Dairy

Simplified, tall fluffy pancake, stuffed with cheese

NO SEPARATION OF EGG WHITES AND YOLKS, NO WHIPPING THE WHITES AND FOLDING IT BACK IN, AND YEAH, NO MAYONNAISE EITHER.

 

If you use the internet, you’ve probably seen this.  This super lofty, tall and wiggling souffle pancake, said to have originated from Japan, that will surely tickle the feathers of anyone who has a soft sentimental spots for stacked fluffiness.

I, for one, am not a pancake person.  Or at least, not in its traditional form.  But over the years, I’ve been patiently waiting for a game changer that would summon my inner fluff-craze that has been dormant inside my cold, pancake-less heart, and I thought, maybe, this is it.

Well, not quite.

Upon further investigation, I realized that the recipe for this pancake requires violating one of my many holy baking commandments – Thou shalt not ask for the separation of egg white and yolks, separate whippings, and folding them back in.  I am not thy bitch. – carved into a plastic chopping board and hung onto my fridge in permanence to remind me of the gods’ wrath against disobedience.  So typically, if I see such thing, I just walk away.  But something, a small voice inside my head, an imploding honey cake from the old ages perhaps, held my foot in the ground.

Thing is, whole eggs whip up marvelously fine just as well.

If it’s air that we’re after, whipping egg whites separately isn’t always necessary.  I thought, if I could just find the right ratio between flours and whole eggs that are whipped together with sugar until almost mousse-like in consistency, then I can streamline this recipe and turn this batter into a one-bowl, fuss-free and fool-proof epiphany that even I can’t fuck up.

And guess what, I did.  A super tall, lofty, spongy one-bowl batter that doesn’t need separation of white and yolks, no folding the whites back in, and yeah, no mayonnaise either.  My heart should be content.  My inner fluff-craze should awaken and shine lights upon the golden gate that welcomes me towards pancake enlightenment.  Right?

Well, not quite.

Thing is, like all other earnest yet disappointing pancakes that had come before it, flavor-wise, this pancake was still completely boring.  Cottony fluffiness, yeah, but remind me again why I want to eat cotton again?  I sat and stared, faithful, receptive, in waiting.  A sign will come.  It must come.  All these journeys of questions and answers, flipping and flopping, reincarnations and repetitions, can’t all be for nothing.  Pancake must mean something!  It must!

I waddled my slumbering, meditating body towards the fridge for a diet coke, the thought-juice if you will, and out the corner of my eyes, there it was – A Laughing Cow (regrettably not a sponsor).  Of course!  If the gods intend a purpose for this pancake’s spacious and buoyant volume, surely, it would be for nothing else but, stuffing!  And what is better to aid its mildly sweet and airy crumbs if not this exuberantly creamy and contrastingly salty cheese?

I put my theory to work, and it worked.  An unlikely but wondrous pairing that is texturally light yet creamy, flavorfully sweet yet salty, a faintly vanilla sponge moistened with a mildly cheesy funk.  In the end, excused by its entirely oil/butter-free crumbs, a slim waterfall of melted butter and a squirt of honey is appropriately commenced.  Pancake, is that finally you?  Oh where have you been…

 
READ MORE

Continue Reading

SIMPLE YET SURPRISING AMSTERDAM PANCAKE

 

I KNOW IT DOESN’T LOOK MUCH.  I PROBABLY WOULD’VE BYPASSED IT IF I WASN’T STUCK IN AMSTERDAM.  BUT I’M GLAD I WAS.  AND I KNOW YOU WILL, TOO

I’ve been to Amsterdam.  For a total of 18 hours.  I don’t know what people do during an overnight layover in a city they know nothing about, and I knew nearly nothing about Amsterdam.

However, pancake, seems to be a thing.

