Vietnamese Coffee Milkshake

July 26: National Coffee Milkshake Day

Good morning, Vietnam—and the rest of the world! For those who have not had their morning “cup of joe” yet, perhaps for the next coffee break, try a Vietnamese coffee milkshake for an afternoon delight. It is a tropical take on the traditional coffee milkshake, with coconut and condensed milk as ingredients. The chicory in the Vietnamese coffee grounds also lends a unique flavor to this recipe.

Thanks to Islander’s BFF, Nan N., who works in Hawaii but sometimes takes business trips to Vietnam, where she got us some souvenirs: a bag of Hanoian black coffee grounds and the special filter press (phin) for our food projects. Making the coffee is almost an art form—and the result is a beautiful blend of colors (so use a glass mug to see the mixtures).

The cooled coffee is strong but makes for a flavorful Vietnamese coffee milkshake, which is perfect for a coffee break and on National Coffee Milkshake Day.

Recipe

For the Vietnamese coffee

  • 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons coffee grounds (coarse, not fine)
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

In glass mug, pour the condensed milk in the bottom layer. In the filter cup, place the coffee grounds evenly. Press down and screw it securely in the cup. Set the filter cup on its base over the mug. Pour the boiling water slowly to fill the filter cup. Cover with the lid to steam it and allow the liquid coffee to drip completely into the mug (about 5 minutes). Stir to blend. Let cool.

 

For the coffee milkshake

  • 1 cup Vietnamese coffee (or strongly brewed coffee), cold
  • 2 cups coconut ice cream, softened (we used “macapuno” young coconut sport-flavored ice cream)
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • whipped cream
  • toasted coconut flakes

Directions

In a blender, place the coffee, ice cream and ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass. Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Vietnam was a French colony so there is a big cultural influence in its coffee production (French press techniques). The French first introduced coffee to North America through New Orleans, Louisiana, where there is also a large Vietnamese population. Café du Monde brand coffee, which has chicory in it, is a close substitute for Vietnamese coffee for this recipe.
  • Substitute any coffee grounds but use coarse instead of fine grounds so they won’t fall through the holes in the press.
  • Vietnamese-style coffee is very sweet from the condensed milk so we did not add additional condensed milk to the already sweet coconut ice cream.

 

Crème Sainte-Anne

 July 26: Feast Day of St. Anne

Islander’s Daddy’s patron saint is St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ. When Daddy was a poor, hopeless young boy growing up in a poverty-stricken province of the Philippines, he found a tattered card of St. Anne lying on the ground. Someone must have accidentally dropped and lost the card. But Daddy found God through the intercession of St. Anne and went back to the church and got baptized. He believes that this miraculous sign gave him a better and purposeful life. Coincidentally, she is the patroness of the country of his birth where her National Shrine is located in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She is also venerated as the patroness of other places, such as Quebec, Canada, and Brittany, France. For the feast day of St. Anne, we are featuring an old recipe, Crème Sainte-Anne, from the latter country. A prayer card of St. Anne was enough to convert Daddy, and this custard-like dessert could count as edible evangelism as well!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Cooking with the Saints” by Ernst Schuegraf)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, divided use
  • ½ cup sugar, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup macarons/macaroons (see Notes)
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg plus 3 egg yolks

Directions

Butter four ramekins and set aside. In a saucepan, dissolve ¼ cup sugar in the water. Boil until it is a caramel color. Divide into the ramekins and cool the caramel to set.

Slice a tablespoon of cold butter into four parts and place into the ramekins. Crush the macarons and sprinkle evenly among the ramekins. In another saucepan, simmer the milk but do not boil. In a large bowl, mix the egg and yolks with ¼ cup sugar until creamy. Pour in the simmering milk and stir well.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins (the crushed macaron pieces will float to the top). Place in a water bath (put the ramekins in a larger baking pan filled halfway with hot water). Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the mixture is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. The custard crème may be refrigerated. Loosen the edges with a knife or toothpick and invert onto a plate and serve.

Notes

  • The macarons/macaroons in this recipe most likely refer to the crisp French almond meringue cookies and not the chewy coconut cookies because this recipe is from Brittany, France. We had a recent Food Flop with our macaron shells and crushed those for this recipe. We also used the three egg yolks leftover from the macaron recipe. Refer to our MacAttack page for various macaron recipes to add a distinctive flavor to this Crème Sainte-Anne.
  • Italian amaretti, which is similar to the French macaron, is a suitable substitute.
  • This crème is basically a flan (custard dessert).
  • Anne shares her feast day with her husband, St. Joachim.

