Now that summer is on its way here in Thailand, mango season is also on its way. We’ve been enjoying gifts of mangoes from our back-door neighbors, and sometimes with sticky rice and salty-sweet coconut sauce. These sweet-tart mangoes inspired this dessert. It’s a simple dessert, consisting of a pâte brisée crust, a lightly sweet cream filling, and fresh mango topping. Here it is:
Fresh Mango Tart with Vanilla Mango Cream
Makes 1 7-inch tart
For the Pâte Brisée
200g all purpose flour (Type 55)
100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 200˚C.
Prepare the pâte brisée. Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Mix in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, or just enough to make a ball. Flatten into a disk, rolling the edge on the work surface to smooth it out. Cover disk in plastic and let rest about 30 minutes in refrigerator to firm up the dough.
Remove the dough disk from the refrigerator. Lightly flour work surface, rolling pin and dust some flour on the surface of the disk. Roll disk out into a 1/4 inch thick round about 9 inches in diameter. Roll up the disk on the rolling pin. Place rolled up dough on top of the tart pan, pressing the dough into the bottom and sides with your knuckles. Repair any tears with extra dough pieces. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.
Line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights. Blind-bake the pastry shell 10 minutes and remove the tart pan from the oven. Reduce heat to 175˚C. Remove the parchment and pie weights and return pastry shell to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is light golden. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly. If using beans, save them for another baking project.
2 tablespoons apricot jam or jelly
1-2 tablespoons water
While the dough is chilling in the refrigerator, peel the mangoes. On a cutting board, slice the flat sides of the mango off, front and back. Put the slices flat on the cutting board and trim about 1/2 inch off the top and bottom. Save the trimmings. Then thinly slice the big pieces of mango. Repeat with the second mango. Set the slices aside. Trim the remaining fruit off the seeds, and, including the saved tops and bottoms, chop coarsely. You should get about 1/3-1/2 cup chopped fruit. Cover the mango slices and chopped fruit and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Start with 1/4 cup cream then add up to 1/3 cup to thin the cream cheese. You want a thick consistency like a pastry cream. Gently stir in the chopped mango. Scrape the cream mixture into the cooled pastry shell. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Starting from the outer edge, place the mango slices in a circular pattern continuing all the way to the center. Stick the fruit into the cream at a slight angle rather than laying it flat on top of the cream, following the curve of the tart pan.
Make the fruit glaze. Heat the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water until it becomes thin and smooth. If not thin enough, add up to a tablespoon more water. Strain to remove any fruit solids. Brush the glaze over the mango topping. Glazing keeps the fruit fresh and gives it a wonderful glossy finish.
Chill the tart for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
*Alternatively, mix 2 tablespoons golden honey with a few drops of water and brush this mixture on top of the mangoes. A honey fruit glaze is recommended if the mangoes are more tart than sweet.
An easy way to use up leftover roast chicken or pork tenderloin is to re-purpose them into a shepherd’s pie. Use whatever vegetables are on hand: carrots, green peas, onions, and peppers went into tonight’s dinner. Other vegetables that can go into the pie include corn kernels, chopped broccoli, mushrooms, and chopped asparagus spears. Add in up to 2 cups chopped or shredded chicken or pork tenderloin, and 1 1/2 cups brown gravy. You can also add fresh herbs such as thyme and minced rosemary. Top with mashed potatoes and bake on 400˚F/200˚C for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and browned. And that’s it!
I loves crepes. These are a light breakfast filled with just sweetened fresh strawberries, rolled up, dusted with a little powdered sugar, and topped with a spoonful of homemade strawberry preserves! Delicious. This recipe makes a small batch perfect for breakfast for two. You don’t need to have a crepe pan to make these crepes; I used a “regular” 8-inch skillet.
