Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mmmmm pancakes

A major craving (not to mention a raging hangover) has fuelled my recent foray into making American (as opposed to the French) style pancakes from scratch (and without the help of Bisquick). It's surprising easy, you probably already have all the ingredients in the cupboard and they taste pretty damn fine (even when not hungover). Even The Boy has converted and hasn't bitched about been fed pancakes the last three weekends in place of his favourite eggs on toast. Mind you I did bribe him with a side of bacon...

Anyone brought up on pancakes knows that there are many choices when it comes to flavouring these puppies. Mashed up banana was tops as a kid, chocolate chips worked into the mix gives you that extra sugar high- extras can go in the mix or on top it's up to you. In the picture above I topped the stack with summer berries- freshly picked strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries- and since I was put of maple syrup, I drizzled a little of the syrup from a jar of stem ginger. DELISH!

Fluffy American Pancakes

Makes 10 small pancakes


3 eggs- separated
120 g. plain flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
150 ml. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix the yolks and the vanilla. Mix in the milk. Add the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt. Put to one side.

Whisk the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. You can add a knob of butter if you want a light buttery taste.

Using a tea cup, pour the mix into the skillet so that you have two or three round pancakes.

It's time to flip the pancakes when they form little holes all over the top side of the pancake- it's almost swiss cheese like holes. You'll know when you see it but allow roughly three to four minutes on each side. Don't worry if you think one side has cooked more than the other- you can flip it back over and cook it to your liking.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I was feeling very American and was craving BBQ sauce. I'm not a fan of the bottled variety and usually go out to satisfy this kind of craving but I was determined to use up things in the kitchen so I made up my own.

Amazingly it isn't that difficult to make your own sauce and you are smug in the knowledge that you know what is in it. I wanted something smoky with a kick to it- so I added a bit of the pureed chipotle paste I keep in the fridge (just blitz a can of chipotles in adobo and put in a sealable jar).

This is a piece of cake- it's good with steak too.

Xoch's Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce
Enough for 4 drumsticks with plenty leftover to dip in

4 tbsp. ketchup (to add to your feelings of smugness use an organic version)
2 tbsp. Chipotle paste
3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. Worcester sauce

Mix everything together in a bowl until well blended.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I love presents. It's therefore only natural that I should love EBBP. EBBP for the unfamiliar stands for Euro Blogging By Post. The easiest way to describe it is like Secret Santa across Europe and with food. It felt like Christmas in July. The way it works is one person (in this case it was Jeanne from Cook Sister) coordinates the names of all the participants and sorts out who each of us have to send a package to. My Asian inspired package went to Petra in Germany.

Once I sent my box off, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my package. Who would be sending it? Where would it be sent from? What would they put in there? A few days later there was a little box in front of my door from Switzerland. Like a kid at Christmas I ripped open the box and was greeted with lovely wrapped collection of goodies. Here's what Pam at Posie's Place sent me:

Polenta with truffles- I hope to make this up this week
Fruit and nut mix- which Pam likes to snack on when sat outside with a glass of wine and which are on my desk at work for my afternoon snack
Tandoori Masala spice mix- with curry recipe included
Home grown and home dried chilis- which I plan to use in a salsa
Fondue- a small pot of fondue that although it's not very summery she was persuaded by a friend to include it as she felt fondue was fab all year long (sorry- it's missing from the picture above)
Zitronen Lackerli- A gingerbready, hazelnutty, lemony biscuit that I love and have hidden away while I debate whether or not to share.
And since it was the national day in her region, Pam sent me a little candle with the Swiss flag on it.

There was a sweet note included as well as a recipe for a curry that I hope to make soon as I am on a curry kick at the moment. I love my package and can't wait to make everything. Thank you Pam- my apologies for not having a chance to write this up sooner. If you're intrigued and wondering what else was sent out, here is Jeanne's round up.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I heart tortillas

Growing up in my house meant that no meal was complete unless my Mexican father had his tortillas by his side - even if we were eating a Chinese takeaway. There were (and still are) two camps in the house; those that only ate flour tortillas and those who ate the corn version. The children always seem to prefer the comforting softness of the flour ones while the grown ups went for the hearty coarseness of the corn tortillas.

