low fat scallion-corn bread

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One of the frustrations of living in Bangkok is not being able to find ingredients for American cooking, or if you do, they are very expensive. Fortunately, that list is short and includes things like cornmeal, molasses, and corn syrup; things which I seldom use anyway. But this is  how you learn to improvise. I found almond meal at Tops which is not too bad at 69 baht for 500 grams; in texture it’s similar to cornmeal. To make it corn bread, I tossed in the corn kernels. And for color, the scallions.

Low Fat Scallion Corn Bread
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes.

1 cup almond meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tinned corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup clabbered milk or sour milk
1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C. Grease an 8″ square baking pan. Set aside.

In a one cup measure, put 1 tablespoon white vinegar and top up to one cup mark with low fat milk. Set aside 5-10 minutes to curdle milk.

In a large bowl, put almond meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, corn, and scallions. Stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, put the beaten egg, sour milk, yogurt, and oil. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool a few minutes then serve warm.

white chicken chili

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The last time I made this chili was in New York where all the Mexican chilies are available, so I’ve had to improvise and use what was available in Bangkok. I used sweet bell pepper, goat chili, and green chili in this recipe. It was not bad!

White Chicken Chili

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

3 pounds boneless chicken breast with skin on
seasoning salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil, plus more if needed
2 medium green bell peppers
3 medium goat chilies
2 medium onions
2 medium green chilies, chopped fine
6 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used 3 cups water, 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 small lime quartered
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with seasoning salt. Be sure to get some under the skin too.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Fry the chicken, skin side down 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn, and fry on the second side 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly then remove the skin and discard.

In the workbowl of a food processor, put half the bell peppers, goat chilies, and onions. Process until fine. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the remaining peppers, chilies, and onions. Add to the first batch in the bowl. Set aside. Don’t wash out the bowl. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside.

Re-heat the liquid in the pot and add half the chili-onion mixture, all the garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. Cook 10 minutes or until the mixture cooks down to one cup. Remove from heat and scrape into the food processor along with 1 cup of the cannellini beans, and 1 cup chicken broth. Process until smooth.

Scrape into the Dutch oven and add the chicken back to the pot. Add the remaining chili-onion mixture, the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth, and half the green chilies. Then cook 15-20 minutes or until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside until cool. Add the remaining cannellini to the pot and cook 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. Taste, and add the remaining green chilies if desired. Shred the chicken breasts and add it back to the pot. Turn off the heat. Serve with limes and cilantro, no need to add additional salt.

boscobel beach ginger cake

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I don’t know if this cake is an authentic Jamaican recipe.

Prepping for this cake, I can honestly say, was a bother. First there is scraping the ginger root and whizzing it in the blender; then, I had to sift the brown sugar (brown sugar in Bangkok has large “stones” in it which must be removed before baking), and third, I must melt butter and mix it with flour for prepping the pan. This last step can be avoided by using flour-spray, but I prefer to use my own flour-butter mixture. In the end, I liked the way it turned out. The crumb was moist, the texture soft but firm, and the taste was cinnamon-y–it reminded me that Christmas is coming. So whether or not it’s really Jamaican doesn’t matter. It’s a great name for a cake.

Boscobel Beach Ginger Cake (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake:
1 cup (227g) butter
1 1/4 cups (250g) packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup (50g) grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups (312g) all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons rum, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease and flour one 9-inch bundt cake pan (1 tablespoon melted butter to 1 tablespoon flour to make a paste). In a large bowl put flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt. Whisk 30 seconds to combine. Set aside.

2. In another large bowl, cream the butter on high speed about 30 second. Add the brown sugar and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated ginger and vanilla. At this stage, the mixture will look curdled. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated, scraping down the bowl between additions.  At the end, use a silicone spatula to hand-turn the batter at the bottom of the pan to make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Scrape batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, with just a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan 30 minutes on a wire rack.  Turn out onto a wire rack for glazing. Cool thoroughly.

4. Glaze cake with rum icing. Set the cooled cake on the wire rack placed over a baking tray. In a medium bowl, mix 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons rum. If it is too thick, thin with a little milk. It should be thick but spreadable. Spoon over the top of the cake, letting glaze drip down the sides. Let glaze dry before slicing cake.

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salmon and potato strata

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Salmon and Potato Strata
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes

4 medium potatoes, whole, peeled or unpeeled, cut into thin rounds
2 salmon steaks, cut up into small cubes, skinned and boned
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery (can substitute green peas)
4 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup broth (chicken or beef)
seasoning salt to taste
1 tablespoon herbs (parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, etc. or a mixture)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook for 7-10 minutes then drain and rinse under cool running water until cool to the touch.

2. In a large bowl, add salmon, onion, celery or peas, eggs, milk, broth, 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt, and herbs. Mix well together.

3. Put 1/2 potatoes in the bottom of a 3-4 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle potato layer with a little seasoning salt. Cover potatoes with 1/3 of the salmon mixture. Repeat and end with the salmon mixture. Sprinkle seasoning salt on top.

4. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden and crusty, and the egg is set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

brown sugar bundt cake

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I follow the blogger  Food Librarian who has a whole page devoted to bundt cakes. I chose this one because of its simplicity; all the ingredients are either in the refrigerator or the pantry, and therefore can be whipped up on the spur of the moment. Instead of glazing the cake with the brown sugar glaze below, I merely dusted confectioner’s sugar on top.

Brown Sugar Bundt (Food Librarian)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50-55 minutes

Cake:
1 cup butter (227g), room temp/70 degrees
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 cups (386 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole milk

Brown Sugar Glaze:
1/2 c (100 g) packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

Oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pan: 12-cup Bundt pan. Butter and flour pan generously.

