Making Matcha Dorayaki
What I know is this: the perfect pancake is a Japanese dorayaki. It is light and fluffy, not overly sweet and doesn’t become soggy or floppy when cold. The traditional dorayaki requires that it be stuffed with red bean paste, but nowadays anything goes. Chocolate, whipped cream, jam? Whatever you like.
I thought this was needed to make up for the previous post. Some have mentioned that this blog is part angst, part satire and parked right in the macabre spectrum in terms of food photography (although that to me doesn’t sound that bad). Let me just say this: some days it takes hours to formulate a post where I have to actually think of what I’m going to write. Some days, like today, the words were taking form in my head as I was putting a layer of cling film on the batter and stashing it in the fridge. I can already see the sequence of photos as I was licking the whisk clean. It comes and goes in waves.
MATCHA DORAYAKI (makes 4 dorayaki sandwich):
[ 2 eggs + 1/4 cup sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoon honey + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder + 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon water ]
it isyou have in the fridge or pantry your hearts desire. Traditional fillings include red bean paste and whipped cream.
In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, honey and salt and whisk until fluffy.
Sift flour, matcha and baking powder into the bowl and mix. Keep in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
Stir in ½ tablespoon of water at a time to get the right consistency. You should be able to make slowly-forming ribbons with the whisk.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium-low to medium heat. Dip a paper towel in oil and coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. The pan should be slightly oiled but shouldn’t be visible, so you’ll have a dorayaki with an evenly browned surface.
With a ladle, drop the batter from 1 foot above the pan to create 3 inch diameter “pancakes”.
When you see the surface of batter starts to bubble, flip over and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and cover up with damp towel to prevent from drying.
Sandwich two dorayaki with whatever filling you like. I filled mine with some whipped cream and blueberry compote.Whatever filling you choose, put more of it in the center so the shape of Dorayaki will be curved (middle part should be higher).
Wrap in cling film until you are ready to serve.
About a thousand years ago, misskenshin made a foodwish for Suya. At the time, I had no idea what it is and after some searching found out that it is a trademark of the northern part of Nigeria; delicious bits of peanut-rubbed, spiced beef on sticks that are cooked over hot coals. I then added that foodwish to the growing list that have yet still to be made.
About a week ago, during a particularly long briefing before my afternoon shift, I started searching for Suya recipes. There are many variations to them; one calls for garlic, while another strictly forbids. After going through about half a dozen recipes, I’ve come up with my own take for Suya. It requires grated fresh ginger and minced garlic, as opposed to the powder form in many traditional recipes. I also added a bit of sugar for a little caramelization. Serve it with the tomatoes and onions, please, for it’d only be half as good without them.
[ 1 1/2 lbs beef (I used a sirloin), cut to thin slices against the grain + 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts + 1/2 tablespoon paprika + 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger + 1 clove of garlic, minced + juice of 1/2 a lime + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoon oil + red onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves to serve ]
Soak some wooden skewers in water before you start
Make the peanut paste by adding the peanuts to a food processor and process till peanuts are finely ground. Add the spices and pulse a few seconds until evenly combined.
Add a bit of oil to bring it all together in a paste-like consistency. It is sort of dry, yet it clumps up together with the addition of the oil.
Add the peanut mixture to the beef spreading( smearing) a bit on each slice. Take your time with coating each slices, as you want all the pieces to be covered in the peanut marinade.
Leave the beef to marinate for a few hours up to overnight. Add the sliced beef on soaked wooden skewers or kabob skewers.
Preheat your grill on high. Oil the grill plate and place the beef skewers to cook.
Let cook for a few minutes, and then turn over and cook the other side. The sticks should be cooked in less than 10 minutes, depending on how thick your slices of meat are.
Serve the suya with fresh slices of red onion and chunks of tomato, garnished with cilantro leaves and a lime wedge.
Making Hot Chocolate
Last night I had a dream of Liz Hurley wanting to teach me how to make something called “Lava Butter”. I have no idea what that is, why I had said dream, or why that specific celebrity was in it, but the dream didn’t end well; she turned into this fat dude who turned out to be a crook who chased me out into free-falling off a plane.
I woke up feeling disoriented and realizing that it’s Valentine’s day. And I know I haven’t posted anything leading up to today, so I made the one thing that anyone can do in an urgent need for decadence - hot chocolate. Thick, rich, Polar Express inspired hot chocolate, to be exact. Perfect if you’re staying in during the nippy winter night.
Happy Valentine’s day to my readers, and I’ll leave you with an excerpt of Shakespeare’s sonnet for the lovebirds out there:
” Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds,
It is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempest and is never shaken;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out, even to the edge of doom. “
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116.
HOT CHOCOLATE (adapted from Honey+Fitz):
[ 2 cups milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream + 1/4 cup condensed milk + 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar + 1/8 cup milk chocolate chips or bar + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1/4 teaspoon salt ] OPTIONAL: Marshmallow or whipped cream + chocolate shavings for topping.
