Sunday, August 11, 2013

Vietnamese Coffee (makes 1 serving)


In Vietnam people still use a small coffee maker made out of tin or stainless steel.  This is made for an individual cup and the coffee tends to be strong, almost espresso-like.  The coffee is usually served with condensed milk. This method uses a metal screen as a filter, no paper filter is used.  The leftover coffee grounds can be composted in your vegetable garden.

Material:

1 Vietnamese coffee maker
Hot water
About 1 1/2 Tbsp of any good ground coffee
1 Tbsp of condensed milk (more or less according to your taste)

Method:

1) Put the ground coffee on the bottom of the coffee maker.
2) Screw the inside piece in.
3) Place the condensed milk in a coffee cup.
4) Put the coffee maker over the cup.
5) Pour the water in the coffee maker.
6) Place the coffee cover on and let the coffee drip.
7) The drip can take time so be patient!  Once all the water is gone, take the cover off, put it on the table upside down, and use it to catch the last few drops from the coffee maker.  Stir and drink!

*If you buy whole roasted beans and grind them for each serving the coffee will taste much better.  You can also purchase processed raw beans and roast your own.  There are special coffee bean roasters that are available.


Vietnamese coffee drink in
a cafe in Vietnam
(half of the cup is full
of condensed milk--however,
you can certainly ask for less milk!)
black iced coffee
coffee beans
harvest only the red cherries
(Maui, HI)
*Planting coffee shrubs/trees is not very difficult.  The coffee plants need sun, water and some shade. However, the process of harvesting the beans and turning them into the beans that we purchase, ready to make into a coffee drink is painstaking and hard work.  You must harvest the red cherries. This is best done by picking each cherry by hand. This is followed by several steps; defruiting, fermenting, drying, shelling and more drying.  Beans are sold wholesale unroasted, and are roasted locally in a range from light to dark, then ground before brewing.  My husband and I harvested the bowl of red coffee beans (seen in above photo).  Since I have planted coffee trees, picked the beans and actually processed them I appreciate my coffee a lot more.  Every time I drink coffee I make sure to drink the last drop!
*I remember my first talk about coffee was at the University of Rhode Island.  It was given by one of the professors when my parents and I took my youngest brother to tour the campus.  After I heard about his coffee lecture on growing and harvesting coffee beans in Costa Rica I was fascinated and intrigued by the process.  At that time I had already graduated college and have been working at the Mayo Clinic as a registered nurse.  However, the talk was so inspiring that I thought about quitting work and making the move to Costa Rica to learn more about coffee production!  A few years ago my husband and I visited Costa Rica.  We visited a coffee plantation and I learned a great deal more about their coffee farming techniques.  The most important fact that I learned was the young coffee shrubs/trees need to grow under a shade tree to protect them from the hot sun and rain.  I found an interesting United Nations document that addresses how coffee is grown with some information on how the beans are processed.  However, the document failed to mention that coffee can be grown in Hawaii.  http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/ad219e/AD219E01.htm
*For the coffee lovers, here is an interesting article from The New York Times Magazine, This is Your Brain on Coffee with links to research studies on the risks and benefits from drinking coffee.  Of course as I have mentioned in past postings it is probably best to consume most food and beverages in moderation.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Grilled Goat--Vietnamese Style (serves 2-3)


Goat meat appears to be more popular in other countries than here in the United States.  I rarely see it for sale, living in the Northeast (U.S.). Usually it is found in specialty stores or at a farmer's market. Recently I bought some young goat meat from Sherrie, owner of Cracked an Egg Farm. In the past I have bought goat legs and the meat tends to be tough and required hours of braising. Sherrie assured me her meat is from a young goat and is tender.  So I decided to give it a try!

I was inspired to make a simple Vietnamese-style marinade for the goat meat.  This is typically used to marinade pork and is commonly served with steamed rice or rice noodles, lots of fresh herbs, lettuce, cucumber and tomato and Vietnamese dipping sauce.  My parents gave me large bags of fresh home-grown vegetables and herbs from their garden and this is perfect to have as an accompaniment to the grilled meat. If you do not have access to goat meat you can use pork instead.  It is best if there is a little fat and bone on the meat. The fat will cook off and result in a better tasting meat!  Also, if you don't have a grill then you can pan-fry the meat.  Both methods of cooking yield equally tasty meat.


marinaded goat
on the grill
Grilled Goat--Vietnamese Style (serves 2-3)

Ingredients: 

5 pieces of young goat meat (1 1/2 lbs), 1/2 inch thick, washed and dried with paper towels
4 garlic cloves (1 1/2 Tbsp), smashed and chopped
2 scallions (3 Tbsp) chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Method:

1) In a medium glass, metal container or bag combine all ingredients except for the goat steak and mix well.
2) Add the goat steaks in the marinade, coat each steak well with the mixture.
3) Cover the container or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4) Preheat the grill at 350 degrees F.  Grill the meat until just cooked, turn every 2-3 minutes to prevent burning.  Total cooking time is about 8 minutes.

*I don't particularly enjoy eating very salty food.  Just be mindful that salt intake is a culprit for  many health problems that exist today.  To learn more about the appropriate content of salt/sodium intake per day please visit this site: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/prevent/sodium/sodium.htm


Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini or Summer Squash (serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, washed and removed tough parts (either snap the end off or peel the outer layer of the base of each stalk)
2-3 zucchini or summer squash, washed and cut in half
Drizzle of olive oil
A few pinches of salt and pepper

Method:

Drizzle olive oil, a few pinches of salt and black peppers on asparagus and zucchini.  Grill for about 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F, turn every 2-3 minutes to prevent burning.

*You can grill pretty much anything.  I love to grill asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, bok choy, and Asian eggplant this way.  It's quick, simple, adds colors to your plate and nutrients in your diet!
*One bunch of asparagus is equivalent to about 20-25 asparagus stalks.  You can use any type of asparagus--fat, thin or white.  The fatter stalks will require longer grilling time.

lone sailboat
(Monhegan Island, Maine, 2013)
summer day sailing
(Gloucester, MA, 2010)