07 July

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.


For the Vietnamese coffee

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


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


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.


  • 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!


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


  • 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


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.


  • 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!


(Adapted from Serious Eats)


  • 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


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.


  • 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.


Japanese Cheesecake

July 30: National Cheesecake Day

Some of the Asian supermarkets around town have bakeries built in the corner and we sometimes pick up a few baked goods on our way out to snack on during the drive home. We especially like the cotton-soft cakes, such as the rolled sponges and light layered ones. So when we saw a viral post on a 3-ingredient Japanese cheesecake, we had to try it to see if we can replicate one of the fluffy Asian confections from the bakeries.

This Japanese cheesecake is made with cream cheese and eggs, just like a New York-style cheesecake, but is airy like an angel food chiffon cake and not dense, creamy and heavy. We made ours mini size (6-inch round) and added a little vanilla for a hint of flavor.

Japanese cheesecake is a sweet and simple snack or a light dessert after a big meal and is a good recipe to try on National Cheesecake Day.


(Adapted from Epicurious)


  • 4 ounces (1 package) white chocolate (we used Baker’s brand), melted
  • 4 ounces (½ package/container) cream cheese (we used lactose-free cream cheese), softened
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)


Prepare a 6-inch round spring form cake pan by lining the bottom and sides with buttered parchment paper (cut a 6-inch round circle and butter it and cut a strip at least 21 inches long and 4-5 inches high and butter it). Cover the bottom of the cake pan with a large foil piece to prevent water from leaking into it. Set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, melt the white chocolate according to the package directions. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Mix in the softened cream cheese. In a small cup, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla, if using.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate-cream cheese. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add small portions of egg whites to the above mixture and fold gently until incorporated each time.

Pour the mixture carefully into the prepared spring form pan. Place this pan into a larger pan. Pour warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake sets. Turn off the oven and leave the pans for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place the foil-lined spring form pan onto a wire rack to cool completely. Discard the water from the other pan. Remove the cheesecake from the pan, peeling away the parchment paper, and put on a platter. Chill for about 4 hours before serving.


  • This Japanese cheesecake tends to deflate a little after it has been taken out of the oven but still tastes light and soft.
  • Substitute the vanilla for other flavorings, such as strawberry, orange or raspberry extract and garnish the finished cheesecake with sliced strawberries, drained mandarin oranges or raspberries. Try coconut extract and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  • Try our other creamy cheesecake recipes on our blog for National Cheesecake Day.


Strawberry Daiquiri

July 19: National Daiquiri Day

Summers are hot, especially in Texas, so Highlander sometimes chills out with a strawberry daiquiri. The fruit is in season and is abundant around this time of the year here. So much so that we have been to two strawberry festivals in Texas (Poteet and Pasadena) which sell the fruit by bushels and baskets! On a hot summer day, relax and cool off with a classic cocktail—strawberry daiquiri—on National Daiquiri Day.


(Adapted from Cocktails at Love to Know)


  • 1 ½ cups ice
  • ¾ cup rum
  • ½ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries (washed and leaves removed)


In a blender, place the ice, rum and lime juice. Sprinkle the sugar.

Add the strawberries. Blend/puree/liquefy well. Pour into glasses. Garnish with a strawberry or slice of lime (optional).


  • For a mocktail (virgin version of strawberry daiquiri), eliminate the rum and substitute with lemon-lime soda.
  • Search our blog for more cocktail recipes.

Texas Caviar

July 18: National Caviar Day

Our Ukrainian friend Olga W. eats real Russian caviar but we have not acquired a taste for that luxury cuisine. We even tried to fill some champagne macarons with caviar as well but we still did not care for it.

Perhaps our taste (buds) leans toward the beer (budget) than champagne (and caviar) kind. So for National Caviar Day, we went the cheap route and asked our friend, Karen B., to make her version of Texas Caviar for our blog. Her recipe does not have roe but lots of richness from the earth instead—beans and colorful chopped vegetables.

Our guest chef is a true Texan and is the perfect person to share her recipe for Texas Caviar. Born and bred near Houston, Karen loves her cowboy boots, the rodeo, BBQs and country music. She and Islander are friends through the local culinary and cake clubs.

Served as a side salad or as an appetizer with (Texas-shaped) tortilla chips, Texas Caviar is an economical alternative to expensive caviar on National Caviar Day!


From Karen B.


  • 1 small onion (or half a Texas-sized sweet onion), chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions/scallions, chopped (green parts only)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 small Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black eyed peas, drained
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) zesty Italian dressing


Finely chop the sweet and green onions, green/red/jalapeno peppers and cilantro leaves. Mince the garlic and dice the tomatoes. Put them all in large mixing bowl. Stir in the drained black beans and black eyed peas. Add the sweet corn kernels. Pour in the zesty Italian dressing and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve in a bowl, garnished with extra chopped cilantro leaves, if desired.


  • Thanks to Karen B. for taking some photos for our blog and for making Texas Caviar for us. Take special note of her adorable Texas-shaped bowl that she used to serve the dip with tortilla chips.
  • Our church puts on an annual “Denim and Diamonds” fundraiser so we were inspired to photograph the food with our jeans and rhinestones. “Denim and Diamonds” is a popular party theme in Texas and is also a perfect backdrop for Texas Caviar.


Patriotic Peanut Butter

M&M Cookies

July 4: American Independence Day

Americans are celebrating the 4th of July today by shopping the sales, seeing a blockbuster movie, watching fireworks, having a picnic or barbecue or enjoying the summer season with family and friends. Whenever we gather with them to celebrate USA’s independence day, we like to make festive food to share, such as these peanut butter cookies studded with red, white and blue M&M peanut butter-flavored candies. This dessert is easy to make and is always a welcome treat at parties with a patriotic theme. Happy 4th of July!



  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter M&Ms (we used the seasonal red, white and blue peanut butter-flavored M&M candies)
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated white


In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the peanut butter. Beat in the egg. Blend well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Gradually add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until everything comes together. Fold in the M&Ms. Scoop 1-inch size balls form the dough. Roll in the sugar.

Place each dough ball on a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving about two inches to allow for spreading. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let the cookie cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yield: Approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.


  • The use of red, white and blue M&Ms in this patriotic-colored recipe is similar to the one of the election cookies we made a few years ago.
  • Change the colors of the candies to suit the season (for example, red and pink M&Ms for Valentine’s Day and red and green M&Ms for Christmas).
  • Search our blog for other patriotic-themed recipes.


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