What did I know about “Amsterdam pancake”, or as I later found out, pannenkoeken?  Not much, really, aside from that it’s starkly different from the verticality of common stacked pancakes, in fact, it’s one of the flattest stand-alone foods I’ve came across.  And in my long years of hunting for culinary clues, when something spreads so unseemly, so 2D, so unornamented to a point of bleakness, yet is still adored as “a thing”, further investigation is warranted.  And rest assured, I was not disappointed.  To clarify upfront, during the only few hours of daytime we had, we only tried Amsterdam pancake once, from an unresearched, random cafe close to our Airbnb apartment, and had only a single pancake with cheese which we shared.  All in all, what I’m trying to say is, I am no expert.  But from the moment since the waitress placed something that looked exactly like this in front of us, as unflatteringly as it came, and I tore a small corner from the edge and put it faithfully in my mouth,  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Chewy.  Chewy was the first word that came to mind.  But soft though, really soft.  A combination of textures that, from the start, was already far more interesting than any of the spiritless associations of common pancakes, say, pfff, fluffy.  Flavor-wise, it wasn’t exceedingly eggy like Dutch baby or french crepe, nesting comfortably in the natural and mild sweetness of wheat flours and milk.  I also couldn’t stop thinking about how daringly minimal it presented itself on the table, a bare blanket of confidence with nothing else but a few slices of melted Dutch gouda on top, almost making a statement, declaring its independence from BS, secure with assurance.  It felt playful to eat, interacting, but comfortable, like having a conversation with a soft-spoken but funny stranger who underdressed with ease, while the whole time I wondered if it was too weird to ask if we could be friends for life.

And that’s exactly what I did.  All eight times of trials and errors.  It felt funny going after something, with this much effort, when I wasn’t even sure if it’s a classic representation in its category.  Is this the pannenkoeken?  I have no idea.  But I don’t really care.  I just want to find my way to back to that particular one that I really liked.  It was expectedly tricky to replicate that softly chewy texture which I hold as a key to its charm, leading to a combined conclusion of both wheat flour and potato starch in the batter.

I know it doesn’t look like much.  And I probably would’ve bypassed it if I wasn’t stuck in a city full of it.  But I’m glad I was.  And I know you will, too.

 
READ MORE

Continue Reading

SPRING CREAM PIZZA

?

DOLLOPS OF SAVORY WHIPPED CREAM HELPLESSLY DESTABILIZE UNDER THE BLAZING HEAT OF THE OVEN, RENDERING INTO A PUDDLE OF SALTY, OILY, HERBY AND CREAMY MAGMA

You know, I try not to make pizzas nowadays.

Off carbs?  I wish.  Gluten-free?  Is there any other diet more torturous by design?  How about an oven that shuts down in the middle of nowhere for no reasons whatsoever?  OK, yeah I have that.  But, no.  No, not for any of those things.  In fact, the reason is a simple and straightforward one, in fact, one that deals with our most basic instinctual fear which drives, I believe, most human behaviors… the fear of dying alone.

Wait, pizza can do that?  Yes, pizza can do that.  How?  By making me fat.

 

READ MORE

Continue Reading

THE BEST, YET, ONE-SKILLET CREAMY EGG

 

THE RESULT WAS AN ONE SKILLET, BLINK OF AN EYE, ELEGANT AND REMARKABLE QUILT OF EGG MAGIC

Ever since I published a self-proclaimed genius recipe for my magic 15-seconds creamy scrambled eggs, I didn’t think a better one – and by “better” I mean it in the context where you need a speedy and easy recipe for morning eggs – could ever come across my path, which proves, again, that I know nothing.

A glimpse in one of the episodes in Anthony Bourdain’s Return To Catalunyain a fairytale land far far away they call Barcelona, there under the sparkling dim lights in a snuggly tapas bar, I saw it.  Quiet and flashing by, one can assume that among the dazzles of celebrity TV personalities and seemly endless flow of Spanish culinary bewitchment, this egg dish wasn’t even the heroine of the night.  But I saw it, I noticed, a hot cast-iron skillet cuddling what seemed to be the most beautiful, golden blanket of creamy eggs.  We locked eyes.  None of us said a word.  But just from that split second of eye contact, me and it, almost telepathically, we understood something deep about one another.

From its wet and almost undone surface, its slightly firmer and rippling bottom, and fact that it was served being cradled inside a warm cast-iron skillet, it whispered to me how it was made, like watching a movie unrolling, but only in my mind, a glowing mirage of prophecy.  I saw one hot skillet, butter in a hypnotizing swirl, then almost abruptly, the flame wisp away only to welcome the stream of eggs into its warm embrace.  Barely guided was the slow and perfect congelation, and the restrain to apply any unnecessary heat was absolute, resulting in an one-skillet, blink of an eye, elegant and remarkable quilt of egg magic.  At that point I’ve never met it, tasted it, but I immediately understood its calling, its noble mission of life – to ensure that no one on this earth bestowed with the gift that is eggs, will ever, ever taste a bad one again.