1. Dry ingredients: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

2. Cream & Combine: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl.

3. Combine dry & wet: On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in three additions and milk in two additions. Don’t overmix.

4. Bundt Pan: Spoon into bundt pan and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.

5. Bake: Place pan in the oven (never put a Bundt pan on a tray – air needs to circulate through the hole in the center of the Bundt pan). Bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean or with just a few crumbs, about 60 minutes. Check early, mine was done in at 55 minutes.

6. Cooling : Place Bundt on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert and let cool completely on a wire rack.

7. Glaze: In a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, milk and salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and let the glaze cool and thicken slightly. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

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tagliarini

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My sister gave me the Canadian Cookbook as a memento after a visit to Calgary. In it was this marvelous recipe for a one-pot pasta meal that quickly became a family favorite. Now I make it for the left overs. I’ve altered the recipe over the years by grinding my own ground meat and adding fresh carrots and corn.

Tagliarini (adapted from the Canadian Cookbook)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
kernels of 2 ears of medium sized corn on the cob (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cubed
1 pound ground lean pork tenderloin
2 x 400g diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
250g flat very thin pasta (e.g. linguine), broken into large pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (optional)
1 medium sweet pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch pot. Cook the onions until almost translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the corn and the carrots and cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the empty pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil and brown the meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chili pepper, if using. Return the carrot and corn mixture to the pot. Add the diced tomatoes, the water, and the pasta. Cover and cook 35 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Mix in the sweet pepper and the celery.

Cook’s Note: If the pasta seems too dry during cooking add another 1/2 cup water.

Spoon into individual serving plates or bowls. Serve with grated cheese on top and garlic bread on the side.

The garlic bread is so easy it doesn’t need a recipe, just a baguette, 2 tablespoons salted butter, and 1 large clove garlic minced fine. Then I pop it in a hot oven to warm up the bread and melt the butter, about 10 minutes.

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mama’s bundt butter cake

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This cake only has 6 ingredients. It yields a cake with a moist and tender crumb. The cake can be  glazed too. My favorite glaze for this cake is the lemon-lime glaze for a 7-up cake . Just mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 tablespoon lime juice to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar. It adds just the right amount of sweetness with a tangy citrus flavor.

Mama’s Bundt Butter Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

227 grams unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
338g superfine sugar
281g all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 160˚C/325˚F. Grease a 10 inch bundt cake pan with butter, making sure to get inside all the crevices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix the butter on low speed to soften. Add the vanilla. Pour in the sugar all at once and mix on medium speed 2-3 minutes until the butter-sugar mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides.

Add the flour all at once to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until the flour mixture is just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan lightly on the counter top to dislodge any air bubbles.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 30 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Invert the pan and unmold the cake. Cool completely. Simply dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.

meatball banh mi sandwich

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This is one of the best sandwiches I ever ate. It’s fresh and filling, a complete meal between two pieces of bread.

Meatball Banh Mi Sandwich (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Servings: Makes 4 sandwiches

Hot Chili Mayo:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot Sriracha sauce (more or less)

Stir all ingredients in small bowl. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Meatballs:
1 pound lean ground pork or ground chicken or lean ground turkey
1/2-1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil or chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (Tiparos is recommended)
1 tablespoon hot sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using a moistened 1 1/2 inch scoop, pick up a packed and level scoop of meat. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bake meatballs at 350˚F for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer pink. One pound of meat will make about 10-12 3 inch meatballs.

Vegetable Pickle:
2 cups carrot sticks
1 cup cucumber slices
1 cup sweet bell pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Toss carrots, celery, sweet pepper, vinegar, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Sandwiches
4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles (optional)
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs
4 stalks scallion, trimmed

Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread shell.

Arrange jalapeños, if using, then cilantro and scallion in bottom halves. Fill each with 3-4 meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place atop meatballs. Press on baguette tops.

Ina Garten’s gluten-free flourless chocolate cassis cake

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I’ve wanted to try Ina’s recipe for sometime now, but finding creme de cassis in Bangkok was a challenge. Then I found cassis syrup. Cassis, pronounced ka-CEESE, is made from blackcurrants. While creme de cassis is a liqueur, and thus alcoholic, the syrup is not, thus making it an acceptable substitute.  This recipe is flourless but I’ve also made it gluten-free by using cocoa instead of flour to dust the pan. The cake has a dense fudgey interior, lightly sweet with a delicate taste of blackcurrants.

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake seemed to be not set yet. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 2 cups whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add a few long-ans or rambutans on the side.

almond cream with mandarin oranges

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This is one of the oldest recipes in my recipe collection. I bought Alison’s book when I was in graduate school, and I made this dessert for its cool refreshing quality after a spicy meal. This dessert and another one called Almond Lake, a rice pudding, were early favorites when company came over.

Almond Cream with Mandarin Oranges (Alison Burt)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours

1 x 16 oz can mandarin oranges or chopped fresh fruit, such as kiwi, mango, dragon fruit, and tangerines, chilled
2 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons gelatin powder (4 gelatin leaves = 1 tablespoon)
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

I made this with gelatin leaves. I put 16 leaves in a large bowl of cool water for 4 minutes or until softened.

In a medium sauce pan add the water, milk, and sugar, then heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Drain the gelatin and add drained gelatin to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat source. Add the almond extract and stir. Let the mixture cool to room temperature about 30 minutes.

Pour into an ungreased glass dish about 9 inches square. Chill until set about 2 hours. Cut into small squares and pour into a large bowl. Add the mandarin oranges, syrup and all. Chill and serve in individual bowls.