Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finger Food: Dips & Banh Pâté Chaud

I am still so pumped that the NHL has ended the lockout. It's been over two weeks since the first few NHL games were played (Jan. 19th, 2013), but I'm still giddy while being bombarded with hockey related news, rumors, highlights and updates.

Our beloved Ottawa Senators were among a few other teams who played on the first day that the NHL returned. VN, KN, and I celebrated the return of the NHL and the Sens with a finger food-themed menu. We also wanted to make a Vietnamese dessert (che suong sa hot luu) too. Stay tuned for that article. We wanted to pace ourselves since we wanted to watch the Leafs vs Habs game too. VN's comments will be in green.

Spinach Dip (Low-Fat Version)
Spinach, low-fat sour cream, light mayo, onion soup mix, one garlic clove, black pepper, salt


One bunch of spinach was washed, sorted through, boiled, drained, squeezed, and then chopped with a small clove of garlic. I added 250ml of low fat sour cream, a few squirts of mayo, and a couple shakes of the onion soup mix before stirring vigorously. I gave it a try and then tweaked the dip with more onion soup mix and black pepper. The spinach dip was put aside to be reheated in a ramekin while we baked Vietnamese meat pies.

Marbled cheese was mixed into half of the dip before the ramekin was placed in the oven with the meat pies. Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

The spinach dip was quite light. I was expecting to taste the creamy and rich spinach dip Richard made, until I remembered that this dip used light sour cream and a bit of light mayo instead. The one garlic clove was enough to give the dip a light garlic taste. Next time, I'd probably add real onions and not rely solely on the onion soup mix. It's just not the same.

I really liked the spinach dip with the light sour cream. It made it more light and not heavy like other spinach dips that I've tried. If you prefer the more heavier (more richer) dips, then use the cream cheese instead of the sour cream.

For the original recipe (yes, it's an actual recipe) with cream cheese, head over to the Homemade Spinach Dip article.

5-Ingredient Fake Crab Dip
Fake crab, mayo, cilantro, lemon juice, salt


The first dip I wanted to make was a fake crab dip. Aunt IS made it a few years ago and it has been on my mind ever since. She told me the ingredients that she used and I just played around with the proportions until the dip tasted good.

While I worked on the fake crab dip, VN made the Vietnamese meat pies (more details below). A handful of cilantro was washed and sorted through, then finely chopped. The fake crab was sliced and roughly separated so that there weren't many chunks left. A few squirts of light mayo, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and a little sprinkling of salt were all added then stirred together. I gave it a taste and made some adjustments of more lemon juice and mayo, the fake crab dip was ready to be served.

I put out a bowl of the fake crab dip with Wheat Thins for us to munch on as we continued to cook. The rest was left in the fridge to be consumed once the Sens and Jets game began.

To be honest, I couldn't (and still can't) remember what the original fake crab dip, that Aunt IS made, tasted like. The fake crab dip that I made was addictive. That's all I know. The amount of cilantro and lemon juice kept our palates excited.

This was yummy too. The added the cilantro and lemon made it so that the dip wasn't just some boring dip. My only suggestion would be to use real mayo and not Miracle Whip. It might be my own personal preference but I'm not a fan of Miracle Whip. It tastes sweeter to me than real mayo (Hellmann's Mayo).

Banh Pâté Chaud (aka banh pateso, flaky Vietnamese meat pies)
Ground pork, celery, onions, cilantro, fish sauce, corn starch, sugar, pepper, salt, puff pastry package, egg wash 

Banh pâté chaud is a French-inspired Vietnamese pastry. My dad used to eat them in Vietnam, usually for breakfast. The pastry is usually made into a round shape, but I wanted to make them smaller for our finger-food theme. And since we didn't want any scrap pieces of puff pastry, I just made them into small rectangular savoury puff pastry pockets. You can do the same, too, if you're lazy or in a hurry.

This was the first time I've heard of the dish. Mainly because we didn't have to make the puff pastry, it sounded very easy. With prior instructions from her mumsy, VN whipped up the ground pork filling with diced celery, onions, and cilantro. It was seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and salt. When we tried the filling (we nuked a bit in the microwave), it was quite salty so we added more cilantro to help brighten things up. The fish sauce was a bit on the strong side, but I knew that most of the flavours and smell would be mellowed out once baked.

When I looked over towards VN, it looked like she was making giant raviolis again. Oh gawd! The tops of the pastries were poked with a fork and then a knife to let the steam escape while they baked in the oven. We didn't want soggy meat pies. After a quick brushing of egg wash, the tray of pastries were baked in a pre-heated 325 F oven on the middle rack for 25-30 mins. Towards the end of that time, we popped the spinach dip in the oven.

Banh pâté chaud were so simple to make and so delicious! My dad said that eating these reminded him of having breakfast in Vietnam. My younger sister loved them and wanted me to make her an endless supply.

If you make the pastries bite sized, they are perfect appetizers for any party/occasion. My aunt always makes them for our large family gatherings. The Super Bowl is coming up and these would be great for any Super Bowl party too.

These little pockets of flaky Vietnamese meat pies were great! The celery and onions were softened in the oven and provided sweet bites of veggies. I'll definitely make these for my homies fam in the near future.

The Sens ended up beating the Jets 4-1 in the season opener. Shaweet!

We also made some chicken fingers (with crushed pita puffs for the breading) before the start of the Leafs vs Habs game for some more snacking. With a bit of sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping, we had another snack on the table.

Although we originally wanted to spend less time in the kitchen and more time for playing NHL 12 on the PS3 and watching the hockey games live on TV, we probably spent the same time cooking, baking and doing the prep work for all the different snacks. But you know what? I like grazing over a few hours while watching hockey. Don't you?

Speaking of watching sports, the Super Bowl is only a week away. These are great snacks for your Super Bowl party, mainly because they taste great. But more importantly, these snacks can all be made ahead of time and then served on game day.

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