Sunday, August 30, 2009

One good turn deserves another

The man of the house made a Thai-inspired tofu-eggplant soup, finished with fresh lime and serrano peppers, that just knocked our socks off. Deliciousness like that really gets the creative juices flowing. I patted my happy tummy and decided there would be dessert.

I wanted to keep with his Thai-ish theme, so there would have to be ginger involved. Coconut, sure. Maybe even a little heat.

How does this sound? Coconut-milk ice cream topped with toasted pecans in a simple syrup infused with ginger, cinnamon, and just a wee sliver of serrano pepper. Sure, you can skip the pepper if you want, but the hint of heat definitely made the dish more interesting.

My quantities are guesses, as of course I don't actually measure, but they're there to give you an idea of the proportions.

Thai-spiced Pecan Topping
Serves 2; Prep time ~15 minutes
1/3 c. turbinado sugar (or use a blend of white & brown sugars)
1/3 c. water
6-10 thin slices of ginger root
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
dash ground galangal (optional; I happened to have some, so why not?)
wee dash of cayenne or a few red pepper flakes, to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. pecans, almonds, or other nutty goodness, broken into large pieces
splash of milk/soymilk/etc.

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add ginger, spices and salt. Simmer on low to thicken.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the almonds on medium heat until fragrant, tossing occasionally and taking care not to burn them.

When the syrup has gotten, well, syrupy, stir in a splash of milk. Pull out the ginger pieces and anything else you've got floating in there. Taste & adjust the seasoning if necessary; don't be afraid to add salt, as a hint of saltiness will complement the ice cream's sweetness nicely.

Cool to lukewarm or room temp (I dunked the saucepan in a pan of cold water to speed the process) and spoon a base layer of topping into your serving bowl. Add a scoop of coconut, vanilla, or your favorite variety of frozen dessert, and top with more caramelly goodness. Serve immediately to your favorite resident chef.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pancakes P.S.

Immediately after inventing my pancake recipe, I found our pancake mix. OF course. And yet, I've still opted to make scratch pancakes. It's easy; they're tasty; why not?

The last time, I omitted the cranberries & pecans. Instead, before I gathered my other ingredients, I tossed the last of the frozen cherries and some frozen passionfruit puree* with a dash of water and a couple Tbsp of sugar, and let that simmer slowly in a small saucepan while I finished the pancakes. I threw in a bit of the nutmeg and citrus zest that I'd grated for the batter. By the time the pancakes were cooking, the fruit was thick and syrupy. I added a generous amount of maple syrup et voila! An absolutely amazing fruit compote transformed my ordinary pancakes into an exotic treat - with hardly any effort.

*Frozen tropical fruit purees or "pulps" can be found in most supermarkets with a Latino section - Goya is one brand. They come in flat rectangular bricks - you simply break off a chunk for your recipe or smoothie, and pop the rest back in the freezer for next time. They're a super convenient and cheap way to use exotic fruits - mango, papaya, tamarind (I use a microplane to shave some into Thai dishes), coconut, and of course passionfruit (maracuya or parcha in Spanish). Passionfruit margaritas, anyone?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pancakes in the Face of Adversity

"Pancakes sound like a great idea," he agrees.

A quick rifling through the pantry and fridge reveals no pancake mix. Yes, I know, pancakes aren't that hard to make, but I'm still a little shy around GF flours, and, well, semi-lazy. Today, apparently would be the day of reckoning: scratch pancakes it would be.

Next step - survey a couple recipes on the internet and pick one or two as a jumping-off point. Of course, finding one that uses ingredients I have on hand would be key.

First recipe: buttermilk, butter, and artificial sweetener - gak! Second recipe: considerably more promising, except that I don't have half of the ingredients.

Then the FIOS guy announces our internet will be down for a bit. Fiance hints that he's really kinda hungry. There will be no more recipes.

One recipe, half the ingredients. So, giving credit where it's due, the original recipe is here. But I kinda mangled it. Deliciously.

Tasty Orange Cranberry Pecan Pancakes
2 eggs
1/2 c orange juice minus a Tbsp
Scant 2Tbsp oil + Tbsp yogurt, or 2Tbsp melted butter
dash xanthan gum (optional)
1/2 c high-protein flour (I used about 1/4c garbanzo, 1/8 soy, 1/8 brown rice)
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c + 2 Tbsp starch (I used sweet potato; use what you have)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or a dash more)
dash ground nutmeg (fresh if you can)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp if using table salt)
fresh citrus zest (optional)
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pecans or walnuts

  1. Beat together eggs, juice, oil, yogurt and xanthan.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flours, starch, spices, baking powder & salt. Use a strainer (if you have a dedicated GF one) to sift dry ingredients into egg mixture. Stir in cranberries, nuts and zest.
  3. Heat a large pan or griddle with enough vegetable oil to not quite coat the bottom (it should cover the whole surface after it heats up. When the oil is hot enough to lightly sizzle a test drop of water, scoop the batter 1/4 at a time. Add extra cranberries & nuts to any bare patches, if you wish. Flip when nicely golden brown.
I have omitted the xanthan gum without a problem - it was just a slightly thinner batter and, consequently, thinner pancakes. I've also subbed sorghum flour for the soy flour. Really, all you need is a 1/2 cup of high-protein flours - I take a 1/2 cup measure, dump in a little garbanzo, a little brown rice, a little soy, until it's topped up - you can use any blend that works for your pantry.

Serve with real maple syrup or honey. Mmm. If you don't devour them all, wrap them in plastic with waxed paper between and freeze to reheat on a lazy morning.

(I always forget to take pictures, especially when we devour them all...)