Indochina

green papaya saladwine with dinner

Another month, another meeting of the Bellingham Supper Club. Our theme was Indochina, which allowed for dishes from Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia, with Thailand being an allowable deviation. We had a great selection of white wines of varying sweetness or spiciness, beer, and lots and lots of good food.

snow peas

While we sipped glasses of Grüner Veltliner, Jenise stir-fried some fresh snow peas with sake and we picked them up with toothpicks to nibble on while we talked.

green papaya salad

Our first sit-down course was Roger’s green papaya salad. Very simple and refreshing, with just a hint of heat.

dipping sauce

spring roll toppings

spring rolls and coconut pancakes

Linda and Mike brought spring rolls. There were little coconut pancakes, which Linda claimed hadn’t come out properly, and fried spring rolls cut into sections. These we rolled up in lettuce leaves with herbs and vegetables and dipped into a fresh-tasting dressing of lime juice, garlic, chiles, vinegar, sugar and fish sauce. I particularly loved the texture and taste of the pancakes with the herbs and dressing – I hope to try these myself someday.

satay

Roger made a grilled chicken satay with yet another dipping sauce…

shrimp grapefruit salad

…and Georgiann made a creamy, lightly curry-scented shrimp and grapefruit salad, served in the grapefruit rinds.

dumplings

Jenise threw together some meat-filled dumplings, which were liberally garnished with hot chile peppers. I think it was at this point I went and got a bottle of Tsingtao to wash the food down.

ribs and curry

The last savory course was a lemongrass beef curry from Jenise, and pork ribs cooked in fish sauce and bitter caramel, from us (more about those below), with a bowl of rice.

pandan ice cream

And for dessert, a cup of coffee and a scoop of pandan ice cream.

pandan infusion

This was very successful, I thought, but pandan (the leaf from a type of screwpine – we buy it at Uwajimaya and keep it in the freezer) is an unusual flavor – floral, but also very toasty flavored. We’ve tasted it in drinking water, Indonesian curries use it to flavor broths, and it’s used in sweets of all sorts. Jon made the ice cream, looking up various recipes online and adjusting. It’s noteworthy that every single recipe he found was based on David Lebovitz’s basic vanilla ice cream, which is about as good as ice cream gets.

mixing the custard

into the ice cream maker

The recipe he ended up following was from Use Real Butter, with a few adjustments. He used twice as many pandan leaves, and chopped them up for a more intense infusion instead of knotting them. He didn’t use pandan extract at all, but added two drops of green food coloring to enhance the appearance. The color ended up looking just like classic mint ice cream. The flavor, though, was reminiscent of green tea, particularly the kind with roasted rice in it. And the texture was perfect, smooth and creamy. A little of this goes a long way, but a small portion made a perfect dessert after all the different flavors of the meal.

grilling pork ribs

Then there were our ribs, which were made right out of Andrea Nguyen’s Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. We’ve made these before, but had used the broiler for the first round of cooking instead of the grill. This time Jon braved the elements and cooked them properly over charcoal.

grillin' in the rain

It was a nasty wet day. But the ribs smelled absolutely incredible on the grill. Warning – don’t attempt this before lunch.

putting ribs on to braise

After grilling the ribs go into a pot with their remaining marinade, more fish sauce, and a lot of bittersweet Vietnamese caramel sauce, which we had made earlier that morning.

feesh sossadding the caramel

braising the ribs

They simmer for an hour, until the meat is falling off the bone. The bitter char and smoke flavors from the grill blend with the bitterness of the caramel sauce, creating a rich deep flavor. So good.

Another successful Supper Club!

Advertisements

mascarpone ice cream

affogato

Do you feel that homemade ice cream just isn’t rich enough? Do you make it with cream, whole milk, egg yolks and sugar, but still feel that something’s missing, calorie-wise? Then this is the recipe for you: mascarpone ice cream.

We got this, of course, from David Lebovitz. It’s a variation on his crème fraîche ice cream, which also sounds magnificent, but we had some mascarpone left over from making Elise’s strawberry mascarpone tart, and you don’t want to waste mascarpone, do you?

ice cream

Continue reading

orange and sichuan pepper ice cream

oranges

When I first brought home a library copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop (shortly before we bought our own copy – it didn’t take long), one of the very first recipes we opened it to was this one: a custard-based ice cream with orange zest and crushed Sichuan peppercorns, wow! Jon’s been wanting to make it ever since, and we finally got our chance. We had friends over (fresh ice cream wants an audience) and made Chinese pork ribs and scallion breads, followed by this ice cream for dessert.

homemade ice cream Continue reading

fig ice cream: not my favorite, actually

fig ice cream

I used to really hate figs, but I thought I was overcoming the problem: I’ve had several restaurant salads with fresh figs and goat cheese that I really liked, so I figured my tastes were finally maturing. However, it does not appear to be a complete cure as yet. This is one of the only things we’ve made from The Perfect Scoop that hasn’t been a complete success – ah, well. I don’t know if it was just us or if the figs weren’t quite ripe yet – the ice cream just tasted like a cold fig newton, kind of vegetal and strange.

figs

The fresh Brown Turkey figs were awful pretty, though.

soft foods & liquids

bittersweet chocolate ice cream

Things may be a little quiet around here for a couple days. I got a tooth pulled yesterday, and in between naps and trying to remember which pills I should be taking, I’m now casting around for ideas of things to eat with as little texture as possible, with the added fun of nothing hot, acidic or alcoholic.

As you might imagine, I’ve had a lot of yogurt. And cream of tomato soup. We had macaroni and cheese with steamed cauliflower last night, that went down pretty easy. So I’m not starving, but it all seems a little dull. And not very photogenic, either.

On the other hand, it was a perfect excuse for J to make me some ice cream! We dug out our copy of The Perfect Scoop, which hasn’t been seeing much use the last couple months, and I decided that plain old chocolate custard ice cream would do the trick. So J got hold of some good bittersweet chocolate and did it up, and oh my god it’s good. Like a fudgsicle, but a million times better. I can’t believe there’s a pint of it in my fridge right now and I’m not currently eating any. After the custard had chilled it was like a wonderful chocolate pudding, we almost didn’t want to put it in the ice cream maker – but it was even better afterwards.

You don’t need to wait until your next date with oral surgery to try this ice cream – go right out and make it now! Continue reading