And what it understood about me?  Well, you’re reading it aren’t you.

 
ONE-SKILLET CREAMY EGG

Serving Size: one

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Before you start with the eggs, you can prepare the toppings if any. I fry a clove of thinly sliced garlic in 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, then I add 1 tbsp finely chopped herbs (basil and mint) and a pinch of ground white pepper and chili flakes, then added toasted pine nuts. But the topping can be as simple as crumbled feta with olive oil, or shaved pecorino cheese, or really, nothing would be fine as well.
  2. A note on the skillet. The size of the skillet is important. You want the eggs to spread across the diameter in a fairly thin layer. A 9" is perfect for 2 large eggs. 10"~11" for 3 eggs. 12"~13" for 4 eggs.
  3. Beat eggs and sea salt until slightly frothy (I find that thoroughly beaten eggs results in a creamier texture), set aside. Place a 9" cast-iron skillet, or any heavy NON-STICK skillet over medium-high heat. Preheat 1:30 min for cast-iron skillet, or 2 min for NON-STICK skillet. The preheat time may vary based on the skillet you use, so the first time may be a test-run for you to get a feel of it. Basically we want to have enough heat to accomplish the following result, no more no less.
  4. Add 2 tsp unsalted butter and swirl the skillet without lifting the skillet away from the heat, until the butter has fully melted. Now turn off the heat, and add the beaten eggs. Use a spatula to gently push the edges of curdled egg towards the center, then tilt the skillet to let the remaining runny egg fill the empty space. Do this until you don't have much runny eggs left. The surface of the eggs should look UNDONE at this point. DO NOT ATTEMPT to apply more heat to cook the egg. The residual heat will warm through the surface as it sits and makes it perfectly soft.
  5. Serve immediately with whatever toppings you fancy. Or really, nothing is perfect, too.
http://ladyandpups.com/2017/05/15/the-best-yet-one-skillet-creamy-egg/
Continue Reading

DIM SUM MONTH: GLASS DUMPLINGS W/ MUSHROOMS AND SMOKED GOUDA CHEESE

DIM SUM MONTH STILL CONTINUES…

OK, I know it’s not February anymore, but there’s still a couple more dim sum I want to share so DIM SUM MONTH is oozing into March a bit…

WHAT:  Glass-like translucent dumplings stuffed with caramelized mushrooms and a soft-hearted center of smoked gouda cheese, all in a beautiful tear-drop shape.

WHY:  Because the only tears you’re gonna cry are happy ones when you try this.

HOW:  This wrapper is actually my favorite not only because it’s so beautiful, but it actually freezes well, or should I say better than the more common and popular crystal shrimp dumplings.  It has a pleasantly bouncy and chewy mouth-feel, and it gives the audience a preview to whatever fillings you put inside!  In this case, we’re doing deeply oven-caramelized mushrooms that are bound together by a bit of ground pork and parmigiano-regiano cheese (and a hint of truffle oil if you can splurge), creating an earthy, warm and aromatic cradle that rocks a soft and temperate center of smoked gouda cheese.  Nothing is going to shout “funk!” in this flavor-profile here, only modest but confident display of a well-tolerated harmony.  The only accessory it likes is a brightening dab of heat from this chili sambal romesco sauce.  But the sky’s the limit here.  How about grassy colored spinach filling with a stronger punch of blue cheese, or sweet and red-cheeked carrots or beets and funky goat’s cheese?  Dream wild.

* I believe that the next post will be the final chapter of dim sum month, and I’m going to list out a complete game-plan on what, how and when to prepare certain items ahead of time, and throwing then all together at our virtual dim sum party :)

READ MORE

Continue Reading

DIM SUM MONTH: Creamy salmon & egg in rice wrapper rolls

DIM SUM MONTH CONTINUES…

WHAT:  Stuffed rice wrapper rolls they call “cheung fun“!

