A steam patisserie, Rachel Khoo & brioche buns!

I love new toys. Kitchen toys, that is. One of my friends once described me as ‘would choose to buy a fancy kitchen gadget over a designer handbag’ – and I have to admit that she was (and still is) absolutely right.

It was thus unsurprising that I was excited to hear bout the Miele range of combination steam appliances. Whilst I have vaguely heard about steam ovens, I have never properly understood how they work, and why someone would want one. So I decided to go along to the Miele ‘Steam Patisserie’, which hoped to showcase the diversity and adaptability of baking with steam – and also featured a few Rachel Khoo creations, which she created specially for this event. We also got to meet her, which was a definite plus!

So yes. Steam combination ovens.

The ‘steam’ component comes from the humidity setting, which can range from 0-100%. There are 3 ways you can use it:

  • Keep the humidity at 0% = conventional oven.
  • Switch off the ‘oven’ function and only use the ‘steam’ function = steamer
  • Use both the humidity and oven functions = combination steam oven

I was particularly interested in the combination steam mode, as I often bake with a water bath, or throw chilled water into the oven to create steam. We were also told that the oven can also be used to reheat food (a la microwave), but this would take double the time needed in a microwave. The advantage would obviously be the ability to heat more than one plate of food at a time!

Whilst I loved the concept, I felt that the oven was a little small. In an ideal world, I would want to only have one oven. Miele are however already on the case, and are currently developing larger (64L capacity) steam combination oven. The oven is also naturally more costly than the conventional oven.

miele steam patisserie 3 miele steam patisserie 4 miele steam patisserie 5 miele steam patisserie 6
miele steam patisserie 8 miele steam patisserie 10

Most importantly, the treats served at the Steam Patisserie were delicious. It obviously helped that everything was served in beautiful mismatched vintage china (which seems to be the new ‘in’ thing). I must admit that I would love to own such a collection… I doubt R will agree though, bearing in mind my already vast collection of mismatched plates/bowls. Ha.

But going back to the food – my favourite was the brioche bun, which was delightfully light, yet had a nice crust. I naturally had to recreate this at home (in a conventional oven with ‘water throwing’), and I am glad to say it turned out very well indeed. I made a few small substitutions as always, but I have kept the recipe below very similar to the original.

Many thanks to Miele for inviting me along to this event, and to Cesar & Dominic, who took the time to chat and explain their steam combination range to us.

Brioche buns
Makes 12-14 buns
Recipe from Rachel Khoo/Miele Patisserie of Steam

For the buns:

  • 240g strong white flour
  • 25g castor sugar
  • 5g salt
  • 2 tsp dried instant yeast
  • 70ml milk (I usually use cold milk)
  • 2 medium eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened + cubed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 30g Parmesan (or any other hard cheese), coarsely grated
  • 50g French saucisson (or any other ham), sliced into thin matchsticks

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk

Method:

  • Place flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the dough hook).
  • Add the milk and eggs, and mix on low speed for 2 minutes until a very rough dough forms. Increase the speed to medium, and mix for 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms.
  • Turn the mixer down to low speed. Gradually add in the cubed butter, and mix until the butter is fully incorporated. You may need to use a dough scraper/spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl, to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Lastly, add in the herbs, grated cheese and saucisson. Mix on low speed for 10-15 seconds, or until they are fully incorporated into the dough.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a teatowel, and leave to rise until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 180’C (fan).
  • Portion the dough into 12-14 equal sizes (depending on how large you want your buns!). Shape the portioned dough into smooth rounds, and place on lined baking trays. Remember to space the buns as they will rise/get bigger in the oven. Leave to rise again for 15 minutes.
  • Glaze the brioche buns with the egg yolk/milk mixture.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the buns are golden. You may place/throw
  • Leave to cool slightly, then eat!

* I attended the event as a guest of Miele, but all views expressed are my own.

[instagrammed] Homemade granola

I am not a morning person. In fact, if I had the choice my day would only begin at 12pm. As this isn’t actually possible, I try to find ways to make my mornings a little more bearable. Enter homemade granola.

I’ve tried many granola recipes over the years, but this one is currently my favourite. It’s an (adapted) recipe from one of my favourite restaurants, Eleven Madison Park – so it really wasn’t much of a surprise when it turned out so well.

