Vietnamese Imperial Rolls

When I was young, on Friday nights, my mom and my sister often went out at the Vietnamese restaurant. Somehow, at that age, I wasn’t much of an adventurous eater and I preferred to stay at home and eat, let say, lasagna. I don’t remember if I had actually tried Vietnamese food before, or if I just thought I wouldn’t like it (the same goes with Indian food, and nowadays, I’m simply addicted). At some point though, maybe when I got tired of being left out, I decided to accompany them and give it a try and, surprise, I totally fell in love with imperial rolls! I even began craving them (and other Vietnamese typical fare, such as pho, meat/shrimp skewers, etc.) and I had to get them regularly. It’s funny how tastes evolve over time. Or the way psychological barriers can be overcome!

It turns out that it is very easy to make these rolls yourself at home. Most of the ingredients can be found at your regular grocery store, except maybe for the black fungus (available at any Asian grocery store). Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, you just mix them and then roll them! It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! They are very popular at family or friends gatherings: you’ll see how quickly they vanish! Also, everyone can help rolling, to speed things up! Another good thing is that the rolls can be frozen (if there are any left), which is very convenient!

1 pack of wheat sheets or rice sheets
5 dried black fungus
2 oz of translucent vermicelli
1.5 lbs of ground pork (or chicken or tofu)
2 onions, diced
3 carrots
1/2 cup of bean sprouts
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely cracked pepper
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce (nuoc mam)

Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce (nuoc mam)
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/3 cup of boiling water
Finely chopped garlic
Pequin peppers (bird peppers), finely chopped (make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after manipulating those peppers!)
Lime wedges


·         Soak the fungus and the vermicelli in warm water for 30 minutes. Strain thoroughly and chop in small pieces (1/4 inch).
·         In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and seasonings.

·         If using rice sheets: Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, and add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (optional). Dip the rice sheets in the water, one at a time, and place them on a tea towel (prepare max. 4 rolls at a time).
·         If using wheat sheets: follow indications on wrapping.
·         Put 3 teaspoons of the mixture at the centre of the lower third of the [wheat or rice] sheet.
Fold the lower end of the sheet on the mixture. Roll tightly (on ply) to make sure the mixture is well enclosed. Then flip the sides of the sheet towards the inner part, rounding the ends to avoid sharp hedges that could later break. Continue rolling tightly to obtain a nice roll. [If using a wheat roll, brush the extremity of the sheet with water or egg wash before making the last fold in order to seal the roll.] Make sure you deep-fry the rolls soon after they have been rolled, otherwise, they will get soggy and it might not work out so well.
·         In a deep-fryer, preheat the oil at 350°F.
Deep-fry the rolls for about 6-8 minutes, 2 or 3 at a time depending on the size of your deep-fryer, making sure the rolls don’t stick to one another. The rolls are cooked through when they are golden brown and they float to the surface. Place them vertically and let the excess oil drip.
·         In a bowl, mix all the dipping sauce ingredients, and pour in individual ramequins.

Serve immediately with a ramequin of sauce. Just dunk and enjoy!

Note: The rolls made using the rice noodles cannot be frozen. If you plan to freeze the rolls, use the wheat sheets. Deep-fry the rolls before freezing them. For optimal results, partially thaw the rolls and deep-fry them to reheat them. Another option is to reheat the partially thawed rolls in a hot oven (425oF) on a wire rack, turning the rolls a couple of times. Do not completely thaw the rolls before reheating them or they will become soggy.


Dutch Baby

I love breakfast. Actually, it might be my favourite meal of the day. It’s too bad though that during the week, it’s hard for me to have a proper breakfast since I’m always such in a hurry. Okay, you could tell me that I should wake up a little earlier, which would leave me plenty of time to have a healthy breakfast. I would totally agree, but you know, who doesn’t need some extra sleep? In short, I only get the chance to grab a quick bite during the week, which might explain why to me, weekend is synonymous to decadent breakfast.

One of my favourite breakfast items are pancakes. It could be thin Brittany crepes, slightly thicker French-Canadian crepes, thick curly pancakes cooked in fat, American pancakes, you name it. Last weekend, I decided to try something new: a dutch baby. For those who are not familiar with it, it’s sort of in between a pancake and a Yorkshire pudding. It is sometimes served in individual portions, sometimes family-style and it is usually dusted with powdered sugar and accompanied with lemon wedges.

A little history about the dutch baby… According to the article available on Wikipedia, this dish that is so famous is America isn’t dutch at all. In fact, it apparently originated from Germany, and people twisted the word “deutsch” in a way that it became “dutch”. It’s that simple!

I’m really happy with this discovery, which adds to my pancake repertoire! I sprinkled the dutch baby with powdered sugar, squeezed some lemon on it, and ate it with fresh berries. It was very good this way but I couldn’t help myself and drowned it in maple syrup… Delicious!!!

Recipe (Adapted from Alton Brown)


40 g of butter, melted
½ cup of flour
3 tbsps of powdered sugar, plus extra for serving
½ tsp of salt
½ cup of milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place 2 tbsps of the melted butter into a 25 cm cast iron skillet and place in the oven. Wait about 10 minutes before assembling the other ingredients: the skillet must be very hot when adding the mixture, just like when you make a Yorkshire pudding.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and remaining butter into the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Carefully pour the batter into the preheated skillet. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are puffed and brown.

Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar and serve with lemon wedges. Bon appétit!


Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Whenever there are ripe bananas at home, I use them to bake delicious muffins. When I was younger and still living at my parents’, I used to bake them so often that my sister soon got fed up and couldn’t even stand the sight of them anymore! Too bad for her, I continued to make them, using various recipes, this way they’re always somewhat different. To this day, I never grew tired of them (okay, I don’t always bake banana muffins, I also alternate with other flavours!) and you can always find some hidden somewhere in my freezer, this way they’re handy to grab and have them as a snack at the office.
This time, instead of the usual muffins, I decided to go for a banana and nuts cake for a change and, oh heaven, top it with a chocolate frosting. It was decadent! I even had it for breakfast… I got this recipe from my uncle years ago and it had been a very long time since I last used it. It was as good as I recalled! However, I switched his chocolate frosting recipe for a less sweet recipe since the cake already calls for a lot of sugar.

Ingredients for the cake:
2 cups of flour
1¼ teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
⅔ cup of chopped walnuts
1⅔ cups of sugar
⅔ cup of butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¼ cup of mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 medium sized bananas)
⅔ cup of milk
Preheat oven at 350o. Butter and flour a bundt pan or 2 x 8’’ cake tins.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and walnuts.
In a second bowl, cream butter and sugar using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer if you have one). Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly then add the ripe bananas. Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Mix until combined.
Pour the batter in the tin and bake for about 30 minute on the middle rack, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Ingredients for the frosting:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips would do)
1½ cup of light sour cream (you could also opt for full fat!)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When melted, transfer the chocolate in a bowl. Add sour cream and mix using a hand mixer. Add the vanilla, then continue mixing until light and fluffly, about 2 minutes.

I suggest you make the frosting only once the cake has cooled down because you need to use it right away before it gets too stiff. (You can wait, but it just won’t do a neat job afterwards). Then, just spread the love and enjoy!


First, let me tell you how thrilled I am to launch this new blog! I had this idea in mind for a while, but somehow I never took the time to realize it... and now, ta-dah!!! Here it is! I plan to post pictures of my brilliant (and sometimes not-so-brilliant) food-related realizations. I'll also post the recipes I used and some personal comments. Hopefully you'll like it. Hopefully you'll comment. Hopefully you'll come back for more... Here's to a long and magnificent journey in foodieland! :)