Pancakes with a Twist

Hello, everyone! The weather’s been brutal lately. And as if things can’t get uglier, our heating system decided to act up. Anyways, here I am to bring you guys something to get giddy and excited about. At least I hope it does as it did me. For a while, I haven’t really been in the mood to make or try anything for a number of reasons which I choose not to bore you with. But here I am with a brand new recipe and I can’t be excited to share it with you. I am really happy about this number because first, I finally learned how to make pancakes from scratch. The first time I tried? It was a huge flop! Yes, there is a difference between baking soda and powder. I won’t delve into that. The pro-bakers can probably enlighten you on that matter better than I do. But, I hope you would take my word for it for those who are still wondering what really is that fine line between baking soda and powder.  And secondly, I finally reached that point where I’m comfortable to tweak some details here and there and make it my own.

I got the basic pancake recipe from marthastewart.com. I remained consistent with hers because I don’t want to mess up our breakfast. I only added a few drops of vanilla extract. That’s it.  It was fluffy and light but a little too spongy for my liking. The following week I decided to add 1 yolk plus about 1/8 cup of milk to make it a little more dense but not to sacrifice its cloudy fluffiness. It was a success. And tired of my usual vanilla, I added some lemon flavor and here I am.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/4 c. All purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. Granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 & 1/8 c. Milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 & 1/2 tbsp. Unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk
  • 1 tbsp. Lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter to grease the pan
  • Honey or maple syrup

Here’s How:

  1. Place non-stick pan or griddle on low heat. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, pour in milk, eggs, lemon juice, zest and melted butter. Whisk together until homogenous. Then add in dry ingredients. Whisk until well mixed. It’s tempting to overmix but a few lumps is ok.
  4. Smear extra butter in the pan and pour pancake batter. Adjust heat accordingly.
  5. Enjoy!

It tasted so good. The lemon flavor bursts in your mouth. The amount of lemon you put in depends on the tartness you desire. I don’t think it will affect the fluffiness of the pancake unless you decide to throw a whole lemon in there. I used honey because what else goes perfectly with something citrussy and bright as lemon? You can be as creative with the toppings as you wish.

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ImagePancakes are L.O.V.E. Don’t you agree?Image

This stick of butter reminds me of this movie I saw last night, “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” It was a film adaptation of the play Neil Simon wrote. And there was this one part where Eugene’s mother, Kate asked him to get a 1/4 lb. of butter. And Eugene argued that he just went for a 1/4 lb. the same morning, why didn’t she just ask him to buy a 1/2 lb. butter. To that she replied, “Suppose this house sets on fire, what am I to do with a 1/4 lb. butter!” Lol. I’m such a weirdo.

Oh, and I asked Wonder girl to help me with the honey. It wasn’t much of a success, her tiny arms got easily tired holding up the spoon. And she couldn’t wait to lick the honey off of it.

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So there you go. I hope you guys try this recipe and let me know what you think. How about you, do you have a favorite pancake recipe you would like to share?

Counting Blessings and Peaches

 

I guess life’s not too bad if I can prepare food like this despite of my current corporate status- unemployed. I was starting to get worried because that’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands. But I have this constant reminder that I have nothing to worry about. This may sound too charismatic to some of you or may appear like I am selling some sort of religion. But God has been extremely good about reminding me that I have nothing to worry about. He is taking care of everything and than my prayers are not in vain. And like what I said, I guess it couldn’t be that bad if we can afford a little peaches and cream in our lives. Right?

 

Grilled Peaches w/ Mascarpone Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 3 peaches, washed and halved
  • 6-8 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
  • thyme
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tbsp. honey

Here’s how:

  1. Place peach halves on a hot grill face down. Grill for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle with fresh thyme and black pepper and top with mascarpone cheese. Drizzle with honey.

I am sure you have seen this recipe around but I gave it my own twist adding thyme and black pepper to accent the sweetness of the peaches and to tie all the flavors together. I was so excited about adding the black pepper and thyme because they definitely added dimension to the taste.

Does anyone have any suggestion how I could have made this shot prettier? I really had a hard time how to make the mascarpone sit beautifully on the peach. I had no room for mistakes. Remember, I eat all the food I photograph. 😛

Needless to say, I am still very blessed.

Philippine Independence Day and Taho

Every June 12, the Philippines celebrates its Independence Day. As a tribute, I decided to make one of the treats I enjoyed as a kid and still, as an adult- Taho. I vividly remember sitting by the front door on early Saturday mornings, clutching 5 pesos in one hand and an empty cup in the other anxiously waiting for the Taho Man (Magtatahô/taho vendor) to pass by. There’s no bell or music to signal his arrival but only a beckon “ta-hooooo!!!” that you can hear from a couple blocks away. Just imagine my delight as he emerges from that corner, with two huge silver canisters dangling on either side only suspended from a bamboo resting on his tired but still strong shoulders as he nears my grandma’s house. Then a little little voice from behind the screen door lets out “taho!” And Mr. Magtataho would come to our front door and dispense the amount he thinks is right for 5 pesos.

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Taho is a Filipino snack that is made of processed tofu. There was this one kid’s show back home that featured how to make this but I was too young to pay attention to what they were doing. There was a lot of stirring with a huge stick from what I remember. Anyway, it’s soft tofu topped with arnibal (caramelized brown sugar) and sago (tapioca pearls). So the Taho Man would peddle 2 buckets, one containing the soft tofu and the other, arnibal and sago. There’s another compartment in the 2nd bucket and that is where the Magtataho puts his earnings. I loved watching the Magtataho scoop the tofu from its bucket flat with a spatula. He would do it with much speed and finesse. It made me want to be a magtataho at one point in my childhood. After he fills my cup with the tofu, I would immediately request “Manong, padagdag ng arnibal” (extra caramel, sir) to which he would gladly oblige. I would ask again if I think my taho is a little bland. Of course, being a kid, I wanted my taho drowning in sugar. I would also ask for extra sago.