With all the interest in Mexican cooking, there hasn’t been enough praise heaped on the humble tortilla. Yes, it makes a meal when eaten as fajitas or enchiladas, but the possibilities are endless. It is the ultimate midnight munchies fix, it makes a tasty breakfast on the go or, as it was when I was growing up, an after-school snack.

Below are some quick and easy recipes that are staples in my house. Use it as a springboard to try other things in a tortilla. As The Boy likes to say- Everything tastes better in a tortilla! But please promise me that you will warm them- eating a tortilla cold is just wrong.

Avocado Burrito
This was my favourite after school snack as a kid. It is my comfort food as an adult and always hits the spot when nothing else will do.
Serves 1

½ avocado
1 tortilla

Warm the tortilla on both sides. Add slices of avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roll into a burrito.

Breakfast Burrito
Serves 1

1-2 eggs
2 strips of bacon
½ tomato, sliced
2 mushrooms, sliced
1 tortilla

Cook up all the ingredients (except the tortilla) as if making a breakfast fry-up. Put the cooked ingredients in the tortilla and roll into a burrito.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

That finishing touch...

A few years ago I was given my grandmother's cookbook that was started in the 1940s and by looks of some of the pictures and recipes went through to the 60s. Inside is a mix of handwritten recipes and ripped pages from various magazines. Some days I have a look through and toy with the idea of making her Lemon Meringue Pie that was legendary (as was her Cheese Torte), other days I have a look and giggle at some of the moulded and jellified dishes that were the fashion of the day.

Having a look through recently I came across this snippet of garnishing advice that gave me a laugh (especially since it seems that all of last month's magazines had features on plating food or styling for photography). I don't know where it came from or when but it's great nonetheless. Click on the picture for a closer view.

My favourites are "spoon jelly on sliced cold meat" and "tuck a lemon leaf under a sherbet".


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Spice Rub Grilled Chicken

It never occurred to me how obsessed I am with grilling things until I started this blog. I love outdoor barbecues, I love indoor grill pans, I love summer barbecues, I love winter barbecues, it doesn't matter if it's chicken, beef or veg, there is something very relaxing about eating grilled food. On this occasion it was about using up some chicken thighs in the fridge. I raided the spice shelf and made up this rub that has a gentle kick and a tasty saltiness about it. It was good right away with a salad (I ate it with my remoulade) but it was great the next day chopped into a green salad.

Spice Rub Chicken

Serves 4-6

1 tsp of each of the following:

whole cumin seed
ground ginger
ground coriander
crushed chilli flakes
yellow mustard seed

2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil

400-500g of chicken (it can be anything- I used chicken thighs)

Grind the cumin seed, chilli flakes and mustard seed in a mortar and pestle so that the spices are lightly crushed. Mix in the remaining spices and the salt and lightly crush some of the sea salt.

Rub the spice mixture on the chicken. Add the olive oil and rub into the spice coating chicken.

Marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

The chicken can be grilled, roasted or pan fried; cooking times will vary depending on method and chicken cut used.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Celeriac Remoulade

Lured in by the thought of getting The Boy to try a new vegetable after reading of a restaurant that puts celeriac in it's mac n'cheese- a trick that convinced him that broad beans weren't evil- I bought myself a bulb/root/ whatever it's called of celeriac. I didn't get round to making the mac n'cheese but I did fancy something to eat with some cold cuts. I whipped up my version of the classic French bistro delight that is celery remoulade (or how I describe it to people who have never had it- French coleslaw). I'm not really big on mayo so my version is light and tangy. Serve as a side for anything ranging from cured meats to leftover roast chicken.

Celery Remoulade
Serves 4-6


400g celeriac
1/2 lemon
100g mayonaise
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
3 cornichons, finely chopped
10 capers, rinsed of salt and finely chopped
large pinch of Herbes de Provence

Wash any dirt off the celeriac and strip away the outer layer using a vegetable peeler. Coarsely grate the celeriac and squeeze the lemon over to prevent the celeriac from turning brown. Put to one side.

In a medium sized bowl mix the mayo, mustard, cornichons, capers and Herbes de Provence.

Add the celeriac and mix until the celeriac has a light coating of dressing on it.