Sunday Family Dinner

SFD – It’s a Family Thing

October 2015 SFD

It’s crazy to think of it but it’s been 3.5 years since my siblings and I first started having our monthly Sunday Family Dinners.

Every month we try to pick some type of theme for dinner and build a menu around it. Each of us are in charge of contributing some portion of the meal whether it be specialty cocktails, appetizers, entrees, desserts–or even staffing the grill.

And we try our darndest to not replicate dishes—which, I don’t mind saying, is kind of tough after 3+ years!

October 2015 SFD

If you’ve been with us since the beginning of our little tradition, you’ve seen the progression of the meals and in fact, some of them are quite elaborate. From “grilling” steaks with a BBQ chimney to breaking down whole ducks to use them beak-to-tail to reducing lobster stock for hours to make lobster martinis to full on N’Awlins seafood boil to a 9-course Korean feast with homemade kimchi….and that’s just to name a few!

October 2015 SFD
I get a lot of comments and compliments (THANK YOU for them!) about how great the food comes out. We’re often quite proud ourselves, too, but here’s a confession. Nearly every month, there’s some point in the preparation where things get really stressful and one (or more) of us starts freaking out.

It could be anything from the porchetta catching on fire (yeah…that did happen), the dessert not setting properly or having to double-fry pounds and pounds of French fries.   And that’s where the bickering usually comes in—but remember, we’re REAL siblings who are very close. If we didn’t bicker, we wouldn’t be family.

That, and the fact that we’re all Type A and OCD.

We blame it on our parents.

October 2015 SFD

But here’s the thing. Although the food is definitely a perk, the best part of SFD is hanging out with each other for no other purpose or cause other than Family Dinner.

It’s a time where the kids get assigned kitchen tasks to build their confidence in their own selves while allowing the adults to pass down a part of ourselves.

October 2015 SFD

It gives the siblings dedicated time to catch up on family gossip, work, and be silly with each other— over cocktails, of course. And the educator in me also sees it as an opportunity to do a little “team-building” as we come together and challenge ourselves with creating dishes that we often have never tried, let alone never made before.

October 2015 SFD

Because of the blog and because I love to document things, I’m always the one running around snapping pics of the fam, food and puppies. Since I’m still a novice/trial-and-error photographer, one of my stresses during SFD is trying to capture photos that I like. I love to snap photos with natural light and try to stay away from photo editing. But this gets particularly difficult during the latter part of the year where it gets dark so early.

So imagine me trying to finish my dishes while running around the house/kitchen/backyard to take photos. I can be a hot mess!

October 2015 SFDWhich, in full disclosure, is why it can take a couple of weeks after a SFD before I actually post the photos and write-up of the dinner. When I get back to San Diego after a weekend at my seesters’ respective houses, I’ll download the shots I took and peruse through them. If I’m unhappy with the quality of the photos, I start to procrastinate because, again, I am not a fan of photo editing……or at least my photo editing skills.

October 2015 SFD

That was certainly the case for our most recent dinner.

But after these past few days of horrific, HORRIFIC events that have taken place in the world, I’ve been reflecting a lot about my family, my loved ones, my work…..and really – just evaluating everything that is important to me.

October 2015 SFD
So when I pulled up the photos from our last SFD, I saw them from a very different perspective.  Shots that I was upset with because the white balance was off or not sharp didn’t frustrate me as when I first reviewed them. Instead, I focused on why I stopped to snap those particular pics in the first place. Like how Nini was covering her face because she didn’t want me to post pics of her (too bad!) or how sweet it was when Maya and Lucas were playing Wii.

October 2015 SFD
Or how the Coq au Vin big seestrah N made was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Or when seestrah T was rolling out homemade dough for her pie–because she rarely bakes!

Or how the boys decided to push tables into the tiny living room instead of using the dining room or backyard so that we could watch Green Bay get the smack down by the Broncos while we ate (HELL YEA!). GO VIKES!

October 2015 SFD
Essentially what I’m saying is that the next time I start freaking out about not being able to snap the perfect shot or become upset that the meat pies browned too much, I need to take a deep breath and check myself and remember to appreciate/enjoy the important things.

Don’t worry– that doesn’t mean the sibling bickering will ever stop.

October 2015 SFD

So indulge me this time around, Friends. In light of the heavy hearts so many of us have had these past few days–please go hug someone you love today. ❤

 

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Hard Pear Cider Sangria
Appetizers: Pot Roast and Cheddar Hand Pies
Entrees: Coq au Vin over Cheesy Polenta
Dessert: Flaky Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Appetizers/Small Plates · Pork · Vietnamese

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!**