Monthly Archives: January 2013

Saigon Bistro, Concord CA

For a few years we’ve driven passed this place and have wondered.  Now with Seasoning And Salt, we have an excuse to finally go to all the places we’ve been speculating about.  Saigon Bistro is one of the places where we’re kicking ourselves for not coming in sooner.

thai iced tea and honeydew smoothie, both with tapioca pearls

thai iced tea and honeydew smoothie, both with tapioca pearls

Zach had never tried a pearl drink before but August drank them all the time as a freshman in college.  Saigon Bistro’s are great and compare to her favorite pearl place on Durant Ave, so she was happy that Zach’s first was a good first.

grilled chicken sandwich

banh mi ga nuong

We thought to split a banh mi ga nuong, or grilled chicken sandwich.  It comes with an assortment of fresh veggies of carrots, jalapeños, bean sprouts, and cilantro, well balanced with pickled onions and sweet-and-sour mayonnaise-based dressing.  To top it off, the bread was nice and crispy on the outside, yet soft in the middle “with a good chew to it” (Zach), and he could tell it was baked that day.  A few bites of the sandwich were enough to convince us that this is one of our new favorite restaurants.

bun thit nuong - cha gio

bun thit nuong – cha gio

Zach’s entree was vermicelli with pulled pork and an egg roll, aka bun thit nuong – cha gio.  On the bottom of the bowl were found celery cabbage (Napa cabbage), bean sprouts, and vermicelli noodles.  Layered on top were the pulled pork, carrots, Thai basil, chopped peanuts, green onions, and shrimp egg roll.  We don’t know the name of the sauce in the small bowl, but it was sweet and meant to be poured over the vermicelli.  It was a very refreshing dish, as all the veggies were raw and the vermicelli is already a light noodle to begin with.  The pork was freshly grilled so it was juicy and very flavorful, thanks to a sweet and spicy rub the put on it.  The mystery sauce over the entree mingled everything together really well.

pho tai - chin nac

pho tai – chin nac

The broth makes this pho that August ordered with sliced steak and well-done brisket.  The meats were tender and juicy, the noodles abundant and perfectly done, and the fresh Thai basil, jalapeño slices, and bean sprouts to garnish were a nice touch.  But the broth, oh!  Delicious and limb-warming on a cold night.  She got the “regular” size, which was big to begin with, but were blown away when we saw another table with a “large” which easily could have been enough for three people!  You can’t beat the price, either, for the quality and quantity you get.

Chorizo and Eggs Benedict

chorizo benedict 007

Breakfast or brunch, this twist on a classic has a Southwestern flair.  Chef Zach swapped out Canadian bacon for pork chorizo, and added a few other things that makes this zing.

Makes 3

10 eggs

3 English muffins, toasted

1 pack of Cacique pork chorizo

1 cup salted butter

2 roma tomatoes

1 avocado

1/6 of one white onion

1/2 of one jalapeño pepper, roasted

2-3 tbs. milk, depending on desired thickness of avocado cream

2 tbs. lemon juice

2 tbs. sour cream

1 tbs. chopped cilantro

1 tbs. lime juice

1 tbs. water, and enough for a pot of water to boil

1 tbs. white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, plus some to taste

• For the avocado cream:

Cut avocado in half, remove the seed, and scoop out into a bowl.  Smash with a fork, add sour cream, and mix with a whisk.  Add milk to desired thickness, salt to taste, and keep cool until time for garnishing.

• For the pico de gallo:

Roast jalapeño over a stove top.  As soon as the skin starts to blacken and crack, put in a Ziploc bag; the steaming action helps remove the skin.  Cut tomatoes into manageable pieces, remove and discard the pulp and seeds, dice the tomatoes, and put in a bowl.  Finely chop cilantro and onion, and add to bowl with the tomatoes.  Remove skin from jalapeño, then mince the pepper and add to bowl.  Add 1/2 tsp. salt and lime juice, stir, and keep cool until time for garnishing.

• For the chorizo:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Divide the meat into six portions and form patties.  Cook in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked and both sides are browned.  Set patties aside on a cookie sheet with a paper towel to soak up excess grease, then transfer to oven to keep warm.