I tend to use either dried strawberries or cranberries in the granola, depending on what I have lying around. But feel free to use any dried fruit that takes your fancy – that’s the beauty of homemade granola, you get to personalise it and make it your own. Add in a dollop of Greek yogurt and milk = perfection!

granola 2

Homemade granola
Makes approximately 6 cups
Adapted from an Eleven Madison Park recipe

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups rye flakes
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 cup dried strawberries

1. Preheat your oven to 145’C.
2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, rye flakes, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and salt. Set aside.
3. Place the brown sugar, maple syrup, and olive oil in a small pan. Heat the pan over low heat, until the sugar has just dissolved.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the warm mixture over the dry oat mixture – be sure to coat the oat mixture well.
5. Spread the granola mixture on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper, or a silicone baking sheet). Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Stir the granola every 10 minutes or so to ensure even browning.
6. Remove the granola from the oven, and mix in the dried strawberries.
7. Once the granola has cooled completely, transfer to a storage container (an airtight one is preferable).

[instagrammed] – Pea & spelt pancakes

I’ve got a confession: I’m a lazy blogger. There, I said it.

Considering how much I cook (I cook most days), I should be blogging a lot more often than I do – but I don’t. Mainly because it takes time to set up a “proper” photograph for the blog.. and I am usually hungry. This is coming from someone who doesn’t even set up a proper backdrop with props like a lot of the other amazing bloggers out there.

Which is why instagram is brilliant for someone like me – I snap a quick photo of the dish (ok, sometimes two or three photos), and voila, time to eat! A few people have said that I should do recipe ‘mini posts’ based on my instagram photos… and after thinking about it, I think it makes a lot of sense. So here goes! Photo is taken straight from instagram, with no further editing done. Simples. ( If you want to see more instagram photos, do follow me @breadetbutter – and if you see something you like, give me a shout and I’ll try to post a recipe here on the blog if possible. )

p.s. These were inspired by this recipe on Aran’s blog.

Pea & spelt pancakes
Makes 8 pancakes (approximately 3.5 inches wide)

For the pancakes:

  • 250g peas
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 5 tbsp spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pepper and salt, to taste (I use just under 1/2 teaspoon of each)
  • 3 eggwhites

To serve:

  • Smoked salmon
  • Greek yogurt (I usually add a squeeze of lemon juice to the yogurt)
  • Chives, cut finely (alternatively, use dill)

1. Cook peas in salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until they are tender. Take care to not overcook them/let them turn mushy. Remove the peas from the pot and place in a medium sized bowl.
2. Add milk to the peas, then roughly mash the peas. You can use a potato masher, fork, handheld blender, or even a food processor. I like having bits of peas to bite into, so I don’t mash it finely.
3. Add the flour, baking soda, pepper, and salt to the bowl containing the mashed peas. Stir with a spatula/spoon until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk the eggwhites until stiff peaks form.
5. Fold the eggwhites into the pea mixture in two batches. It’s alright to have a few small lumps of eggwhites running through the batter, it’s better than overmixing!
6. Heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour 1/3 cup of pancake batter into the pan. Flip the pancake when you start to see bubbles on the surface, or when the edges start to dry up.
7. Repeat with remaining pancake batter, until all batter is used up.
8. Serve with smoked salmon, greek yogurt and chives.

Hot cross buns

I’ve realised recently that for someone who bakes a fair amount of bread/buns, I haven’t written many blog posts about them. In fact, I found some photos of sausage buns which I took TWO YEARS ago… still waiting to be blogged. (And I’ve made them at least 5 times since the photos were taken!). I suspect that a lot of the time I’m too lazy to take proper photos of the bread/buns, and just tweet a photo of it.
 

So when I made these hot cross buns over the weekend, I thought it would be a good excuse to break the ‘haven’t blogged much about bread’ habit. When taking the photos of these, I realised that I haven’t taken proper photos of my food in a very long time…. I blame Instagram! So much easier to just take a photo of the meal on the stove. No need for any fancy stuff. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even style her photos very much – I truly have great respect and admiration for all the bloggers out there who take so much time and effort to style their food/photos.

But I digress. As usual.

I tweaked my recipe for Asian buns to make these sausage buns, primarily I am a firm believer in the ‘sponge + dough’ method when it comes to baking bread. It truly produces bread that stays soft for days, without the need for things like bread improvers. There is also the ‘tangzhong’ method of making bread, which involves cooking flour + water for the ‘starter’ (equivalent to the ‘sponge’), and also produces lasting, soft bread.