Crepes for Two (adapted from Dessertfortwo.com)
Makes 4-6 crepes
1 cup milk (2% or whole milk)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
In a blender, add the milk, egg, sugar, flour, salt and butter. Puree the mixture for 30 seconds on high. Then turn off the blender and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
Heat an 8-inch skillet on medium heat. Remove skillet away from the heat source and spray with cooking spray. Put the pan back on the burner. Pour a 1/4 cup measure of batter in the hot pan and swirl it around. When the edges start to brown slightly, use a thin bladed spatula to gently release the sides from the pan. As the crepe cooks it will ease away from the pan, so look for that. Use the spatula to flip the crepe and gently smooth it out. When the bottom develops brown spots remove it from the pan to a plate. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
Cook’s Note: For a thicker crepe, use 1/2 cup measure. For a larger thinner crepe, use a 10-inch skillet and 1/2 cup measure.
Roll and fill the side with the brown spots, leaving the more attractive side with brown swirls for the outside. Fill with lightly sweetened fresh berries, roll up, and top with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, berry preserves, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Or all of the above!
Making spaghetti and meatballs in the pressure cooker is the ultimate one-pot meal. Aside from the prep (20 minutes, because I like to grind my own meat), cooking took just 5 minutes and the rest period was 10 minutes. Quite easy! I liked the way the pasta turned out. The sauce saturated the pasta and made it juicy and flavorful. I would have liked more sauce though, and will increase the amount of tomatoes the next time I make this recipe. Of course I increased the garlic. One can never have too much garlic.
Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs (adapted from NY Times Cooking)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 basil sprigs, plus more thinly sliced for garnish
8 oz spaghetti, broken in half
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1 pound (500 g) ground meat (beef, pork, veal, or turkey)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
In the pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot. Stir in the garlic, red pepper, and black pepper, and sauté on medium high heat for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and basil sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes on low heat.
Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine meat, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and garlic. Roll into 1 ¼-2 inch balls. This recipe makes about 12 meatballs.
Pour 1 cup water in the pot with the sauce, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Scatter uncooked spaghetti over the sauce. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over spaghetti, stirring gently. Top with meatballs.
Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, then remove the cover to separate the spaghetti. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan. At this point, the pasta will be almost but not quite cooked al dente. Replace the top of the pressure cooker, loosely, and let sit for 3-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened and spaghetti is al dente but not mushy. Serve with thinly sliced basil and more Parmesan, if desired.
I served this dish with a simple tomato-cucumber-pepper salad and garlic toast.
I’ve been experimenting with yeast-y things like doughnuts–because they’re fun. I found this recipe from NY Times Cooking, and it looked straightforward enough. However, my first batch was a disaster because I forgot the eggs. So I started over with another batch but could not get the dough to clean the sides of the mixing bowl. It was horribly sticky. I ended up adding 10 tablespoons flour, 2 at a time, to the mixer and when it started to come together, dumped it out onto a floured board where I added 2 more tablespoons of flour because it was still unmanageable. I was sure the doughnuts were inedible, so I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out soft, pillowy, and tender. I made a few with blueberry jelly–it was all I had in the pantry. Feeling bolder, I made a third batch and experimented with two different fillings: young coconut cream and spiced jujube compote. I still have to work on my technique; getting an even color in frying and making fillings that are strong enough in flavor to stand out. This is a work in progress!
Jelly Doughnuts (adapted from Mark Bittman at NY Times Cooking)
Yield: 12-24 doughnuts
Time: 3 hours
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
8 tablespoons (110 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup caster sugar plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 cups (544 g) all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying, plus more to oil the bowl
1/4 cup granulated sugar for coating the fried doughnuts
Special equipment: a candy thermometer, piping bag
In a heatproof measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave for 50 seconds until it reaches a temperature of 110˚F. Pour warm milk into the workbowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar on the surface of the milk. Stir lightly and let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5-7 minutes.
To the yeast mixture, add the eggs, melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and all the flour. Fit the dough hook on the mixer and mix the yeast-flour mixture until combined, and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t do this, and the dough feels very sticky (when touched some dough comes away on your fingertip), sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour on the dough, and continue beating until smooth. Continue adding flour 2 tablespoons at a time if the dough is still too sticky and won’t pull away from the sides of the bowl. I added up to 10 tablespoons without detriment. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading the dough and incorporating up to 2 additional tablespoons of flour. The dough should be smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Baker’s Note: Always go by how the dough looks and feels!
