Appetizer Recipes

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Homemade Banh Beo (Steamed Rice Cakes with Shrimp) Recipe

Bánh bèo is a Vietnamese specialty made with individual, thick, steamed rice cakes. The recipe is not that complicated but preparing each rice cake can be time-consuming. The batter is made from combined rice flour, tapioca starch and corn starch. I used tiny, one-ounce porcelain dipping bowls to steam the rice cakes. Once they were cooked, I brushed them with onion-flavored oil to prevent them from sticking to each other. Little Aria helped with brushing the rices cakes with oil while I unmolded them; it made the preparation all the more fun to have her around, getting her hands dirty. 

The second step is the filling, which is traditionally made with dried shrimp flakes, fried shallots and green onions. You could make a vegetarian version using mung beans. Lastly, a drizzle of nước chấm (fish sauce) and chopped Vietnamese mint (rau thơm) complete the festive dish.


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Beef Roll Appetizers (Fusion Recipe) Recipe

Remember last week, when I posted a re-interpreted, fusion appetizer, maki-style? Well, this is the meat version. The dish consisted of blanched zucchini, carrot and enoki mushrooms stuffed in beef rolls, then quickly pan-seared until a crust was formed. You could also wrap the rolls in bacon or phyllo dough to secure them better, but if you're counting calories, these are just as delicious.

The idea was to create something new with ground beef instead of a good old burger. Even though the beef rolls are barely seared, the ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce help season and pre-cook the meat. So as long as you use fresh meat, you're good to go. 


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Tofu Roll Appetizers  Recipe

Tofu Roll Appetizers

03.10.15 by Jackie

Our family recently went to a Japanese sushi bar and enjoyed platters of delicious rolls. When I came home, I was inspired by the sushi and reinterpreted a new fusion appetizer, maki-style.

The appetizer consists of a tofu roll filled with shiitake mushrooms, carrots celery, insanely fragrant onions I grew myself in our garden and garlic. As I created the dish, I realized I wouldn't be able to keep the roll in place by simply rolling a sheet of pan-fried tofu. I improved and wrapped them in phyllo dough. You'll be surprised; it wasn't that complicated. Sometimes, improvisation ends up with beautiful results!


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Meatball Appetizers with Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Since my husband Lulu was out of town last weekend, I had a few girlfriends over to celebrate the Lunar New Year (a week late!). Next week, we're all going to a Vietnamese charity concert and everyone was talking about how they'd fit into their áo dài, the traditional Vietnamese outfit. I've been back to the gym regularly to do squats and get a solid workout and I just made sure the food would please my weight-conscious crowd.

The menu I served wasn't fussy at all and I tried to satisfy everyone's diet: we started with easy, delicious, look-and-feel-your-best meatballs. I also made cháo đồ biển (seafood rice soup with seabass, shrimp, squid and scallops), along with a kale salad. 

What was in the meatballs, you ask? I created a ground mixture of veal, turkey, flax seeds and quinoa and served with spicy sweet potatoes.


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Artichoke Crab Cakes Recipe

Artichoke Crab Cakes

01.27.15 by Jackie

Whenever I see fresh crab available at the market, I buy a few, boil or sauté them and reserve at least one for cracking later to make another dish the following day. This is exactly what we did and this time I made crab cakes. I flavored the crab with capers, tarragon, chives and marinated artichoke hearts. My tip is to chill the crab cakes for a few minutes before cooking them to help them hold their shape. 

I served the crab cakes with twice-baked potatoes and grilled asparagus on a bed of homemade hollandaise sauce. I wanted to serve the crab cakes warm, so little Aria and I dug in immediately after the meal was ready and I took photos afterwards. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the beautiful crab cakes with the hollandaise sauce as reheating it caused curdling. So even though the sauce isn't pictured, give some extra time to preparing it because the results are well worth it for a perfect weeknight meal! 


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