Archive for May, 2008

German pancake

I don’t like making pancakes usually, I find it labor intensive and messy. Yes, I have trouble juggling the act of pouring (batter), flipping, and keeping them warm. But German pancakes are ridiculously easy and foolproof every time. It’s not a pancake in the fluffy sense; it’s more like a crepe but thicker and has a crispy edge. You will need a well seasoned cast iron skillet and an oven, the physical labor ends when you pour the batter into the skillet and swirl (that is till you take it out and serve).

German pancake (adapted from Real Simple magazine)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup yogurt(plain, and on the thin side) or milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • butter, powder sugar, and cinnamon to top (optional)

Coat cast iron skillet with the oil and place in the oven and preheat to 450º (for at least 15mins). Beat all the ingredients together till smooth. Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet and swirl it to cover the bottom, quickly push it back into the oven. Bake for 10mins or till puffed and golden (it will deflate once out of the oven). Butter and dust with cinnamon and powder sugar.



May 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm 7 comments

Clafoutis or Flognarde (blackberry and coconut milk)

According to wikipedia, clafoutis is made with cherries, while ones made with other fruits; are called ‘flognarde’. It’s supposed to be something in between a cake and custard. I tried using a Donna Hay recipe for Plum Clafoutis but I had only two eggs (called for three), no heavy cream and blackberries instead of plums. So with two eggs and a can of coconut milk I manage to make something clafouti-like; it’s on the creamy custard side but still holds it’s shape (not runny).

Blackberry Coconut Clafoutis (or Flognarde)

  • 1 can (14oz) coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pint blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • organic shortening or butter for greasing pan
  • sugar to coat pan

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix everything (except blackberries) till smooth. Grease a pan (I used an 8in square glass dish, but a large oval baking dish would be prettier), add about 2 tablespoons of sugar to the dish and swirl it around to coat. Pour batter into dish, and stud with blackberries. Bake for 40-45min till top is browned.

        Fresh organic blackberries aren’t on sale yet, and frozen ones work great here.


May 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm 2 comments

Orange Hazelnut Madeleines

mini madeleine pan

I will eventually get around editing (photos) and writing up more soon (I have a backlog). But here’s another quick madeleine recipe for the time being.

It’s also my addition to Mansi’s Monthly Mingle over at

 Orange Hazelnut Madeleines

  • 1/3 cup organic shortening or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 1 orange or 1 1/2 tsp orange oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together sugar and shortening, then incorporate one egg at a time. Mix till completely blended. Add in hazelnut flour, orange zest (or orange oil), vanilla and mix thoroughly. Then add flour and baking powder, mix briefly till smooth. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease pans with shortening or butter (or cooking spray). You can get make 2 batches of the full sized pans or about 3 batches of minis. Bake for 18-20min (for full sized pans, 13-15 for minis) when the edges just turn golden brown. Cool for 5min before popping them out.

If you have some kind of hazelnut extract or liquor (1-2 tsp) you can leave off the vanilla and really up the hazelnut flavor.

orange hazelnut madeleines


May 27, 2008 at 1:54 pm 3 comments

the friday special @ empire cafe

Empire Cafe, located off of Westheimer & Dunlavy (Houston, TX) is a quaint little spot that I’ve loved going to for years.  It’s a great place to go on any given day, but especially great on a beautiful day, as they have plenty of outdoor seating. I enjoy going with friends and having a glass of wine with one of their decadent desserts (mmmm Italian creme cake). I behaved and did not get one that night. I know…For shame! I like that it’s within walking distance of the many boutique, thrift, and antique shops down Westheimer.

So this past Friday, my brother, sister and I hit up Empire because my brother wanted the Friday special. Friday special? I ask. See that delicious glazed salmon pictured above with asparagus and other veggies served over rice? That is the Friday special. My brother was kind enough to let us taste a bit of it. Absolutely delicious. The salmon was cooked just right and didn’t have that fishy taste salmon sometimes has.

I started backwards with this post, but my brother also ordered a mojito and I thought it looked pretty interesting. Mojitos are mojitos, but this was darned good. It wasn’t as strong, which I appreciated. I think for most people, you’re not there to get drunk. You’re there to enjoy the atmosphere and have a good drink on a lovely day.  I think next time, I’ll grab a mimosa.

