I LIKE TO HIDE MY VEGETABLES IN ICE CREAMS
Starting this Sunday, we’ll leave Bejing for more than a month, traveling to Hong Kong (for work), then Taiwan, then maybe Lisbon… Madrid… St Sebastian… or who knows. Traveling used to be a big part of who we are, but we haven’t done this kind of “long distance/large scale” travelling for 2 years now, you know, for personal reasons, and I’m finding that it’s taking a bit of practice to get our grooves back.
So today, I’m quickly leaving you a recipe that I made from some leftover pumpkins. As you know, I like to hide my vegetables in ice creams. And do you know that pumpkin and coconut milk are great pals? We got that from Thailand. And do you know that ice creams are so much better on a pancake-cone instead of a regular one? Learnt that from Seoul.
And I can’t wait to find out more, out there, on this new journey.
The crochet side-pate is from Dishes Only.
THEY ARE THE COOKIE-VERSION OF A FEEL-GOOD MOVIE, EMOTIONALLY EQUIVALENT TO A BOX OF GOLDEN TWIN-PUPPIES EACH HUGGING A HAPPY GIGGLE.
This is what I’ve been busy with for the past 7 days, recreating Mark & Spencer’s Viennese raspberry sandwich creams. What does that say about me, spending 84 hours scrutinizing a processed junk-food from a super chainstore, I don’t know. But I had to make it.
If you ever had childhood experience of reaching into a tin-box, and sneaking one of those buttery nuggets of vanilla cookies into your mouth as your first memory of pure foodgasm, then I guess, you can sort of understand. But this, this is better, upgraded. You can either go to your nearest M&S to see for yourself, or you can stay here and do it at home. But how I got here, however unexpectedly long it took, was no vanilla road. Checking out all the trusted recipes that were already out there, which, affirmingly, were all very similar to one another, let’s just say that I thought it was gonna be easy. If they all agreed on it, it must work fine, right? Humppphhh…
I made my first batch last weekend. Well, it did work fine… how do I put it… wonderfully just okay I guess. Wonderful in the sense that, flavor-wise, it was exactly what Viennese cookies are supposed to taste like, fireworks of buttery crumbs exploding in a vanilla sky. No doubt about that. But just okay because, and maybe I was being obsessively anal about it but still, I had a major textural issue with them. It was one thing to have cookies with so much butter that they “melt in my mouth”, but it was something else entirely when they could barely hold themselves together even under the slightest pressure of a finger. Like, I was scared to touch them… like literally, they eroded on my fingers. I mean, if that sounds like a “dat a problem?” to you, then great, but I might add that they also had a paste-like and almost glue-ish texture in the mouth that… I just couldn’t quite get over.
A BUBBLY SYMPHONY OF BUTTER AND CREAM, SUGAR AND HONEY, A PINCH OF SEA SALT AND BRANDY HERE AND THERE, AND THAT LAST TOUCH OF VANILLA
I’m quickly leaving you the last post before we take a short trip to Hong Kong and Seoul next week. It’s been… well… 2 years since the last time me and Jason traveled together. What used to be frequent occurrences and a huge part of of our lives, now feels a bit unfamiliar and exciting again, well, tinted with a bit of sadness at the same time.
So with all the packing, cleaning out the fridge, packing again and feeling a bit empty now that we have minus-two dogs to say good-bye to, I’m gonna leave you alone with these pancakes that I’ve lately, grown quite fond with. As I previously declared, I’m not a pancake person. Still not actually. But what I like about these pancakes, aside from the fact that they taste, preferably, like the lighter version of the often-times unbearably sweet sticky toffee puddings, is their relatively loftier heights that bring more tasty contrast to the fluffy interiors and the crispy edges. The pancakes use, more or less, the chiffon cake-technique by folding beaten egg white into the the batter to pump up its airiness. Then I cook them with a lid on, which speeds up the cooking time, and from what I felt, retains the height of the pancakes better. You could add chopped dates to the party as the tradition, but I kept them lazy, only mimicking the flavours by adding molasses, grated ginger, ground cinnamon and allspice. After all, the highlight of sweetness should only come from the thick and glistening syrup, a bubbly symphony of butter and cream, dark brown sugar and honey, a pinch of sea salt and brandy here and there, and that last touch of vanilla.
So here we go, to mark to the end, and the beginning, and then the repeating of it all that is change and life. I’ll see you again, on the other side.
IT WILL SHATTER YOUR DOUBT-SYSTEM AS THE LAYERS CRACK LIKE THE WINGS OF BUTTERFLIES AND FALL ON YOUR JAW-DROPPED COUNTERTOP
OK, I don’t have much time today to elaborate much, in fact, not even enough time to say what I’m about to say but I gotta say it anyways because it’s just too damn important which is – PLEASE, don’t let the intimidating display of these lacy, delicate, flakey pastry filled with salty prosciutto and sweet dates and honey… fool you. They are deceivingly easy, forgiving even, and I got them down with smashing success right at the first try (I’ve had more tears shed on making pancakes, let me just tell you that). This waffer-thin layered dough actually DOES NOT require any chilling (even though I still gave them a 30-min nap in the fridge just because I was insecure), believe it or not, and it will shatter your doubt-system as the layers crack like the wings of butterflies and falls on your jaw-dropped countertop. And then the filling… oh fuck I don’t even have time to talk about this filling but I gotta say it anyways because it’s just too damn good! Part-crispy and part-fresh prosciuttos, mashed with finely minced dates and honey with a dash of black rum. It is the most fruitful reward you can expect out of the eternal conflict between salty and sweet. And then, these two things together… these two buttery, lacy, porky, salty, sweet things together! I don’t have time for this! Do you get me?! Just go do it and believe.
