Monday, February 25, 2019

Scallion Pancakes

One of my favorite things to order at our local Chinese restaurant is the scallion pancake. Flaky, greasy, salty, delicious. I had a review copy of the Double Awesome Chinese Food cookbook and out of all the recipes, could not pass up the chance to try my hand at scallion pancakes. The recipe is below, but in the cookbook, there are very helpful step by step photos for the recipes.

This is my second attempt making scallion pancakes. The first attempt was cong you bing back in 2012, which I definitely did not master. These are much thinner and flakier and closer to how they should be, but still not quite there.  Someday I hope to visit China and take our friend's Old-Shanghai Breakfast Food Tour and taste the real deal.

Scallion Pancakes

1 recipe Hot Water Dough (see below), rested
1/4 cup (52 g) toasted sesame oil
1 1/3 cups (80 g) thinly sliced scallions
neutral oil, such as canola, for cooking
kosher salt
soy vinegar dipping sauce (I used just straight soy sauce!)

Make the pancakes.

Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece and cover the rest with a damp cloth. Roll the piece into a ball, flatten it slightly, then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Use a brush (or your fingers) to cover the dough circle with 1 tbsp of the sesmae oil, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the scallions.

Roll up the circle into a snake, then twist the snake into a snail-like spiral and tuck the end underneath. Flatten slightly with your hand, then use the rolling pin to roll out again into an 8-inch circle. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 4 pancakes.

Cook the pancakes.

Heat a thin layer of neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Don't skimp on the oil; ample oil is part of the charm of this dish. Carefully slide the pancake into the pan and fry on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.* Sprinkle lightly with salt and place on a paper towel to cool. Repeat with the remaining pancakes. Cut into wedges and serve with soy vinegar dipping sauce.

Hot Water Dough

2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 g) kosher salt
1 cup (240 g) water, boiled and let cool for about 1 minute

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in 3/4 cup (180 g) of the hot water until a ball is formed and all the flour is incorporated. If the flour in the bottom of the bowl is not sticking to the ball, slowly drizzle in more water 1 teaspoon at a time and continue to stir.

When all the flour has come together into a ball and the dough is cool enough to handle, place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 3-5 minutes. If necessary, add a sprinkle of flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or work surface. Place back in the bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and leave to rest for 30 to 60 minutes so the gluten can relax and the dough is easier to shape. When making in advance, the dough can rest in the fridge a day or two wrapped in lightly oiled plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before using.

*Jenny's notes - the instructions say you can repeat the snail roll out for even more flaky layers, but my pancakes were flakiest if I only did it one time. (My dough was a bit dry though.) I tried medium-high heat for 3 minutes but on my electric stovetop, this was too hot and too long. I ended up on medium heat for 1-1.5 minutes per side.

I received a review copy of this cookbook from the publisher through NetGalley. It came out February 5, 2019.

Other recipes I am interested in trying:
-Dan Dan Noodles with Crispy Pork Belly and Brussels Sprouts
-Carrot Coconut Soup
-Hot and Sour Borscht
-Harvest Moon Curry

Monday, February 18, 2019

Chocolate Mascarpone Bundt Cake

I originally bought mascarpone for a meringue roll cake I intended to make over the holidays, but never did. In searching for a recipe that used the exact amount I had on hand, I came across this recipe. I fear I overbaked it, or perhaps I should have used oil instead of butter, because it was a bit dry. But tasty just the same.

Chocolate Mascarpone Bundt Cake
(Recipe from The Baking Fairy)

2/3 cup (10.5 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
8 oz mascarpone cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan very well.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and beat until fluffy. Stir in the sour cream and mascarpone, and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, and beat until creamy and fluffy.
  5. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter* into the prepared bundt pan, and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cake cool slightly in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Top Pot Doughnuts (Seattle, WA)

"Begun in February 2002 out of a small brick storefront on north Capitol Hill in Seattle, Top Pot pair[s] a vintage aesthetic with a gourmet spin on the traditional coffee and doughnuts pairing." (I stole this description from their website.)

