Pork · Seafood · Sunday Family Dinner

The “Not-Really-Fam-Din” Dinner

August 2020

I know, I know…it’s been REALLY quiet around here this past year.

The truth is, even before the world had turned upside down, I was considering what to do with this site. I started TCC in 2008 as a way to share recipes between the Fam since we all lived so far apart. And at the time, “food blogging” had only been around for a few years so I had no idea what I was doing.

As time went on, I cooked TONS more, photographed more, wrote more, and surprisingly had a lot of opportunities arise from what I considered a hobby. It was awesome! But the food landscape has evolved so much. The “food blog” game changed. Sites became highly editorialized with their photos and storylines. All WAY above my skillset. Not only was I out of my league, I was beginning to lose inspiration.

And then in early 2012 we started having our monthly Family Dinners. What was born out of a means to ensure that our family stay connected became these delicious, and yes elaborate, themed meals. TCC moved from recipes being posted 2 or 3 times a week, to Fam Din recaps so that we could document some family history. The blog kind of had a new raison d’etre and readers seemed to really enjoy following our Fam Din shenanigans—to see the dishes (the successes and FLOPS!) and to find out what the fam was up to that month.

But even with the new push, I had been behind with the Fam Din recaps at the end of last year (I blame it on being a Taurus) and as I began writing again to catch up, COVID hit……and the world stopped. Sure, quarantine and working from home gave me extra time to write but it all seemed….well, less important.

The other underlying factor was that our monthly Family Dinners stopped…. we had to. Sheltering in place was in order and non-essential gatherings were all on halt—not just for us, but the world. An 8 year tradition that we never broke had stopped. It was really tough. To try and stay connected, we’ve had weekly Family Zooms every Sunday and our seestrahs in OC make regular grocery and supply drop-offs for our Dad.

August 2020

By early August, it had been nearly 5 months since California had been impacted…..and I hadn’t seen my family, who live only 90ish miles away, in-person since February. Knowing that a “second wave” and stricter mandates may be necessary this Fall, I decided to finally make a trip to see the Fam as it would have been 6 months since our last visit. I got COVID tested (which was negative) and packed up the car. And let me tell you, that 1.5 hour drive seemed like FOREVER! But once I got there—it was fantastic!

We planned to have a casual dinner together. No theme, low maintenance….hence the “Not-Really-Fam-Din” dinner situation. Plus I somehow chose to come up during a heatwave with high humidity so the least amount of cooking was paramount.

That day while we were out getting groceries, we stopped by a few places to pick up essentials— caffeine and hand soaps. We only ordered three drinks — yet somehow ended up with six…….but we did intentionally end up with that many bottles of foaming hand soap. 40 to be exact. Hey! There was a sale!

August 2020

While I was up there, I was happy to see that Lucas had not lost his touch with being a puppy-whisperer. And for those of you that have been paying attention– yes, my fur-niece Lucy, who is a goldendoodle, when from a dark brown to white. Still as adorable and puppy-hyper as ever.

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And although it wasn’t a “Family Dinner” some things remain the same….like the kiddos catching up on homework.

Maya is working two computers and her phone at the same time. Those techie Gen Z kiddos…..

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She even managed to get her big cousie, Nina, to help her on a poster for a presentation she was going to do later that week.

(Confession: I also joined in on the coloring…because I do love to color!)

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And of course, there were a few adult beverages consumed.

Since it was 105984266978 degrees out, I wanted to have something like and refreshing. Aperol Spritzes it is! Plus it helped me pretend that we were summering somewhere in Italy while drinking these spritzes on a balcony in Venice.

August 2020

And because I know my family, I picked up some goodies for a simple Cheese and Charcuterie Board for them to nosh on. Although this was not what I had planned for appetizers, Seester N and her fam always arrive R-A-V-E-N-O-U-S …. even though they know dinner won’t be ready for hours!

To avoid a hangry backlash, I grabbed some spicy calabrese and a wedge of Saint André Triple Brie Cheese while we were at Trader Joe’s. We also found some spinach artichoke dip in the fridge and toasted up the sourdough bread that I had baked earlier….along with some fresh figs from T’s tree in the backyard.

August 2020I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed this grumpy face.

