, vodka, sake and 5 ounces of the lychee liquid. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses. Garnish with additional lychees and lime wedges. Cheers!

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood · Sunday Family Dinner

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m quite pleased to share that our Sunday Family Dinners have been going swimmingly well.

And what’s fun is that we’ve adopted some international themes for each dinner—the last inspired by Latin flavors. It was a memorable afternoon/evening where everyone had a hand in creating our delicioso menu.

My contribution this time around were fresh margaritas (no pre-bottled stuff here!) and a huge bowl of Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo.

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

I’m pretty obsessed with Chimichurri Sauce –full of bright herbs and citrus flavors. I usually drizzle it over grilled skirt steak but I’ve been known to stir a spoonful of it into scrambled eggs or as a spread in sandwiches in lieu of pesto.

The dish turned out to be a winning combination that can be served either warm or at room temperature. Total Nguyen-Win 🙂

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Dinner where we will venture to Europe!


This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Margaritas on the Rocks
Appetizers: Fresh Guacamole
Entrees: Grilled Tri Tip, Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri Orzo
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

1 Pound Dried Orzo
1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
1 Large Bunch Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Large Bunch Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
6 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
2 Large Garlic Cloves
1 Serrano Chile Pepper*
1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
¼ Cup Lime Juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes*
1 Teaspoon Honey
3/4 – 1 Cup Olive Oil, more if needed
Kosher Salt
Pepper

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the Chimichurri Sauce. In a food processor or blender, add the first nine ingredients and pulse several times. Stream in the olive oil and blend until the items have fully incorporated. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to be used. (*Chile amounts can be adjusted based on heat level preference)

Bring a grill pan to medium high heat. Cover the pan with cooking spray and grill the shrimp about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss together the orzo, shrimp and ½ cup of the Chimichurri Sauce at a time. (Add additional sauce as needed.) Plate and garnish with additional cilantro.