Great Balls of Sesame! Lily’s Bacon Banh Cam

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For anyone who has had Banh Cam (or Banh Ran if your family is from northern Vietnam), you know that it can have different fillings depending on the bakery you purchase it from. If you buy Banh Cam in a Chinese bakery, it is filled with red bean paste. If you buy it in a Vietnamese bakery, it can be filled with a sweet mung bean paste. Occasionally, you’ll even see it with a coconut mung bean mix inside.

I always felt that the sweetness of banh cam was too overwhelming, and consequently, when I decided to make Banh Cam in the Fierro house, I wanted to add a savory element to the mung bean filling I remembered eating as a kid. After a bit of thinking, I decided on one of my favorite pork products for flavor, bacon.

For my version of Banh Cam, I use a modified Banh It filling. The outcome is a crispy, chewy, sweet yet slightly salty, and creamy bite. Banh Cam requires a bit of patience and love when it comes to preparing the batches, but I promise you’ll enjoy the final treat. This recipe makes at least 10 Banh Cam, so be prepared to share them because they are quite rich! Enjoy!

Music: Claude Debussy: Chansons de Bilitis.

Generoso’s Light and Bright Zuppa di Pesce!

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Again, Italian is such a pretty language as Zuppa di Pesce simply means “fish soup.”

From the coast of Tuscany comes this awesome tomato and seafood based soup that is super easy to make!

The most time that you will spend in preparation is when you select your seafood. You will need shrimp, octopus, clams, and whatever sea fish you wish to add as well as a can of puree tomatoes, parsley, 8 cloves of garlic, red wine, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, ground parmesan, and a hearty bread of your choice. Cooking time should only be about 70 minutes. Enjoy and let us know how yours turns out!  XO Generoso

Music: Mahler – Symphony no. 5, I. “Trauermarsch”

Crystal Dumplings With Pork and Shrimp in Banana Leaves: Banh Bot Loc

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I’ve been thinking about the treats I remembered eating when I was a kid, and I recalled family functions with trays of banh bot loc wrapped in banana leaves. These chewy, sweet, and savory tapioca flour based dumplings are fragrant and delicious for lunch or even breakfast.

While the filling traditionally contains pork belly and shell on shrimp, I prefer to use minced pork loin and shrimp. Served with Nuoc Mam, banh bot loc is a lot of fun for your next party or for a dinner with friends. Its transparent dough wrapped in the bright green banana leaf makes for a very pretty presentation, and its bouncy texture combined with the rich flavors of the filling make for a layered and satisfying bite.

Enjoy! Music provided by Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178.

The Summery Taste Of Generoso’s Chicken Scallopini

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With only a few more weeks of summer left, Generoso decided to end the week with the bright, delicious taste of the classic dish, chicken scallopini. Super easy and quick to make, this chicken (pork or veal is fine as well without altering the other ingredients in the recipe) with its light summery sauce should make any hot night come alive. You will need 24 oz of chicken breast, 1/4 cup of white wine, 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tablespoons of capers, olive oil, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and rotini pasta (or any non-thread pasta of your choosing).  Please let us know how yours turns out and enjoy!

Music: Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, S.244:2 by Franz Liszt

Tan Tan Memories of a Different Type of Omlette – Making Lily’s Banh Bot Chien

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Growing up in Houston, I frequently ate at Tan Tan Restaurant on Bellaire, as so many Vietnamese and Chinese Houstonians do. Beyond the delicious egg and rice noodle dishes I devoured, the highlight of each meal at Tan Tan was the opening appetizer, Banh Bot Chien. Crispy, soft, eggy, sweet, salty, and tart all at the same time, Banh Bot Chien at Tan Tan was a staple of my childhood.

Since leaving Houston, I have not consumed Banh Bot Chien. It’s a bit of a hybrid Chinese-Vietnamese dish, with its foundation taking cues from daikon rice cakes often eaten at Chinese Dim Sum, and it’s most commonly consumed as a street dish item in Saigon, so it seems to be unpopular in most Vietnamese restaurants.

