Banana Pancakes

After several previous recipes, I realised that we missed something sweet. You are a dessert-lover and an oven is too complicated for you? No problem! Let’s make pancakes with a pan!

American-style pancakes are thick, fluffy and tasty. You can combine with fruits, yogurt, jam or just eat them plain. The ingredients are easy to prepare. Basically you only need flour, eggs, sugar, milk and baking powder.

In this recipe, I’m gonna use wholemeal flour, add mashed banana into the batter and fry some bananas with butter and cinnamon, sprinkle some honey and chocolate for decoration. You may need a non-stick pan to give your pancakes a beautiful even color without using oil, also a big and deep spoon to drop a large dollop of the batter per pancake into the pan. A scale is not that necessary; you can adjust with more flour or milk to make the batter’s consistency like thick yogurt. With the amount in this recipe, you can make at least fifteen pancakes. It’s perfect for sharing, and you’ll be happy to see the excited faces of your friends when they stare at the super tall stack.

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Ingredients:
300g wholemeal flour
5 medium sized eggs
350ml milk
60g sugar
4 medium sized bananas
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt and cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon butter
Honey/jam/yogurt/chocolate for decoration

Steps:

  1. Whisk 5 eggs in a big bowl for several minutes until they become fluffy. Add sugar and milk. Mix evenly.
  2. Smash 2 bananas in another bowl/cup with a fork/spoon. Mix the mashed banana into the egg bowl.
  3. Add flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt slowly into the bowl. Mix evenly until the batter becomes as thick as yogurt.
  4. Heat (medium) the pan, and use a deep spoon or ladle to put the batter into the pan. Move the pan around slowly to let the batter flow a little bit like a circle. Cook for less than 1 minute until bubbles start to form on the surface, then turn the pancake and cook the other side for 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and place onto a large plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, and put the new pancake on top of the last one.
  5. Randomly cut 2 bananas into slices. Heat the pan again and add a pat of butter. Fry the bananas on medium heat, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder. When the bananas become golden brown, move them to the plate. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chopped chocolate, and you’re ready to serve!

Poached Egg on Fritters

by Wanjing Ji

Melbourne is without doubt the quirkiest but most elegant city that I’ve ever been to. There’s always a festival going on here, whether it’s film, music, art, food or design. You can be totally amazed by the vivid street art whilst walking around under the high buildings in the CBD. And it’s also quite possible that behind one of those stylish walls there’s a popular cafe.

The vibrant coffee culture is absolutely a calling card of Melbourne. The Aussies source specialty coffee beans from original coffee producing countries, roast with modern machines using precise technology, and extract coffee with well-trained baristas in different ways. It feels like they are scientists, and artists, also business people! I was there only a month and I can say that I had the best experience of drinking coffee in my life.

Along with the coffee culture, what to eat while drinking makes café owners put another amount of effort into their menus. Today, I’m gonna share a recipe of a typical Melbourne-style brunch, simple but not boring. You can have some fun plating, and the dish comes out well in photograph. Only the fritters take some time to cook, but you can also use some bread or French toast as a replacement.

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Ingredients (serves 3)

Zucchini & Potato Fritters:
2 Zucchini, shredded
1 Large potato, shredded
1 Egg
30-40g Flour
30 Grated parmesan cheese
30g Breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

To dish-up:
Some washed baby spinach (or other leafy veg such as lettuce)
3 Small tomatoes
60g Feta cheese (or other soft cheese you prefer)
3 Poached eggs

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1. Put shredded zucchini and potato in a large bowl. Add egg, flour, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper. Mix well.
2. Heat up about 50ml oil in a frying pan and make 6 patties with hands or big spoon. Add patties to pan and fry. Once one side becomes brown, turn over carefully and brown the other.
3. Remove the fritters and place on paper towel to get rid of excess oil. Chop the tomatoes into big chunks and put into the pan, reusing the leftover oil. Cook a while.
4. Make 3 poached eggs one by one. Some tips for making a proper poached egg: fill a deep pan or pot at least half-full water; when the water is about to boil, add some salt for flavor and a splash white vinegar or lemon juice to help keeping the egg-white from spreading. Gently use one or two spoons to gather the white around the yolk. Cook for 3 minutes. If you prefer a less runny yolk, cook 2 more minutes.
5. Plate 2 fritters on each plate. Top with baby spinach and tomato. Crumble feta (or other soft cheese) over tomatoes and top with a poached egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Sparkling Green Tea Cocktail

Ahhhh spring has sprung, which means tea pickin’ season is at hand. It’s time to get out to the villages and nab you some of the good stuff before it’s all sold off. When you get your stash, head home and mix up this refreshing drink. The combination of green tea and gin gives it an almost ginger taste.