• For the Hollandaise:

Put about 3″ water in a medium-sized boiling pot, and get it boiling.  Melt butter in a microwave and set aside.  Separate egg yolks from the egg whites, and put egg yolks in a metal or glass bowl.  Add lemon juice and 1 tbs. water to the egg yolks.  Put this bowl over the lightly boiling pot so that the water and steam are the heat source.  Whisk constantly at this point.  Add melted butter to the mixture a tablespoon at a time, and keep whisking until fully incorporated.  If the sauce gets too thick, add a teaspoon or so of hot water.

• For the eggs:

Fill a tall-sided saute pan with 3″-4″ water and the tbs. of vinegar, and bring to a light boil.  Break eggs one at a time into a tiny bowl, and do your best not to break the yolk.  Holding the bowl close to the surface of the water, slide the egg into the water.  Let sit in the lightly boiling water until egg white is fully set and yolk only slightly begins to thicken; this will take about 3-5 minutes, and do not stir at all during the process.  Remove eggs from a slotted spoon, draining water completely and trim any rough edges.

Serve immediately layered as such:

Toasted English muffin halves–chorizo patties–eggs–Hollandaise–avocado cream–pico de gallo

Turkey Meatloaf, Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy, and Steamed Broccoli

turkey meatloaf, blue cheese mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and steamed broccoli

turkey meatloaf, blue cheese mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and steamed broccoli

Meatloaf in Zach’s house growing up was a mix of beef, pork, and veal.  That’s great, but nowadays we’re trying to make smarter decisions about our health.  Tonight’s recipe features Jennie-O lean ground turkey; sure, you could get extra lean, but you still want a moist meatloaf, not a dry meat sponge.

Makes 4-5 servings

• For the meatloaf:

20 oz. Jennie-O lean ground turkey

1 medium-sized carrot

1/2 white onion

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup tomato puree

1 egg

2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp. Sriracha sauce

1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1 tsp. butter

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Pam spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Chop carrot and onion in smaller, more manageable pieces.  Put garlic, thyme, carrot and onion chunks in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.  Saute in a pan with butter over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until mixture is slightly softened.  Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, add turkey, bread crumbs, tomato puree, egg, cheese, Sriracha sauce, pepper, salt, and the cooled sauteed vegetables.  Mix until well blended, but don’t overwork the meat.

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.  Form the meat mixture into an evenly-shaped loaf or log, and place on the cookie sheet.  Mix ketchup and Worcestershire sauce together, and coat the sides and top of the loaf.  Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, with a baking dish full of water sitting on the rack below to help keep meatloaf moist and prevent cracking.  Let rest before slicing, about 8 minutes.

• For the mashed potatoes:

1 large pot of salted water

5 large red potatoes

1/2 cup fat-free milk (more or less, depending on how thick you like your potatoes)

3 tbs. Litehouse Big Bleu dressing

1 tbs. Litehouse bleu cheese crumbles

1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt to taste, but potatoes take a lot to salt

Boil potatoes in the salted water on medium-low to medium heat until soft and tender.  Drain, then combine all ingredients with a hand mixer or KitchenAid.  Scrape down the sides of the bowls a couple of times to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated, and taste for desired saltiness.

• For the mushroom gravy:

12 large button mushrooms, quartered

1 can beef broth

1/4 cup white wine (in two quarters)

2 tbs. flour

2 tbs. butter (in 1 tbs. portions)

1 garlic clove

1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

2 green onion stalks

Combine all ingredients except mushrooms, 1/8 cup wine, flour and butter in a small sauce pan to make a broth.  Reduce over medium heat for about 20 minutes, but remove the garlic and green onion after 10 minutes.

In a medium-sized saute pan, melt 1 tbs. butter over medium heat and saute the mushrooms for 7-10 minutes, until tender.  Add 1/8 cup wine half way through cooking time.

In a small saute pan, melt the other 1 tbs. butter over medium heat and add flour.  Cook until mixture is golden brown; this is called a roux.  Combine roux with reduced broth in the broth’s pan, and cook until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (nappe).  Add mushrooms, cook for another 1-2 minutes to marry the flavors, and done.  Serve with steamed broccoli.