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New Year’s Day Black Eyed Peas

1 Jan

Happy New Year! We rang in the New Year at a family friend’s house with an adult’s-only party. Yeah. It was fun. The hosts always cook soups and brought the staples – noodles with seafood and veggies, fried rice, cha gio and whatnot. I went American this time around and made these ham and cheese sliders I kept seeing on Pinterest. Pretty good, but need to moderate the butter…

This year I jazzed up usual straightforward Black-Eyed Pea recipe with smoked ham and think this version will be our new go-to.  New Year’s Day has it’s own traditions in my family, and one that I’ve insisted on keeping with my husband. Since our Vietnamese family celebrates the Chinese New Year, there’s no conflict or blending of traditions on this day, which is kinda nice.

Eating Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring prosperity in the new year as a tradition with Southern families (which includes mine). Mom always made this rich stew with a pan of homemade cornbread. I always liked to split the slide of cornbread, slather on the butter and dip in my bowl of beans. Unfortunately I cheated and just picked up a rustic baguette from the grocery store yesterday. Maybe next year I’ll make my first cornbread. A note on shopping – it’s not wise to wait until New Year’s Eve to buy the dried beans. I found a bag on my fourth grocery store stop.

Cheers to a prosperous, joyful, and healthy 2014!

New Year’s Day Smoky Black-Eyed Peas

Serves 4-6

  • 16-oz bag dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 tbl butter
  • 1 onion minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1 tomato
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • Smoked ham hocks
  • Mushroom seasoning (salt works, too)
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tbl White vinegar

Soak the beans overnight, or if you’re an early riser when you wake up on New Year’s Day. They need to soak for at least 6 hours. Make sure there aren’t any rocks or other stuff in the beans, and rinse with clean water.

In a stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic, diced tomato and green chile. Stir well to combine and cook for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. You can also get the Rotel green chile and tomato version and omit the separate tomato. Add 1-2 tablespoons of mushroom seasoning (less if you’re using salt), 2 tsp of cayenne pepper (to taste) and fresh ground pepper.

Add the smoked ham hocks and add the beans, filling in the gaps. Pour in the chicken broth to cover – you may need to add another cup of chicken broth or water as it gets cooking. Definitely look for smoked ham or ham hocks. The smoked flavor adds so much to this dish.

Black eyed peas with smoked ham hock, onion, garlic, and green chile.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes and check the liquid level. Some people like their BEPs thick like a mushy stew. Others like it more watery like a soup with beans. We’re like Goldy Locks and like them juuuuuust right. So based on your preference, either uncover for the last 30 minutes or keep covered.

Add more liquid or seasoning if you need to and splash in the vinegar at this point – a tip I saw on the Pioneer Woman – for a little bump in flavor. This makes complete sense as I used to add the vinegar from the little yellow banana peppers growing up. I used 2 tablespoons, but you may like less. Start with less and add more until you get it right.

That’s it! Serve with bread to sop up the yummy broth. Tabasco is a good hot sauce choice because of the vinegar, but use what you like. Go forth and be prosperous!

Black eyed pea stew with smoked ham hock, served with sliced bread and Tabasco hot sauce

Farewell 2013, an Amazing Year in Review

31 Dec Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

What a year it’s been! To recap and set the stage for 2014, I wanted to look back at some of your (and my) favorite posts from 2013.

By and far, you’ve loved the Bun Rieu Cua recipe as much as my husband does. We hosted game night last weekend and this was again the main event. One of our Vietnamese friends said it tasted “very authentic”. Aahhh warm and fuzzies. I was stoked to try out a new tool though – check out this rau muong splitter (water spinach):

The end result is always beautiful. If you haven’t already, make it a resolution to give it a try in 2014.

Bun Rieu Cua tomato crab soup with  limes and herbs

Your second and third favorites are mine. We make Ca Kho caramel catfish often, made easier with the clay pot I added to my arsenal after this post. I could eat Ca Chim fried palmburro fish every week. Goes with any soup or green side. Super fast and easy to make.

Fried palmburro fish with squash soup and rice

Pinners loved the Banh Pate So on Pinterest. It remains my favorite party snack when friends or family come over. So rich and tasty with hidden vegetables – always a plus! Are there any Vietnamese cooking or cultural boards that are you go to for inspiration?

Banh Pate So meat filled puff pastries

The biggest moment – or series of moments – for me personally was of course my engagement and marriage. The Dam Hoi engagement ceremony planning and photos of the big day are hot items on the blog, and I hope the info is still handy should my sister-in-law need details for hers next year 🙂

Of course our wedding day was just as special. I still use many of the crafts and skills I picked up for the homemade details. Those glittered vases and votives are all over the house and we’ve used the table runners a few times. I’m still using calligraphy to add a special touch to gifts, letters and other things for the special people in my life. It takes time, but personal and handmade touches to any event are really worth the effort. Your guests will notice!

Vietnamese long dress Ao Dai and wedding dress

Photo by Katarina Price Photography http://www.katarinaprice.com

Thank you for finding and reading my blog, I hope the recipes, crafts, and entertainment tips have brought joy and yumminess to your year! Let me know if you have ideas for new recipes to tackle in 2014, and I’ll be back on the language learning train as we plan our trip to Vietnam in the fall. Here’s to a safe, joyful, and heathy New Year!

Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup – Bun Mang Vit

28 Dec

It’s been a while since I tried a new dish, and this super flavorful soup came to mind as something nice to make my Mr. Bun Mang Vit (boon mong yit) Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup one of his favorite soups, and we have to visit specific restaurants to get a good serving. After a cursory search on the Web, this dish appeared to be surprisingly simple. Instant win. 

There are a lot of steps, but it works out as you can do them in order and the whole meal takes around 45 minutes. Not bad for a from-scratch soup that comes out looking and tasting as delicious as this:

Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup with cabbage and herb salad Continue reading

Successful Thanksgiving Day

1 Dec

Last night as I was flipping through Facebook and Instagram posts of friends and family, my heart swelled like it so often does around the holidays. We all have so very much to be thankful for, which shouldn’t be concentrated in just one day a year.

This morning [Friday, actually…I didn’t finish this blog in one sitting], for instance, I’m sitting at the dining room table working on this blog with my niece flipping through Christmas music stations on Pandora on the couch across from me. She also plugged in the Christmas tree that she and her sister helped us decorate yesterday after dinner. Family, peace, and Girl Scout Samoa coffee creamer are certainly on the Thankful List.

Anywho, yesterday was a success. We survived – the kitchen, our sanity, and maybe even waistlines. I learned one very important lesson in hosting Thanksgiving: Prepare 1/3 of the food that I *think* I need.

This is seriously a problem of mine, guys. There were more leftovers than what was eaten. It didn’t help that we had the extra Chinese and Viet dishes.

I mean, look at this well-stocked table!

Family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinner Continue reading

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