I was recently in Seattle for the ALA Midwinter Meeting, and my Mom came up to stay with me a bit. I always like to go on some kind of bakery or baked goods adventure, and found Top Pot Doughnuts. The 5th Street location was charmingly lined with books (happy librarian here!) and had an additional layer of seating upstairs.

I was pleased to find the variety of both glazed and cake varieties, and happily without the silly trends of ingredients like breakfast cereal that you can find a few hours south at Voodoo (see my previous posts of Portlanders Standing in Line for Donuts episode 1 and episode 2.) Also impressive - the shop was busy but not over busy. We didn't have to stand in line or wait for a seat.

Maple bars are one of my favorite doughnuts but I swear they can't be found outside the northwest. Maple doesn't come from there, it's a northeast thing. But still, maple bars are a standard traditional doughnut everywhere you go for doughnuts in the northwest. Why? No idea. But I couldn't even take a picture before taking a bite, very satisfying.

My other favorite doughnut is a really good chocolate cake. Top priority is coconut, but without coconut, I'll go for glazed. Top Pot had both "old fashioned" (pictured, half eaten, whoops), and a more standard variety. This was an incredibly tender and chocolatey doughnut and I was a happy doughnut wanderer.

The latte I had was fine but not the star of the show. It was... fine. I used to think of Seattle as the best coffee city but I'm going to say that isn't true in 2018. Half the places I went served Counter Culture, and I like Counter Culture just fine but it is prevalent in the south as well. And Starbucks really dominates everything to an extent that it is difficult to find non-Starbucks places. At last Top Pot had their own!

Monday, February 04, 2019

Kauk Mote | Crepes with red beans and coconut (Burma/Myanmar)

I'm reading books from Asia this year, and alongside that will be baking and cooking some new recipes from various countries. For Burma/Myanmar, the three most frequently mentioned dishes are the tea (see at the end of this post!), fermented tea leaf salad (difficult to track down in the states,) and mohinga, a seafood-curry-noodle soup that is frequently consumed for breakfast. I struggled to find the right ingredients so I decided to make this interesting crepe, a street food often found in this region. It could have had more ingredients in the filling, like coconut cream, chopped roasted peanuts, or savory ingredients, but I went with the red bean and coconut.

The original recipe I found, which is copied elsewhere on the internet, has a major flaw. If you use self-rising flour, you should omit the additional salt and baking soda included in the recipe, which I imagine someone wrote down as what to add to flour to make it the equivalent of self-rising flour. I ignored my instincts and went ahead and added it, and the pancake/crepe batter was awful.

Pictured is one of the books I'm reading right now, about a man who grew up in a traditional way and made it all the way to the UK to study English.

Kaku Mote
(recipe from Hsa*ba, also posted on World of Crepes)

160g of self rising flour (.70 cup)
80g rice of flour (.35 cup)
1/2 teaspoon of salt [DO NOT ADD WITH SELF RISING FLOUR]
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda [DO NOT ADD WITH SELF RISING FLOUR]
2 tablespoons sugar
100ml coconut milk (almost half a cup)
300ml water (1.25 cups)
oil for frying

200g sweetened red (azuki) beans or red bean paste
80g fresh grated coconut
pinch of salt

Put the dry pancake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk and water, stirring to form a runny batter. Rest for at least 30 minutes, preferably a couple of hours.

Lightly grease a pan with a little oil and heat on moderate heat. Using a ladle pour the batter carefully. The idea is to have an even layer of batter to cover the pan. To spread the batter, tilt the pan.

Cover and leave for a few of minutes. When bubbles appear on the surface, carefully spread the red beans and grated coconut. Remember to mix a pinch of salt with the coconut first. Cover the pan again and allow the pancake to cook for a further minute or two until the edges are golden in color.

Using a flat spatula, fold the pancake into half and ease onto a plate. Serve while warm. The outside should have a lovely crispiness and the inside soft with the filling oozing out.

 Pictured with the tea is a book of folktales from Burma, highly recommended.

Myanmar/Burmese Tea (bonus recipe!)

Brew a black tea double strength, or strong, anyway.
For every 6 oz tea, add 1 oz condensed milk and 1 oz evaporated milk. Or adjust to taste.
Delicious! I've made it three times since 2019 began!