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

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Desserts/Pastries

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

 

Ever since I picked up these super cute lime green-polka dot cupcake liners, I’ve been wanting to make some lime cupcakes. Something light, fluffy, and fragrant. From the combination of cake flour and egg whites, these cuppies fit the bill perfectly.

I also went back and forth for awhile between a few different possible frostings for the cakes—-lime cream cheese, lime buttercream, lime swiss meringue buttercream….so many options. And then the lime whipped cream I had made for the Key Lime Cheesecake popped in my mind. I just loved it with the cheesecake and felt like it would be great with the cupcakes. After a quick survey of some peeps, it was settled—Lime Whipped Cream it was.

 

Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream

 

And it was P-E-R-F-E-C-T! Since the cakes were so light and fluffy, the whipped cream was a perfect pairing! I had never had a cupcake topped with whipped cream before and the end result was actually quite refreshing.

Flavored whipped cream….my new FAV cupcake topping. If you’ve never tried the combo before, immediately pick up some heavy cream and go directly to your kitchen and try it out!

Mmmmm…..

Thanks for reading and have a lovely weekend!

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Fluffy Lime Cupcakes with Lime Whipped Cream
Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter (Adapted from My Baking Addiction):
2 ¼ Cups Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cups Buttermilk
4 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature
1½ Cups Sugar
1½ Tablespoons Fresh Lime Zest
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Key Lime Extract

Lime Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 TablespoonsFresh Lime Zest

Garnish:
Fresh Lime Zest
Fresh Lime Slices

Preheat oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in another bowl. Put the sugar and lime zest in a mixer bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and with the paddle attachment beat at medium speed with a stand mixer until ingredients are light and fluffy. Beat in the extract and lime juice, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, mixing until the batter is well mixed, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Continue beating the mixture for another few minutes to ensure that the batter is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest and whip until combined.

Fill a piping bag with a fitted tip. Pipe on the whipped cream on top of cooled cupcakes. Garnish with additional lime zest and lime slices.

Desserts/Pastries

Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake

I know I always harp on about it.

But I freaking love citrus.

In the foods I cook/eat, beverages I like to drink, fragrances for my hand soaps and lotions, and even for decor.

I’m a Citrus-a-holic.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I know. I’ve got issues 🙂

Key Lime Cheesecake

Since Key Lime Pie ranks among one of my top favorite desserts, I wanted to take it’s bright flavors and marry it with one of my other favorite sweet treats—Cheesecake!

If you love citrus and limey things, this dessert is perfect for you! The tartness is fully pronounced but not overwhelming and the citrus-whipped cream is the ideal pairing.

As I mentioned in my post about Key Lime Pie with a Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust, it’s tough work to squeeze the juice out of those little buggers! But Key Limes have such a distinct flavor that I didn’t want to substitute them with Persian Limes. Lucky for me, my sis had just picked up a bottle of pure Key Lime juice from Williams Sonoma. And since I was intent on packing in as much citrus flavor into this cheesecake as I could, I also used Key Lime Extract. (My sis had given me a bottle as a gift since she knows what a key lime freak I am!)

Key Lime Cheesecake

Sure, if you just “kinda” like the flavors of citrus, you could decrease the amounts of juice, zest, or extract. But what fun would that be?

I myself, just might even try to add more zest next time. 🙂

And with that my friends, thanks for reading and have a WONDERFUL MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND!

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Key Lime Cheesecake
Makes one 9-inch Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling:
24 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
¼ Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Key Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Lime Zest
1½ Teaspoon Key Lime Extract

Whipped Cream:
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoons Lime Zest
Preheat oven to 325 ˚F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened and resembles the texture of wet sand. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and press crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about one inch up the sides. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and cool to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and sour cream until its light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the sugar.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the lime juice, lime extract and zest until well combined.  Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven with a pan half full of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door propped open for about 30 minutes. (To prop the oven door, I use a wooden handled spoon to keep it ajar a few inches). Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Allow the cake to cool for an additional 30 minutes.  Wrap well with plastic film and foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove the sides of the pan by running a hot knife around the outside of the cake.

When you are ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the chilled heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar until you reach a thick consistency. Add in the zest and whip until combined.

Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake and garnish with additional lime slices and zest.

Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust

I have always loved the bright and vibrant flavors of citrus, particularly Limes. And in this gal’s humble opinion, very few desserts can bring such a smile to my face like a good piece of Key Lime Pie. The creamy, sweet, and tart flavors balance so well with the traditional graham cracker crust. Just absolute Yum! So when the Memorial Holiday Weekend came up, I couldn’t think of a better dessert to accompany our barbecue dinner.

Traditional Key Lime Pies are fairly easy to make but I have had so many that fell short on that true “in your face tart flavor”. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t skimp on the Key Lime juice—a flavor quite unique to its more commonly found relative the Persian or Tahitian Lime. But have any of you ever attempted to squeeze your own Key Limes? It’s a laborious task! Those little buggers are quite small and often need to be worked quite a bit to release its juices. In fact, after squeezing 28 entire Key Limes, I was only left with a little over 1/4 cup of juice! Yikes! My confession to you all is that I actually supplemented the rest of the juice with Persian Limes. Hey–at least I was honest!

But for those of you who need to stay true to the Key Lime, you can also buy bottled Key Lime Juice at many grocery specialty stores. Just be sure to read the label and not buy the pre-sweetened type.

As for the crust, I wanted to add a unique spin to my version of the Key Lime Pie. Recently equipped with heavy bags of Macadamia Nuts from our visit to Hawai’i, I decided to incorporate these tropical nuts into the crust. I think the addition was quite delicious—offering a little nutty flavor to the party.

And how was it? I LOVED this Pie. Seriously, LOVED IT! If you’re a fan of Key Lime Pie, or any Citrus Desserts, you’ve GOT to try this little goodie. It’s seriously “Nam Tested and Approved“.  And no, I won’t tell anyone if you decide to use all Persian Lime Juice instead of battling it out with the tiny Key Limes. It’ll be our little secret 🙂

A Lime Party in a Bowl

Proof that I actually squeezed them all


Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust ready to be filled


Tart-Citrus-Creamy Goodness!

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Key Lime Pie with Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust
Serves 8

Ingredients:

Crust
½ Cup Roasted Macadamia Nuts
9 Graham Cracker (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch crackers)
1 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling
14 Ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 Large Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
½ Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Cup Key Lime Juice

Garnish
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extra
¼ Cup Crushed Macadamia Nuts
Lime Zest
Lime Slices

Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

For Crust: In a food processor, grind Macadamia Nuts until fine. Add Graham Crackers and continue to process until contents reach the consistency of sand. Place mixture into a bowl and add sugar and butter until combined well. Transfer mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch glass pie plate and firmly press the crust together to cover the bottom of the pan and up the sides. It is extremely important to press the mixture evenly–the flat side of a metal measuring cup can assist in this process. Bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

For Filling: Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice, lime zest and whisk until combined well.  Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Once it reaches room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

Final Touches: Just before serving, prepare the whipped cream. In a stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in sugar. Add vanilla. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the chilled pie and garnish with remaining crushed macadamia nuts, lime zest and lime slices.

I wish I had a slice right now 🙂