Tag Archives: mint

BBQ Pork Meatballs on Vermicelli

I grew up with friends that would go out for Pho once a week.To this day I’ve yet to order Pho at a restaurant because I’ve always been able to get my hands on some homemade stuff. Now I’m finding a lot of my friends falling in love with Vietnamese Vermicelli. The three classic proteins are BBQ pork shoulder, pork spring rolls, or BBQ pork meatballs. Any combination of the three is delicious, although I prefer all three as its a great way of serving pork three ways.

Vermicelli

Marinated Pork Shoulder Slices fresh off the fire.

Like most Vietnamese dishes, pork vermicelli relies on how fresh the ingredients are. Luckily for me, my herb garden grows both mint and purple perilla. You’ll find that most Vietnamese restaurants will add pickled carrots to the mix as it is a great way to add texture and acidity. It is also much like a salad in the sense that you just toss the ingredients in fish sauce and it is ready to enjoy. My all time favourite protein with vermicelli is the BBQ pork meatball. The sweet and spiciness is unique and it also just so happens to be the most visually appealing.

Vermicelli

You’ll want to see this full size.

This has always been my favourite Vietnamese dish. I always found it to be underrated growing up although judging from my what my friends now order I believe that to be changing. In my opinion, this dish sums up everything that is great about Vietnamese cuisine. You have a lot of raw components which taste horrible if they aren’t fresh. You also have a very light tasting noodle in order to keep the overall fresh mouth feel. Next, you have a complexly sweet, savoury, and smokey protein (and in the case of the spring roll you also get a more obvious texture contrast). Last, you get a wonderfully balanced fish sauce which tastes incredibly light considering it has one of the highest glutamic acid concentrations that you’ll be able to find (what makes things taste savoury). Usually in other cuisines you’d smother the protein in some tomato product. It is not by total chance that Indian tomato based curries have become popular worldwide, along with tomato based pasta sauces and our favourite, Ketchup! Just a light glazing of this fermented fish product however, gives you a deep meaty sensation. It does this without compromising the light and fresh feel of the dish which to me is incredible.

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No Bake Cheese Cake

Seeing as how classic new york cheese cake is in my top 5 favourite desserts of all time, it comes as a bit of a surprise that I actually like Gordon Ramsay’s no bake cheese cake even more. The original recipe can be found here: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/gordon-ramsay/vanilla-cheesecake-recipe however, I had some left over Captain Morgan from the weekend among other things:

Ingredients:

For the topping:

  • 6 – Mr. Christie’s Arrowroot Cookies
  • 6tbsp – Sugar
  • 75g – Unsalted Butter

For the cake:

  • 400g – cream cheese
  • 6tbsp – icing sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600ml – double cream
  • icing sugar to dust
  • fresh mint to garnish

For the berries:

  • 200g – blueberries
  • 100g – pomegranate
  • splash of rum

Cheesecake

 

Method:

For the topping:

  • crush arrowroot cookies into tiny pieces
  • melt the sugar into a light caramel
  • to prevent the caramel from becoming too dark, take it off the heat as soon as the colour is right and add in cold butter to cool down the caramel
  • add the crushed biscuits and coat them in the caramel

For the cake:

  • Combine all of the ingredients except for the icing sugar and the mint in a large bowl
  • Keep cool in fridge to make it easier to shape

For sauce:

  • Combine berries and pomegranate in a pot and bring to a boil
  • After some of the berries burst deglaze the pan with a splash of rum and turn down the heat to a simmer
  • take off the heat when the sauce reaches desired thickness

I finish the cheesecake with the crushed arrowroot cookies on top and some fresh mint. This lighter take on a cheesecake works well when you don’t want to go into an everlasting food coma.

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Chocolate Mousse

I seldom take the time to make desserts. I suppose when one is trying to save money and lead a healthy lifestyle, the dessert is the first course to be omitted. However, there are occasions that call for desserts. One of the easiest possible dessert that takes the least amount of time to make is whipped chocolate mousse. There are only 3 ingredients; chocolate, whipping cream, and icing sugar.

Chocolate Mousse

 

The ratio to remember is 1:2:6. For every 1 part of icing sugar, remember to add 2 parts of melted dark chocolate (I like anything in between 70-80%) and 6 parts of whipping cream. You can serve this right away or make it in advance and let it set in the fridge. This makes it a convenient dessert to serve as it can be made in advance which takes the pressure off when hosting a nice dinner.

Above you can see that I’ve chosen to serve the mousse with a mint vodka raspberry sauce. I find that even though the mousse is light, it is still rich and sweet and it is best enjoyed with some acidity to brighten up the dish. I’ve chosen to go with raspberries this time. Simply heat up some raspberries in a bit of reduced vodka infused with mint. I like to take the mint out before blending the raspberries into a purée.

The longer one reduces the raspberries, the more water is taken out of the raspberry sauce. Less water in the sauce means that the raspberry flavour will be intensified. Overdoing the reduction may lead to a very tart raspberry sauce. Seeing as how the mousse is not overly heavy, I just like to warm the raspberries a bit instead of taking a lot of water out of them as I might do if I were serving the sauce with a dense chocolate cake.

Chocolate Mousse

 

I serve the mousse on top of the raspberry sauce and I garnish with some fresh raspberries, mint, and some grated leftover dark chocolate which I saved from being melted.

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