Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ambitious Kitchen’s Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

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Pancakes! Who doesn’t like pancakes? Not anyone I know of yet. They may be the first item I learned to make from scratch but the variety and methods can really mess with your head, especially when one grows up in an environment where influences in food comes from everywhere.

Couple of months back, I had procured myself a 500g pack of quinoa. It is a pseudo-cereal that is considered to be a superfood, as it is high in protein, magnesium and iron and is a good source of fiber and phosphorus. It is also a source of calcium. Fancy isn’t it, for something that cooks like cous cous and look a bit like it too. Well, with quinoa in the kitchen, I figured I should do something with it. And then, came Monique’s Ambitious Kitchen with this wonderful creation! It is flavourful and, oh so, wholesome! So here is the adapted recipe:

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Ingredients
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup of raw quinoa will yield 1 cup of cooked quinoa)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons of milk of your choice (skim, soy, almond, coconut)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add vanilla and lemon juice and whisk again. Next gently fold in blueberries.

Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter or cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter or cooking spray and remaining batter.

Makes about 8 pancakes. Top with fruit preserves, peanut butter, or maple syrup.

Note: I had used a ladle to pour the batter in the skillet. In my case, the yield holds constant at 6 pancakes per batch. And you know, I always eat my pancakes with maple syrup. For these, I will serve it up with some lemon wedges for that extra lemony taste and extra fresh blueberries.

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Laura Vitale’s Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

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One day, while trying to find something to watch on YouTube, I came across Laura Vitale’s cooking channel. The first things that caught my eyes were the words “Summer Desserts” and Laura’s thumbs up gesture. And of course, the bright blue background. I had immediately thought to myself, “I should watch this because it is perpetual summer here!” So, I clicked into that. Laura’s directions was clear and concise and with a cooking video where you can pause and replay any moment you want, I find it extremely helpful.

Was I inspired to make those lemon blueberry cupcakes after watching it? Very much so! However, as with nearly every dessert recipe, I am very careful with the amount of sugar used. I know it is important to have sugar in the batter (Chemistry!) but we have a lower threshold for sweet goods. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy sweet things, it is just we prefer the sugar amounts to be less. And by we, I mean, my family and friends 🙂 So, here is Laura Vitale’s Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes recipe. It makes 12.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar (She used 1 cup)
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (She used whole milk, I only have low-fat)
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
½ tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh blueberries
Frosting
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp lemon zest
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C, line a 12-piece cupcake tin with liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In another small bowl, add in the blueberries and ¼ cup of the dry ingredients, mix them around with a spoon so that the blueberries are coated in the flour mixture, set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand held whisk, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and incorporate well.

Add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until it’s well incorporated.

Add half of the dry ingredients and half of the milk to the wet and mix them in to combine but make sure you don’t over mix. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and milk and mix to incorporate.

Using a spatula, fold in the blueberry and flour mixture making sure not to break them up too much.

Using a large ice cream scoop, divide your batter evenly in lined muffin tin. Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
In a large bowl using a handheld whisk, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until you have a creamy frosting.

Pipe or spoon onto each cupcake.

Note: I had piped them and would make double batch of the frosting as there wasn’t enough frosting to go around all the cupcakes.

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This here is a “healthy version”, with a little bit of icing to tempt your senses but not enough to make you feel guilty!

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Soenke and I had a blast eating them. It was really yummy and the cream cheese frosting is a saver as a go-to lemon cream cheese frosting. Make some today!

Acar

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Some time back, I had an inkling for some pickles. Soenke, my husband extraordinaire, loves pickles. Gherkins, to be precise. I only enjoy them in burgers and sandwiches. Never as a snack, never by itself. The pickles I crave for are of a Southeast Asian variety. Memories tell me that the palate sensations of crunchiness, sweetness, sourness, spiciness and nuttiness equals total syokness or enjoyment. At the same time, I needed something to go with our dinner. Thus, letting me narrow down on to acar.

Having not made this before (Mom didn’t make this either in the past), I went to my best friend, Google, for help. Google brought me to this website, Rasa Malaysia, for the recipe. I had followed roughly the recipe for the spice paste (It sounded too spicy to me!) and opted for my own choice of suspects for pickling in my acar. Also made some changes here and there to create the acar as pictured in my head. That said, thank you Rasa Malaysia for the inspiration.

Here is an adapted version of the acar recipe (I apologize for not being able to provide an accurate weight on some of the ingredients, please use the famous Malaysian methodology of “agak-agak”. Heck, even Gordon Ramsay had to learn that!):

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber, cut lengthwise with seeds and skin intact
1 medium carrot, cut lengthwise
200g baby french beans, head and end removed and halved lengthwise
1 small pineapple, peeled and cut into mini wedges
100g roasted, crushed peanuts (Peanutty goodness, still with a bite)
5 tablespoons oil
Salt, to taste
Chinese rice vinegar, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
Arugula/rocket leaves, to serve
Spice Paste
5 shallots
4 fresh chillies (2 red finger chillies + 2 bird’s eye chillies)
2-3 tablespoons of turmeric powder (This really depends on how yellow you want your acar to be, and of course, too much of it would mean the turmeric taste will be more apparent.)
2 candle nuts
Tamarind Juice
Tamarind pulp, about golf ball size
1 cup of water

Directions

Soak tamarind pulp in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze and extract juice. Set aside.

Blend spice paste and set aside. Heat up wok and add oil. Stir-fry spice paste until aromatic. Add tamarind juice and bring a boil. Add vinegar, salt and sugar to taste. Add all fruit and vegetables in to the wok and switch off the heat source. Add crushed peanuts and mix well.

Dish out and refrigerate for some hours or overnight before serving.

(Note: During the “pickling” process, I had tasted the acar and found the taste not contrasting enough for me. I used about 3 tablespoons of sugar and 5 tablespoons of vinegar to bring out the sweet, spicy and sour tastes. Sugar also help the fruit and vegetables stay crisp and crunchy.)

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Shown in the picture, I had used some arugula leaves to go with the acar. Interesting fusion but it works. The fresh leaves with its peppery flavors go down just nicely with the sweet, sour, nutty, spicy flavors of the acar. Try it!