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:

The Whatever 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.

gluten-free breadfruit flour pancakes


This is the first time I’ve tried breadfruit flour. In taste and texture breadfruit flour is mildly flavored and gritty like cornmeal. In short, it is very bland. But with the addition of vanilla, spices, and flavored milk powder, this turned out to be wonderfully delicious. I created this pancake recipe,  and I recommend it.

Breadfruit flour is a project of Trees That Feed Foundation, an organization that distributes food-bearing trees to poor communities and supports sustainable farming practices. This breadfruit flour is grown and milled in Jamaica by Tacius Golding High School in  the parish of St. Catherine. To order call 876-836-7277.

Breadfruit Flour Pancakes
Makes 12-14 pancakes each about 2” in diameter

2/3 cup breadfruit flour
3 tablespoons vanilla flavored milk powder
2/3 cup water
1 beaten extra-large egg
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg

In a large bowl, beat egg. Add flour and milk powder, water, sugar, vegetable oil, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix with a fork until well blended. Let rest about 10 minutes.

Spray cooking spray on a griddle. Heat the griddle over medium high heat. Using a dinner-table tablespoon, drop one tablespoon batter on the hot griddle, spreading it out a little. Cook about 30-60 seconds on one side then flip.Cook the second side until golden brown.

Serve pancakes with maple syrup or strawberry jam.


breakfast bird’s nest


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.

breakfast egg muffins


1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
3/4 cup ham, 1” dice
5-7 eggs with milk topped up to 1 3/4 cup mark
3 stalks scallion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha Sauce for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C

Mash potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Whisk eggs and milk; add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray the cups generously with cooking spray.

Drop 1-2 tablespoons potatoes in a muffin cup. Spread it around and flatten it. Fill all other muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes or until potatoes turn golden at the edges. Cool slightly. Don’t turn off the oven.

Put 3-4 diced ham on top of potatoes in each muffin cup. Fill to the top with the egg-milk mixture. Sprinkle scallions and thyme on top.
Bake 15 minutes. The eggs will dome in the oven but deflate once you take them out. A pity!

To serve, loosen the edges of each cup with a sharp thin blade and scoop out the contents. Eat with Sriracha sauce, if desired.


johanna ware’s breakfast bao


DSC04503This is Chef Ware’s take on that quintessential southern breakfast, biscuits and gravy. Instead of biscuits, she uses baozi or filled buns, a Chinese dimsum staple. The complex flavor of the baozi filling is due to the combination of fennel, black vinegar, garlic, and honey. Baozi is usually eaten out of hand as a snack or as a meal on the go, but Chef Ware ladles gravy on these buns and tops them with fried egg, southern style. The gravy is full of flavor, tangy and interesting with a hint of the sea, thanks to the nori or seaweed, an ingredient in the katsuo nori furikake. Furikake adds just the right kind of savory or umami taste that is as hard to describe as it is unmistakable.

DSC04506I made my bao both small and large. Andy prefers the 4-inch bao to the 3 inch so this recipe reflects that. I also doubled the bao dough. The first batch I made I forgot the oil. But it made very little difference to the taste or texture. The buns are done when they look cream colored. They may feel solid and heavy but do not be alarmed. They are soft inside and when you bite into one, yielding to the teeth, chewy like fresh bread and delicious.

Johanna Ware’s Breakfast Bao

Bao Dough
12 to 14 buns

Prep Time:
20 minutes, plus proofing time
Cook Time:
8 minutes
Total Time:
28 minutes, plus proofing time

2/3 cup warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for if needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and sugar until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture sit until the yeast starts to get foamy and bloom, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the oil and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, sift the bread flour, salt and baking soda together. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula. If the dough feels sticky, add 1 additional tablespoon of flour at a time until it is less sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, 1. to 2 hours. Fold the dough over on itself to flatten it.
4. Portion the dough into balls that are 3 inches in diameter and let rest for 5 minutes. Flatten each ball into a disk 4 inches in diameter.
5. Fill the buns with the filling (see recipe below) and wrap by gathering the edge and twisting slightly. Put each bao on a parchment lined baking tray. Cover with a damp kitchen towel to keep the bao from drying out.
6. Fill a wok or skillet with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Line a steam basket with a circle of parchment paper. Place the buns 1 to 2 inches away from one another, as they will expand as they cook.
7. Working in 2 batches, steam the buns. Place 5-6 buns in the prepared steam basket and steam until the buns have expanded, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve warm.