August 2020

Since it was soooo hot out, I wanted an easy appetizer that was light and required little-to-no cooking. It really is a no brainer what this family likes—sashimi and sushi! So we swung by Tokyo Central to see what they had fresh that day – and they had A LOT. I grabbed several packages of fresh fishes, nori, picked ginger, yuzu kosho …. and a few other snackies to enjoy another day.

After making the rice, I immediately handed the reigns to our resident sushi chef, Nini. She seriously has skills… not just knife skills but she also makes this crack sauce that should be bottled. That afternoon she got some back up from her big seestrah, Nina, on forming the nigiri rice.

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And this is what they came up with……

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Sashimi plate of fresh salmon, akami, chūtoro and wakame.

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A sushi plate of salmon nigiri, akami nigiri, masago gunkan and spicy salmon & avocado rolls.

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Amazing right?

And how adorable is she?

Yes, Nini is starting her 3rd year in college but she’s been in charge of our sushi/sashimi for years now. Just goes to show what can happen with a munchin with a good palate and has been exposed to the kitchen at a young age.

August 2020

Then, there was the main course. When Seestrah N texted that she would make us Bún Chả Hànội, I squealed with glee…..ask Bella. She can confirm.

Bún Chả Hànội is a Northern Vietnamese dish that consists of grilled pork skewers and pork patties with vermicelli noodles and fresh herbs/veggies. The flavors are both extremely savory and slightly sweet with pungent (in a VERY good way) notes from the nước chấm (dipping sauce) and bright herbaceousness from the herbs, greens and pickled veggies.

It’s so damn good.

Bún Chả Hànội was thrust into the mainstream foodie spotlight when Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in paradise) brought President Obama (may he long live) to enjoy the wonderful dish on his Parts Unknown show.

August 2020

Seester N had marinated the pork overnight with ingredients like fish sauce, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, garlic and shallots. For the thinly sliced pork, we skewered them on bamboo sticks that she had soaked overnight in water. For the ground pork (with the same marinade), we formed them into little patties. And for the record, she sure did scold us when she thought we didn’t make them the correct size or shape!

Once done, we handed it over to my BIL to grill. Also, can we give a big C-O-N-G-R-A-T-S to C for being newly retired! I’m incredibly envious! (We all are!)

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You may think the pork looks a bit fatty but OH MAN. When it chars up—it’s SOOO good.

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I’ve got to assume the neighbors were very jealous smelling all the deliciousness that was being grilled.

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This grill basket is a must so that the patties don’t fall through the grates. You can pick them up for a few bucks at your local Asian grocery store.

August 2020

Yeah…we moved onto some Pine Ridge wine by then. And then some Rosé… and then some Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon.

HELLO!?!?!?! It’s been SIX MONTHS since we had seen each other!

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It had finally cooled down a bit so we braved dining al fresco. 

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Take a gander of this beautiful spread of Bún Chả Hànội!

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Bún Chả Hànội does looks similar to Bún Thịt Nướng. I would say that some of the differences is that traditionally the nước chấm is much lighter and less pungent in the former dish. It’s a bit watered down so that when served, the pork patties and grilled pork are swimming in a bowl of it. You also dunk the vermicelli noodles into the nước chấm versus having everything already assembled in the bowl like with Bún Thịt Nướng.

Think of it kind of like Tsukemen ramen where the noodles are served separately and you dunk it in the sauce/broth.

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It may appear to be heavy with all of the pork but the dish is surprisingly light and is the perfect meal for a hot day. All of the fresh herbs and greens definitely contribute to that.

It’s really one of my favorites.

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Although our time was short, it was so good to spend some QT with the family and see the munchkins together again (both furry and furless!).

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Some things never change—they’re still hams.

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p.s. Nini did make us a delicious dessert — a Mango Royale. But we somehow managed to forget to take a picture of it! DOH! PRIME example of how this was NOT your standard family dinner.

p.s.s. I will be posting the recaps of the other Fam Dins to catch up in the next couple of weeks. Pinky swear!

p.s.s.s. Pops is 79 and is definitely in the high-risk group–so he stayed home that night. Rest assured, we visited him (masked and safe) the next day to bring him leftovers.

p.s.s.s.s. This is him realizing that we also brought him lunch from the Cheesecake Factory.

Him: “Is that Cheesecake Factory??? MY FAVORITE!”

ALL the delicious things we cook and bake for him and the Cheesecake Factory is still his favorite.

This guy….

LOL.

And that’s it. Until next time Friends, stay safe— and please WEAR A MASK!

