Caucasian Curry

Caucasian Curry
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pandan Honeycomb Cake. A Vietnamese treat..Banh Bo Nuong

Pandan Honeycomb cake

i had no intention, but...
 this has Holiday Springtime written all over it.

is this cool?...or what?!

this is a might say..."unique cake".
a little difficult to make, but totally out of the ordinary, interesting and fun.  something different to amaze your foodie friends for the holiday parties.
straight out of the oven it looks like a normal cake with a lovely crisp outer shell, but when you cut into it the bright green is a shocker and the honeycomb is fascinating.  the tapioca flour gives it a slightly chewy texture and the pandan smells of fresh baked vanilla...or something from the vanilla family.
friends and family were amazed with the bright green, the different texture and the subtle flavor of pandan.   "what is pandan? and why is this so green?  but i like it!"
the green color is from the pandan extract.  it's found in quite a few Asian desserts. Green?...i suppose to imitate the color of the pandan leaves.  flavor?...i couldn't really tell you what the flavor of "pandan" is, but the cake tastes like it has vanilla in it...and low and behold?...i read HERE that it is sometimes referred to as the "Asian vanilla".
the honeycomb effect is created by using single acting baking powder...did you know there was such a thing?...or that it makes a difference?  this sounds elementary, but... single acting works once.  it activates only with the wet ingredients.  double acting works twice...once with the wet and again with the heat of baking.  don't quote me.  i'm not a chef or a scientist.  i'm just passing on information i came across.

i would just about call this one a success.  i DID have a horrible failure (lovely photo at the bottom) on the first attempt, but with perseverance i conquered the Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake.
well, at least it looks as though i did.  i know i could do better and i will try again.  as you can see it fell a little bit on the bottom,...

but when i sliced this puppy open? ...SHAZAMMM! 
i sure did get the honeycomb effect.  that's what i was looking for...


aka Banh Bo Nuong
many thanks to Pinkie Food blog with step by step photos

200ml thick coconut milk (1/2 can)
150g sugar
6 eggs
200g tapioca starch/flour
5-6 drops pandan extract/paste.  i used 1/2 tsp plus a few drops

preheat oven to 350F degrees
in a small sauce pan heat coconut milk, sugar and extract until the sugar dissolves.  set aside to cool completely
in a separate bowl, mix the tapioca starch and baking powder.
in another separate bowl, lightly beat the do not want bubbles or foam.  i have read in many other recipes you should beat just until they look mixed.  one tip is to keep your whisk touching the bottom of the bowl while gently mixing.
pour cooled coconut mixture into eggs and gently combine well.
***at this time put your greased/sprayed cooking vessel (bundt pan) into the oven to preheat***
gradually add the tapioca mixture to the egg/coconut mixture and quickly, but gently, beat until just dissolved/combined.  
NOTE...i have found that tapioca starch is a hard one to combine.  i sifted it in and quickly, but gently whisked until very few lumps were left.  then, when i strained the batter into the pan i pushed through the remaining lumps.
remove hot baking pan from the oven.  strain batter through sieve into the hot baking pan and put in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  i let mine sit in the budnt pan for about 10-15 minutes...then turned it over.  i read that might help it from falling.  i was anxious and removed the cake from the pan after about 20-25 minutes with a little tap on the counter.  YAY, no sticking. 

in conclusion...there are so many different recipes and methods for this cake.  i have tried 2 so far and this one seems to work well.  i'll let you know if i find a new easy one.

but for now...i'm very pleased with this unique Vietnamese treat!

as you can see, i opted for the heavy Nordic Ware bundt pan.  this would be my suggestion for a first try.  i think i'll try the 9 inch cake pan next time with this same recipe.

above is my first encounter with Bahn Bo Nuong that i purchased in Little Saigon a few weeks ago.
i had never seen anything like it.  i was fascinated.  i did a little research and gave it a go...
the first try ? obvious failure....the middle was...let's just say...gummy bear-ish?  i am not a quitter, so i gave it another try.  HONEYCOMB !  YAY !
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Farmer's Cheese Pancakes...

delicate, light, delicious breakfast treat.

like little velvet bellini with a hint of lemon.

i came across this particular recipe while googling around for cottage cheese pancakes.  i found a ton of recipes for "Syrniki" aka...Russian pancakes made with Farmer's Cheese.  i've never had the pleasure of a true Russian pancake, but i thought i'd give these a try.  i'm sure every Russian Grandmother makes them them better than the next, but this is where i'll start.  i hope i get some good comments from readers with their own "Syrniki" recipes. 
these are just what i was looking for.  something with a little less flour and a little more protein.  they're pretty healthy...lighter than your American pancake and they can be served for breakfast, brunch or made into some cute creative layered dessert.  mine didn't make it to the dessert idea...they were all gone before i could get to it.  i'll make these again this weekend for the holidays when the troops arrive.  farmer's cheese isn't at my local market and they are a little delicate in the pan, but worth the extra shopping trip and a little patience with the batter.