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Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
* 1/2 cup strong Green Tea, chilled
* 1/4 cup Gin
* 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
* Juice of 1 lime
* Champagne

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Mixing it up:
1. Combine green tea, gin, lime juice and agave nectar into a glass.  Stir to combine.
2. Pour green tea mixture into 2 champagne glasses.
3. Top off with champagne.

The Wilde Oscar

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Green, green, green! That’s all you see on St. Paddy’s day. This year, skip the green beer and make the bartender do a little work so you can sip on a tasty Irish cocktail worthy of the day. This recipe is simple enough for you to do up at home, so you can keep those drinks flowin’ for your guests, and best of all it pays tribute to two great contributions from the Emerald Isle: Oscar Wilde and Guinness. Sláinte!

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Guinness Extra Stout (also good with Guinness Draught)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Rich Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Botanical Bitters

Mixing it up:

  1. Stir all ingredients in an ice filled mixing glass.
  2. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube.
  3. Garnish with a large orange peel and maraschino cherry.

Falafel

By Wanjing Ji

If I have to choose one street food that I’m probably mostly addicted to it would have to be Falafel! Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, deep-fried balls basically made from ground chickpeas. They are commonly served in flatbread (as a wrap) or Pita bread (as a pocket or sandwich) with fresh and pickled vegetables, drizzled with tahini sauce.

I still remember the first time I had a Falafel – I nearly cried when I bit into the exotically spiced green soft texture inside the crispy balls. Since there are not many Middle Eastern restaurants around in China, and the basic ingredients are not difficult to get, why not try to make your own Falafel?
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It takes only three steps to create this dish. 1. Falafel balls: Chickpeas are the only ingredient which may take you some time to find in the nearby market but yet convenient to buy online. Dried chickpeas taste infinitely better than the ones in cans, but the canned are much easier to get. It would be super helpful if you have a mixer; otherwise, it will take you a while to do the mashing. 2. Vegetable garnish and sauce: I let my fresh vegetables soak in white vinegar for some minutes, and I also mix my own sauce with Greek yogurt and Chinese sesame paste, etc. just because I don’t usually have any other things on hand. Feel free to add some pickled cucumber or any other sauce you like. 3. The wrap: I prefer to make fresh pita bread as a pocket for the Falafel. I also buy the tortillas in supermarket for a quick fix.
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Make up some extra and keep them wrapped in tin foil to take away on a picnic or to work. Hope you’re gonna love this as much as I do.
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Ingredients:
For 12 Falafel balls:
Chickpeas: 150g dried, soaked in water overnight (or 400g from one can)
Half medium-sized onion, chopped
A bunch of coriander
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil and some salt

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For garnish and sauce:
Sliced onion, pepper, carrot, cabbage, half soaked in white vinegar (or pickled cucumber or other pickled veggies from cans)
100g Greek yogurt (no sugar)
1 tbsp sesame paste
1 finely chopped garlic clove and coriander
Salt and pepper
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1. Mix the chickpeas, coriander, onion, garlic, ground cumin, olive oil and salt in a blender. It’s better to keep a little texture. Use hands or a spoon to make small green balls. Deep fry in hot oil until the color turns golden/dark.
2. Mix the Greek yogurt with sesame paste, finely chopped coriander and garlic, then add salt and pepper.
3. Warm the wrap and put in tin foil (or cut the pita bread down the middle into two). Spread the sauce on the wrap evenly, add fresh/pickled veggies, place the Falafel balls in the middle, drizzle more sauce, roll up the wrap tightly, cut into two parts, hold to bite, enjoy!
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Flammkuchen

