Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bà Ngoại's Pâté Chaud Recipe

I don't think I ever realized how great of a childhood I had.  Every summer when I was in elementary school, my mom would take my sister and me to visit her family in Paris, France.  I remember waking up to the smells of fresh baked mini croissants and pâté chaud and pain au chocolats wafting in the bedroom from my grandmother (bà ngoại)'s tiny Paris apartment kitchen.  I didn't know it at the time, but my mom would later tell me that bà ngoại would wake up at 4am just to make us that special breakfast.  Lately I've been feeling really nostalgic and my bà ngoại doesn't really remember me so I wanted to remember her in a way that I could.  I visited her last summer in Paris and although her physical health is still pretty good, I don't know if she remembers me and those memories we shared.

Pâté Chaud is a Vietnamese-French meat-filled pastry.  If you've ever had a Chinese bao zi (steamed pork bun) think like that, except instead of a steamed outer soft bun, a crispy puff pastry shell.  And instead of whatever is in a Chinese bao fillings, French pâté and ground pork and onions.  Think of it like a meat ball wrapped in flaky pastry dough.  Anyway, they are delicious.  So delicious that drug-sniffing dogs at the airport confiscated a few from my mom when she tried to bring some back home from Paris for me back in the 90's. I think the TSA detained my mom for like 1 hour.  And I guess she's not the only victim of hungry drug sniffing dogs:

Pâté Chaud Recipe*
Pâté Feuillete (puff pastry):**
  • 180 g. ice water
  • 550 g. (bread/all purpose?) flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • salt
  • 250 g. margarine

  • 400 g. ground pork
  • 100 g. canned pate
  • 200 g. onion
  • 1&1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp. MSG (can omit/substute with salt)
  • pepper and sugar
*450 g. is about 1 lb.

  1. Gently mix all dough ingredients except margarine together until combined.
  2. Roll out dough and spread margarine on top. 
  3. Fold into thirds.  Roll out.  Fold into thirds the other direction.  Wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Repeat x 2.
  4. Cut circles out of dough**.  Fill with filling and seal edges with egg wash and your fingers.  Crimp edges with a fork.  Brush tops with egg wash.
  5. Bake at high temp (425*F) for first 10 minutes, then decrease oven temp to 325F until cooked through, about 20 more minutes.
**pate feuillete or frozen pre-made puff pastry may be substituted.  If used, skip step 1-3.  Bà Ngoại even did this as she aged and her arthritis got worse.  The dough is also the most time-consuming part of this recipe.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Watermelon and Mint Sorbet

It's the summertime! And here in Austin, it's hot!  Watermelon is in season and the mint in my backyard has not yet had a chance to be demolished by my fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream.
So I bought a little personal sized watermelon at the grocery store, cut some up to refrigerate and enjoy left over and was still left with a lot that wouldn't fit in my tupperware.
Enter, the Blendtec.  Popped the rest of the watermelon in there with some fresh mint, lemon juice, sugar and triple sec and had a tasty and refreshing dessert for later.


  • 3 cups watermelon
  • 1 tbs. fresh mint
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. triple sec or vodka, can omit
  • 1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

  1. Throw everything in the blender and blend.
  2. Freeze or refrigerate until sorbet-y
  3. Use a fork to carve out sorbet or spoon depending on consistency.

Watermelon and Mint Sorbet

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)

Ga ro ti, or Vietnamese roasted chicken, is one of the easiest recipes.  This recipe was actually the first thing my mom taught me when I'd moved off campus in college and would soon have my own kitchen to cook in.  It has 4 ingredients.  That's it.  And you need a pan.  Doesn't get that much simpler with Vietnamese cooking.  Also, it doesn't take like, 5 hours to make.

The sauce, although photographically uninteresting, is really really really good.  Coco Rico, a Coconut soda (Puerto Rican soda available at Fiesta and other places), is caramelized with TONS of garlic and Maggi to make this really awesome, sticky, sweet, salty sauce.  It's almost like the French 40 clove garlic roasted chicken in the proportion of garlic it uses.  The dark meat of the chicken makes it almost impossible to dry out, too.  My mother's recipe used drumsticks, but I've cut the recipe down in size to feed 2 and subbed chicken thighs which I find a little tastier and more versatile.  

Served over a simple bed of rice, you can accompany it with a small salad or some fresh cucumbers and pickled carrots.  I forgot how tasty and easy this recipe was and when I made it last night, R went back to pour the sauce over leftover rice.

Go Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 1.25lbs
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, (I use about 1 tsp. of my muoi thieu Hue here)
  • 1 tsp. Maggi seasoning sauce*
  • 3 oz of Coco Rico soda, about 1/4 can
  • 1 tsp. butter
*can substitute soy sauce

  1. Rub chicken thighs with salt and pepper, garlic, and Maggi. 
  2. Sear both sides of chicken over medium-high heat until browned, about 3-5 minutes each side.  Make sure to move garlic around the pan frequently or pile on top of the chicken so as not to burn garlic.
  3. Add Coco Rico and simmer on medium-low until sauce becomes caramelized, thickened, and slightly sticky.  Stir the sauce occasionally and turn chicken thighs for even cooking.  This may take 20-40 minutes.
  4. Serve over rice.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Chicken and Pesto Gemelli

Sometimes you have so much basil growing in your herb garden that you make tubs and tubs of pesto. And then you freeze some of that pesto. And then you get home from work 2 hours late and your stomach is screaming and you make this dish with chicken you have in the freezer, that bag of dry pasta from Costco, more grated Parmesan cheese and frozen peas. 

Chicken and Pesto Gemilli
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut in 1" cubes
  • 1 lb Gemilli pasta
  • 2 cups pesto, can sub store bought
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • Grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil pasta according to directions in salted water.  Drain and set aside, reserving about 1/4 c. pasta water
  2. Heat 1 tbs olive oil to bottom of pot. Add chicken and cook through over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.   Add pesto, frozen peas, and pasta back to pot. Adjust consistency of sauce if needed with reserved pasta water.   Add parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Enjoy or shovel in your mouth while watching Netflix.