found at  original from chef Vitaly Paley

330g farmer's cheese ...i used Friendship Farmer's Cheese
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp sugar or substitute
3-4 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
a squeeze of lemon
a little zest for more lemon flavor

mix the wet ingredients...farmer's cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined with no lumps.  chef Vitaly's grandmother suggests mixing the lemon juice and baking soda in a little bowl (for fluffier cakes), stir well. and add to the wet ingredients.  add the flour and baking powder, start with 3 Tbsp flour....batter should be a little thicker than regular pancake batter.  depending on the moisture of your farmer's cheese you might need to add a little more flour.  add a little lemon zest.  now go ahead and taste the batter, it won't kill you.  more sugar?...more zest?...
heat your skillet with a little butter or oil of choice... but a little butter won't hurt ya AND "butter makes everything better".
warning...the first pancake is always a bit of a "flub".  mine started to look good after about the 3rd one.  i made them pretty small, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches across and i got about 12.  smaller are easier to flip.  cook the first side until you see good looking bubbles form on the top...(pretty much like regular pancakes).  flip and cook other side.  i had a nice light brown color on mine as shown.

these are delicate pancakes.  don't loose patience with the flipping.
or...add a little more flour to thicken the dough.

serve with syrup of choice...maple is nice...ginger would be delicious with fresh berries...
OR they are fabulous with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt and homemade jam.

absolutely delicious right off the skillet, but they do save well in the fridge for the next day or two.  we found ourselves eating them right out of the fridge with a little homemade Meyer Lemon Lavender Marmalade (posting soon)...

approx. nutrition 
using sugar sub. with 12 per batch
each pancake...57 calories...1.1 carb...3.4 fat...and 5.1 protein

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Vietnamese Coffee...bold and sweet

it begins with a hefty dollop of sweetened (guilty pleasure) condensed milk..
then a 2T. pour...
and a 20 second wait...

followed by 190F degree pour
and a 4 minute drip...

a slight sweet stir...

and you have a delectable"Phin-filter" brewed, strong,  bold, yet smooth Vietnamese coffee with a sweet creamy finish from the thick sweetened milk.
some like to stir it in all the way and some like to leave a little at the bottom for a creamy sweet ending to a strong smooth brew.  anyway you prefer, it is a unique way to enjoy your everyday coffee in a whole different way...

served hot or cold this is my new favorite coffee.  maybe it's the ritual of the brewing...maybe it's the hunt for the best "Phin", the best grounds or the perfect brew...maybe it's just because...

this isn't your average joe.

i don't know if i will ever make it to Vietnam in this lifetime, but i can surely try to transport myself...

the Phin filters come in a few sizes and two styles with screw or gravity inserts.  i find the gravity insert to work better for the beginner.
of course you know i had to American-size it and get the biggest one i could find.  we (I) tend to SUPER-SIZE everything.
in this case, i find, the super-size just isn't as good.  it's not as bold or maybe i haven't mastered the large (screw insert) filter yet...but this funny little stainless steel contraption certainly makes a fine cuppa joe.

imagine a French press married an Italian "Moka" stove top espresso maker...had a baby and created a fabulous brew.
did i mention the clean up is 10x's easier?

i found mine (i own 4 ) at 99 Ranch Market in Tustin and Little Saigon, in Westminster, CA.  your best bet is a large Asian market or they are readily available on the internet...i couldn't wait.  i hunted this little treasure down with a vengeance.  the typical coffee would be a french press grind and i've read that a Chicory blend is most common, for instance the Cafe du Monde".  my favorite, so far is the Cafe Ong Tho French Roast.  you can use any dark roast, but it should be between a french press grind and a drip.

if you are interested in Phin brewed Vietnamese coffee please check ... step by step instructions.  I Need is a great "COFFEE WEBSITE" with loads of information and interesting stuff/gizmos.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Best Black Bean Chocolate Cake...Gluten Free

here you have what i believe to be 

in the world of diet conscious...GLUTEN FREE...waistline friendly treats...this dark chocolate 'brownie cake' is a winner.  even those not seeking "healthy foods" love this darn cake.  i've made it 4 times with a few variations.  you absolutely would not know there are black beans in this cake.  friends were amazed after i shared the ingredients.
i've tried a few other bean cake/brownie recipes, but they didn't come near this cake posted by Josephine at A tasty Love Story.

