On Wednesday I posted a picture of pannekoeken I made for dinner. Pannekoek is a Dutch pancake, kind of like a thick crepe and is served flat rather than rolled. It uses more milk and less eggs than crepes and can be topped with sweet or savory foods.

Pannekoek restaurant in The Netherlands.

My husband’s grandma, Hermine (or Omi), and her husband, Lodewijk. Omi ate the entire pannekoek, and drank all her milk!

I like making it for weekend breakfasts, which gives me some time to experiment with ingredients to see how to make the perfect pannekoek. This recipe below is simple and satisfying, and I think that’s what makes it perfect!

Weights and Measures. This is probably the only repeat recipe where I use a kitchen scale to measure the flour. This should be the ideal way to measure any dry ingredient in baking (which I don’t always do) but even with a simple recipe like this, it’s good to be consistent.

Hey, batter, batter! I can tell you that spelt flour, or a combination of spelt and all-purpose flour, does not make a good pannekoek. Neither does substituting soy or almond milk, but you can certainly get away with using 1% lowfat milk.  Also, be sure to not over mix the batter. By pouring the egg and milk mixture into the middle of the flour “well”, you can stir and grab flour from the sides (see photo below). If you feel the urge to give that batter a good beating, just stir with your opposite hand to slow it down. :)

Take five…or fifteen…or thirty. The recipes I come across doesn’t instruct you to let the batter rest, but one day while my husband was fixing the car (or lawn mower, or something mechanical), I let the batter rest for a good half hour until he was ready for breakfast. This waiting period allowed the flour to absorb the liquids, the gluten to develop, and air bubbles to escape to freedom. The result: tender-er pannekoeken!

There’s a pouring technique?  There is also a technique to pouring the batter into the pan that I like: instead of pouring a pool of batter and letting it spread out in all directions, I pour the batter in a spiral pattern. Does it make the pannekoek cook more evenly? I think so!

That’s about it for my way of making a simple comfort dish. Hope you give it a try!

Pannekoeken

Pannekoeken met Appel en Krenten (Dutch Pancakes with Apples and Currants)
2 servings, makes four 10-inch pannekoeken

150 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
300 mL 1% lowfat milk (2% and whole milk is fine, too)
2 large eggs, beaten, less 2 teaspoons
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (for cooking apples and oiling the pan)
3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thin (Fuji apples are good, as well as Comice pears)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2-1/3 cup currants or chopped raisins, divided
cinnamon
stroop (Dutch syrup), maple syrup, or amber agave syrup

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk. Make well in center. Add egg to milk & combine. Pour into center of flour mixture, gradually mix wet ingredients into dry, do not over mix. Let batter sit for 15 minutes (you’ll see air bubbles forming on the surface.) Transfer the mixture back into your measuring cup, you should have two cups of batter. (Add more milk, if needed.)

Apples are caramelized with butter and brown sugar.

While batter rests, in a heavy skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble and begins to brown (about a minute) add sliced apples and cook for 3-5 minutes until the undersides begin to brown. Turn over pieces, sprinkle in brown sugar, 1/4 cup currants and another tablespoon butter, if needed. Cook for 5 minutes more or until tender and apples are nicely caramelized, stirring frequently. Transfer to plate and scrape pan of any remaining sauce with rubber spatula. Set apples aside while you make pannekoeken.

These cook fast so add the currants as soon as the batter is poured.

In same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and immediately sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon currants. Cook for about 45 seconds to 1 minute or until underside of pannekoek begins to brown and top begins to firm up. Turn over and cook for 1 minute more. Top with 1/4 of cooked apples and currants, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and lightly drizzle with syrup of your choice. Transfer to plate and make second pannekoek. (NOTE: since these cook really fast, my husband and I ate the first two, then I finished making the other two and then we eat those.)

I hope you give this recipe a try for your weekend brunch. It’s a nice alternative to regular pancakes, and grown ups and kids will love ’em. Eet smakelijk!

Since the pan wasn’t hot enough when I made the first pannekoek the texture was “doughier” and more pliable. I filled it with apples and currants, rolled it and re-fried it. Still delicious!