After years of Banh Bot Chien’s absence from my diet, I finally decided to make it in the Fierro home. While the rice cakes require quite a bit of time to cook and then cool, the final product is a perfect blend of flavors and textures that will lead to a great amount of joy, whether or not Banh Bot Chien is a new or an old friend to your dining table.

The rice cake here is made with chicken broth, so for a vegetarian version, feel free to use vegetable stock or a vegetable bouillon base. Hope you enjoy it!

Background music provided by Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano No1 in E minor Op38

 

 

Generoso’s Spaghetti alla Vongole Is Clam Paradise

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As a proud Neapolitan I am thrilled to show you how to make Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti and clams) which originated in Naples and is very popular throughout the surrounding Campania region. Easy to make but as all Italian food is about ingredients, you cannot skimp when it comes to your clams. Make sure that they are fresh and closed when you buy them. I’ll show you how to clean your clams and the entire process. You will need a box of spaghetti, two pounds of manila clams, 1/2 cup of white wine ( I like Riesling for this), 3 ounces of fresh parsley, 4 cloves of garlic, 8 ounces of cherry tomatoes, red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

Let us know how yours turns out!

Music: Dvorak: String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97, B. 180

 

Com Chien Do – The Vietnamese Counterpart to Risi e Bisi

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We’re having a rice and peas battle in the Fierro household! Last week, Generoso made the creamy and savory Risi e Bisi, and this week, I decided to take rice and peas in a Vietnamese direction. Tomato fried rice is the perfect side dish to any protein. Traditionally served with bo luc lac, com chien do is a nice alternative to a more soy based fried rice. My version has peas and onions in it, which are purely a personal preference. This com chien do here is served with ga luc lac, since chicken was in the fridge. Feel free to serve the tomato fried rice with fried tofu, fried chicken, grilled pork chops, or of course with bo luc lac. Make a huge bowl of com chien do for a summertime party or picnic to share!

Music: Fryderyk Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasy in A-flat Major, Op. 61

Generoso’s Creamy and Savory “Risi e Bisi” (Italian Rice and Peas)

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This delicious and dangerously unhealthy Italian dish usually makes it may to the table in Italy sometime during the spring when the peas are harvested, but here Generoso shows you how to make this dish in the dead of summer in our Los Angeles apartment.  From prep to plate this dish should take you a little over thirty minutes to prepare, and for the most part is created in a way similar to that of any risotto.   So get ready for a lot of stirring.  You will need two cups of arborio rice, four cups of peas, 1/2 cup of ground Parmesan, one half yellow onion, 1/2 pound bacon/pancetta, four tablespoons of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let us know how yours turns out. XOXO Generoso and Lily

Music: “Felix Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words”

A Bite Sized Appetizer Transforms Into a Meal: Lily’s Banh It

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Vietnamese food from the Hue region is some of my favorite food. Particularly, I have fond memories of eating a version of banh it with a chewy, crispy piece of fried dough underneath it in a grimy restaurant specializing in food from the Hue region in Houston as a child. Man, that restaurant was a rough place to eat at, but the food really was unlike any other.

Unable to find that version of banh it again, I decided to make my own interpretation. The version I had as a kid was served in bite sized servings as an appetizer, but since I lack such a level of portion restraint, I made my banh it much larger, making them less of an appetizer and more of a meal.

There are many steps to this recipe, but I promise the outcome is a delicious mix of flavors and textures, especially when served with a piece of lettuce to wrap around these hybrid steamed and fried rice flour dumplings and all topped with nuoc mam.

Perfect for a special occasion, banh it will definitely impress your friends and loved ones! Enjoy!

Generoso’s Crispy and Sweet Polenta Fritto con Spinaci!

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Polenta is that delicious corn meal bite that is perfect for dinner after a cold day outside. My recipe for these fried polenta slices with spinach should make for a different appetizer for your next event. You will need cornmeal, spinach, butter, red wine, garlic, salt, olive oil, black pepper, and whole milk mozzarella. Let us know how yours turned out!

XO Generoso and Lily

Music: Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestucke Op 88