August 2020_________________________________________________________

“Not-Really-Fam-Din” Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Aperol Spritz, Various Wines
Appetizers: Cheese and Charcuterie Board, Sashimi, Sushi
Entree: Bún Chả Hànội {Northern Vietnamese Grilled Pork and Pork Patties with Vermicelli Noodles}
Dessert: Mango Royale

 

Sunday Family Dinner

An Endless Fam Din Feast for the Tauruses

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It was one of my favorite times of the year — my BIRTH MONTH!!!

Birth “month” you ask? Oh yes, I celebrate the entire month.

Actually our family is full of May babies….Mom, Dad, SIL and cousie –all Tauruses, which makes a lot of sense. We’re all a tad–how would you put it? Oh right–stubborn.

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But when it came time for L and my Fam Din— I WAS PUMPED!

What to have on the menu?

Lobster? Prime Rib? King Crab? French Fry Fest?

YES PLEASE!

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Sooooo many options. Maybe TOO many good ones to choose from.

In fact, the week before dinner, we still hadn’t had a full menu planned other than knowing who would be in charge of which portions of the meal.

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Then mid-week, it hit me-it was soft shell crab season! And I do love me some soft shell crab sammies! With new found inspiration, I volunteered to take on the main dish and its fixings!

But as for the other dishes–everything was still up in the air.

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We all convened with our mystery ingredients to T and R’s casa and got down to prep.

But first–some cocktails!

I whipped up a few pitchers of Sparkling Rosé Sangria and let me tell ya, it’s like summer in a glass.

Fresh fruit, ginger, mint, cognac, light rosé, bubbly….now that’s a party!

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Quick pic with the sibbies!!

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And a little photobomber in the shape of Leonidas.

That little rascal….

I love that mischievous face.

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And then it was time to get back in the kitchen for some more prep.

May 2017 Fam Din
Thank goodness for R and Nini–our shuckers for the night.

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Because without those two, we’d just be staring at these beauties saying “Alohomora” over and over again.

Why yes–that was a little shot out to my fellow Potterheads.

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Now let the feasting begin!

V and L had been visiting our friends in Ventura that morning and picked up some Fresh Oysters for us to nosh on.

L made a classic mignonette for us to enjoy the oysters with and there was also lots of fresh lemon and tabasco on hand too.

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HELLLOOOOOO Gorgeous!!!!

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As you can tell, Nina didn’t like them at all.

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They also picked up some fresh uni and L got to work cracking them open.

Seriously, my mouth is watering just looking at the picture of it.

May 2017 Fam Din
And what did we do with them? Nini and L made adorable little bites of Uni Gunkan Maki.

Perfect morsels that just screamed of the sea.

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I could have easily polished off a dozen of them.

ps. Gunkan Maki are “warship sushi” or “battleship sushi” and are named such because of its shape. See? I can drop some random knowledge from time to time.

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N demolishes battleships on the reg.

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Since we were going the distance, V & L also picked up some local Yellowtail while in Ventura and there’s no better way to enjoy it than as straight up Yellowtail Sashimi.

It’s how we roll.

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Now most folks would just make 1 or 2 appetizers for dinner. But with my o’hana, why just have 1 when we could have 5?

Seriously, five. We had FIVE appetizers for Fam Din.

We’re uncontrollable.

To wrap up our apps course, T made clams two ways. (Are you sensing that gluttony theme?)

May 2017 Fam Din

The first version featured clams stuffed with miso butter, cheese, aromatics and panko bread crumbs. Quite addicting and hopefully will be at our football parties this fall.

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The second preparation were roasted clams with miso butter, rice wine, ginger, beech mushrooms, scallions and some other magical goodies.

And OH. MY. GOD.

These were so freaking good!! So savory, so rich in flavor—FULL of umami (I feel like such an idiot every time I use that word)! The clams were wonderful on its own but would also be perfect as a main dish with soba noodles or even with just crusty baguette.

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Look at my fam…..they’re cute.

I guess I’ll keep them.

I should probably admit that they look so happy because we had just spent an hour gorging on apps and cocktails (for the 21+ over).

But hey, whatever it takes.

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After polishing off all the apps, we were pretty stuffed. And we still had our main course left, too!

In order to make it to the finish line, we needed a breather.

Maya took a T.O. on Lamby.

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Leonidas got a massage.

Life is rough for the munchkins, isn’t it?

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And we snapped pics.