by Wanjing

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First of all, I’m excited to say, that after almost 5 years I finally travel back to Europe again. Weeks ago when I stayed in southwest Germany, I noticed there was always something on the menu in restaurants I couldn’t ignore, which also made me want more after a while. It was the incredible glorious comforting crispy fresh made (+endless beautiful adj.): “Flammkuchen”! Flammkuchen means “flame cake” in English, which sounds a little bit unimaginable. It is said the original ones should be cooked only in wood-oven with real fire. Flammkuchen is made with very thin rolled out bread dough, which is covered with crème fraîche, sliced onions and bacons, or the sweet version with crème fraîche, sliced apple and cinnamon. I can just finish my salty Flammkuchen and get another sweet one as a dessert! Since there are rich varieties of dairy products in Europe, I would totally regret if I didn’t try them out, at least some of them such as crème fraîche. Basically crème fraîche is a soured cream containing fat at least 30%. I made some experiments several days ago when I didn’t find the crème fraîche in supermarket, so I used German Quark(kind of thicker Greek Yogurt) and a Portuguese fresh cheese, both contains about 20% fat. And it turned out to be very good! I would say try the cream cheese spread, which we can easily find in big supermarkets in China, as a replacement.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
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for the dough:
200g strong flour
120-130ml warm water
1 tspn oil
some salt (or sugar for the sweet version)

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for the topping:
150g crème fraîche (or another cream cheese as replacement)
thinly sliced onion and scallion
salt, ground black pepper and herbs
(and chopped bacon slices for meat-lovers )

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1. Mix the flour, water, oil and salt. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
2. Place the dough in a flour-dusted bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm place for half an hour until the dough loosen a bit.
3. Roll out the dough on a large flour-dusted board, until very thin. Spice the crème fraîche with salt and pepper, spread the mix evenly on the surface of the rolled out dough, add the onion and scallion on it. For sweet version: put some sugar in the crème fraîche and spread the mix on the surface, place the apple slices nicely on and sprinkle some cinnamon.
4. Put in the 220℃ pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes until you can see the beautiful brown crust.
5. Let the Flammkuchen cool down a little and use a scissor to cut it into pieces. Enjoy it while it’s warm, even great with a German Pilsner beer.

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The Classic Champagne Cocktail

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​This the time of year to pop those corks! Well, you are probably reading this after your New Year’s revelry (or was it debauchery??), and you are in no state of mind to even think about another glass of the bubbly. But, champagne (or sparkling wine which is more readily on hand) isn’t just for welcoming in the new year. I have this friend who is constantly goading me to drink the stuff. It’s getting old. Here’s an easy way to spruce things up.

Ingredients
1 sugar cube
3 dashes Agostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine)
Lemon Twist for Garnish

Mixing it up
1. Add sugar cube to flute glass in any manner you see fit. Add 3 dashes of angostura bitters over cube.
2. Fill the flute almost to the top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve immediately.

Other Variations: It can be fun to switch around your bitters. Both Angostura and Peychaud’s do nice things to the end result. And instead of a lemon twist, try an orange.

Hangover Noodles

Several years ago when I was living in Germany, I used to buy Shanghai Noodle flavor packets from the supermarket when I wanted to have something “Chinese” tasting. There were not that many authentic ingredients around. I’m not from Shanghai, but I was pretty sure this flavor didn’t taste anything like Shanghai noodles (or noodles from any area in China). But strangely, I felt quite comforted by this flavor of “home”.

Months ago, I tried a recipe by chance. I hadn’t expected much until I started to mix the sauce. Ginger and sesame oil were something I seldom used together, and yet it turned out to be something quite magical. The taste from these two ingredients sparks in your mouth, nose, even your eyes, and imprints deeply on your mind. How more magical could it be: something that made me feel “homesick” while being at home.

The sauce is absolutely the highlight, simple and fantastic! You can mix it in a few minutes. There are lots of choices for noodles and vegetables; pick the ones you like. My suggestions: freshly made egg noodles, not too thin; green vegie leaves and beans. Because of the ginger, the noodles taste refreshing. It has picked me up on many a hungover morning. Who says we can’t have both a hangover and a great breakfast…? We have much celebrating to do in the near future, what with New Year’s and the Chinese New Year’s approaching. This recipe is perfect, not only for hungover folk but also for people who’re looking for a little bit of the atmosphere of Chinese festivals.