Combine cake flour, water, unsalted butter and sugar in a large bowl, and mix it with your hands until it comes into a dough.
Transfer to a working surface and knead for a couple min until the dough is smooth and soft. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, then set aside to rest.
THE THICKENED AND EMBRACIVE RICOTTA-MASCARPONE MOISTENS THE CRUMBS LIKE A SCONE CARRYING ITS OWN CLOTTED-CREAM
Sometimes, we wait for the perfect recipe-publishing moment to present itself. Iced dairies to fend off the heat in August… festivities to baste in the spirit of October… chocolates to sweeten the tones of February, and austerities to bring in those bikini-lines in May. Recipes, like romance, like good stories. I get it. But sometimes, most times actually, the birth of a certain recipe comes as forcefully and inevitably as the bad news it carries. Sometimes, we just have to make something, quite simply, because it’s Monday.
I hate Mondays. And please note, that coming from someone who is technically unemployed, that is saying a lot. Because Monday feels like standing at the bottom of an endless stairwell, and a monkey is holding a $20-bill at the top. Monday feels like watching the prelude of a documentary on counting alphabets in a foreign language without subtitles. Monday feels like powering through the infuriating hunger on the last day of a juice-cleanse, but only that it is still the first day. Monday feels like a brand new sandbag. Monday makes my coffee tired. So even though I’ve came up with this buttery scone stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta a while back, and have been waiting for the perfect timing to tell you all about it, it dawned on me that today, which is a Monday, is actually when your joy-deprived souls will need it the most.
This time-tested, my go-to scone-dough (or biscuit dough, whatever, who knows the difference really) is crispy and flakey on the surface, but its moist and crumbly interior houses a good dollop of creamy, slightly salty, zesty whole milk ricotta whipped with mascarpone and floral honey. Eaten hot out of the oven, the oozy filling bursts enthusiastically to lift your most stagnant Monday-blues. Eaten cooled with rewarded patience, and the thickened and embracive ricotta-mascarpone will moisten the crumbs like a scone carrying its own clotted cream. I don’t know about you, but my Monday is nearing its end, and I haven’t yet raised the first thought to smash my computer on the pale wall. And I say no human should go another Monday without it.
HIS FICTIONAL TWIN, THE GRINCH, WHO IS THE SOLE CLINICAL CASE TO HAVE BENEFITED FROM THIS MEDICAL ILLNESS
This past week, August 26th to be exact, my dog-son Dumpling turned 15 years old, almost 100 years old in human-years.
For small breeds such as the Maltese that he is, this may not be the most ground-shaking news, probably not even rare, but for my Dumpling, it is nothing less than a medical miracle. About a year and a half ago, shortly after the departure of our Frenchie Bado (here’s a short bio on the family, so far), Dumpling was rushed to the hospital after fainting in my arms with a screeching cry, where we were told that he was developing a severe case of congestive heart failure. It was ironic… really, for a borderline sociopathic dog loathed by almost everyone outside of his immediate families, to end up with a condition where his tiny angry heart, unstoppable and irreversibly, grew larger and larger by the day. But unlike his fictional twin, the Grinch, who is the sole clinical case to have benefited from this medical illness, for my Dumpling, what this actually meant was that… Christmas was really fucked.
WITHOUT GOING ALL “DIASTATIC” ON MYSELF, I CAN SIMPLY TURN TO AN ASIAN HOME-ESSENTIAL THAT COULD ADD THE EXTRA “MALTINESS” TO ALL BAKED GOODS
The brass spoon is made by the amazing Ann Ladson.
In between the various degrees of educations throughout my life, formal or social, if you asked me, I’d probably say that I expected the least practical return from my continuous study in all of Disney’s animated movies around the 90’s. More specifically, the cartoons, the classics, starting somewhere with The Little Mermaid and ending abruptly with Tarzan. All the magic produced at the height of Disney’s prime according to my verdict, before digital animations barged in and all of a sudden, for no reason at all, everybody and so did the magic, literally or figuratively, all just stopped singing. Call me nostalgic, or even outdated, I rekindle with those movies from time to time, almost needfully, like talking to a childhood friend who never grew old. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t make shit like that anymore. But anyhow, my point is, as much as I treasure the purity and endurance of this relationship that has regretfully outlasted many, little did I think, that it was gonna bring me the bacon. In fact, more than bacon, a couple weeks ago, it brought me a hunk of 30-days dry-aged wagyu bone-in rib eye.