R isn’t a huge fan of raisins & sultanas, so I decided to make these with dried cranberries and dried apples. But truth be told, you can use any dried fruit you want – I think it is important that you enjoy what you eat, no point a hot cross bun being ‘authentic’ if you don’t like something in it. I felt like I didn’t add enough fruit into the buns, so will have to up the amount next time. (I’ve done this in the recipe below.)

I also decided to make them in two forms: 1) ‘pull apart’ form, baked in a 8″ cake tin 2) individual buns. Although the individual buns turned out prettier, I think I prefer the ‘pull apart’ ones as they look more homemade. 🙂

Speaking of homemade, my attempt at piping the crosses is so laughable. :/ I was too lazy to get a piping bag (Can make bread but noooo am too lazy to use piping bag. Sigh.) so used a ziplock bag… which unfortunately had a gusset, which meant I ended up with a massive gaping hole when I snipped off the edge of the bag, leading thicker crosses than I originally planned. Note to self: laziness never pays.

Hot cross buns
Makes approx 13-14 buns (I had 9 ‘pull apart’ buns, and 4 individual buns)

For the sponge dough:

  • 300g bread flour
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 180-200g water (I use cold water from the tap)
  • 3g salt

For the main dough:

  • 125g bread flour
  • 30g soy bran (optional – replace with wheatgerm/bread flour)
  • 20g milk powder
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 30g sugar
  • 6g salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dried apples*
  • 1.5 cups dried cranberries*

For piping paste:

  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup water

To glaze:

  • Apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp boiling water

Making the sponge dough:
1. Mix the bread flour, instant yeast and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, and mix with the dough hook attachment. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do this with a spatula.
2. Pour in the water slowly whilst mixing the ingredients together – the aim is to get a dough that is firm and dry to the touch. It should form a nice round ball. (You’ll find that you need more water when it’s cold, less when it’s humid.)
3. Add the salt, then continue to mix with the dough hook attachment for approximately 10 minutes.
4. Leave the sponge dough in a well oiled bowl in the refrigerator for 12 hours. (I usually make the sponge the night before, and leave it in the fridge overnight.)

Mixing the sponge dough with the main dough component:
5. When the sponge dough is ready, place it into the bowl of your stand mixer.
6. Add in the bread flour, soy bran, milk powder, instant yeast, sugar, and eggs. Mix on low speed (using the dough hook) for 2-3 minutes.
7. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, add in the salt, allspice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg & ground ginger, and continue mixing for 5 minutes.
8. Add the softened butter, dried cranberries & dried apples and continue to mix for 7-10 minutes until the dough is fully developed. (You should be able to get a nice thin “windowpane” membrane when stretching the dough between your fingers.)
9. Form the dough into a ball and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.
10. Divide the dough into portions of approximately 80g each, form into little rounds, and place on lightly oiled baking tray. (You can either make them as individual buns, or place them close together in a square/round cake tin to form ‘pull apart’ hot cross buns.)
11. Leave to rise for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
12. Once the buns have risen, prepare the piping paste by mixing the flour and water together, till the form a thick smooth paste. Add more flour/water if you feel the paste is too runny/thick (I find that it’s rather variable!) Place mix into a piping bag, and pipe crosses on the buns.
13. Bake in 190’C oven for 10-12 minutes, until the buns turn golden brown.
14. Whilst the buns are still warm, glaze with the apricot jam + boiling water mix.
15. Eat!

* Replace with fruit of your choice

I hope everyone is having a lovely Easter weekend! 🙂

Chee cheong fun (steamed rice rolls)

Anyone who enjoys dim sum usually knows what chee cheong fun is. Chee cheong fun is essentially steamed rice rolls (either filled or unfilled), served with a sweet/savoury sauce. The ‘Cantonese’ version of chee cheong fun is usually filled, be it with prawns, char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), fish, or yu tiao (fried dough sticks). It is usually served with a simple soy sauce. On the other hand, the ‘Malaysian’ version is usually unfilled, and is served with sesame seeds and a slightly sweet sauce that is made from hae kor (prawn paste).

When I was growing up, I always preferred the ‘Cantonese’ prawn filled chee cheong fun, simply because they were harder to find where I lived. Do bear in mind that this was in the 1990s/early 2000’s, and things might well have changed now. But since coming to England, I now prefer the unfilled chee cheong fun – partly because it is now the more ‘elusive’ version. I really do seem to enjoy making life difficult for myself, don’t I?

I’d seen a number of recipes for chee cheong fun on other blogs, and bookmarked them knowing that I’d have to try to making them at home, because I was curious about how they’d turn out. I’d heard that it was notoriously difficult to get thin sheets of the rice mixture, but as they say, you don’t know till you’ve tried it.

