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.

sriracha-cheddar biscuits with black bean veggie burgers and mango tomato salsa

Sriracha-Cheddar Biscuits (adapted from Savory Simple)
Sriracha is the name of a town in Thailand that is famous for its reddish-orange hot sauce. This recipe takes me back to the days I lived in Thailand, and the spicy flavors of the food. I served it with homemade black bean veggie burgers and a mango tomato salsa on a bed of arugula. Aroy.Delicious!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 biscuits

Ingredients
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes, chill in fridge until ready to use
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (can substitute other cheeses)

for brushing the biscuits:
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon Sriracha

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Set aside.

Mix the milk and Sriracha sauce until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Add the cold butter and cut with a pastry blender until the butter resembles small peas. Pour in the milk-Sriracha mixture all at once and stir until the milk is absorbed. Mix in the cheese, this time using your hands and being careful not to over mix. You’ll know the dough is ready to roll out when your hands and the sides of the bowl are clean.

Turn out half the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a round about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the biscuits using a 3 inch round biscuit cutter. Place each round on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Brush the tops of each biscuit with the reserved milk-Sriracha mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven 14-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers (adapted from allrecipes.com)
While the biscuits are in the oven, make these black bean veggie burgers. These “burgers” are quick and easy to make, and have a mild flavor despite the Sriracha sauce, chili powder, and cumin.

Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 35 Minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preparation
1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties. I scoop up 1/2 cupful, turn it out onto the prepared pan, and flatten and shape it with a spatula.
6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on greased baking sheet and bake about 5 minutes on each side.

Mango-Tomato Salsa (adapted from allrecipes.com)
This is a mild salsa; to spice it up add a Thai chile pepper or tone it down with a jalapeño pepper instead!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: none

Ingredients
1 large mango diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 cup sweet onion
1 chile pepper, optional
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

Preparation
Combine chopped mangoes, tomatoes, onion, chile pepper, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Squeeze two halves of a small lime over the bowl. Toss and allow to stand until ready to serve.

You Call This Yakisoba? Monkey Bread Too!

It’s not easy if you’re an omnivore to suddenly give up meat, and even if you’re an observant Catholic. AJ wasn’t too keen on this aspect of Lent although he was perfectly willing to give up riding the bus, indeed any public transportation, as a form of penance. To him, a walk was good exercise and he would do it anyway. But meatless Fridays were sure to be boring and tasteless. To make tonight’s menu more appealing, I did a variation on yakisoba and made a special dessert.

You Call This Yakisoba? (With Brown Bean Chili Sauce)
1 package fresh Japanese style noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 leaves kale, chopped
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup green peas
1/4 cabbage, roughly chopped
1/4 cup scallions, sliced thin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown bean sauce (recipe follows)

Boil the carrots in a saucepan for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the peas and edamame and cook for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Bring the water to a boil again and add the fresh noodles. Cook for about two minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Fry the cabbage. When the edges are brown, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and simmer 2 minutes. Add the kale, carrots, garlic, and scallion. Cook 2 minutes until the kale is wilted. Combine the peas and edamame with the vegetable mixture. Add the cooked noodles and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Lift and separate the noodles with a pair of tongs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown bean chili sauce.

Brown Bean Chili Sauce
4-6 fresh red chilies, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar or lime juice
1/4 cup bean sauce, mashed
dash soy sauce, if more saltiness is desired

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. This is a pungent sauce that is perfect for boiled chicken.


Monkey Bread Too
2 cups biscuits, shredded into 1 inch pieces
2 large bananas sliced into rounds
cinnamon and sugar to taste
1/4 cup chocolate chips (white or semi-sweet)
2 tablespoons half and half

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine the biscuits and bananas. Add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Pour the biscuit mixture evenly into the pan. Bake 20 minutes.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips in 10 second increments. Add up to 2 tablespoons half and half until the chocolate is the desired consistency for pouring.

Spoon some of the bread and bananas into a small bowl and drizzle the sauce on top. Delicious!