whatever pancakes

I said I would make rice flour pancakes for breakfast but instead, I came across this recipe for buttermilk pancakes on the Smitten Kitchen and changed course. It happens. I say I will make something and get inspired to do something else. I should explain that title… Not having buttermilk on hand, I substituted sour milk and this is what I got:

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The Whatever Pancakes

Pancakes

Makes 10 x 4 inch pancakes, enough for two

2 tablespoons (30 g) butter plus more for frying
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour milk* plus 2-4 tablespoons (can use buttermilk, of course)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour

*1 tablespoon vinegar in a 1 cup measure topped up with milk = 1 cup sour milk

Partially melt the butter in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave. Whisk in the sugar. It shouldn’t be too hot but if it is, let it cool slightly before adding the egg as you don’t want to cook it. Whisk in the egg into the cooled butter. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour milk and whisk to combine. Whisk in the salt and baking soda. Finally, whisk in the flour. The batter should be thickened.

Heat a griddle over medium heat until sizzling and add a pat of butter. Spoon batter onto the hot griddle and cook until it is browned on the underside. Flip and continue browning on the second side, about 1-2 minutes per side. Continue making pancakes until the batter is finished.

Deb Perelman says to let the pancakes finish in the oven for 5 minutes but I found that step wasn’t necessary. They were tall, fluffy and light straight off the griddle.

chicken and rice soup

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Being Chinese I hate to waste food. I roasted a whole chicken, and after carving it up, saved the carcass to make chicken and rice soup. They say chicken soup is good for the soul; well, it is also a good light supper with a salad on the side.

Chicken and Rice Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

For the broth:
1 carcass of whole roast chicken
1 small onion peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 tablespoon salt

For the soup:
1/2 cup carrot cut into cubes
1/2 cup diced celery, if desired
1 cup cooked rice
Scallion for garnish

Pick the meat off the bones of the carcass, cut meat into small dice, and set aside.

Put chicken carcass, onion, peppercorns, water and salt in a large Dutch pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to a simmer about 45 minutes.

Slit open coffee filters and line a large strainer with them. Place lined strainer over a large heat proof bowl. Slowly pour the broth into the strainer and discard the solids.

Pour 4 cups broth into a medium sauce pan. Add the carrots and celery, if using,  and cook 5 minutes. Add the rice. Reserve the remainder of the broth for another use.

Spoon soup into bowls. Top with diced chicken and scallion. Serve right away.

shrimp lo mein

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This is a simple one-pot supper dish that only takes 30 minutes to prepare. The taste is lightly flavored with hoisin sauce, but if you don’t like it, or if you don’t have any, you can leave it out.

Shrimp Lo Mein
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5-7 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoons rice bran oil (can use vegetable oil)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 medium yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, cut into 3 inch matchsticks
250 g large shrimp
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
150 g lo mein noodles (can substitute fettucine or linguine)

In a large pot, boil 4 liters of water. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water. Drain noodles and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil and sauté the shrimp until pink and opaque. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, cornstarch, chicken broth, and hoisin sauce until smooth. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Lightly sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the snap peas, onions, bell peppers, and carrots. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are bright and just crisp tender, about 2-5 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until the sauce bubbles. Add the cooked shrimp. Turn off the heat.

Toss the noodles in the warm cooking water then drain. Add noodles to the pot and toss with vegetables and shrimp. Serve at once.

strawberry sorbet

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The great thing about this sorbet is that it is mostly fruit. This strawberry season I froze about 800 grams of fresh strawberries for a later use. When I got the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, I had a great idea for using up those strawberries. Using just 3 ingredients, this sorbet turned out smooth with a tart icy flavor that’s just perfect for a hot summer day’s treat. Note: You can substitute any kind of berry for the strawberries.

Strawberry Sorbet

750 g frozen strawberries, thawed
90 ml water
300 ml simple syrup

Make the simple syrup by heating equal amounts of sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.

Next, puree the strawberries with water in a food processor until smooth. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the strawberries by lightly pressing and stirring the puree. Discard the solids. Chill the strained strawberry puree at least 8 hours or overnight.