Breakfast Bao
12 to 14 buns

Prep Time:
30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time:
20 minutes
Total Time:
50 minutes, plus cooling time

For the Bao:
Bao dough (recipe above)
1 pound ground pork
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2/3 cup honey (or 3/4 cup maple syrup)
2 tablespoons black vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water

For the gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine or sherry
1 1/4 cups milk, warmed
1/3 cup chicken stock, preferably home made
2 tablespoons Katsuo Nori Furikake (or 1 1/2 teaspoons togarishi)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (reduce if using canned chicken stock)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For Serving:
Fried eggs
2 medium scallions, leaves of Chinese celery, and cilantro, chopped

1. Make the bao dough as directed in the recipe above.
2. Make the filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the pork while using a wooden spoon to break it into small clumps, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, then add the garlic, fennel seeds, honey or maple syrup, black vinegar, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry. Bring the pork to a simmer and pour in the slurry. Once the sauce has thickened, after about 2 to 3 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely, or chill and skim off the congealed fat.
4. Make the bao as directed in the recipe above.
5. Meanwhile, make the gravy: In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter begin to foam, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the shaoxing wine or sherry then whisk in the warm milk slowly until the gravy has thickened slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, furikake (togarashi) and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.
8. To serve, place the steamed bao on a plate and ladle the gravy over the bao. Top with the fried eggs and scallion mix.

pig in a blanket: sausage wrap with wasabi mayo, tomatoes, scallions and arugula

For NaBloPoMo Day 3, here is a great breakfast or brunch idea! This variation on pig in a blanket was inspired by the Food Network show Sandwich King. Instead of wrapping the sausage in a roll, wrap it in a crepe.


This is the Thai version of a bratwurst–but never mind its lack of authenticity. It still tastes pretty good! Any sausage will do. I spread some wasabi mayo on the crepe, sprinkled some sliced scallions and tomatoes, and added some arugula (rocket). Delicious.

Here’s a basic crepe recipe:
Makes about 6 pancakes

1 cup flour (I used tempura flour–it was all I had on hand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Cooking spray

Beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk, water, salt and cooking oil . Heat a 10 inch skillet. Spray with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the skillet and swirl it around. The edges will start to come away from the pan. When the bottom is browned, flip and brown the other side.


6 sausages, grilled
chopped tomatoes
chopped scallions
wasabi mayo

Spread a crepe in a plate. Smear with wasabi mayo. Put a grilled sausage in the middle. Sprinkle tomatoes, scallions, and top with arugula. Roll up and eat.

Suggested toppings:
Caramelized onions
Chopped avocado
Anything you like!

avocado-polenta pound cake

avocado-polenta pound cake
I had such misadventures with this cake. Never bake when you are tired and distracted! But I pushed myself to bake because I was filled with nervous energy and needed to do something positive. And because I was fading, I forgot to add the baking soda and skipped the almonds. I merely sprinkled the top with turbinado sugar.  The cake came out more dense than it should be, the palest of greens, but it is still edible. I actually like it toasted, with berries on the side, for breakfast. With clementine sauce, it is heavenly.

AVOCADO-POLENTA POUND CAKE (adapted from Joy the Baker)
Makes 2 9x4x3-inch loaves or 1 10 inch tube cake.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon vinegar with milk added to 1 cup line)
flesh of 1 1/2 ripe avocados, just over a cup to a cup and a half of avocado, mashed

Cake Topping (optional)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour pan(s) and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Set the four eggs out on the counter to come to room temperature while you beat the butter and sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the avocado and beat another minute to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.

On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after the addition of each egg. Don’t turn off the machine between each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, all of the buttermilk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Give the batter a few turns by hand with a spatula to make sure it is completely mixed.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans or scrape it into the tube cake pan. Smooth the tops. Tap pan(s) gently on the counter to eliminate air bubbles and place in the oven. Sprinkle the top of the cake(s) with topping mixture, if desired. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes or until the pan is cool enough to handle. Invert onto a cooling rack and turn right side up to cool completely.

pantry pancakes

whole wheat strawberry pancake

For sometime now, I’ve been experimenting outside my comfort zone with my own variations on recipes–a fusion, so to speak, between the original and my own tastes and preferences. That’s how I came up with a fusion between Thai style basil chicken and shepherd’s pie a few summers ago.