And now, having attempted making homemade chee cheong fun, I can concur and say that yes, it is really difficult to get thin rice sheets. I steamed my rice mixture on a plate, and although I thought that I was using a very minute amount of mixture… I was wrong. My chee cheong fun turned out at least double (if not triple) the normal thickness of chee cheong fun! Having said that, it was still delicious. Just a little on the thick side though, which as any dim sum loving person will tell you, just doesn’t cut it.

Restaurants normally steam their chee cheong fun on large pieces of muslin cloth placed on a special tray with holes, which helps to achieve the ‘barely there’ paper thin rice rolls. I presume that one should be able to replicate this by using a muslin cloth placed on a pizza tray (which has holes in it), but unfortunately my pan isn’t large enough to accomodate my pizza tray, so I guess I’ll never know!

I made my chee cheong fun sauce from a very ‘estimated’/’agak-agak’ recipe. This essentially means I added in ingredients as I tasted the mixture, trying to get the sauce as close as possible to the version I grew up eating. The recipe below is a rough estimate of ingredient quantities, I suggest that you taste the sauce as you go along to adapt it to your preference.

Chee cheong fun
Based on this recipe on Baking Mum

For the chee cheong fun (rice rolls):

  • 150g rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wheat starch
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp corn oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp kicap manis (alternatively you may use dark soya sauce + a pinch of sugar)
  • 2 tbsp hae kor (prawn paste)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil

For garnishing:

  • Sesame seeds

1. Sift the rice flour, wheat starch, and cornflour into a large bowl.
2. Slowly add the water to the flour mixture, whilst stirring the mixture with a spatula.
3. Add the oil and salt, and mix until it forms a smooth mixture. I sieved my mixture to ensure there were no lumps. Leave batter to rest for an hour.
4. Make the sauce for your chee cheong fun whilst the batter is resting. To make the sauce, mix the soy sauce, kicap manis, hae kor, water and sesame oil together, till it forms a smooth paste.
5. Prepare your steamer.
6. Grease a pan/tray/plate with oil, and pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into the pan/tray/plate. (I used a 20cm plate – you may need more or less batter depending on the size of your pan/tray/plate.) You are aiming for a very thin layer of batter, and you should be able to see the surface of the pan/tray/plate through the batter. Steam for 3-4 minutes.
7. Remove the steamed rice roll sheet from the pan/tray/plate, and roll it up to form a ‘swiss roll’. Repeat with the remaining batter.
8. Serve your chee cheong fun with its accompanying sauce, topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

New York: Lobster rolls, Korean fried chicken, Burgers, and Arepas!

I ate a lot (and I do mean a LOT) when I was in New York, but one of the most memorable foods I tried was the lobster roll at Luke’s Lobster.

I mean, just look at that baby. Chunks of perfectly cooked lobster, sandwiched between the lightest bread roll imaginable – and they even fry the roll in butter so it’s perfectly crisp. They keep it simple at Luke’s, and the roll is simply seasoned with a dash of pepper and some mayo – but my goodness it’s good. It was utter perfection. I’d heard a lot about lobster rolls (mostly from Catty), and now I know exactly why she was raving about them.

The only bad thing about those lobster rolls are the fact that I can’t get them here. Hawksmoor Seven Dials do have lobster rolls on their menu, but I honestly cannot stomach paying £25 for a lobster roll, especially not when it only costs $15 in New York. Sigh. Luke’s Lobster has absolutely spoilt me, for life.

There are several branches of Luke’s Lobster around New York – I went to the one in the Upper East Side, as well as the one in East Village. Whilst the Upper East Side store has more seats and had a better atmosphere, I preferred the East Village one. This is primarily because there was an excellent arepa bar right next to Luke’s Lobster East Village…

Luke’s Upper East Side
242 East 81st Street (southwest corner of 81st St and 2nd Ave)
212.249.4241

Luke’s East Village
93 East 7th Street (northeast corner of 7th St and 1st Ave)
212.387.8487
www.lukeslobster.com/

So Luke’s is next to an arepa bar. But what are arepas? I won’t lie, I had no idea either. Stephane mentioned Caracas Arepa Bar to me, and I was intrigued by it as its definitely not something I’ve seen in London. They are very popular in Venezuela and throughout Latin America. The best description of arepas are probably found on Caracas’ website:

Pale gold arepas, made from scratch daily, they have been described as “dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle…”

Their menu is divided into several sections: Arepas, Empanadas, Salads, Plates, Sidekicks, Beverages and Desserts. The arepa section of the menu is designed for quick ordering and serving, and are coded A1-A20.