Has anyone been having a crazy hot & sunny week like we’re having in Upstate NY? I’m glad for the sunshine, but doing yard work is more difficult with the heat, as well as the bugs that keep attacking me. My sister also gets a ton of bug bites and calls them “noseeums,” because you really can’t see what the heck is biting you!

Checked the thermometers around 4 o’clock in the afternoon: one on the south side of the house says 95, the one facing west says 105, and another is 120! I felt more sorry for the cats, especially Wolfie, who’s more equipped for cooler weather (see below pic.) I waited until the sun was behind some trees to do some weeding and redo the stones by “the gateway”:

Wolfie, guarding his catnip plants.

Last month we got an unfinished wooden picnic table that started looking pretty yucky after a few days in the rain. It needed some color, even a neutral color would be an improvement. I had the hardest time deciding on a paint color at the store when Fate stepped in (or was her name Karen?) and put a few gallons of “reject” paint on the clearance shelf. A $36 can of exterior paint marked down to $8? Works for me! I painted the picnic table gray, then dry-brushed and damp-sponged it with white. I think it turned out pretty great!

A little neutral color goes a long way

– This also turned out to be a good background for my photos. Here you can see the white over gray brush/spongework:

Peony in silver vase

Peonies in silver vases

I was planning to make some curry for dinner (following the “Flavor of the Week” theme) but it was so incredibly hot, I needed something cool and refreshing. There was some leftover quinoa, veggies, and chicken that needed to be cooked so I made a miso-based sauce with a healthy squirt of fresh lemon juice for this pretty tasty quinoa chicken salad:

A light, refreshing salad that’s also filling: quinoa, tomatoes, water chestnuts, chicken, green onion and a dressing made with miso paste, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice.

We also had some kale massaged with salt, lemon juice and sesame oil. Delicious!

What are some of your favorite summertime salads?

There are 18 glass jars of spices sitting on a rack next to my stove, plus another two and a half dozen mismatched bottles I keep with my baking ingredients, and about a half dozen plastic baggies of herbs and spices tucked away in the cabinet. On a weekly basis I use only a handful of these spices and the rest are individual ingredients, when combined, make one of the most fragrant blends on the face of the earth: curry seasoning!

We grew up eating a curry that my mom would make with huge chunks of beef, potatoes, and McCormick curry spice. I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite dish as a kid, but as I grew older I found out there were other kinds of curries besides the one we had at home, and in more colors (and flavors) than green!

There’s Japanese curry, a rich brown gravy that uses beef stock and tastes great with udon (thick rice noodles) or on top of steamed rice. There are the coconut-based Thai curry dishes in red (hot,) green (hot) and, my favorite, yellow (not as hot.) And there are the various herbs and spices that make up Indian curry seasoning (take a whiff, it’s just like aromatherapy!)

A popular and tasty Japanese curry, S&B (image source: http://www.foodpakexpress.com)

My favorite Thai curry, but I cannot find it around here: Mae Ploy yellow curry paste (image source: http://www.amazon.com)

Curry seasoning is so versatile, you can use it in anything from omelets to burgers. Making your own dry seasoning blend isn’t as difficult as it seems, but you will need about ten different herbs and spices, as well as a coffee grinder. Once you make your own curry seasoning, you will find it difficult to go back to the pre-ground, prepackaged blends from the grocery store. And with your ready supply of spices you’ll be able to try new kinds of blends, and maybe even make your own authentic recipe! Check out www.myspicesage.com for a complete selection of seasonings, teas, freebies, recipes, and great prices on spices.

Here’s what we had for dinner: turkey bean burgers! I added a tablespoon of Indian curry powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt to the mix, plenty of flavor packed into these tasty little sliders:

Spice up your sliders with a spoonful of curry seasoning

In addition to the burgers, I also spiced up the burger topping, which can also be a side dish, sandwich filling, or topped with chopped tomato and wrapped in lettuce leaves for an easy meal on the go!

Below is the recipe for the quinoa-sweet potato topping. The quinoa and sweet potato were already cooked so throwing this together is super fast and easy. Got extra sweet potatoes? Try my sweet potato haupia pie recipe, it’s gluten-free and delicious!

Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Indian Curry Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 roasted sweet potato (poke potato w/fork all around, then bake in 400 degree preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. Cool, peel off skin and use the mushy insides.)
1 teaspoon Indian seasoning, such as Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Directions:

Mash sweet potato with seasoning and salt, stirring well. Add quinoa, adjusting amount to your liking. Serve as a burger topping, salad topping, sandwich filling, or top with chopped tomato and wrap in lettuce leaves. Enjoy!