Because apparently, we don’t take enough pictures.

NOT!

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After a quick pause, I turned my attention to these little guys–the soft shell crabs. Since the crabs have molted their exoskeletons, the entire crustacean can be eaten after a bit of light cleaning.

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Sometimes you jut have to infuse your food with love……you feel me?

It makes everything that much tastier.

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After they were cleaned and drained, we lightly dredged them in a mixture of flour and corn meal.

And not to sound twisted, but doesn’t it look like they’re just chilling in the sand?

No? Too much?

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After they were dredged, Nini helped me pan fry them in butter and olive oil until they were golden brown and crispy.

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Once out of the pan, they all got a sprinkle Old Bay and sea salt.

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The crispy soft shell crabs were destined to rest inside these little Brioche Buns I had baked earlier. Nina lightly buttered and toasted the buns for that extra punch of goodness.

Aren’t they adorable? The girls said they reminded them of Krabby Patties from SpongeBob—which, now that I think of it, is kind of appropriate.

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To serve with sandwiches, I decided to make homemade Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips. I know, it seems like a lot of work when you can just go out and buy a bag of chips.

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But honestly, homemade chips are SOOO much better! It does take a bit of time but they’re really easy to make. Just be sure to fry up some extra because if your family is anything like mine, they will be gone before it’s time to eat.

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Assembly time!

A light schmear of Old Bay aioli on the buns, add thin slices of ripe tomato, a leaf of butter lettuce and top it off with a beautiful soft shell crab.

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So nice I had to show it twice!

Seriously–as good as I had hoped for when they came to mind just a few days prior. I love it when that happens.

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And Food Coma starts in 5…4…3…2…..

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But wait! We still have dessert!!

And not just any dessert but B I R T H D A Y  cake!

N was in charge of our birthday dessert and all I said is that I wanted a dense chocolate cake that tasted like a Ferrero Rocher — one of my favorite candies.

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And HOLY CRAP!  SHE DELIVERED!!!

Just like a Ferrero Rocher!!!

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The cake was super dense and rich–like a flourless cake that had ground hazelnuts in the batter. She topped it with a chocolate mousse and a “crunch” made from melted chocolate and rice cereal. It was then finished with more hazelnuts and a generous drizzle of more chocolate.

From taste to texture it totally was a Ferrero Rocher!

I’m not kidding y’all–it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. She’s going to have to make me this cake every year now.

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And as if we didn’t have enough sugar, R broke out the fire so the munchkins could roast some marshmallows.

Why not, right? If not for the added sugar than at least for the experience.

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I can’t help but hope that when they look back 20 years from now, they’ll think fondly of our monthly Fam Dins and the randomness that often occur.

For example, the fireworks that we set off shortly after I took this picture.

And no, I’m not kidding.

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And that’s a wrap on our decadent Fam Din for L and my bday!

Not bad considering we threw the menu together at the last minute. And yes, it was a delicious as it looks.

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Sparkling Rosé Sangria, Various Wine
Appetizers: Fresh Oysters with Mignonette, Yellowtail Sashimi, Uni Gunkan Maki, Miso Roasted Clams with Beech Mushrooms, Panko-Miso Butter Clams
Entrees: Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches with Old Bay Aioli, on Brioche Rolls with Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt Chips
Dessert: Chocolate-Hazelnut “Ferrero Rocher” Cake

Sunday Family Dinner

All about that Bulaon-baisse, ’bout that baisse…

April 2017 Family Dinner
When it comes to Lucasauraus and C’s birthday, we always know that there will be some combination of seafood, matcha and mint chip ice cream on the menu for Fam Din. And no–not all mixed together, Silly!

And who can blame them–I love all of it too!

April 2017 Family Dinner

We gathered at T and R’s place in Fullerton on a sunny afternoon to get down on some cookin’ and grubbin’!

And there may have been a cocktail or two before we switched over to wine. This month we went back for the Hendrick’s Gin and Tonic with Cucumber and Lime. C’mon, it’s a classic–not to mention totally refreshing on a warm Southern Cali afternoon.

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And how So Cal is it that somehow succulents were involved?

Yea, I have no idea what N was doing with these.

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Now let’s get back to the food, shall we?

Since our entree was slated to be on the lighter side—well….”lighter” than our normal fare, we had three different appetizers to sate our tummies.