When ready, combine the simple syrup and strained strawberry puree and freeze according to the ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions. For the KitchenAid ice cream attachment, be sure the freeze bowl has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours then follow these directions.

1. Assemble the freeze bowl, drive assembly and dasher. Turn on the machine to Speed #1.
2. While the machine is running, slowly pour the sorbet mixture into the freeze bowl using a measuring cup with a spout.
3. Let the freeze bowl work its magic and in about 10-15 minutes you will have sorbet.
4. Remove the sorbet to a shallow airtight container and freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

jamaican black bean soup

 

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Soups in Jamaica are hearty. Black bean soup can be as thin or as thick as you desire. Serve it thick like a stew as a main meal with ham or sausage, or serve it thin as a soup course. The scotch bonnet pepper (or habañero can be a substitute) adds flavor as much as it adds heat, which is very mild actually, so don’t be afraid to use it. When they are available in Bangkok I buy them, and freeze the extra for future use.

Jamaican Black Bean Soup (adapted from ethnic spicy food and more)

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 small scotch bonnet pepper, slit twice to release the flavors
1 1/2 cups vegetarian broth (substitute: chicken broth)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups dried)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (shake well before opening)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced fine

Cook vegetables. In a large stockpot, bring the temperature to medium heat. Swirl in the oil. Add the chopped red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are somewhat tender. Add the broth, thyme and beans. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Sprinkle in the salt and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Purée cooked vegetables. Pour half of the soup into a blender or food processor. Pulse the soup to create a chunky mixture. Pour the puréed mixture back in with the remaining soup. Add the coconut milk and stir in the cilantro. Serve hot.

Variations

  • For a main meal, grill two sweet or hot Italian or Kielbasa sausages or turkey ham. Chop coarsely. Add to soup with the purée.
  • Use dried black beans instead of canned. Put 2 cups of beans, 6 cups of water, 3 tablespoons oil in pressure cooker. Cook 25 minutes. If beans were soaked overnight in the refrigerator, cook them 3-6 minutes.

rice and peas and fricassee chicken

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Black Bean Soup with Rice and Peas and Fricassee Chicken

Every cook in Jamaica has his/her own version of rice and peas. There are recipes that you cook on the stove top and those you cook in a rice cooker. But every rice and peas recipe that I know of uses salt beef or pork to make the broth, except this one. I thought I would try it to see how it tastes. Andy said he missed the smoky flavor of the salt beef, but otherwise, it was full of flavor.

Rice and peas is almost always accompanied with chicken. The fricassee chicken recipe that follows is my mother’s. It’s very simple and relies on seasoning salt to flavor the meat. Then you add tomatoes, garlic and onions, salt and pepper, and that’s it.

Rice and Peas (adapted from The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
Servings: 8

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-4 scallions, sliced thin
2 cups jasmine rice
one 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken
1 1/2 cups water
1 sprig thyme
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or Habañero pepper
two 15 oz cans small red beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups dried)
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

If using dried beans, soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, then cook in fresh water to cover in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch pot with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.

Add garlic and scallion and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent browning.

Add the rice, coconut milk, water, thyme, Scotch bonnet, beans, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then stir well, reduce the heat to very low. Cover tightly and cook without disturbing for 25 to 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is very tender.

Taste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Fluff rice before serving. Serve with a fricassee of chicken.

Fricassee Chicken
4 chicken legs
3 chicken thighs, preferably boneless and trimmed of excess fat
Seasoning salt
3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

In a large Dutch pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high. Sprinkle seasoning salt generously on the skin and undersides of the chicken. Brown the chicken pieces then set aside.