Ingredients (serves 2)
200g Egg noodle
Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped
Green beans
Spring onion, roasted peanuts or sesame, chili for garnish
A fried egg on top if you like

Sauce
5 tbsp Soy sauce (light)
1 tbsp White vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame oil
1 clove Garlic, grated/finely chopped
Fresh Ginger, one garlic clove-sized, grated/finely chopped

1. Mix all the ingredients of the sauce, add less/more ginger if you prefer a light/heavy taste.
2. Boil the water, add some salt and oil. Put the cabbage and green beans into the boiler for 2 minutes till about cooked. Drain and leave aside.
3. Cook the noodles in the same boiler for 4-5 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, till the water’s boiling again. Drain, leave in warm place if you want to fry an egg.
4. Mix the noodle with vegies and sauce thoroughly.
5. Serve in bowls, add the egg on top, garnish with some chopped spring onion, roasted peanuts or sesame, also a little bit of chili to spice up the cold winter.

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America’s First Cocktail

Is it any surprise that America’s first cocktail, the Sazerac, was created in New Orleans, the city that loves to party? Back in 1838, Antoine Peychaud created the drink in a French Quarter bar and named it for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. In 1873, the drink was changed when American rye whiskey was substituted for cognac. This pre-Prohibition cocktail can be had all over New Orleans today, so why not in Hangzhou??

Ingredients:
• ice cubes
• 1 cube of sugar
• 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
• 1/4 cup rye whiskey
• 1/4 teaspoon anise flavored liqueur
• 1 lemon twist for garnish

Preparation:
1. Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice.
2. In a second Old-Fashioned glass, crush the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it.
3. Add the rye whiskey (or bourbon) to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar.
4. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the anise flavored liqueur.
5. Dump excess liqueur in the sink (or drink it!).
6. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass, stir and garnish with lemon twist.

Drink-of-the-month

Warnings in June 2015

I finally break down and buy a coffee maker from Taobao (101.93RMB), and I sprinkle a bit of my Illy (118RMB/250g.) on top of the cheap stuff (50RMB/500g.) to make the “perfect” cup. After a quick shower, I go out on my balcony and have a cigarette (20RMB/pack). About half an hour later, three more butts hit the ashtray, and I’m starting to get hungry. My mind drifts to when I was in Koh Chang, Thailand eating a superb bowl of green spicy vegetable curry (110THB/bowl) on the beachside wondering how the hell they make it so nice. But it’s too cool to realistically think about being on a beach somewhere, let alone getting herbs that are picked from the back garden. My brain shifts to a spring day in New York. I’m on a street corner devouring a hot dog (2.50USD) with those brownish onions they put on them. Why they are that color escapes me, but I know that they’re delish. It’s breakfast time, however, and what’s better than an English breakfast in London (7GBP)? I personally like to eat mine by scooping my beans onto the sunny-side up egg and shoveling it into my mouth with the toast. That’s just me though. Or maybe a nice espresso (free) and a nice freshly made croissant (1EUR) at my friend’s place in Castelnau-De-Montmiral, France? Surely nothing is better than that. I dunk the flaky treat into the small cup half full of dark liquid gold the way my other friend, and former partner in crime, from Ardèche taught me to do. Reflecting on friends, my head is now in Tokyo, Japan where we are eating dinner (15,000JPY/three people) on a narrow winding street at, what quite possibly is, the smallest restaurant I’ve ever been in.  This local place is frequented by my friend, and we’re treated like gold which is the farthest thing from being a crime.

Gold, I ponder. No, the tequila (300MXN/bottle) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico isn’t gold the way I pictured it would be, but instead the stuff we drink is clear. I down about five fantastic carnitas (12MXN/each) from the street cart after a half a bottle of the aforementioned. That pork must have been cooked in broth that’s more than a hundred years old. It’s really that good. Pork is good. And with that notion, my cabeza is finally in Barcelona, Spain. It’s nine at night, and the restaurant on the plaza is virtually empty. The music coming from the busker is low. Did we chose a bad one (28EUR/person)? An hour and a half later, we’re bursting at the seams from all the wonderful ham. The place is finally starting to fill up, and the guy on the guitar (1EUR/tip) starts to pick it up a bit. In the end, it isn’t a poor choice indeed.

As always, we’ve got a handful of new and exciting restaurants in this month’s magazine. So go with your pengyoumen and enjoy. May you one day be in some faraway land dreaming about them.

by Tim Hoerle