 

Corn Fritters

July 16: National Corn Fritters Day

When we lived in Oklahoma (translated as okla + humma or “red people”), we went to pow wows that served corn-based foods, as the vegetable is sacred and the “source of life” for Native Americans. Besides the fry bread at the festivals, we liked to snack on corn fritters.

Now we don’t have to wait to go to a local pow wow to eat them. We can cook corn fritters at home and snack on them whenever we want—but most especially on National Corn Fritters Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen, drained if canned)
  • vegetable oil for deep frying

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the milk.

Pour the egg-milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter. Add the corn and mix well. Use a rounded tablespoon to scoop the batter and carefully drop in vegetable oil. Deep fry for 4-6 minutes or until the corn fritters are cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot. Yield: Approximately 3 dozen.

Notes

  • Sprinkle powdered sugar after frying to make the corn fritters extra sweet. Or season with salt and sliced scallions for something savory.
  • Search our blog for other Native American inspired recipes.

 

Dry Martini

June 19: National Dry Martini Day

James Bond was very specific about how he wants a mixologist to make his martini. The fictitious but famous spy, 007, in Casino Royale (movie and book), instructed:

 “A dry martini. One. In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”

What he described is a recipe for the Vesper martini, named in memory of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved who was killed by the bad guys in the franchise. But for our blog, we are posting a recipe for a classic dry martini, which is stirred, not shaken. Also, unlike Bond’s beverage, the classic dry martini includes vermouth instead of vodka. As an ingredient he mentioned, Kina Lillet no longer exists but mixologists recommend Lillet Blanc while other bartenders add a splash of bitters.

Whether shaken or stirred, and whatever variation of ingredients are mixed for a dry martini, enjoy this classic cocktail on National Dry Martini Day. Cheers!

Recipe

 Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 3-4 ounces dry gin
  • ½ – 1 ounce dry vermouth OR vodka
  • splash of Lillet Blanc OR orange or Angostura bitters (optional)
  • lemon peel twist OR olive

Directions

Fill a shaker with ice. Add the gin and vermouth OR vodka. Stir briskly OR shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel twist OR olive.

 Notes

 

Cucumber-Lemon Cake

with Cucumber Vodka Icing

June 14: National Cucumber Day

With the summer season a few days away, we have been feeling the heat already in the Gulf Coast of Texas. To stay “Cool as a Cucumber,” this month’s theme of Islander’s local culinary book club, members were asked to share recipes using the vegetable as an ingredient. Some brought in cucumber tea sandwiches, many salads and even cucumber-infused drinks. Islander brought in a dessert—a cucumber-lemon cake with cucumber vodka icing (the original recipe used gin but she wanted to maximize the cucumber theme). The cake concept was a refreshing idea—a subtle taste of summer’s quintessential vegetable with a hint of sunny citrus iced with a sweet buttercream made with cucumber vodka to balance all the flavors. Cucumber-lemon cake with cucumber vodka icing is a delicate dessert that is perfect for National Cucumber Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Veggie Desserts)

For the cucumber-lemon cake

  • Half a cucumber (about ¾ cups), pureed (see Notes)
  • Half a lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

Wash and dry the cucumber, leaving the clean skin on. Slice into thin cubes and puree in a blender.

Zest half a lemon and set aside the zest for the batter. Squeeze half the lemon juice into the pureed cucumber. In a mixing bowl, combine the zest with the butter and sugar.

Add the vanilla and the eggs. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with baking powder. Gradually add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with half of the pureed cucumbers, and blend all ingredients until the batter is smooth.

Place in a lightly greased 8-inch round pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare the cucumber vodka icing.

For the cucumber vodka icing and decorations

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cucumber vodka
  • 1 lemon
  • cucumber slices

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Thin to a spreadable consistency with cucumber vodka. Smear a little frosting on a cake board or plate to “glue” the cake on it.

Use a spatula to frost the top and sides of the cake. Use a star tip to add a shell border around the cake. Use a large round tip to pipe a dollop of icing in the middle of the cake.

Use a sharp paring knife to peel the rind of a lemon—start from one end of the fruit and, in a continuous but careful motion, pare in one direction until reaching the end of the fruit. Immediately roll up tightly the peel, fanning out the edges a little to form a rosette. Place the lemon rose on the center of the dollop of icing.

With the reserved cucumber from the cake recipe above, cut a portion of the vegetable in half lengthwise. Slice the first cut thinly but do not go all the way through the cucumber. The second slice should detach from the vegetable. Fan it out like a fishtail. Slice 8 of these cucumber decorations, dry with a paper towel and arrange on the cake, attaching the non-cut tip to the dollop of icing. Refrigerate the cake but bring it to room temperature before serving.