To the oil remaining in the pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onions are just beginning to soften. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken pieces are done. Taste and adjust seasoning.

lychee ice cream, kitchenaid version

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I adapted the KitchenAid ice cream maker base for French Vanilla ice cream and added lychee fruit to it. Here’s what I learned: the ice cream maker freeze bowl needs to be very frozen–at least 24 hours. Also, the ice cream base needs to be cooked on low heat to a temperature of 160˚F. Any hotter and the eggs will cook. I saved it by straining the base. Here’s how it turned out: creamy, lightly sweet, and fresh–just as I remembered home-made ice cream should taste. It uses a lot of egg yolks, that’s the drawback, so it looks like I will have to make a pavlova with the egg whites! That’s not such a terrible thing to do, actually…

French Vanilla Ice Cream (adapted from KitchenAid)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 8-12 hours
Freezing time: 10-15 minutes

600 ml (2 1/2 cups) half and half (50% cream 50% milk)
8 egg yolks
230 g (1 cup) superfine sugar
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) whipping cream
4 teaspoons vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 tin of lychee fruit, chilled, drained and chopped. Discard syrup

In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat half-and-half to 160˚F, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and very gradually add the hot half-and-half; mix until blended and sugar has dissolved.

Return half-and-half egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until it reaches a temperature of 160˚F. Transfer mixture back to the mixer bowl and add the whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly for at least 8 hours.

Assemble the ice cream attachment and turn on to Speed 1. Using a large measuring cup with a spout, slowly pour the ice cream base into the freeze bowl while the machine is turning. Continue on Speed 1 until the ice cream reaches the desired consistency in 10-15 minutes. About 3-5 minutes before freeze time, add the chopped fruit. It’s okay to turn off the machine for this step. Spoon the fruit evenly about the dasher. Continue churning until the fruit is blended into the ice cream.

Using a plastic spoon or spatula, spoon out the ice cream into dishes to eat right away, or spoon it into a shallow plastic tub and cover it. Let ice cream harden in the freezer 2-4 hours before serving.

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pork wellington with country gravy

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This pork wellington is wrapped in a pork sausage stuffing that is wrapped in a golden, flaky puff pastry. I served it with roasted vegetables.

Pork Wellington
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes

1 pork tenderloin, about 2 pounds
1 pound ground pork
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
4 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon chili flakes, more or less to taste, optional
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
Frozen puff pastry, thawed

Brown tenderloin in hot oil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the ground pork, mushrooms, onion, fennel, chili flakes, if using, and salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured board. Spread the ground pork mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 2 inch border all around. Put the pork tenderloin in the center of the ground pork mixture and fold up the long sides. Seal and fold the short ends under the pastry. Turn it seam side down on the prepared baking tray. Brush vegetable oil all over the pastry.

Bake 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 140˚F on an instant read thermometer. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Country Gravy
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and is smooth. Add soy sauce, if desired, to make the gravy brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I had leftover mushrooms and onion, so I browned these up and added them to the gravy.

lychee ice cream

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For this blogpost, I thought I’d revisit a childhood memory, my Dad’s ice cream. My Dad’s ice cream is creamy, sweet, and redolent of condensed milk. My Dad flavors his ice cream with tinned lychee or longan with the syrup thrown into the ice cream for good measure. Lychee and longan  both have a woody shell that is peeled open to reveal the fleshy fruit inside around a shiny black stone. When fresh they have a chewy texture; while longan is delicately sweet, the fresh lychee is tart. Both of them make wonderful additions to ice cream.

This Songkran (Thai New Year), I longed for Dad’s ice cream. I remember when Dad used to make the ice cream in Jamaica in an old fashioned bucket with a crank, then later with an electric ice cream maker. The ice cream makers of my childhood depended on lots of ice and rock salt to make a brine cold enough to freeze the ice cream. So for this project, Andy bought me the ice cream maker attachment for Gracie, my KitchenAid mixer. No ice or salt needed.

Lychee Ice Cream
Prep time: 20 minutes
Base Chilling time: 2-12 hours
Ice Cream Freezing time: 20-30 minutes (KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker)

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar, optional
1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 can condensed milk (can reduce to 1/4 can)
1 can lychees, drained, and chopped. Reserve syrup

Place cream, sugar, if using, and egg in a saucepan. On low heat, heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the liquid reaches a temperature of 160˚F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, condensed milk, and reserved syrup. Stir to mix well. Pour ice cream base into a covered bowl and chill thoroughly 2-12 hours.