Papelón con limón ($3.50) This was a refreshing blend of dehydrated sugar cane and limes – this was very good, and brought me back to my younger years *cough* where I used to drink it (I fondly remember it as “air tebu”).

We also tried Yoyos ($5.50), which were described as fried sweet plantain balls stuffed with white cheese on the menu. It sounded so strange that I simply had to try it. I mean, plantains and cheese? Really?? But you know what, it wasn’t bad at all! Taste wise, it reminded me of kuih kodok, a Malaysian kuih made from bananas and flour.

But of course, I was here for the arepas – which were delicious. We tried a a few different flavour combinations, but my favourite was the A20 – La Sureña ($ 7.50). This arepa was filled with grilled chicken and chorizo, paired with avocado slices, and topped with enigmatic spicy chimi-churri sauce. Caracas also has a special sauce which can be used with pretty much everything you order – and you know what, it was seriously addictive. I have no idea what was in it, but I suspect it was a mixture of herbs and possibly mango/papaya. R loved the sauce, and liberally doused his arepa in it.

A15 Los Muchachos ($7): grilled chorizo, spicy white cheese with jalapeños and sauteed peppers

A18 La de Pernil ($7): roasted pork shoulder with tomato slices and a spicy mango sauce

A word of warning though – arepas are NOT date food. It gets messy, especially if you order an arepa with a stew based filling. So yes, not a good place for first dates. Otherwise its a total win.

We also tried an empanada, just because. The De Carne Mechada ($5.75) was filled with shredded beef, and was pretty good. I have to admit that my favourite bit of the the whole thing was the crispyness of the perfectly deep-fried pastry. So calorific, but oh-soooo-good.

Caracas Arepa Bar (Manhattan)
93 1/2 E 7th Street (corner of 1st Ave)
212.529.2314
http://www.caracasarepabar.com/

One of the other things I was really looking forward to trying was Korean fried chicken. I’d been told to try Kyochon, and so I did. And I almost cried with joy (and heat) when I took my first bite of their delicious DOUBLE fried chicken wings. That right people, double fried. These were by far, the best fried chicken wings I have had. Ever. The double frying process makes for a very crispy chicken wing, and I wolfed everything down, skin and all. I usually try to not eat too much chicken skin, but Kyochon chicken skins were too good to not eat. After all I couldn’t let R have all the fun now could I?

The chicken wings come in two flavours, Soy & Garlic and Hot & Sweet. You can either get them in Regular ($17.99) or Large ($25.99). I honestly cannot remember how many wings were in the Large box, if anyone knows please let me know. There were at least 20, I think. But yes, the flavours. I am forever grateful to the lady at the counter who suggested we order half and half (we were going to get an entire box of spicy wings), because the hot wings were very, very spicy. I was tearing up, my nose was running, and my mouth was on fire. So if you’re not someone who can tolerate ultra spicy things (I love chilli, but this was honestly too much for me!), I would highly recommend going for the Soy & Garlic version. Much more enjoyable when you’re not feeling like you might just burst into flames at any moment.

I believe Kyochon also sell some other food items, but I have no idea what they are. All I wanted (and tried) was the chicken wings. There is also Bonchon (just a few steps away) that serve Korean fried chicken, but I didn’t get a chance to try their version. They *so* need to bring Korean fried chicken to London….

Kyochon
319 5th Ave (corner of 32nd Street)
http://www.kyochon.us/

And of course, I could not have gone to New York and not tried the burgers at Shake Shack. I’d checked out their menu beforehand (because that’s exactly what food obsessed people do) and was particularly intrigued by the Shake Stack.

I’m not surprised I was intrigued by the sound of it. The Shake Stack ($8.50) is one of the BEST burgers I have ever sunk my teeth into. It was essentially a cheeseburger served with a crisp fried portebello mushroom, topped with melted muenster and cheddar cheese. There was also the usual burger toppings – lettuce, tomato and their very own ShakeSauce. I always choose to add a portebello mushroom to my burger when I’m at Byron (I like the extra meatiness it brings to the burger), and having it deep fried with a crisp crust was simply a-ma-zing. I thought the beef was good, but not as good as the beef at Byron – but when it comes to the topping/crispy portebello mushroom/cheese stakes…. Shake Shack wins. Hands down.