While the dough is proofing in the bowl, prepare the fillings (recipes to follow) and line two baking trays with parchment paper that has been lightly sprinkled with flour. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and sprinkle a little flour on top. Because I have a small work surface, I cut the dough ball in half and put one half back in the bowl covered with plastic. Pat the dough on the work surface with your palm to work out the air bubbles. Then roll the dough out. Flip it over and roll to 1/2 inch thickness. I used a 4 inch cookie cutter to cut out 8 circles. Don’t twist the cutter because you want to get a straight edge for the doughnuts to puff up when they fry. Gently knead any scraps together to form a ball, and let it rest, covered with plastic, for 30 minutes before cutting out more dough circles. These re-kneaded scraps will not have the height of the first roll-out of doughnuts. Repeat with remaining dough.
Baker’s Note: Try and get as many doughnuts as possible from the first roll.
Put the cut dough circles on the prepared baking sheets so that there is at least an inch of space between each circle. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up, about 30 minutes. Check, and if they are not risen, let them rest 10-15 minutes more.
Fifteen minutes before the dough has completed its second rise, heat the oil. Prepare a baking tray or a large platter layered with paper towels to drain the hot doughnuts. Fill a shallow bowl with 1/4 cup sugar to coat the hot doughnuts. Prepare 3-4 loaf pans for stacking the sugared doughnuts.
Baker’s Note: I re-used the oil from the first batch of doughnuts. The oil did not fry up the second batch of doughnuts as well as the first because there was flour in it. I also got more blisters and uneven browning. Using new oil for each batch is worth it.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot (I used a wok) add about 2 1/2 to 3 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat to 350˚F. The temperature is important. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the doughnuts will soak up more oil. Use a metal spatula to lift the delicate risen doughnuts from the parchment and slip them into the hot oil. Depending on the size of your pot, add 4-6 doughnuts at a time. They should not crowd each other. After 45 seconds to a minute, when the bottoms are deep golden, flip the doughnuts over to cook the other side for 30 seconds. When the doughnuts are golden brown on the second side, use a skimmer or a spider to remove them from the hot oil to the paper-towel lined platter/baking tray to cool.
When the doughnuts have cooled for about a minute, coat them in sugar and stack them in a loaf pan to await filling. You want to sugar the doughnuts while they are still hot so the sugar adheres to the surfaces.
Baker’s Note: After frying a batch of doughnuts, pause to let the oil come back up to temperature. While the oil is heating up again, sugar the doughnuts.
Fill the doughnuts about 10 minutes after they have been coated with sugar, when they will be cool enough to handle. Make sure the fillings are at room temperature. To fill the doughnuts, use a chopstick or a plastic straw to make a hole in the side of the fried doughnut. Wiggle it around slightly to enlarge the hole, but be careful not to pierce through the doughnut. Snip off the tip of the piping bag and fill. Insert the tip into the hole and squeeze the piping bag gently until some of the filling just oozes out the top of the filled doughnut.
Baker’s Note: If you haven’t got a small round icing tip for filling the doughnuts, some people improvise with a two-inch tip of a plastic straw. What you want is something stiff to insert into the very top of the doughnut to fill it. The tip doesn’t have to go all the way inside. Stack the filled doughnuts upright back in the loaf pan to keep the filling from dripping out and letting the doughnut finish cooling. I did not use any icing tip for the second batch of doughnuts. I found the filled piping bag was stiff enough; just squeeze the filling from the top to the tip.
The easiest filling of all to use is a jar of jam, jelly, or preserves. Spoon the jam, jelly, or preserves into a small saucepan to heat until it becomes a thick liquid. If using jam or preserves that have fruit pieces in them, strain the heated liquid and discard the fruit pieces. Spoon the thickened liquid into a piping bag and let it rest on a plate to cool to room temperature. Use a tie clip to cover the top so the filling won’t spill out. Don’t snip the end of the bag until ready to fill the doughnuts.
Note: my test audience (my family) did not like the coconut cream and spiced jujube fillings so I have not included the recipes for those fillings here. Back to the stovetop to experiment!