First up, Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon that brother fixed up using Eric Ripert’s recipe. I am a sucker for a good deviled egg and these were no exception. They featured the classic rich flavors and was topped with the smoky, salty salmon.

Awesome.

They’d be perfect for brunch too!

April 2017 Family Dinner

And since Lucas is a salmon-eating-monster (has been since he was barely 2) we needed MORE of the fatty fish–LOTS MORE! So we put the nieces to work and they got rolling on these beautiful Salmon Temaki.  They were filled with seasoned rice, avocados, luscious slices of salmon, daikon sprouts and of course, that magnificent “crack sauce” that Nini makes.

That sauce is seriously E V E R Y T H I N G! It’s a mixture of mayo, sambal, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, chives, tobiko and I’d venture to say–a splash of her soul. It is THAT good.

I inhaled about 20 dozen of them. Screw that summer bikini diet.

April 2017 Family Dinner

A birthday Fam Din for Lucas and C without sashimi?? Not on our watch!

In fact, there may have been 1 or 2 plates of Hamachi Sashimi.

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It does this foodblogger’s heart proud when she sees the munchkins doing this…..

Shall we move on to main course?

When we asked C what he wanted for dinner, he replied “seafood stew—bouillabaisse”. Ok then, we’re on it!

Well actually, seestrah T was on it—and hence the “Bulaon-baisse“. What’s a “Bulaon-baisse” you may be asking? It’s when T is in charge of the bouillabaisse, has a few glasses of vino while making the stock and merges her married name (Bulaon) to the classic Provençal stew.

What a dork.

But a funny dork.

All joking aside, T put some serious time and love into creating the broth of the bouillabaisse. She simmered the excess fish trimmings with aromatics such as bay leaves, orange peels, and a bouquet garni to produce a rich seafood stock. In a separate pan, she sweated the fennel, onions, and garlic and then reduced it with wine before adding in the stock, tomatoes and saffron. After what seemed like a gajillion years, the stock was strained and we were left with a flavorful and clear broth.

That broth was brought to a boil, and the fish, shrimp, and mussels were cooked in it.

Speaking of fish, my B.I.L., aka Mr. Bulaon, caught the below red snapper and cod that we used in the bouillabaisse. Isn’t he handy?

So all in all, I guess it was a Bulaon-baisse!

H E L L O    G O R G E O U S!!!

April 2017 Family Dinner
And finally – DESSERT TIME!

C loves him some matcha. I can’t remember the last time we made him a birthday dessert that green tea wasn’t involved. And I tell ya–I’m quickly running out of ideas people!

As I scoured the internet for some inspiration, I stumbled upon a Coconut-Matcha Cream Pie and decided to give it a try.

My thoughts?

I was a bit disappointed by how much the crust “shrunk” after it was baked. I let it thoroughly rest before rolling it out and even froze it for an hour before baking. I blind baked the crust and the temp wasn’t too high either. Eh…that’s how it goes with baking sometimes.

As for the filling, it was rich and had the texture of a firm pudding. The coconut flavor was very subtle and it wasn’t too sweet. I’m glad I opted to add matcha to the whipped cream to amp up the flavor.

Overall, not bad but not great.

April 2017 Family Dinner
As for my mint-chip loving nephew, a Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie seemed perfect for Lucas. The base what made out of crushed Oreo cookies and crushed Thin Mint Cookies. I then added a layer of softened mint chip ice cream (it HAD to be the green kind too!), a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a layer of more crushed cookies and a final layer of ice cream. The whole thing was put in the freezer for a few hours before topping it with whipped cream and more cookies.

I am embarrassed to say that the below picture looks rather a hot mess. We had some melting issues on the drive from Tustin to Fullerton and we attempted to mask it over with more whipped cream. But all looks aside, it was delicious and the bday boy approved!

April 2017 Family Dinner
Another scrumptious Fam Din in the books!

H A P P Y     B I R T H D A Y    L U C A S    A N D     C!!!!

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Hendrick’s Gin and Tonic, Assorted Wines
Appetizers: Hamachi Sashimi, Salmon Temaki, Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Entrees: Bouillabaisse with Toasted Garlic Crostini
Dessert: Coconut Matcha-Cream Pie, Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

Sunday Family Dinner

It Ain’t Easy Being A Green Fam Din

March 2017 Family Dinner
Alright, so I’ll be the first to admit that some of our Fam Din themes are a bit more successful than others. When we’re on point, we totally nail it like with our Hawaiian Lu’au, “One Night In Bangkok”, Korean Feast, or the N’awlins Seafood Boil.

