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Like quite some many Vietnamese immigrants in Australia, my parents ran a busy bakery which sold everything from the likes of crusty Vietnamese baguettes to sourdough breads, meat pies and sausage rolls, and a wide selection of cakes and pastries from the humble Australian lamington to French classics such as the éclair and tarte au citron. If I wasn’t eating toast with Vegemite for breakfast, I was eating a hot croissant, straight from the baker’s oven. Any croissants leftover at the end of the day were often re-fashioned into sandwiches to be sold the next day, filled with ham, cheese and salad. My other favourite was the apple turnover; when they weren’t sold warm from the oven, my mother would split them open and pipe freshly whipped cream inside for a more luxurious treat. I doubt this is how the French would eat their croissants or chaussons aux pommes, but that’s how we did it in Australia and I loved it.

As a child, I always felt spoilt by the endless selection of delightful sweet treats in our family bakery. Now, as an adult, I feel equally spoilt by the cakes and pastries on offer in Europe, especially whenever we find ourselves in Paris. With Paris only a 4 hour train journey from Zurich, we find ourselves in the City of Light quite frequently, often as a stopover on the way to visit our families on the far-flung coastlines of France. Such stopovers are often necessary for me to mentally prepare myself for the family gathering ahead. At other times, our Parisian stopover takes place on the way back to Zurich, something which my husband describes as a reward (for me) for having survived another bout with my in-laws. Perhaps because Paris has always been a treat of some sort that each and every visit has always been savoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

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Potato, Smoked Salmon & Dill Tart

25 June 2014 8 comments
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Smoked salmon is, admittedly, not an everyday ingredient, but I do love to keep some in the fridge for a quick lunch with some lightly buttered white toast, thinly sliced onions, a scattering of salty capers and a good squeeze of lemon. But when I’m wanting to incorporate smoked salmon into a more substantial meal, this […]

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Crispy Chicken Wings with Fish Sauce

4 June 2014 20 comments
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My mother used to cook a lot with chicken wings when I was younger. I’m not sure if it was just because they were cheap, or if she merely enjoyed cooking them. I certainly enjoyed eating them. She would sometimes make soups and broths using just chicken wings, but often she would marinate them in […]

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Pecan Spice Cake

28 May 2014 27 comments
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Once upon a time, I had a terrible Tupperware addiction. Tupperware simply appealed to the Martha Stewart in me, the part of me which dreamt of cupboards filled with colour-coordinated containers, neatly stacked and labelled so that everything had its own special home. I spent hundreds of dollars on plastic Tupperware containers, ranging from the practical […]

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Real Vietnamese Cooking – Interview & Cookbook Giveaway

22 May 2014 83 comments
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As a child born in Australia to Vietnamese immigrants, I spent a good part of my youth believing I was just like any other Aussie kid. I ate meat pies and sausage rolls for lunch and spoke English with an Aussie accent. In fact, for most of my childhood, we lived in a small town on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland […]

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Chicken Pho

13 May 2014 14 comments
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A fragrant and soul-soothing beef pho is often what I crave when only a steaming bowl of noodle soup will do. But when time is sparse and I don’t have 3 hours to potter about in the kitchen, a chicken pho is a rather wonderful alternative.

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Spaghetti with Tuna, Chilli, Rocket & Lemon plus Donna Hay Giveaway

2 May 2014 79 comments
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I have been a long-time admirer and follower of Donna Hay’s cookbooks, even as early back when she was the food editor of the Marie Claire cookbooks in Australia. Her clean and refined approach to food styling is what normally attracts the attention of readers in the first instance; food which looks so stunningly beautiful […]

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Pavlova with Cream & Passionfruit

23 April 2014 29 comments
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I hope everyone has had a lovely Easter! This Easter has been a fairly relaxing time for us, a time when we we’ve been able to take advantage of the few days off work to slow down and take things easily. And when it comes to relaxed and stress-free meals, I often tend towards a […]

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Three Cheese Bread

10 April 2014 17 comments
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One of my favourite snacks when I lived in Australia were cheese scrolls from the local bakery. In fact, as a child of parents who ran a busy Vietnamese bakery, I often lived for the moment when the cheese scrolls came fresh out of the oven. Even better when there were onions in the mixture. […]

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Semolina Burnt Creams with Prunes

1 April 2014 16 comments
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I think Rachel Khoo has a thing for prunes, and I’m not complaining. As someone who has a general aversion to dried fruit in baking, I make an exception for prunes. Some recipes which I have recently attempted with much success from her latest cookbook, My Little French Kitchen, include the Kugelhopf with Prunes & […]

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