This is the savory pancake that is served in Chinese restaurants. It is so simple to make! The ingredients are flour, salt, hot water, oil, and scallions (green onions). The dough is filled with scallions, rolled out, and fried until crisp. It is sliced into wedges and served with a vinegar-soy dipping sauce. Delicious.
Scallion Pancakes (adapted from Food 52 and Allrecipes)
(Makes 2 pancakes)
Active time: about 40 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours
For the Dough:
2 cups (240 g) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt (1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt)
3/4 cup hot water (150˚F)
For the Oil Mixture
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
For the Pancakes
1 cup scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (save 1-2 tablespoons for dipping sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed.
Combine bread flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the hot water. Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough.
Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until sticky but relatively smooth and elastic, dusting with a minimal amount of flour, if needed. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic on the work surface. Let dough rest for 2 hours.
Mix vegetable oil, sesame oil, and flour together in a skillet over medium heat until starting to bubble, about 3 minutes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Unwrap dough and cut in half with a dough scraper. Cover the second half with plastic for later. Roll out half into a cylinder and flatten with your fingers. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch thick, 12-15 inches long, and 4 inches wide. The secret is to roll it as thin as possible. Flip dough over and dust lightly with flour halfway through. If the dough springs back, cover it with plastic or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest a few minutes.
Paint the surface of the dough with the oil mixture until just covered, leaving 1/4 inch of space around the edges. Sprinkle evenly about 2-3 tablespoons scallion on top. Roll up dough tightly to seal in the scallions, starting with the long side nearest you. Pull the opposite edge over the top once you have reached it.
Start coiling one end of the dough inward toward the middle; wrap the opposite end around the coil to finish, tucking the tip under the bottom. Dust the coil lightly with flour and roll dough out into a pancake about 1/4 inch thick, rolling from the center outward. Turn the pancake one quarter turn and repeat. Flip pancake over, lightly flouring the surface, and roll and repeat. You should get a pancake that’s about 9” in diameter. Repeat process with remaining dough, oil, and green onions to make the second pancake. Stack with wax paper between the pancakes until ready to fry.
Heat vegetable oil in a 10 inch heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Add 1 pancake; lower heat to medium. Cook until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes per side. You don’t want it to brown too fast or the inside will not cook. The outside will be crisp and brown. When both sides are browned, slice the pancake into wedges. When cooked, the inside will separate into honeycomb-like layers. Repeat with the second pancake. Cut into wedges. Serve hot with dipping sauce (recipe follows).
Dipping Sauce for Scallion Pancakes
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste
Ginger, grated, to taste
1-2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
Mix vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add hot sauce to taste. Grate some ginger to taste. Combine with about 1-2 tablespoons scallions.
Salted codfish or bacalao is essential to Jamaican dishes like Ackee and Saltfish and Saltfish Fritters. It goes without saying that bacalao for home cooking is difficult to come by in Bangkok. So I found the directions for curing codfish on The Spruce Eats. I couldn’t find sea salt in large quantities for curing. I did find it eventually, but only after I had bought 5 kg of iodized table salt (43 baht at Makro). I found frozen codfish fillets, also at Makro, for 160 baht. So for 200 baht (about US$6.00) I can make my own bacalao as compared to buying it for US$12.00 per pound. I also read online that curing fish with iodized table salt might brown the fish and give it a bitter taste. But I decided to try it anyway with just 2 fillets. To my surprise, they came out just fine. Here’s how I did it:
2 frozen codfish fillets, thawed
Sea salt (I used iodized table salt but a medium grain sea salt or kosher salt is recommended)
9×13 inch glass dish (can use stainless steel. Do not use plastic)
Rimmed baking tray
Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the thawed fillets. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of salt in the bottom of the dish. Place the fish fillets in a single layer on top of the salt, making sure they are not touching. Cover completely with another layer of salt.
Cook’s Note: The Spruce Eats allows that a second layer of fish can be added on top of the first layer. Make sure the second layer is completely covered in salt.