AND it's only 90 calories per fat chocolaty slice.
 you can feel good about eating it...a lot of it.  go ahead slather it with peanut butter or your favorite homemade jam.  eat it for breakfast with vanilla greek yogurt and some fresh berries.  an afternoon pick-me-up with a nice cuppa joe...a late night chocolate attack...

slightly adapted from A Tasty Love Story by Josephine Malene Kofod
please check her blog...lovely photography and fab foods
makes 1 medium loaf tin.

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar...i have used Zsweet substitute as well
3 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup/50G dark chocolate chips or chunks
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp baking soda
juice and zest form 1/2 orange
pinch of salt

preheat oven to 350 F
in a blender or processor combine all of the ingredients, except the chocolate.  blend until smooth.
NOTE...i do the beans first in the processor with 1 egg until VERY smooth.  then i add the rest of the ingredients.
pour the batter into a parchment lined medium loaf tin....Josephine notes that the batter will be very runny.  that's okay.  distribute the chocolate solids in and on the batter.  i like to push some down in so you get some in every bite...
bake for approx. 35 minutes.  do the toothpick test.  don't over bake, but make sure the center is baked through.
cool completely before removing from pan.
variations...more chipotle, a little cinnamon, peanut butter chips, toasted pecans, cocoa nibs ?...

approx. nutritional facts
1/10th of loaf using Zsweet

calories...90,   protein...5g,  carbs...11g,  fat...3.8g,  fiber...2.8g
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Healthy Oat Waffles...Gluten Free

break out that waffle iron.
they're better than wheat toast and more fun than a bran muffin.

you know there's one in the house somewhere...along with the other once a year items...
waffles can be good for you and they're definitely more fun than a bowl of granola.  they don't always have to be thick and fatty smothered in butter and full of empty calories.  although i have been known to throw down a few of those.

these are pretty low calorie, waist friendly, GLUTEN FREE, full of goodness, super easy to throw together and they freeze well.

my waffle iron has now earned it spot in the "kitchen pantry"
maybe soon it will earn it's way out of the box...

Gluten Free
makes almost 6 round Belgian waffles depending on your waffle iron.

1 cup old fashioned oats (gluten free if necessary)...processed into flour
1 Tbsp ground flax
1 cup cottage cheese
2 large eggs, whole
1 large egg white
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice (more if too thick)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon...maybe a dash more
a few grates of fresh nutmeg,  optional
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Stevia 'cup for cup' sweetener (or sweetener of choice)
pinch of salt

put the eggs and cottage cheese in the blender first...blend until smooth.
add the rest of the ingredients and, again, blend until smooth...let sit for 5 minutes while your waffle iron heats up.  if they are a bit too thick, add a touch more milk.  proceed as you would with any might have to dig out the iron instructions that are still in the box like i did.  i have found that the first one usually doesn't come out as crisp as the rest, but that's just the nature of the beast.

makes almost 6 round Belgian waffles (per waffle as shown)
carbs ...11.5g

kind of a hassle to dig out the waffle iron and deal with yet another electric kitchen gadget in the kitchen, but you can double the recipe and freeze them for on-the-go breakfast sandwiches.
ditch the plate and berries and throw together a spicy waffle breakfast sandwich with egg, sausage, jalapeno and creamy ricotta.

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Country Pate with Gluten and Dairy Free Panade




one of the most satisfying foods i love/hate to make.  every time i make it, i curse at myself for the time and detail i go into and how i can make this one even better than the last one, BUT when it's time to unveil and i get that first perfect slice.  OR hear someone say, "did you really make this?"  oh, there's nothing like it....
pure satisfaction of the beautiful specimen set in front of me...and "I" made it.

i must say, when it comes right down to it, there is no exact your Mom's meatloaf probably doesn't have an exact recipe...she just knows how to throw it together and it always comes out right.  every pate is just a little bit different, but the general ingredients and instructions tend to stay the same.

for this pate i will give you my measurements that fit perfectly in a "Pullman's"loaf tin.  these measurements are not set in stone.  you can work them a little bit to suit your taste.  as for the size?  you want to properly fill one loaf tin and if you have a little left over? what.   make little patties and enjoy right away because you will be waiting for the pate for a few days.

fits in 9"x4"x4" pullman's loaf tin.

879g pork shoulder, cut into i-2 inch pieces (3 to 3.25 lb.)
232g ground pork (1/2lb.)
62g raw chicken liver trimmed (2 1/4 oz)
50g shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp quatre epices (recipe below)
1 lrg. tsp dried rosemary, crushed or chopped fine
approx 1/8-1/4 cup minced parsley

ADD-INS...5 cooked, sauteed chicken livers chopped into small pieces
1/3-1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2-3 oz of smoked ham steak cut into long thick slices