WHY:  These gorgeous and elegant beauties are often overlooked on the dim sum table because of their less flashy appearances, mellow flavor profiles, and batters with the wrong ratio that results in unfortunate, mushy-textured wrappers.  Well, that ain’t their fault, in fact, cheung-fun is the most versatile blank canvas waiting for someone who appreciates its possibilities.

HOW:  In restaurants, this dish is always made to order.  The rice batter is usually steamed with the filling on top then rolled into a log and served with sweet soy sauce.  This method has its virtues but also, many flaws.  It is convenient from a restaurant’s perspective, allowing them to serve the dish hot and speedy, but not necessarily so from a creative point of view.  Making the dish to order will be unrealistic to pull off for at-home dinner parties, and steaming the wrappers and the fillings simultaneously will greatly limits its possibilities.  So, we are going to prepare the rice wrappers beforehand, and assemble them with the filling at the last minute.  In my wildest dreams where money flows like abs in a Channing Tatum movie, I would make the filling with gently poached lobster meat and XL lumpy blue crabs tossed together with herby mayonnaise and a few popping jewels of ikura (Japanese cured salmon roes).  But I live in the real world.  As you can see that my XXL Magic Mike-version is reduced down to slow baked then torched salmon with cheap-but-not-sad 15-seconds magic scrambled eggs.  Still Magic, just less Mike.  Serve the dish on a hot plate and simmering sweet soy sauce to bring the warmth back.  Hey, still fucking sexy.

By the way, most of the recipes in DIM SUM MONTH is designed to be prepared ahead of time.  Make each items and store them in the freezer (well, not this particular recipe), and at the end of the month, we’re going to have a dim sum blowout party.  See ya!

CREAMY SALMON & EGG IN RICE WRAPPER ROLLS

Yield: Approx 8~10 rolls

For the RICE WRAPPER recipe, I strongly recommend measuring by weight (not volume).

Ingredients

    RICE WRAPPER/CHEUNG FUN:
  • 3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (100 grams) short grain rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (33 grams) potato starch
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp (267 grams) water
  • FILLING: (see note)
  • 1 lb (500 grams) mid-cut salmon
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp finely diced scallions
  • 1 tbsp plain mayonnaise
  • 1 portion 15-seconds magic scrambled eggs (3 eggs)
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • SWEET SOY SAUCE:
  • 1/3 cup (94 grams) soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (31 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water

Instructions

  1. This instruction differs from how restaurants typically do it, which is to always steam the cheung-fun/rice wrapper and the fillings together simultaneously, right before serving. Here, I prepare the cheung-fun/rice wrapper separately and beforehand. It gives me more control to play with the fillings, and makes them easier to prepare for a party.
  2. PREPARE THE CHEUNG-FUN/RICE WRAPPER: Make the wrappers up to 4 hours before serving. Check out RICE RIBBON for more referrences. In a jar that's easy to pour, whisk together rice flour, potato starch and water.
  3. For steamer, you can use any large pot with a rack placed in the middle to hold the mold/pan. I used a 6" (15 cm) square cake-pan as my mold to make the rice wrapper because 1) It fits into my steamer/pot (see photo). 2) It's just the right size for one single roll. If you have a larger steamer that can allow a bigger pan that will cut down the number of time of steaming, you can do that as well.
  4. Fill the steamer/pot with enough water just below the steamer-rack, then bring to a boil over high heat. Brush the pan with a bit of canola oil and place it on top of the rack. Give the batter a little whisk (do this every time before you pour), then pour just enough batter to create a thin film on the bottom of the pan. ADJUST THE POT so that it's LEVELED, and that the batter is evenly thick on all sides. Close the lid and steam on high heat for 1 min. The wrapper is ready when you see large air bubbles when you remove the lid. Brush the top surface of the wrapper with a little canola oil, then tilt the pan over a piece of parchment paper so it faces downward, then scrape the wrapper off so it falls onto the parchment. Repeat until you've used up all the batters, and keep each wrappers sandwiched between parchments. Plastic-wrap the whole stack and set aside until needed.
  5. PREPARE FILLING: Two hours before serving. Preheat the oven on 155 F/70 C. Rub the 1 tbsp of salt all over the salmon and let sit for 20 min, after which, rinse and pat dry with a clean towel. Place on a piece of parchment paper and rub the salmon with a bit of olive oil, then wrap tightly with the parchment. Place in the middle baking-rack (NO BAKING SHEET) and bake for 1:20 hour. Crumble the salmon into large pieces, and if you have a blow-torch, torch the surfaces so they're a bit charred. Gently toss the salmon with scallions and mayo (do the same if you're using lobster or lumpy crab meats). Set aside. Make the magic scrambled eggs. Set aside.
  6. Lay one cheung-fun/rice wrapper with the oiled side down (that would be the top surface when it came out of the steamer, which is the pretty side). Scatter a few cilantro leaves across the middle, then a bit of salmon fillings and scrambled eggs. Gently roll it together, and repeat (only make as many as you're serving).
  7. Place the rolls on a hot plate (the dish should be warm when served). In a small pot, bring soy sauce, light brown sugar and water to a simmer until the sugar has melted, then spoon the sauce over the rice rolls. Serve immediately.