Put all the ingredients except for the topping in a large pot over low heat, stirring regularly for 15-20 minutes until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated with other ingredients.
If not smooth enough, you can run it through a sieve before storing it inside a thermos before serving.
Top with whipped cream or marshmallow and chocolate shavings before serving.
Making JjolMyeon (쫄면)
It is now a little more than two weeks after the surgery and the restrictions on solid food is finally lifted. A little celebration is in order, and in my world the word celebration is synonymous with the word noodles; preferably those that are MSG-laden. But since my doctor made me promise not to eat any more of them (seriously, he might as well made me sign some form of agreement), I settled with this Korean noodle dish laden with vegetables and flavored with a spicy, sweet and sour sauce using red pepper paste. Also, just to kill two birds with one stone, I hope this will answer the food wishes of the many who asked if I could post more vegetarian recipes. Although you really needn’t worry, my dietary restrictions regarding meat is good for another two months.
JJOL-MYEON (쫄면): (Serves 1-2)
[ 1 packet of Jjol myun (I used egg noodles) + toppings: (1/2 cup bean sprouts + 1/2 cup julienned cucumber + 1/2 cup julienned carrots + 1/2 cup julienned cabbage + 1/2 - 1 hard boiled egg) + sauce: (2-3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) + 2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) + 2 tablespoons vinegar + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic + 2 tablespoons Sprite + 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds + 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil) ]
Julienne carrots, cucumber, and cabbage using a mandolin or a really sharp knife. Set aside.
Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the beansprouts (covered) for 5 minutes. You don’t want to be overdone, so keep an eye on it. Drain and rinse. Set aside.
Cook jjolmyun noodles in boling water 8 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water and set aside to drain.
For the sauce, combine all ingredients listed above in a bowl.
Place the noodles in a bowl and add the toppings and sauce.
Mix thoroughly before digging in.
Making Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
The deed is done. After 3 hours under anaesthesia, I am now tumor free. I spent most of my recovery time eating bowls of porridge under my mother’s watchful eyes. When she wasn’t making sure that I was swallowing every last bit of mushy rice, she played the Cooking Academy app on my iPad. One day she came across the doughnut recipe and was so engrossed in the ingredients and methods that she didn’t even notice me slipping my sister a portion of the papaya she made me eat.
Now that I’m a bit better, I looked at that one particular picture of food again and now understand why she was hooked. I can practically smell the cinnamon in the sugar that the pillowy, probably yeast-raised doughnuts were rolled in. And so naturally it is the first thing I made once I’m able to walk around without wincing every few steps.
CINNAMON SUGAR DOUGHNUTS:
[ 3 tablespoon active dry yeast + 1 cup whole milk + 2 - 2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more to dust the work surface + 2 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 3 large egg yolks + 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature + vegetable oil for frying + 1/3 cup superfine sugar + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder ]
Heat the milk until it just starts to bubble.
In a medium bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoon of yeast in 3/4 cup of the warm milk. Add 3/4 cup of the flour and stir to make a smooth paste.
Cover and let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of warm milk and 1 tablespoon of yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add flour-yeast mixture, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolks. Mix until smooth.Turn off mixer and add 1/2 cup of flour. Mix on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix until incorporated.
Switch to a dough hook and add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, turning off the mixer when you add the flour. Knead the dough on medium speed between additions until the dough pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be very soft and moist but not too sticky (you may have flour left over!). Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to 12 hours.
Line a baking sheet with a lightly floured dish towel. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/2 inch thick. With a doughnut or cookie cutter, cut out 3-inch diameter rounds with 1-inch holes. Re-roll scraps and cut out additional doughnuts.
Place doughnuts at least 1-inch apart on baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm spot to proof until they double in size, for about 5 to 20 minutes, peeking every 5 minutes.
While doughnuts are proofing, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2-inches of oil until it reaches 180 degrees C (360F). Carefully place a couple of doughnuts (or holes) in the oil, careful to not overcrowd. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, until lightly golden brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack or with paper towels. Let cool slightly before tossing them in a mixture of sugar and ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.
Making Lemon Drops
At the beginning of the year, I made a promise to myself to only post once every month because work and studying has gotten to a point where there isn’t really a lot of room for compromise. But I’m breaking that today, because if you’re as much as a Miyazaki fan as I am, you might know that it was his birthday yesterday. So I’m dedicating this post to one of my favourite Studio Ghibli movies, albeit not written by Miyazaki himself, Grave of the Fireflies.
The movie told a heartbreaking story of two Japanese siblings who were orphaned by the events of WWII. The film is both a powerful statement on the cruelty of war and the dangers of letting pride overrule responsibility, and it specifically addresses the plight of post-war Japanese orphans (who were often neglected by both extended family and state).
