meatball banh mi sandwich


This is one of the best sandwiches I ever ate. It’s fresh and filling, a complete meal between two pieces of bread.

Meatball Banh Mi Sandwich (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Servings: Makes 4 sandwiches

Hot Chili Mayo:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot Sriracha sauce (more or less)

Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

1 pound lean ground pork or ground chicken or lean ground turkey
1/2-1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil or chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (Tiparos is recommended)
1 tablespoon hot sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using a moistened 1 1/2 inch scoop, pick up a packed and level scoop of meat. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bake meatballs at 350˚F for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer pink. One pound of meat will make about 10-12 3 inch meatballs.

Vegetable Pickle:
2 cups carrot sticks
1 cup cucumber slices
1 cup sweet bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Toss carrots, celery, sweet pepper, vinegar, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles (optional)
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs
4 stalks scallion, trimmed

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell.

Arrange jalapeños, if using, then cilantro and scallion in bottom halves. Fill each with 3-4 meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.

Ina Garten’s gluten-free flourless chocolate cassis cake


I’ve wanted to try Ina’s recipe for sometime now, but finding creme de cassis in Bangkok was a challenge. Then I found cassis syrup. Cassis, pronounced ka-CEESE, is made from blackcurrants. While creme de cassis is a liqueur, and thus alcoholic, the syrup is not, thus making it an acceptable substitute.  This recipe is flourless but I’ve also made it gluten-free by using cocoa instead of flour to dust the pan. The cake has a dense fudgey interior, lightly sweet with a delicate taste of blackcurrants.

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake seemed to be not set yet. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 2 cups whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add a few long-ans or rambutans on the side.

almond cream with mandarin oranges


This is one of the oldest recipes in my recipe collection. I bought Alison’s book when I was in graduate school, and I made this dessert for its cool refreshing quality after a spicy meal. This dessert and another one called Almond Lake, a rice pudding, were early favorites when company came over.

Almond Cream with Mandarin Oranges (Alison Burt)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours

1 x 16 oz can mandarin oranges or chopped fresh fruit, such as kiwi, mango, dragon fruit, and tangerines, chilled
2 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons gelatin powder (4 gelatin leaves = 1 tablespoon)
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

I made this with gelatin leaves. I put 16 leaves in a large bowl of cool water for 4 minutes or until softened.

In a medium sauce pan add the water, milk, and sugar, then heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Drain the gelatin and add drained gelatin to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat source. Add the almond extract and stir. Let the mixture cool to room temperature about 30 minutes.

Pour into an ungreased glass dish about 9 inches square. Chill until set about 2 hours. Cut into small squares and pour into a large bowl. Add the mandarin oranges, syrup and all. Chill and serve in individual bowls.

almond-brown sugar potica cake


Pronounced paw-TEET-zha, this cake is light and moist with a crunchy brown-sugar-and-almond filling. I made this cake once before in New York so it’s only fitting that I try it again in Bangkok. I had a near disaster because my oven was too slow, so the center of the cake was still raw when I made a test slice. So I put it in the microwave for 4 1/2 minutes on high, and that finished the cooking.

Almond-Brown Sugar Potica Cake (adapted from Gourmet magazine)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes
Cooling time: 2 hours

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter plus more for greasing, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups low fat yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325˚F/165˚C. Grease a 10 inch tube cake pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. Mix together the yogurt and vanilla; set aside. Make the filling and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-6 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Add 1/2 of the yogurt mixture and combine. Add half the remaining flour and the remaining yogurt mixture, beating after each addition. Add the rest of the flour and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepare pan, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling on top. Drop spoonfuls of half the remaining batter on top of the filling. Sprinkle half of the remaining filling on top of the batter. Scrape the rest of the batter on top of the filling. Sprinkle the remainder of the filling on top of the batter. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean, with just a few crumbs attached. If the batter is still raw, continue baking in 5 minute increments.

Cool on a wire cooling rack placed over a baking tray. Cool 2 hours in the pan, then unmold. To remove the side, use a thin blade by placing the blade against the side of the pan and pressing it towards the center. Use your fingers to push up the centerpiece from the bottom, and separate it from the side. To release the centerpiece, Turn it upside down over the rack with the tray underneath. The tray will catch all the sugar and nuts that fall off the top of the cake. Re-invert the cake. Slice and serve.




one pot garlic tomato shrimp pasta


I halved this recipe to make enough for two–with leftovers. I swapped out the white wine for red and added half a  bouillon cube. Of course I ramped up the pepper flake effect. It is scrumptious!

One Pot Garlic Tomato Shrimp Pasta (adapted from Tasty)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1/2 pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, (if frozen then thawed, pat dry)
3 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 -2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, halved, thin slices
8 large cloves garlic, minced
588g tinned diced tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cans)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 bouillon cube
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a Dutch oven boil 2 quarts water with a teaspoon salt. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In the empty Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Lightly sauté the shrimp with a teaspoon salt and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook until just pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside.

Add additional oil, if needed, and fry the onion until just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, a teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, oregano, bouillon cube, and wine. Stir and simmer 5-10 minutes. Taste. If the sauce is too sour, add 1 teaspoon sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.