But some themes are bit tougher than others. Case and point, a certain holiday a few months ago that inspired us to try and make dishes that were green.

That’s right, the color green.

March 2017 Family Dinner
First up–appetizers!

V+L were in charge of this portion and came up with wonderfully fresh and sweet Scallops Carpaccio.

Lovely, right?

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And before you ask for the green, might I direct your attention to the chopped cilantro and green platter???

Totally green.

March 2017 Family Dinner
A year or two ago, T got N a Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Block from Williams Sonoma. She hadn’t had the opportunity to use it yet and figured Fam Din was the perfect chance. So she pulled out the slab and seared some sweet scallops on them.

I think we had average results with it. Yes, it did impart a subtle flavor to the scallops and sure–the process looked impressive. But we didn’t get that lovely golden sear on them as if we had used a pan.

Don’t worry, we’ll try again.

March 2017 Family Dinner
N placed the scallops over fresh and peppery arugula. She dressed it with grape tomatoes, fresh basil and a light vinaigrette. Light, lovely and would be a wonderful summer lunch with some crusty bread.

But being the chunky monkeys we are, we had them as an appetizer.

March 2017 Family Dinner
As for our entree, T chose to slow-braise pork in a rich and luscious chile verde sauce—key word, “verde“.

As in green, folks!

The pork was tender, savory and quite versatile! The chilies are not the least bit spicy but more so mild and brought a verdant, tangy flavor.

March 2017 Family Dinner
To serve alongside the pork, I whipped up some homemade Cilantro-Flour Tortillas. The recipe is from Rick Bayless and I wrote about them here. At the very end when I rolled out each tortilla de harina, I sprinkled on some chopped cilantro before throwing them on a cast iron skillet.

Tender, flaky and perfect with the pork.

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In addition, I made a big batch of my Cilantro-Lime Rice because carbs are my friends.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Last but not least—DESSERT!

Now, when thinking of green desserts, my mind kept drifting towards matcha. But since BIL’s birthday was the following month, I was bound to have to make a green tea dessert in a few weeks. So I mulled around and decided to rely on the bright green hues of the kiwi to make this Kiwi Fruit Pie.

The shell was a shortbread crust and I filled it with Cook’s Illustrated pastry cream. Next came lots of slices of fresh kiwi fruit.

Easy peasy right?

March 2017 Family Dinner

Now let me share one thing before I close this post.

Silly things happen at our Family Dinners. In truth, it’s one of my favorite things about the whole tradition. And this month, was no exception.

After dessert, the kids started doing arts and crafts for Nini’s elections—and there was a bottle of glue on the table. T, V and I started reminiscing of when we were kids and made “glue skins” from our hands.

And then this happened.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Oh yes….as we laughed, drank wine (the 21+ and over of us–that is), and sang along to Erasure–we painted layers of glue on our hands. Then, once dried, we slowly peeled them off to make “glue skin”.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Silly, I know. But I wouldn’t change anything.

It’s what our Family Dinner is all about. ❤

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Appetizers: Scallop Carpaccio, Scallops Seared on Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Block over Arugula
Entrees: Slow Braised Pork Chile Verde
Sides: Cilantro-Lime Rice, Cilantro Flour Tortillas
Dessert: Kiwi Fruit Pie

Sunday Family Dinner

Swimming Spot Prawns & Fiery Lamb – It’s Fam Din Time!

July Fam Din Collage
July is another month with lots of birthdays in the fam. Seester N, Seester P, Bro-in-law R, Niece Luna and about a GAZILLION of cousins!  Ok, maybe we’re just a tad shy of a gazillion but really, not by much.

So for this month, N and R got to pick the menu for Fam Din–and boy, did they choose a doozy!

July 2016 Fam Din
I’m typically assigned the task of making the themed cocktails for dinner —which is totally fine because this gal truly does love her some adult beverages! Shocking, I know.

Since it was so hot and humid, I was leaning towards some type of margarita. I gave N a few options and she gave the thumbs on passion fruit. So I broke out the citrus juicer and ended up with about a quart of lime juice. THANK GOODNESS for electric citrus juicers because without it, I’d still be sitting in my seestrah’s kitchen squeezing limes. Foh-evah.