We also tried the Cheeseburger (Single $4.00, Double $6.50). One thing I noticed about the burgers in New York was how good the cheese was. I’m not sure what cheese they used, but there just seemed to be more of it, and it seemed a lot more flavoursome than the cheese we get in burgers back in London. This cheeseburger was no exception. Whilst it was good, it just didn’t have a crispy portebello mushroom…

Shake Shack also do Frozen Custards, which is a mix of soft serve and ice cream. They cycle the flavours, and there is a daily special – which means you could go there every single day of the week and get a different flavour each day. I must admit that I didn’t get a chance to try this, but I will definitely aim to try it the next time I find myself in a Shake Shack. That is the down side of constant snacking… there’s less space for heavy duty things like shakes.

Shake Shack (Theater District)
691 8th Avenue (southwest corner of 8th Ave and 44th St)
646.435.0135
http://www.shakeshack.com/

I also have to mention Five Guys Burger, which was only a few blocks away from our hotel. Whilst I didn’t think they were as delicious as the Shake Shack burgers, what I liked was how you could personalize your burger. When ordering, you get a whole list of toppings to choose from, and you can pick as many/as little as you like. So beware if you order a cheeseburger, and say “no” to toppings – that will mean you don’t even get lettuce with your burger!

The best thing about Five Guys Burger was their Cajun Chips. Perfectly fried chips, with a delicious spiced powder blend doused liberally over them. There were hints of paprika, cumin, and probably at least 5 other spices. We got a regular serving of fries (which was HUGE), became full halfway through, but still continued eating them because they were too good. And then proceeded to feel absolutely stuffed for the next 2 hours, but it was worth it. Also, I don’t think there was a time when I wasn’t feeling stuffed in New York anyhow.

Five Guys Burger
36 W 48th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
212-997-1271
http://www.fiveguys.com/

I think I need to start planning my next trip to New York… soon.

Ham and cheese pancakes

There’s nothing more irresistible than a stack of freshly cooked pancakes. Maybe its the novelty of it being a “weekend” breakfast, or maybe its the excuse to overindulge in maple syrup – who knows?

Some of you probably know that my favourite pancakes are Bill Granger’s ricotta hotcakes. Truth be told, I’ve not made any other types of pancakes since I discovered those little morsels of goodness… (I don’t make pancakes very often – I’m usually too hungry and therefore lack the patience to make them). But since Pancake Tuesday was coming up, I figured that it was time to try something new.

Whilst I’ve got a massive sweet tooth, I do still love a good savoury dish. So I thought to myself “I should try to make a savoury pancake”. And so I did.

I adapted Bill Granger’s (yes Bill again) buttermilk pancake recipe to make these – I left out the sugar, and added some salt and pepper in its place. I also separated the egg whites and yolks, and beat the whites separately before folding them into the pancake mixture. This is because I have found that this results in a lighter, fluffier pancake.

I served the pancakes with some honey roasted ham and gouda cheese, and topped the pancake stack with some salad leaves and a drizzle of truffle infused oil. And you know what, it was a brilliant combination. A refreshing change from sweet pancakes, especially if you’re not a fan of sweet breakfast/brunch dishes. Definitely something I will be making again. 🙂 I might even experiment with adding the ham and cheese into the actual pancake batter…

Do try this if you’re in the mood for something a little different!

Happy Pancake Day, everyone!

Ham & cheese pancake stack
Adapted from a recipe in Bill’s Food

For the pancakes:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk*
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, separated

To serve:

  • Ham
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Salad leaves (optional)
  • Truffle infused oil (optional)

1. Place the flour, baking powder, baking powder, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix well.
2. Add the egg yolks, melted butter and buttermilk to the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Don’t worry if there are still some lumps in the mixture – don’t be tempted to overmix as it will result in a dense and stodgy pancake.
3. Whip the egg whites (in a stand mixer or with a handheld whisk) until they form soft peaks.
4. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter mixture, until just combined.
5. Spoon 1/2 cup of batter into a oiled non-stick pan over medium high heat. Flip the pancake when bubbles start to appear on the surface of the pancake, and when the edges are starting to dry out. Once flipped, cook for a further minute. Remove and keep warm.
6. Repeat with remaining pancake batter, until all the batter is used up.
7. Serve with ham, cheese, salad leaves and a drizzle of truffle infused oil.

*No buttermilk? Make your own – add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup milk. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Voila, homemade buttermilk!