Cover the dish loosely with a clean kitchen towel to absorb odors, and place the whole thing in the refrigerator for 48 hours. The fillets will give off a fishy smell but will not smell spoiled. After 48 hours, the fillets were dry, even flatter from the loss of moisture, had lost about 25% of their length and about 10-15% of their width. Discard the salt.
Rinse the fillets and pat dry with a clean dish towel. Wrap each fillet individually in cheesecloth and set them in a single layer on the wire rack set on top of the baking tray or dish. Return to the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks to dry and stiffen up.
After 1 week, the fillets became dry and stiff. There was no moisture or smell because the salt had drawn away all the water from the fillets. The cheesecloth remained dry the whole week. The fillets turned white and stiff.
Wrap each fillet in waxed paper and then in foil. Label and date. Store in the refrigerator 3 months or up to 1 year in the freezer.
Before cooking you need to remove the excess salt. Soak the fillets in water for 24 hours, changing the water at least twice. My mother always boiled a piece of salted codfish for 3-5 minutes to remove the salt.
To test the result, I then cooked one of the fillets with tomatoes, onion, and ackee. The saltfish was too thin, I think, and lacked the “meatiness” necessary for the dish. It wasn’t bitter at all. The next time I cure fish, I will use a thicker fillet, and experiment with a different whitefish such as pollock, haddock, or flounder.
After watching Stephanie Jaworski of Joy of Baking on YouTube bake a French apple tart, I noted her recipe and Christophe’s were very similar. These French apple tarts start with a buttery pâte brisée, then a layer of apple sauce, and finishing with a pretty arrangement of apples on top. I picked up some tips from Stephanie: brushing the crust and the apples with apricot glaze, and cooking down the apples will make them easier to arrange on top of the apple sauce. I decided it was worth it to revisit Christophe’s tarte aux pommes. I liked that recipe because it is not overly sweet and even with the extra steps from Joy of Baking added in, this tart is still so simple to make. It looks like you spent hours on it, but with a few simple tricks, you can make it look so professional!
Christophe’s Tarte aux Pommes
Makes 1 x 7-inch tart
For the Pâte Brisée:
200g all purpose flour (Type 55)
100g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cold water
2 small apples, peeled, cored, chopped (recommend: Granny Smith or Gala)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla or a dash of cinnamon, optional
3 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon apricot jelly
1/2 tablespoon rum
Preheat the oven 400˚F/ 200˚C.
Prepare the pâte brisée. Mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter in small pieces. Mix in cold water, a tablespoon at a time, or just enough to make a ball, and let rest about 30 minutes in refrigerator wrapped in plastic to firm up the dough. Heat the apricot jelly in a small pot until just warm. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. Set aside.
Make the apple sauce. In a small saucepan put 2 apples cut up into small pieces with the sugar, 4 tablespoons water, cinnamon or vanilla (if using), and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes on low heat (8 minutes in an oven-proof casserole in the microwave), crushing the apples as they cook to make a thick applesauce. Set aside to cool. Makes about 1/2 cup apple sauce.
Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut up the remaining 3 apples into thin slices. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and a dash of cinnamon, stirring to blend. Add the apples to the pan and cook until the apples are just wilted. Drain in a colander. Set apples aside to cool.
Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and roll it out onto a lightly floured board into a 1/2 inch thick disk 8 inches in diameter. Roll up on the rolling pin. Place dough circle in the tart pan, rolling it out and pressing the dough into the bottom and sides. Repair any tears with extra dough pieces. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.
Line the pastry shell with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights. Blind-bake the pastry shell 10 minutes at 200˚C. Reduce heat to 175˚C. Remove the parchment and pie weights and return to the oven and bake the pastry shell 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is light golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Brush the bottom with apricot mixture. Reserve any leftover apricot mixture.
Spread the cooled apple sauce over the base of the tart. Arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles on top of the apple sauce. If the rim of the crust is browned, cover it with foil to prevent it from over-browning. Bake 30 minutes or until the apples are slightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven. Remove the foil collar, if using. Brush the apples with the remaining apricot mixture to glaze them.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.