In this movie, the character Setsuko sets off her journey with a can of fruit drops, of which her brother Seita would give one whenever she feels sad. There was a bittersweet moment when there was none left, and in attempt to cheer her up Seita filled the can with water so it dissolved residual candy pieces and gave it to her to drink.
There are long, lingering shots on much of the food in this movie, whether it be a bowl of soup, a jar of pickled plums, a handful of fruit drops, or a rice ball. When someone is enjoying the thing they’re eating, it’s made very apparent.
I can’t say that everyone will agree, but personally I thought this jar of candy was worth all the rushing around and very close burn-calls from working with molten sugar.
[ 1 cup sugar + 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/2 cup water + 1 teaspoon lemon essence + 1-2 drops of yellow food colouring + icing/confectioner’s sugar for rolling ]
Coat a pair of kitchen scissors and a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
When the sugar has dissolved, add the essence and food coloring and stir. Then stop and allow the mixture to cook at medium heat until it reaches hard crack stage/149°C/300°F.
Side note: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, don’t worry. I didn’t either. There is a method to test at what stage your mixture is. Simply have a bowl of cold water nearby. While the mixture boils, periodically check its stage by taking a tiny bit with a spoon and dropping it into the water. If you can roll it into a soft ball, it’s at the soft ball stage. If it becomes almost hard and snaps when bent, its at the hard crack stage. If this happens, quickly take it off the heat and pour into the baking tray and start stirring furiously.
Once at the correct temperature, remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture out onto baking sheet.
Use a wooden spoon or pastry knife to move the mixture about until it is cool enough (but still hot and flexible) to handle.
When evenly distributed and just cool enough to handle, pull off pieces and roll them into ropes. Cut the ropes up immediately with the greased kitchen scissors into small pieces and drop them onto a plate of icing sugar.
Once all the mixture has been used up, roll the drops in icing sugar to coat them. This stops them from sticking together.
These will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Making No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream
For this year, as opposed to making a long, long list of resolutions that will not live past the following month, I’ve decided to recount the last twenty-two years of my life and come up with five lessons that I’ve learned.
One, is that to change is a choice. Stop chanting the mantra “this year will be different” with the hope of instantly getting what you want, if you aren’t prepared to make better choices and act upon it. Start small. Like the yellowing of a leaf, change doesn’t have to be drastic. And remember that it is not always tangible, that sometimes the measure of change goes beyond just the physical.
Two, is to learn to forgive your loved ones. The robust man who once propped you up on his shoulders may now be balding and forgetting to call on your birthday. Don’t roll your eyes and scoff when the woman offers to pick out a dress for you, for she once sang and rocked you into sleep. Don’t ignore calls from the boy who showered you with flowers and gifts on your first Valentine’s together. He is as busy with school as you are. The little girl who used to hold your hand while crossing the street is now pacing about in her room studying for her exam. Take over her dish-washing duty tonight. Focus on the little things they do, how they made you feel at their best, and you’ll learn that forgiveness, whether it comes from or given to you, is beautiful.
Three, is to respect yourself. Know that respecting yourself doesn’t mean to only acknowledge accomplishments you’ve achieved. It also means to look after yourself, because this is it. One body, one mind and it’s all yours for the taking. Fill it with nutrients, enrich it, keep it away from harm. It is no one’s responsibility but yours.
Four, is to rise to the occasion. Give it your all and should you meet a dead end, retrace your steps to find safe ground, then try again. Remember, many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
Five, is to allow yourself to be happy. Being happy doesn’t mean neglecting responsibilities. You should not feel guilty for being happy, because it is one of life’s greatest blessings. Try to do things that will make you smile. It could be taking that course you’ve always wanted to do, or it could be something as simple as having an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert.
NO-CHURN CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM (recipe by Cenk of Cafe Fernando)
[ 1 can (14-ounce/400 grams) sweetened condensed milk + 3/4 cup whole milk + 3/4 cup heavy cream + 6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely + 1/4 cup cocoa powder + 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or two tablespoons freshly-brewed espresso) + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + A pinch of fine sea salt + 5 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water ]
In a heavy-bottomed large pan, whisk sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and heavy cream until combined. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Take off heat and add the finely-chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk until the chocolate melts and the cocoa powder is completely dissolved.
Mix cornstarch and cold water in a bowl with a fork until completely dissolved, and add to the ice cream base. Whisk until combined.
Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, until thickened, for 8-10 minutes.
Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside, uncovered, to cool for half an hour. Don’t worry if a skin forms on top. When the bowl is cool enough to handle, cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly (preferably overnight) in the refrigerator.
Before transferring the chilled ice cream to the freezer, stir or whisk to dissolve the skin on top and scrape into a container.
Cover with plastic, this time pressing the wrap against the ice cream to create an airtight seal.
Put the lid on (or cover with an additional layer of plastic wrap) and freeze until firm enough to scoop.
Sneak peek for the first post of the new year.