Pour chilled ice cream mixture into the ice cream canister, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately or scrape into an airtight canister and put into the freezer to harden.

vanilla-cardamom cake with vanilla-cardamom italian buttercream frosting

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This triple layer cake smells rich and wonderful with vanilla. Then the whole is frosted with an Italian butter cream frosting speckled with vanilla beans. An Italian butter cream uses a hot sugar syrup to sweeten the meringue. On a whim I added the initial “C” for Chitra’s birthday celebration today.

Vanilla-Cardamom Cake (adapted from Savory Simple)
Ingredients
10 1/2 ounces all purpose flour
3 ounces (9 tablespoons) cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups half and half (or 50% cream and 50% whole milk)
1/4 cup dark rum
1-3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (add more or less to taste; I added 1 tablespoon)
9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
21 ounces granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature

Vanilla-Cardamom Butter Cream Frosting:
12 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
5 egg whites
16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
2  teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Instructions
Prepare the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush the flour mixture inside three 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch pans. Then cover bottoms with parchment rounds. Grease and flour the parchment rounds. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl.

Cake Baker’s Note: Add 1-3 tablespoons vanilla extract to the half and half mixture.

In a separate small bowl, combine the half and half, brandy or rum, and vanilla.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer still on low speed, quickly alternate between adding the dry and liquid ingredients (ending with the dry) until just combined. Scrape down the sides well, making sure to reach the bottom of the bowl.

Distribute the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, using a spatula to even out the tops. Tap pans lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched, approximately 25-35 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pan on wire cooling racks before unmolding.

Prepare the frosting
Add sugar, water and corn syrup to a medium sized sauce pan. Cover and turn the heat to high. Once the liquid begins to simmer and steam has developed, remove the cover (this helps prevent crystallization). Using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar to the soft boil stage, 235-240 degrees F.

While the sugar is cooking, whisk the egg whites on high in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until a soft peak has formed.

Cake Baker’s Note: Timing is delicate between getting the sugar syrup to temperature and the meringue to the soft peak stage. I start the sugar syrup then I begin the meringue. I turn the machine off when the meringue gets to the soft peak stage.

Turn the mixer speed to medium low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Don’t pour the hot syrup directly into the meringue. If you have a pouring shield, use it.

Once the syrup is completely incorporated, turn the speed to high and allow the meringue to continue to form a stiff peak while cooling down. Mix on high until the meringue has reached room temperature. The bottom of the bowl will be cool to the touch. This can be 8-20 minutes.

Cake Baker’s Note: Because the kitchen may be hot, refrigerate the butter cubes until ready to use.

Once the meringue is at room temperature, slowly begin incorporating the soft butter on medium speed.

Cake Baker’s Note: The mixture may curdle and deflate, but don’t worry, it will come together.

Once all of the butter has been incorporated, turn the mixer speed up to high and very slowly add the vanilla paste, vanilla extract and cardamom. I knew it was “done” when the frosting was smooth and shiny.

Cake Baker’s Note: The final color of the frosting was creamy, not white, probably because the butter I was using was too soft.

Assemble the layers
Place the first layer of cake upside down on a revolving cake stand and remove the parchment paper. Placing a cardboard round below the cake is recommended as it will make transporting the cake easier after it is assembled.

Spread approximately one cup of butter cream on the cake and spread it around evenly with an offset spatula. Add more butter cream as needed to reach the desired thickness. Repeat with the second and third layer (don’t forget to remove the parchment each time). Use an offset spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting to the side and top of the cake. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set this first layer of butter cream. Cover the entire cake with a final layer of frosting.

Cake Baker’s Note: Because my kitchen is hot, I refrigerated the extra frosting. To re-use I brought it to room temperature and whipped it until it was a spreadable consistency.

Cake is best when served at room temperature. To get clean slices when cutting the cake, use a long, sharp knife. Run it under hot water, wipe it dry and immediately cut one slice in a straight down, non-sawing motion. Don’t pull the knife up, pull it straight out toward you. Then repeat the process for the other side, starting with the hot water.

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