Ask me what I want to eat when I’m not in the mood to cook and I’ll say ‘pho’.
Vietnamese cuisine holds a soft spot in my heart. Some of my closest friends are Vietnamese, and I’ve enjoyed countless evenings at their dinner table eating their family’s dishes.
I’m drawn to the simple, but complex flavours of Vietnamese cuisines. The sweet, the sour, the salty and a dash of love all come together to make a meal that brings people together.
In her cookbook, Kim Thuy, described how their family uses food as a tool for expressing their emotions. I can definitely relate. Since I can remember, food has been the centre of my family’s gatherings. As an adult, I don’t call my parents or siblings all that often. But give it a couple of weeks, and I’ll have the urge to have everyone over for dinner to share a meal and catch up.
I love how each chapter of this cookbook is dedicated to members of Kim’s family. Recipes are laid out a simply and are easy to follow. Starting with the fundamentals and leading into soups, bowls and stir-fries, vegetables, grilled and fried, slow cooking and desserts and snacks. At the end there’s a Vietnamese food and wine pairing recommendation as well as music pairing! I’ve never seen before in a cookbook and was very intrigued.
The book is beautifully photographed and elegant. As a food photographer, I’m drawn to cookbooks with photography that can tell a story. This cookbook hits that one every note. I can’t wait to cook my way through it.
The first recipe I wanted to try was Nathalie’s Matcha Tea Cookies. I think I was craving something sweet at the time. My go-to cookie is white chocolate & macadamia nuts. These matcha tea cookies are made with toasted pine nuts and white chocolate. I instantly knew I was going to be fan. They did not disappoint. I also love that the recipe can be frozen. I already have half a batch waiting for me when the next sweet craving hits!
NATHALIE’S MATCHA TEA COOKIES
Excerpted from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers by Kim Thuy. Copyright © 2017 Editions Libre Expression. Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman. Recipes translated by Marie Asselin. Appetite by Random House edition published in 2019. Food Photography by Sarah Scott. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Makes about 48 cookies ~ Prep time 20 minutes + 2 hours resting ~ Cook time 9 to 12 minutes
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 g) baking soda
2 Tbsp (6 g) matcha tea powder
2/3 cup (150 g) salted butter, softened
1 cup (220 g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pine nuts
7 oz (200 g) white chocolate, chopped
Wax paper or plastic wrap
1—Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and matcha tea powder together. Set aside.
2—Cream the butter using a hand mixer or a stand mixer.
3—Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
4—Add the eggs and beat to combine.
5—Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition.
6—Add the pine nuts and chocolate and stir just to incorporate.
7—Divide the dough into four portions and set each portion on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap.
8—Shape the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) diameter rolls. Wrap well in the wax paper or plastic wrap, twisting both ends to seal shut.
9—Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
10—Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
11—Slice each roll into 10 to 12 cookies. Place the cookies on parchment paper–lined baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on whether you like a softer cookie or a crisper one.
Using sushi mats to shape the dough into rolls will enable you to create perfectly round cookies.
The cookie rolls will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw the rolls in the refrigerator for 24 hours before slicing.