Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jolly Green Pancakes, Lime Butter & Cherry Thai Basil Sauce

Pancakes. Is there anything better than a fluffy, warm, buttery pancake? I mean, really?? Well, ok, there are probably a few things better, but not by much. And especially if you are in the mood for pancakes, nothing else will curb that craving.

Now let's think about pancakes for dinner. Ohhh yes! Now we are talking! So it was well past breakfast time, and not even in the area for brunch, and I was in the mood for pancakes. So what better way to celebrate dinner time, than with a big plate of savory sweet pancakes.

I recently became the happy owner of Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty, and this is where my savory pancake idea became a reality. I wasn't the only one out there wanting a savory pancake to sink my fork in. So I set out to make his dish, that you can find here.

A few days prior, I picked up a small bag of cherries, because I simply couldn't resist them. They were sitting so pretty and practically singing my name. I was hesitant because I have a slight allergy to raw fruits. But the cherries were at a quite reasonable price, so I picked some up. I figured I would try a few in their raw state, and see if I have any reaction. And If I did have an allergic reaction, (which I did), I would make a sauce or syrup from them, (which I did).

I also had some stunning Thai basil, so thought I would combine the two to make a savory sweet syrup sauce...
To make the sauce, simply throw the cherries and basil leaves into a pot, add a few pinches of sugar and a little bit of water, and bring to a simmer to let the cherries cook down. 
Once the cherries are cooked, and cooled, you can easily take the pits out. Remove the basil leaves. Taste and adjust sugar if necessary. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Lastly, strain to get rid of the skins.

Next let's move on to the lime butter for the pancakes. In mine, I used butter, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, cilantro and salt...

Mashed all that together and rolled into a log shape using parchment paper...
And finally it is time to start on the pretty little pancakes! Finally! I really liked the batter recipe for these, as it calls for whipped egg whites as a leavener. Awesome. I chose to do this by hand rather than using my hand mixer, because I am not a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater! It just takes some elbow grease, which we all have somewhere in the depths of our kitchen...
And, as I always like to make my own mostly minor adjustments to recipes I find, I did make some small changes to this one. So rather than using spinach in the batter, I used parsley and cilantro in mine. I did do a taste test on the first cooked pancake, as I wanted to make sure that my cherry Thai basil sauce would be a compliment, and not an unnecessary accessory. And I found that the cakes definitely called out for a something sweet sauce. Because even though these are a savory pancake, they are still a pancake, that yearns for the safety and comfort of a sweet syrupy blanket.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Say Miso, You Say Miso, Now Go Miso Glaze Me Some Japanese Eggplant

Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant over Garlic Roasted Asparagus and Jasmine Rice, with Thai Basil, Scallion, and Toasted Sesame Seed
It's been an interesting few weeks here in my small island town of Alameda. So I have a few little stories to share with you today. Three main events come to mind so let's start with that and see where we go....

Let's first, and quickly, get the ugly out of the way. As some of you already heard, I had an almost-run-in with a large van about a week back. No, I wasn't in my car. And, no, I was not on my cell phone. Thank you very much. I was walking. With my tiny little angel-dog. In the cross walk. Thank you very much. Oh, and, yes, I had the right of way, as the little green man in the box was blinking at me, telling me to "go, it's your turn!".

And even now, I can't help but think what would have happened had I just been one or two steps ahead of where I was. If I hadn't paused that extra five seconds to let my dog sniff around in the bushes. Just exactly what would have happened? To me, and to my wee little girl that I cherish so much. I wonder....and I can't help but wonder if my dear passed momma has had anything to do with my just scooting out of any harm to come my way lately. If so, I hope so. I'd like to think that she is here, all around me, watching over me. I wonder.....

Luckily, this week has been starting off on a much brighter note. Again, this story involves my precious little pup, Rocky. She is actually the main star in this story. I am so proud to say that she has won herself on the Jones Soda label contest. Yay for Rocky! I submitted this picture to Jones Soda a few months back, when my best girlfriend suggested that I should submit it. It is definitely a cool shot...

It was taken at Crown Beach in Alameda. I noticed the bench, and of course, because I am kinda obsessed with taking pictures of things, especially my dog. I had to get some snaps. And, Rocky, being the perfect little poser dog, we got this awesome shot.

And just yesterday, I checked my mail box, and got the letter from Jones Soda...

And here is here label...look for it on your shelves today! We are pretty excited over here, and on the search for our very own bottles....

My final happy story for the day, is to share with you this amazing recipe I found of Miso Glazed Japanese Eggplant. This is, afterall, supposed to be a food blog! I was craving a particular dish that I would order at Tamarine in Palo Alto. Theirs was a baked eggplant, with some sort of savory-sweet sauce, that was just addicting. So I decided to try a version of my own. I found this online recipe that I thought sounded pretty darn tasty. And it sure as heck-fire was!

I started with these gorgeous ingredients...Japanese Eggplant and Thai Basil

My only changes were that I used wine, a Rose cause that was all I had opened, in place of sake. And I used a bit more mirin because my sauce seemed to be too thick. I also added some chopped garlic to my sauce to give it more depth of flavor. I may have also added a touch of water to thin it out the sauce even more. And to round out my dish, I added some roasted asparagus with garlic, and Jasmine Rice. And garnished the plate with some chopped scallion, Thai basil, and toasted sesame seed.

As I sat down to saveur this dish, I had no idea that I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. It had beautiful bold flavors, and exciting textures. The miso glaze actually crisped up under the broiler, while the eggplant inside was soft and creamy. The cripsy, smokey, tangy, sweet glaze reminded me of the BBQ chicken I would eat as a kid. (You know, when you get a good piece with all that crispy chicken skin! ) And, as being a vegetarian today, boy, have I missed that flavor and texture combination.  I was so excited to have that experience again!

So, even to all of you eggplant haters out there, I highly recommend you give this dish a try. Trust me, you won't be disappointed :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fungi Trifecta

Brown Buttered Corn Bread with Sauteed Mushrooms and Black Garlic
The fungus that we have among us today are shimenji, king oyster, and shitake. That last one, shitake, is not one of my favorites, as I think their flavor can be very overpowering, so their presence in my dish today is quite limited. But I do believe that they certainly have their place in the world of fungi. Which, by the way, is probably my all time favorite vegetable variety. I love their savoriness, earthiness, textures, and their elegant and organic shapes and colors. They are simply exquisite.

This is very reminiscent of a dish that I learned of from a former chef that I had the opportunity to work for. Ever since I saw his dish, I have been wanting to make a version of mine own. And in my last few trips to the Berkeley Bowl, I have been noticing something new. They started carrying black garlic. So I took that as a sign that it was time to make this dish.

I started by baking off a small pan of corn bread, then sauteed the corn bread in some browned butter, and set that onto a plate. I prepped my mushrooms, and sauteed them in some butter, garlic, salt and pepper, then laid them on top of the corn bread. I chopped up my black garlic, and arranged some beet tops onto the plate to add color and a fresh leafy texture. And there we have it folks, my mushroom trifecta!