Once done, I combined the lime juice with freshly made simple syrup, triple sec, passion fruit juice and of course, tequila. YASSSS!!! I really enjoyed the tartness from both the passion fruit and limes–definitely making them again.

July 2016 Fam Din
Now say helloooooo to my little friend…..the sweet Spot Prawn.

These little buggers were seestrah’s choice for an appetizer and were swimming around the tank at the store when we picked them up earlier that day.

By the way, if you’re squeamish, just quickly scroll through to the next section.

July 2016 Fam Din

We gobbled the Spot Prawns two ways…..

First—sashimi style. We dipped them in just a bit of soy and wasabi and they were incredible! Truly sweet and fresh.

July 2016 Fam Din
Then we took the prawn heads and tossed them in a rice flour–you can also use cornstarch or tempura flour. My niece Nini deep fried them until they were golden and quickly sprinkled sea salt over them once they were out of the hot oil.

They were divine!! Perfectly crunchy and we still got a little bit of the prawn flesh in conjunction to the money bite. You know—the bite that’s filled with the tomalley-like goodness. Utterly rich, decadent and full of prawn flavor.

And seriously, if you’re freaked out by this, I kind of feel sorry for you but just pass yours right over to me because I will DEVOUR them!

July 2016 Fam Din
We also picked up some Octopus to nosh on. N sliced the tentacle super thin so that it was tender and easier to eat. Nini then made the perfect dipping sauce which had things like ponzu, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, scallions, paprika and anything else she could find in the pantry.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for the birthday boy, he wanted Lamb. Seester T, marinated lamb racks and loin chops overnight with a bunch of herbs, garlic and citrus zest.

When it was time for entrees, she had the boys grill them up and they nailed it.

July 2016 Fam Din

Initially, they were a bit concerned about the char due to the flare ups they had since the lamb was a bit fatty. But once the meat was rested, we sliced in and found a perfect medium-rare to medium.

Yeah, I guess we’ll keep those boys around after all.

July 2016 Fam Din
Seester fixed up a Mint Pesto to dunk the Lamb into.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for sides, we charred up some fresh Artichokes and N made a light Gremolata to drizzle over them to brighten things up.

July 2016 Fam Din
As for my side dish contribution, I made this Toasted Israeli Couscous with Roasted Wild Mushrooms. Super easy and low fuss to make—plus, it’s perfect at room temp. I’ll be sharing the recipe with y’all in a few days.

July 2016 Fam Din
And then it was dessert time!!

Since we had two birthday babies, they each got their own dessert. I know, it was something I started back in April for Lucas and bro in law C and now I can’t stop.

R said he wanted something chocolate and peanut butter. After mulling over it a bit, I decided to make a batch of NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (that he L-O-V-E-S) and sandwiched chocolate & peanut butter cup ice cream in between.

It was a total mess to eat but who cares when it’s a WINNER likes this!

July 2016 Fam Din
For Seestrah, it was much harder to decide what to make. She doesn’t really have a favorite dessert and likes an array of things. Since we already had something chocolate for R, I gave her several fruit options and she chose this Roasted Peach Napoleon.

There are essentially 3 components to this dessert which I was able to make earlier in the day and enlisted Nina to help assemble it. First up, I made the pastry cream which came together quite quickly. While the cream chilled, I roasted up the peaches and then baked off the puff pastry sheets.

Nina then layered it all together and we dug in!

Ok, technically there were candles, singing, wishes, and some presents before we dug in—but you get the picture.

July 2016 Fam Din
All in all, I think it was a delicious way to celebrate N and R!

Definitely stick around because August’s Dinner will have all 5 Nguyen Siblings + kids and fam in attendance and we’ll be cooking up the spirit of Aloha with a Hawaiian Lu’au spread!  ❤

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails:  Passion Fruit Margaritas
Appetizers: Sashimi Style Spot Prawns, Crispy Fried Spot Prawns Head, Octopus Sashimi
Entrees: Grilled Lamb Chops with Mint Pesto
Sides: Charred Artichokes with Gremolata, Toasted Israeli Couscous with Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Dessert: Roasted Peach Napoleon, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Seafood

Chirashizushi {Chirashi} – Fresh Sashimi Rice Bowls

Chirashizushi

Oh Chirashizushi….how do I love thee?

Fresh fish, veggies, pickled ginger, wasabi and perfectly cooked sushi rice—-all mixed up in a bowl. Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) or chirashi, translates to “scattered” which is one of the beauties about this dish.