Notes

If your budget allows, you can switch to using lobster or large lumpy crab meats, or a combination of the two. I would gently poach the lobster, then cut the meat into small pieces. Toss the lobster meats together with lobster roes (or the "brain"), lumpy crab meats and the scallion mayo. If you have enough of this, you can even omit the scrambled eggs and go delux.

http://ladyandpups.com/2017/02/14/dim-sum-month-creamy-salmon-egg-in-rice-wrapper-rolls/
Continue Reading

A BETTER POPOVER/YORKSHIRE PUDDING RECIPE

better-popover06

better-popover01

WE CAN ALL USE A LITTLE BETTER

It can be depressing today, either for political or personal reasons (for me, both).  So let’s not talk.  Let’s just all, perhaps, realize something about ourselves and others today with, if you can, kindness and faith.

I saw this recipe on a Bon Appetite’s special baking issue, and it has proven to be much superior than my previous Yorkshire pudding recipes.  Mainly, because it allows me to completely forgo the “resting stage” that I had emphasized so strongly before, and that is because this batter is mixed with simmering milk which has prevented the gluten from forming by partially cooking the flour.  No more resting.  This batter can go straight from being mixed to being baked, into the glorious, optimistic, better puffs that they are.

I can we can all use a little better today.

better-popover02
better-popover03
better-popover04
better-popover13
better-popover12
better-popover09
better-popover10
better-popover11
A BETTER POPOVER/YORKSHIRE PUDDING RECIPE

Yield: 5~7 depending on size

Adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine. I've made several small changes to the recipe because it worked better for me, and I listed the grated cheese as optional because I want the flavour of these to stay neutral, that it can go with sweet or savoury. But if you really like the idea of it, then do it :)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (242 grams) half-half, or whole milk
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup +1 tbsp (103 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (22 grams) cornstarch, or potato starch
  • 1/4 cup (17 grams) grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Depending on whether your oven comes with the fan-on option or not, preheat the oven on 375 F/190 C fan-on, or 400 F/200 C no-fan. Meanwhile, whisk together half-half (or whole milk), light brown sugar and sea salt in a small pot, and heat over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. While the milk is heating, beat large eggs inside a large, easy-to-pour jar or container. Once the milk's ready, slowly pour it into the eggs while whisking vigorously (must be slow and keep whisking otherwise the eggs may get cooked). Then add the flour and cornstarch, and whisk until just combined (tiny lumps here and there is fine). If you're using grated cheddar, add now and whisk until combined.
  2. Generously butter each popover pan, or muffin pan, or individual tin cups with about 1 1/2 tsp of butter, then bake in the oven for about 3~5 min when the butter is starting to brown slightly. Pour the batter into the mold until about 50% full, then bake in the oven for 15 min. Then turn the heat down to 350 F/175 F FAN OFF, and bake for another 20~25 min. During this whole time, do not open the oven door. If the color of the popovers are getting too dark in the last few min, turn the heat down a bit. The popovers must be baked for at least 35~45 min in total depending on their sizes, otherwise they might deflate afterwards.
  3. Remove the popovers/yorkshire puddings from the molds. They can be eaten as is, or "stuffed" with sweet fillings (such as chocolate mouse, custard, buttercream etc).
http://ladyandpups.com/2016/11/10/a-better-popoveryorkshire-pudding-recipe/
Continue Reading