Photo courtesy of ngayongaraw.wordpress.com

I have missed a lot of the Taho Man as I grew older. I wonder if he missed me, too. Being a teenager, it became harder to rise early on weekends. Sometimes, my grandfather would be nice enough to buy me a cup but it’s not as much fun as watching my favorite Taho man slide the jiggly tofu into my cup. And my grandfather never requests for extra arnibal and sago so my taho would be pale. And now, I’m here in the US. Taho is even harder to come by. In New Jersey where there’s a Filipino supermart, they would jack the price up because they know how Filipinos love it and would pay anything just to enjoy it again. Until I stumbled upon a grade school classmate’s Facebook. She posted a cup of Taho and asked her where she got it from. She said she made it. Made it? I don’t know if I love it that much to churn and cook soy to turn into a tofu. But she said it was really simple and it really is!

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Ingredients:

  • Soft or silken tofu
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls

Here’s how:

  1. In a small sauce pan, mix brown sugar and water together and bring to boil. Keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for another couple of minutes and set aside. This is your arnibal.
  2. Prepare tapioca pearls according to package instructions and set aside.
  3. Pour soft tofu into a cup or bowl and warm in the microwave. Top with “arnibal” and “sago.” Enjoy!

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Strawberry Tart and Mother’s Day

To my mother, who worked so hard to give me and my siblings everything the world can offer (and then some), thank you! To Mamang who raised me and my sister after taking care of 7 of her own children, I don’t know how you did it. You are superwoman. To my Lola, thank you for bringing a fine gentleman and an officer into this world. I can only imagine the pain you went through watching your first born depart us. But you have always been strong and I am sure Daddy is smiling down upon you. I love all of you and my sincerest thanks go out to you.

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Recipe from Amy of She Wears Many Hats

I saw this recipe last week and stored it in my “recipes to tr” board on Pinterest. i never really planned on making it yet but As soon as I walked in the grocery yesterday, they had a sale on strawberries for $3.49 for 2 pounds. They usually cost $5.99 when out of season. So I grabbed a box right away and headed straight to the freezer aisle to grab me a box of puff pastry. The frozen puff pastry sheet can ba a little pricey. $4.49 for a 2-sheet pack. But for a baking novice like I am, I’d rather spend and extra couple of bucks than an entire afternoon making the perfect pastry dough. And of course, this also circumvents mountainous amount of dishes, which always is such a doozy.

This recipe is super easy. (Even though I still managed to mess it up even after cheating.) I suggest that you thaw this in the fridge so the dough doesn’t stick together. try to unfold the sheet before it gets doughy then put it back in the fridge if you’re not ready to use it yet. Top it with whipped cream or greek yogurt.

Mango Cheesecake

What’s up with me and mangoes these days you say? I honestly have no idea. No, no mango themes whatsoever, just some odd coincidence maybe. I “pin” this incredibly easy mango cheesecake recipe then the following day I find these delicious Ataulfo mangoes at Wegmans. So I guess it’s just the natural progression of things. Although I was pretty upset that I didn’t make Cinco de Mayo dishes. I didn’t even realize that it was May 5th until I got home from the store. Oh well. Anyway, there’s really no other interesting side story to this so let me just get straight to the recipe.

Oh wait, I adapted this recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen. Manjula is just far too adorable. You should check out her youtube channel. I just made some few adjustments, nothing major, I just eliminated cardamom from my recipe.

Before anything else, let me apologize now for the sucky photos.

Mango Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Ataulfo Mangoes, that’s about 3 mangoes
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C crushed Graham crackers
  • 1/3 stick melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon zest and lemon juice (optional)
  • Pan spray

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare round 9″ baking pan and spray with vegetable oil.
  2. In a food processor, add graham crackers and melted butter. Process until crackers are crushed into crumbs. Pour crumbs into the baking pan and press down. Bake for 5 minutes then take out of the oven and allow to cool down.
  3. Place mangoes  into the food processor bowl and process for a couple of seconds. Then add the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch and process for 15-20 seconds. Pour out mixture into the pie crust and bake anywhere between 30-40 minutes.
  4. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and allow to cool down then chill in the fridge for about 2-3 hours before serving.

The recipe, like what I said earlier is really simple yet delicious. Mine turned out REALLY tart. I added the lemon zest and juice to achieve that bright, citrussy note towards the end, but I think I went a little bit overboard. Or maybe it would’ve worked if I didn’t put too much mangoes. The original recipe calls for only 1 huge mango. Manjula used the red kind which are significantly larger that Ataulfo. I may have overcompensated for that. 🙂 And maybe next time I make this, I will try to use the recipe that requires flour and eggs because this is almost like pudding pie only harder? I don’t know if it’s the recipe or that my cake didn’t set very well since I used the same amount of cooking time as Manjula’s where she used only 12 oz. of creamcheese. I don’t know. Maybe the cheese cake experts out there can help me? but this is truly good. Perfect for the summer. Like what I said earlier, it’s a nice break from heavy and dense desserts. It brightens up your palate and this is a perfect summer treat. Hey! Don’t forget Mother’s Day, too!

Edit: In Manjula’s recipe, she placed all the ingredients together. I decided to process the mango for a couple of seconds before adding the cream cheese. In this manner, I don’t over process the cream cheese by trying to break down all the mango pieces. I also used cream cheese straight out of the fridge. This gave me more room to correct the mixture and not lose the integrity of the cream cheese. I used regular cream cheese and not the reduced or fat free variety. I don’t know but my head tells me I need all the fat to hold the dessert together. i don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.