2 EGGS, slightly beaten

CAUL FAT or BACON SLICES for the exterior
i have done the bacon wrap many times and it makes for a great presentation, although the bacon does not crisp...just to let you know.  Bacon wrapped Pate shown HERE
BUT...this time i found "caul fat" and had so much fun.  it was a bit difficult hunting it down, but when i finally got to work with it i fell in love with it's weirdness.  i like the presentation and flavor better than the bacon...can you believe i just said "better than bacon"?

put the pork shoulder, the ground pork and the raw liver in a bowl.  take 2/3 and process it in a food processor until chunky.  remove from processor and put in the other 1/3 mixture.  process this a little more than the first batch.  mix the two batches of meat with the shallot, garlic, salt, quatre epices and dried rosemary.
saute your chicken livers and set aside.  when cool give them a little chop and set aside.
in separate bowl, mix together your gluten free panade.
now mix the panade into the meat.
add in the cooked chopped chicken liver and minced parsley.
now comes the IMPORTANT part...TASTE TEST.  cook a small amount in a skillet and check for seasoning.  pates need a little extra salt so if the test is "well" seasoned your good to go.

preheat the oven to 325F.  place a few bay leaves on the bottom of a slightly buttered loaf tin or pate mold of choice.  line the bottom and sides with caul fat or bacon slices or you can just use heavy plastic wrap.   make sure you have enough over-hang to cover the top.
note...put some water on the stove to heat for a bain marie.
pack the mixture into your desired vessel.  put the meat in, pressing down so there are no air pockets.  don't forget to put the long thin slices of ham and the pistachios intermittently throughout the pate mixture...don't over do it.  you just want it to be seen.  smooth the top and tap it on the counter to solidify and get rid of air pockets.  cover top with "over-hang" of caul fat, bacon or plastic wrap.  put a small piece of parchment on the top and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
place the pate loaf tin/dish into a larger heatproof baking dish and add enough hot water to come 1/2 way up the sides of the pate. put in preheated 325F oven for approx. 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until the pate reaches an internal temperature of 160F degrees.  juices should be clear.
remove from oven and water bath.  let rest for about 30 minutes, then place some weights on top.  i keep a tinfoil covered brick on hand or 2 heavy cans of something will work with a flat piece of aluminum covered cardboard to fit on top of the meat.  when it is room temp. place in fridge (with weights) overnight or another day is even better.  the weights can come off after a few hours when the pate is good and cold and set.

serve room temperature or chilled with baguette, cornichons and dijon.
OR my favorite...slice and sear in skillet to add to a burger, serve with a poached egg for a decadent brunch or make Pate Paninis with melted brie and sliced pear or apple...YUM !

1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground ginger.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Three Day Pork Belly

3 DAYS !?...
is it worth it ?!...

of course it is...
necessary...? i don't know, but good things come to those who wait.


1st day...dry brine
2.5 - 3 lb pork belly, with skin
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper
rub the pork belly with the brine mixture so it is well coated.  no need to use it all.  place in Ziploc baggie for 24 hours, flipping once in between.. 

2nd day..dry chilled air
wash the belly under cold water and dry with paper towels.  put it in the fridge, open-air, skin exposed over night.

3rd day...slow roast
2 green apple, sliced (not wedges)
1 yellow onion, sliced thick
1 bulb garlic, cut in half
3-4 Tbsp brown sugar
salt sprinkle for skin

when ready to roast, score the skin with a very sharp knife...making a diamond pattern.
line baking dish with heavy aluminum foil for easy clean up.  place sliced apple, onion and halves of garlic bulb on the bottom.  sprinkle some of the brown sugar over.  place belly on top. put a few slices of apple and onion around the exposed sides and sprinkle with more brown sugar.  sprinkle skin with a little salt (salt ONLY on skin).
cover with aluminum foil.
roast at 320F for approx. 4 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
uncover and put oven on broiler setting 420F for approx. 10 minutes...or until the skin gets good and crispy, but watch carefully so as not to burn.  i had to cover parts that were crisping too fast.
remove from oven and let sit to rest for at least 15-20 minutes before serving...slice the roast skin side down on the board for easier slicing through the crispy skin.  at this point you probably won't get a super clean slice, but it sure is good right out of the oven with it's crispy crunchy cracklin' skin.  don't forget to serve with the roasted garlic and onion that is slowly cooked confit-style in the pork fat...YUM

OR what i usually do...let it come to room temp and refrigerate for super clean slices as shown.  slice with skin side down for easier slicing.  warm slices in skillet, toaster oven, or carefully in the microwave "as needed".

breakfast, lunch AND dinner !
serve as sliders, with a poached egg, hand-to-mouth or with some CANNED SPICED PICKLED PEACHES...posting recipe soon.

NOTES...who knows if the 3 days are necessary.  it's hard to ruin a succulent piece of pork always turns out unctuous.

BUT...i will be making another one this weekend and i'm going to try a larger slab WITH BONES and it should be done in about 3 HOURS from start to finish.

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