Return shrimp to pot and add the parsley. Stir to combine. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pot and toss to coat evenly. Remove from heat. Serve hot with a salad on the side.

plum upside-down cake


I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website and just had to try it. A year ago I brought back some plums from Singapore to make a plum-apple pie. This year, I found plums at the Suan Luang Market at Baht 10 apiece (about 30 US cents). They were sour so I thought of putting them in this cake. In the end, baking the cake was easy; the recipe is simple and straightforward. The cake isn’t sticky and gooey because the caramel underneath the plums gets absorbed into the cake, turning it golden. The result is a cake that is lightly sweet, moist, and tender, and the plum flavor tart but mild.

Prep time: 60 minutes (includes cooling time)
Baking time: 55 minutes.
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12-16 slices.

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water plus more for washing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-6 medium-large plums, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges

1/2 cup crème fraîche* (I made my own as it’s not available in Bangkok)
2 tablespoons low fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
2 large eggs, beaten

Crème Fraîche for serving (Can use whipped cream instead)

*To make a quick crème fraîche, combine 1 1/2 cups milk with 1/2 cup Greek style yogurt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip until stiff peaks form. When the whisk is raised, the tips should slightly curl. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Prepare the plums. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil without stirring. Cook over high heat 5-7 minutes. While cooking, wash down the sides of the pot with a silicone pastry brush dipped in water. Watch the color—the bubbles will begin to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and add the 2 tablespoons butter.

Immediately pour the caramel into a 9×2 inch round metal cake pan, spreading it with a silicone spatula to cover the base. Layer the plum wedges in a circle all around the base of the pan to cover the caramel. You should have 2 rows forming a single layer.

Make the cake. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 cup crème fraîche with the milk and vanilla. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat on low speed 30 seconds.

At low speed beat in the butter until the mixture resembles moist crumbs, another 30 seconds. Beat in the eggs also on low speed until just incorporated. Beat the batter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce to medium speed and beat in the crème fraîche mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the batter over the plums in the pan, and gently spread the batter in an even layer. Pin a wet Magic Cake strip around the cake pan to keep the cake top from doming during baking.

Bake the cake in the center of the oven 55-60 minutes until golden and the cake surface springs back when lightly touched. Remove from heat and remove the Cake Strip. Cool cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack 30 minutes.

To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin blade around the edges to loosen it, then put the serving plate upside down on top. Invert the cake so that the pan bottom is on top. Holding the pan and plate together, gently shake them up and down. The cake will slip down onto the plate. Remove the pan. If a few pieces of plum have stuck to the pan bottom, slip them back into the cake. The plums will look black around the edges but they are not burnt. The color is due to the cooked plum skins. Slice cake into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche.



spinach-potato crustless quiche


Though the spinach and potato are the stars of this crustless quiche, they wouldn’t be stars if it weren’t for the garlic, feta cheese, onion, and herbs. They work their magic to make this egg pie the tastiest ever.

Spinach-Potato Crustless Quiche
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1 medium potato, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 cup (2.5 oz) crumbled feta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup fat free milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
fresh cracked pepper to taste
cooking spray
Sriracha sauce


Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly spray a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray. Cut spinach into 2 inch lengths.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch pot. When the oil is hot, add the spinach and cook it down until it is bright green and slightly wilted. Remove from heat and drain any excess water. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the spinach. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, boil 2 cups water with a little salt. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Mix spinach, potatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary, feta cheese and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.

Sift flour and baking powder in the workbowl of a food processor. Add milk, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, to flour mixture in the bowl. Process until well blended.

Combine flour mixture with spinach mixture, and mix well. Scrape into pie dish.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean when pierced near the center. Let it stand at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sriracha sauce.

thai curry shrimp


Sometimes a curry is just too soupy and I prefer a dipping sauce. This dish is my response to a kaeng.  The shrimp is tender, the sauce salty and spicy, the salsa sweet, tart, and fresh.

Thai Curry Shrimp

1 – 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with or without tails
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 small limes
1/2 cup palm sugar simple syrup
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nam pla or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2-1  teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (add more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil

To make the simple syrup, break up 1 1/2 cakes palm sugar in a small saucepan and add 5-6 tablespoons water. Boil until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, cooled syrup, cilantro, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and Sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the shrimp. Let stand 1 hour. Don’t let it stand longer than that or the lime juice will “cook” the shrimp.

Heat a tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and put in the hot oil to cook for one minute without turning. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the marinade to the skillet and let it reduce until thickened. Return the shrimp to the skillet to finish cooking. Serve with mango-tomato salsa and white rice.

Mango-Tomato Salsa

1 large mango cut off the seed into 1” cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup scallion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Juice of 1 small lime
1 Thai chile, chopped (optional)
sugar to taste

Mix together all the ingredients. Taste. If the salsa is too sour, add a bit of sugar to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

mooncake festival, emquartier, bangkok


This month is the Chinese mid-autumn festival. The mooncake festival as it’s also called is about eating cakes filled with sweet nutty paste, sometimes with an egg yolk in the center.

DSC05841.jpg There are so many varieties of mooncakes to try. There are new varieties that include durian, chocolate, and honey.