And a meal with my family wouldn’t be complete without an appetizer. That night we had *dips of the world*. An appetizer with baked pita bread and three different dipping sauces; a spinach & artichoke dip, black bean dip, and a marinara sauce. Personally, that spinach & artichoke dip was my favorite. I ate most of it. heh =)


May 19, 2008 at 2:16 am 1 comment

Michael Caine’s in ABode Manchester

Millefeuille banana parfait –
caramelised banana and lime coulis

Lunch was a grazing affair at Michael Caine’s in ABode Manchester with many dainty little dishes to excite your palette in different ways. The idea of a western dim sum style lunch to have as much choice as possible without over stuffing oneself was well executed here as I was thoroughly satisfied.
The marrying of Asian herbs with scallops was skilfully done and the Japanese mushrooms with sesame seaweed and bean sprouts that accompanied the fish served as a refreshing counterpoint to the strong lemongrass foam sauce.
Not that the classical European styled dishes were lacking in any quality either! The duck risotto is probably one of the best risotto I’ve ever had and I really hope it is something the chef can pull off consistently and not just an one-off on the day. Nothing much to say about the lamb as it was just classically cooked, but very flavourful and presented very elegantly.
Overall, 3.8/5 as I felt the chef was a little too enthusiastic about using foam as a novelty point in the dishes. Service was very friendly and attentive (might have to do with how only 3 tables were occupied) and the staff knew the menu well. Very enjoyable experience and I am looking forward to returning and try the set lunch menu.

Duck confit risotto –
Wild mushrooms

Pan-fried scallops –
Caramelised cauliflower purée,
sweet raisin vinaigrette and cauliflower
and cumin velouté

Best-end of Herdwick lamb
Onion and thyme purée, fondant potato
and tapenade jus
Slow poached sea bass –
Thai purée, stir-fry of mangetout,
shiitake mushrooms and bean sprouts
with lemongrass foam
Passion fruit soufflée –
vanilla bourbon ice cream
by Png

May 14, 2008 at 3:17 am 1 comment

flappin’ jack buttermilk pancake mix

I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve craved pancakes like no other recently. Normally, I make pancakes from scratch for the whole family, but I live alone now and so I’ve got to find quicker alternatives to get my breakfast in before work. Well, I went shopping at Williams Sonoma because I had a gift card there and saw this pancake mix. There were a variety of choices, but I’m a buttermilk kind of girl, so Flappin’ Jack is what I picked.

Now, the recipe calls for 1 cup of mix and then 1 cup of water or milk, but I thought it was a little too liquidy and not quite thick enough for me. So, I’ve been using 1 cup of pancake mix and about 3/4 cup of milk. The pancakes are still super fluffy and oh so tasty. The recipe says it yields about 6 pancakes per cup of mix, but I usually end up with about 3 decent sized pancakes.

I really couldn’t have picked a better pancake mix. It was delicious and I savor every bite. Sure, you can add your favorite fruits, but if you just want a quick buttermilk pancake fix, this will definitely do it for you. I miss the baking and cooking. Till next time!

P.S. The pancake man on the container creeps me out…just a little bit. ^_~


May 13, 2008 at 4:39 am 2 comments

Granola like

The hubby loves cereal (mainly Nature’s Path Optimum Power) and soymilk in the morning, afternoon, late at night, and whenever he feels like eating something. He doesn’t really miss it when we go weeks without buying any but when it’s there he’ll go thru a box in two days (maybe three). I tried buying in bulk, but it still doesn’t feel like much of a deal. The cheapest organic cereals are plain puffed grains of some sort. I prefer granola, but most of the granola I see at the stores aren’t organic and they are still expensive. A one pound bag of organic rolled oats is moderate in price. To make a bowl of oatmeal you would use less than you would normally consume in a bowl of granola.

So here’s my attempt in trying to solve my cereal dilemma, involving some cheap organic puffed brown rice and organic rolled oats. However, with the added costs of nuts, fruits and other extras, I don’t think I can conclusively calculate it as a real savings. But it’s tasty and makes use of my new glass container.

Granola cereal with almonds, coconut, and raisins

  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups rolled oats (I eyeballed it)
  • 2 cups puffed rice or kamut
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup or maple syrup/rice bran syrup (more or less according to your taste)
  • 1 tsp molasses (optional)
  • 1 tbsp of oil or more if needed

Makes about 2 1/2 quarts (roughly)

Preheat oven to 350º. Coat large mixing bowl with the oil. Mix everything except the raisins together in the bowl with the liquids. Pour and spread evenly onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake for 20mins (or till golden brown), stirring it half way thru. When cooled mix in raisins, and store in an airtight container if you intend to keep for long. The non-airtight container is ok for a day or two (which is exactly how long it’s gonna last here).

Will be making more soon, but I ran out of raisins, and walnuts might be cheaper.


May 9, 2008 at 10:08 am 6 comments

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