Perfection.

As much as I love sushi rolls and nigiris, this gal can get terribly lazy sometimes. So to be able to throw all the ingredients that I love in sushi into one bowl is just genius.

And delicious.

Chirashizushi

I had been up at my seester’s place one weekend when we decided to pop into a local fishmonger we had discovered some time ago– Dry Dock Fish Company. It’s a smaller little shop, tucked away in Fullerton. But if you’re in the area, you must check it out because it’s an absolute gem.

Chirashizushi

I contemplated writing out a recipe for chirashi but I felt kind of silly doing it.

Make-at-home chirashi is all about using whatever types of fish that tickles your fancy. The chirashi pictured above has slices of ahi, hamachi, salmon, spoonfuls of ahi shoyu poke that I whipped up, avocado slices, lemon slices, lightly pickled Persian cucumbers, wasabi paste, scallions, gari (pickled young ginger), yuzu kosho (yuzu paste), nori crackers, and of course–sushi rice.

But again, chirashi can be anything you’d like my Friends. Just be sure to use sashimi grade fish ❤

Happy Saturday!!!

Sunday Family Dinner

Sunday Family Dinner goes back to Japan!

April 2014 Family Dinner

Well gang…. last year’s Japanese Sunday Family Dinner was so oishii – we had to go back again.

This time, per our brother-in-law’s request since we were also celebrating his birthday!

April 2014 Family Dinner

As always, we had to start with a few cocktails. I kept it pretty simple (but refreshingly delish) by infusing sake with fresh fruit. I filled a few mason jars with sweet canteloupe and pineapples, topped them off with sake, and them let them hang out in the fridge for a week.

When it was time to get the party started, I threw the contents of each jar in the blender, pureed it and then strained the liquids. It was fabulous!

April 2014 Family Dinner

As for the food, we had to do a little different spin on last year’s dinner. In honor of the robatayaki-yakiniku Japanese grilling style, we snagged a few of my cousin’s grills (that our uncle finagled) and got down to business!

We grilled fresh oysters, clams, prawns, calamari, trumpet mushrooms and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). The seafood were either dipped in a chili ponzu sauce or a ginger-fish sauce that the B.I.L. (bro-in-law) is a whiz at making.

April 2014 Family Dinner

And of course we had to have some beautiful, fresh sashimi.

Tuna, salmon, hamachi and …………..GEODUCK!

April 2014 Family Dinner

Have you ever seen fresh geoduck? CRAZY!!! They’re a gi-normous shellfish with a trunk-like thing sticking out of it.

We made big sis take care of the prep work for it…. obligatory big sister duties, of course. 🙂

It’s best to first blanch the geoduck for a minute to help skin it – a tip learned by a random stranger when we were buying the geoduck at the market. After a quick clean, she sliced it really thin and we inhaled it with soy and wasabi.

Verdict? Awesome. I liken the flavor and texture to escargot –but not as chewy.

Definitely a Foodventure.

April 2014 Family Dinner

To brush over the yakitori and mushrooms, I made a quick teriyaki sauce. Easy-peasy!

My other seester also made Japanese Hamburger Steak served over rice. Totally comforting and hearty.

April 2014 Family Dinner

And there’s always room for dessert in my family!

This time around, our big sis outdid herself with this layered Matcha Green Tea Cake filled with Green Tea Mousse and smothered with a rich ganache.

It was AH-MAY-ZING! Super-duper Green Tea Flavor!

April 2014 Family Dinner

She did a mash-up of a few different recipes. The cake comes from here and the green tea mousse is from here. As for the ganache, it was a quick version I made with heavy cream and dark chocolate. Can’t get any easier than that! But one piece of advice, double the amounts of matcha powder or else you won’t get that full flavor.

April 2014 Family Dinner

Pre-historic looking mollusks, outdoor grilling (including us accidentally melting the plastic table –eek!) and sparklers for the munchkins.

Needless to say it was a tummy-pleasing and FUN Sunday Family Dinner!

April 2014 Family Dinner

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Pineapple and Cantaloupe infused Sake
Appetizers: Tuna, Salmon, Hamachi and Geoduck Sashimis
Entrees: Hibachi Grilled Seafood & Vegetables, Demi-Glace Japanese Hamburger with Rice
Dessert: Matcha Green Tea Cake with Green Tea Mousse and Chocolate Ganache