Necessity, it is said, is the mother of pancakes. I didn’t have any all purpose flour. I had one large egg, whole wheat and cake flours, lots of strawberries, and a deep reluctance to use butter. Still, I can’t throw things in a bowl et voilà, it’s a meal. I guess you could say I’m not ready to give up exact measurements! So inspired by Foodie Pam’s strawberry pancake recipe, I made up this delicious breakfast pancake using what I had on hand in my pantry. The pancake turned out filling, fluffy, and oh-so fine with a little maple syrup drizzled all over it.

Whole Wheat Strawberry Pancakes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 large egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
Cooking spray

In a large bowl, beat the egg. Add the milk, vanilla, and oil. Blend well. Add wheat flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well combined. Fold in the strawberries.

Spray cooking spray in a 10 inch skillet. Heat over medium heat until the skillet sizzles when a drop of water touches the surface. Pour half cup of batter in the center of the skillet, spread it a little bit,  and cook until little bubbles appear in the surface. Flip. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the underside is browned, and the top of the pancake, when pressed, is firm to the touch, but not “squidgy” as Nigella would admonish.

What do you have in your pantry to make these pancakes? Here are my suggested ingredient swaps:

  • Canola, vegetable, or extra virgin olive oil
  • Almond extract to ramp up the almond flavor
  • Blueberries
  • Chopped banana
  • Whole milk for nonfat
  • Sprinkle cinnamon sugar or confectioner’s sugar on top
  • Serve with chopped fresh fruit sprinkled with a little stevia, if you like

deviled eggs with sharp cheddar cheese

Let’s face it; it’s summer and it’s hot and you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen! Deviled eggs are another easy breakfast meal. Deviled eggs also make a great snack or appetizer. They really do not need additional salt or seasoning because I put in sharp cheddar cheese, a bit of mayonnaise, and Sriracha hot sauce.

Deviled Eggs
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sriracha sauce to taste
Cilantro or scallion, minced, for garnish if desired

Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cool water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 more minutes. Drain the eggs in the saucepan. Move the pan back and forth so that the motion cracks the egg shells. Hold the pan under the faucet and run cool water over the cracked eggs in the pan. Let the eggs rest in cool water until they are cool enough to handle. Change the water once or twice. Peel the cooled hard boiled eggs and slice in half vertically.

Carefully scoop the cooked yolks into a small bowl without tearing the egg whites. Using a pastry blender, cut the yolks fine. Add the mayonnaise and the cheese and continue blending. Add Sriracha to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the yolk mixture is dry add a teaspoon more of mayonnaise.  The yolk mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste. Using a rubber/silicone spatula, scoop the yolk mixture out of the bowl and into a plastic bag. Snip off one corner. Squeeze the yolk mixture out of the snipped end into the bowl of each egg white. Garnish with scallion or cilantro, if you wish. Enjoy!

poached egg on arugula

It’s been hard to keep up with blogging, dissertation-ing, and a full time job. And as if I don’t have enough to do, I also signed up for a course this summer on teaching reading. So I’m definitely  in the mood for some baking therapy. I just borrowed a cookbook from the NYPL about baking cakes from scratch.  To keep myself sane, I’ve been indulging in some of my food cravings. After all, how can I live in New York City and not eat a bagel, especially a bagel from Absolute Bagels. The people behind the counter are Thai and they make the best Jewish bread, in my opinion, on the Upper West Side. But this is New York. And  I digress. Here’s something healthier… a poached egg “hat” on fresh arugula.

I had some arugula (organic, what a splurge), that spicy green leaf that tastes like black pepper, and is it ever so yummy! I dressed it up with a poached egg. And for a non-vegetarian variation, I put in some sliced pepperoni. The saltiness of the pepperoni is the perfect complement to the sharp flavor of the arugula. Delicious. This is a great, simple, and easy to make breakfast.

How to poach an egg

To poach an egg, boil three inches of water in a small saucepan and add about a teaspoon of white vinegar. Bring to a near boil–the water should have big round bubbles. Crack open an egg into a small bowl. Stir the water and slip the egg into the center of the whirling water. Cook 5-7 minutes; 5 minutes for runny yolk, 7 minutes for barely runny.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the poached egg and place it on top of a cupful of arugula with a few slices of red onion. If desired, add some slices of pepperoni on top of the arugula and serve with toasted cheese on top of a slice of multi-grain bread.