Notes

  • We used a seedless English cucumber for this recipe. If using regular cucumbers, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  • For non-alcoholic icing, use cucumber water or lemon juice to thin out the buttercream frosting to a spreadable consistency.
  • Search our blog for other cucumber recipes.

Homemade Rocky Road

Candy Bars

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

We have made homemade candy bars before. So we tried another popular one, Rocky Road, with a different chocolate mold. In the United States, Rocky Road is a combination of marshmallows and crunchy nuts and chocolate. In the United Kingdom, it is a combination of marshmallows, crushed cookies/biscuits and chocolate with a light dusting of powdered sugar on top. In Australia, Rocky Road is a combination of marshmallows, glace cherries, crunch nuts, dessicated coconut and chocolate. Whatever combination of ingredients used, Rocky Road is easy to make for a delicious dessert. So indulge on homemade Rocky Road candy bars on National Rocky Road Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Chocolate chips or wafers (we used Ghirardelli dark chocolate melting wafers)
  • Nuts, dry roasted and unsalted, chopped (we used cashews, following the original Annabelle Candy Company’s recipe)
  • Mini marshmallows (see Notes)

Directions

Melt the chocolate in a bowl (in a microwave or over a double boiler), according to the directions on the package. Chop the cashews, reserving the nut pieces and discarding the “dust”. Set aside.

Spoon melted chocolate halfway in the mold, making sure to coat the sides with a thin layer. Let cool slightly so the chocolate will not melt the marshmallows. Sprinkle the chopped cashews and mini marshmallows over the slightly cooled chocolate. Fill the mold with chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set and is firm. Unmold onto paper towels. Serve at room temperature but still slightly cooled.

Notes

  • If mini marshmallows are not available, cut jumbo marshmallows into small pieces.
  • This blog post is dedicated to Father Tim E. who loves anything “Rocky Road”.
  • Check out more chocolate recipes on our blog from the Theme Menus.

 

Teriyaki Steak

teriyakisteak

June: National Steak Month

Islander’s Daddy served in Japan while he was in the U.S. Navy and liked to cook like the locals. As a chef on the ship, he cooked teriyaki steak and chicken for his fellow sailors. Likewise, while on shore duty, Daddy would occasionally grill teriyaki steak on his outdoor mini hibachi for the family’s Sunday supper. If there were any leftover meat, we would pack them for the next day’s lunch with a little rice for our very own bento boxes.

Teriyaki steak is terrific, especially during National Steak Month in June.

Recipe

(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ – 2 pound steak (flank or skirt; we used ribeye), around ½ inch thick
  • 1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
  • 1/3 cup sake
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, granulated white or brown
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
  • olive or canola oil
  • sesame seeds or chopped green onions (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large, shallow bowl, combine the mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar.

teriyakisteaksteps1

Mix in the grated ginger. Marinate the steak in this mixture for at least an hour (overnight is better) in the refrigerator. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting the sauce drip back to the bowl. Set aside. Use the marinade to make the teriyaki sauce by placing it in a small pot. Boil it down until it is reduced by half and becomes a thin glaze. Strain out any ginger pieces (optional).

teriyakisteaksteps2

While heating up the grill, rub a little oil on the steak to prevent sticking to the grates. Sear on one side until browned (3-5 minutes) then turn it over and brown for another few minutes to desired doneness (medium rare to well done). Baste with a little teriyaki sauce. When cooked, transfer the steak to a plate, cover it with foil to steam-lock the flavor while it is resting for 10 minutes. Uncover and slice the steak across the grain, slightly diagonal, in ¼-inch pieces. Arrange the slices on a serving platter or plate. Drizzle teriyaki sauce on top and sprinkle some sesame seeds or chopped green onions on top (optional).

teriyakisteaksteps3

Notes

  • This teriyaki steak may be pan fried with a little oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet. Sear on one side until browned (3-5 minutes) then turn it over and brown for another few minutes to desired doneness (medium rare to well done). Baste with a little teriyaki sauce after turning each side over.
  • Anyone concerned about using the same sauce in which the steak was marinated can rest assured that any bacteria will be killed during the boiling down process.
  • Serve teriyaki steak with a bowl or hot steamed, sticky white rice. We recommended as a side dish teppanyaki-style zucchini, onions and yellow squash.
  • Search our blog for more Japanese recipes under Theme Menus.