johnny cakes

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A johnny cake is fried bread eaten in Jamaica as an accompaniment to spicy dishes. Ackee and saltfish or bully beef (corned beef with tomatoes, onions, and scotch bonnet pepper) are even more satisfying eaten with a fluffy chewy and hot johnny cake.

Johnny Cakes (adapted from Food 52)
Prep time: 45 minutes (includes resting time)
Cook time: 4 minutes per batch
Servings: Makes about 30-36 cakes

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup water
vegetable oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Mix in the water and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes. Roll out half the dough onto a lightly floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick, and cut into rounds. Repeat with the other half.

Meanwhile, heat about an inch of oil in a large skillet. Stick a wooden chopstick in the oil; when tiny bubbles gather round the stick, the oil is hot enough. Fry dough circles in batches of five. When one side is lightly browned, flip over on to the other side. Drain fried cakes on a plate lined with paper towels. Eat right away.

To reheat leftover johnny cakes put them in a 200˚F/100˚C oven for about 5 minutes. Never reheat them in a microwave as they become tough.

blueberry butter cake

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We’ve been in Calgary here in Canada for 4 days, and I’ve been looking forward to berries of any kind: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. So I dressed up my mother-in-law’s butter cake with 2 cups of fresh blueberries. It came out lightly sweet, just right for a summer cake, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which was sweeter.

Blueberry Butter Cake

Have at room temperature:
1 pound butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Pre-heat the oven 325˚F/180˚C. Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking dish or a 10-cup bundt cake pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and vanilla. Add the sugar all at once and cream until fluffy and light. Add the eggs one at a time until just combined.

In another large bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour in 3 batches to the butter mixture. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and tap the pan lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles. Then bake 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed lightly towards the middle.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. It’s not necessary to remove the cake from the baking dish to serve it. Invert the bundt pan and remove the cake. Thoroughly cool the cake then dust lightly with powdered sugar, if desired.

breakfast bird’s nest

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Bird’s Nest

6 large eggs
12 slices Canadian bacon
white pepper to taste
1 stalk scallion, chopped fine
Sriracha sauce for serving

Preheat the oven 350˚F/180˚C.

Slit each slice of bacon 1 inch from the edge towards the center. Place one slice of bacon in one cup of a six-cup muffin tin, slit edges on the bottom. Overlap the slit edges so that the bacon slice fits the cup. The top of the bacon should stick up slightly over the top of the muffin cup. Place another slice of bacon in the same cup overlapping the slit edges to fit. Repeat.

Crack open an egg into each cup lined with two Canadian bacon slices. Sprinkle a little white pepper to taste in each cup—salt is not necessary. Sprinkle some scallion on top of each egg.

Bake in the oven 10-15 minutes—ten for a runny yolk, 15 for well-done. Using a thin blade, ease around the edge of each nest and scoop out of the muffin tin. Serve hot with Sriracha sauce.

chocolate meringue tower

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Called a vacherin glacé, a meringue tower is three layers of pavlova with a whipped cream sauce in between the layers. It is incredibly sweet.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups superfine sugar
1 cup toasted slivered almonds, ground fine
1 8-oz block cream cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips
chocolate syrup
toasted slice almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 300˚F/175˚C. Prepare 2 baking trays. Line them with parchment paper. On one parchment, draw two 8-inch circles about an inch apart. On the second piece of parchment draw one 8-inch circle in the center. Flip over and set aside.

Place egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip on medium speed until soft peaks form (the tips curl over). Gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (the tips stand up straight). Gently fold in the 1 cup ground almonds.

On the prepared parchment papers, mound and smooth the meringue inside the circles. Bake 35 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the meringues sit for one hour in the oven. Do not open the door. After one hour, take out the meringues and gently peel off the parchment one meringue at a time. If not using right away, wrap airtight and place in an airtight canister until ready to use. In Bangkok’s humidity this is an essential step.

One to two hours before serving, make the sauce. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the cream cheese and butter. Blend until smooth. Add the sugar and the cream. Exchange paddle for the whisk attachment and whip until soft peaks form (the tips curl over). This can be made ahead, in which case, cover and chill until ready to use.

To assemble, place one meringue disk on a plate. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce on top. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate chips and toasted sliced almonds, if using, on top. Cover with another disk and repeat two more times. For the top layer, drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. Chill 1-2 hours. Serve cold.

Tish Boyle’s marble bundt cake

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This recipe is chocolate-y smooth and delicious. It can easily be halved to make a smaller bundt if you decide that a bigger one is too much. But I say you can never have too much cake.

Tish Boyle’s Marble Bundt Cake

Ingredients
• 340g unsalted butter
• 342g cake flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon Salt
• 500g caster sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 5 large eggs, room temperature
• 120ml (1/2cup) whole milk
• 20g natural cocoa powder (e.g. Hershey’s)
• 90ml water

Method :
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F/ 190˚C. Grease the inside of a 10” bundt pan and dust with flour. If the pan has a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat 25˚ and check the cake to see that it is done 5 minutes before the baking time is up.

Cake Baker’s Note: I melted 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and added a heaping tablespoon flour to it. I brushed this mixture on the inside of the pan. It should stick to the sides, not run off. If it does, add a bit more flour. You want to generously butter the pan so that the cake will release.

2. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside.

3. In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter at medium speed for 2 minutes until creamy.

4. Add sugar and continue to cream for 4 minutes at medium to high speed.

5. Add vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time and mix at medium speed until well mixed.

6. Add sifted flour mixture in 3 additions and alternating it with 2 additions of milk.

7. Mix cocoa powder with water in a small bowl. Add 3 cups of the batter to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended.

8. To make the marble effect, you need to have thin layers alternating plain with chocolate, starting with the plain layer. Spoon 1/3 of plain batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth it to an even layer. Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate mixture over the plain layer and smooth to even out. Repeat until all batter is used up finishing with the chocolate layer.

9. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. Or the cake, when pressed lightly, bounces back. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Then unmold the cake and cool completely. When it is cooled, dust some powdered sugar on top, if desired.