Top with chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs for a quick and easy vegan dish.

So what’s YOUR favorite curry dish? Do you prefer it home made or at a restaurant? Do you eat it with rice? Potatoes? Roti? Share your curry experiences here, I’d love to hear from you!

Mini Turkey Bean Burgers - skip the buns and eat it salad-style. Sammy looks on wistfully.

Whenever we’d get together with friends for a barbecue or potluck, I’d usually bring one of my favorite easy-to-make dishes: turkey burgers. For those who may have had bad experiences in the past, I would like to reassure you that delicious turkey burgers do exist, and, with the right seasoning, anything is possible!

Basic Turkey Burger Mix

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup diced onions, sauteed with 1 or 2 garlic cloves (omit for Turkey Bean Burgers)
1 piece of bread, cut into small cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee
Add-in seasoning (below)

Directions: In a bowl, add sauteed onions, garlic, bread cubes, and salt, if using. Toss with fork to distribute evenly. Add the oil or ghee, toss with fork to mix well. Crumble raw turkey into bread & onion mixture and add in one of the seasoning options below. Mix gently until combined. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cooking.

Asian Style Turkey Burgers (most unique) – Omit salt from basic turkey recipe. Add 1 tablespoon nampla (fish sauce); 1″ piece ginger, peeled and grated; 1 stalk lemongrass, white part chopped finely (discard the green part or save to make tea); 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes . You can serve this with a cole slaw tossed with nampla, fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Indian Spice Turkey Burgers  – 1 tablespoon Indian seasoning mix such as Garam Masala or your own special blend. I like to use  “Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder” from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal. It’s a fragrant blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, cardamom, poppy seeds, ginger and tumeric.

Italian Seasoning Turkey Burgers – 2 teaspoons basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes or 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Add 1/3 cup finely diced or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bean & Turkey Burgers (my favorite) – 1 cup cooked & drained beans (I use a black & pinto mix), 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped & sauteed onion, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mash everything with a potato masher or mix in a food processor or blender just until beans are smashed and mixture is still chunky (if you over-blend, it’ll turn into a refried bean paste consistency. Still tasty, but the texture will be very different.)

The cocoa powder will dull the otherwise bright green smoothie, but the flavor it brings will brighten your day.

I started experimenting with smoothies a few weeks ago to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and to hopefully perk up my energy and overall well-being. Strangely enough, I found smoothies made mostly of fruits made me extremely tired, and only after drinking a cup of coffee was I able to get back to work! I read several recipes for green shakes, all sounding pretty gross until I came across one that used greens, fruits and avocado. I found this the most delicious and versatile, and you could add flavors like blueberry, banana, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc. The avocado–and the addition of the different flavors–seemed to help tame the leafy green taste, and you still get a nutritious, vitamin-packed smoothie.

Here is what I made this morning using my favorite green smoothie ingredients: kale, apples, avocado and dates (it is not entirely raw because of the roasted cacao nibs, cayenne and cocoa powder.) I prefer the more nutrient-dense kale over spinach, and the taste is mild enough to let the other delicious flavors come through. I added just enough banana for additional creaminess and sweetness. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking:

Green Morning Smoothie with Cocoa and Banana

1/2 apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 kale leaves, chopped (about 1 cup packed)
2 dates, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 two- or three-inch-piece ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
1 packet of Stevia, or 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon broken cacao nibs, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 -3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup water, plus more, if needed

Add everything in a blender, add enough water until it reaches 3/4 of the level of your ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until blended, adding more water if needed. Pour into glasses, garnish with ground cacao bits. Makes about 20-24 ounces.

Chocolate Avocado Shake
This shake is more chocolatey. The sunflower seeds and cacao nibs give it an extra crunch!

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 kale leaves, about 1/3 cup packed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 pitted date, chopped
3 inch piece frozen banana, sliced (about the length of your index finger)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (optional)
2 roasted cocoa nibs (about 2 teaspoons ground, optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon agave syrup (or leave out and use all stevia)
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender, pouring liquids last. Blend until nice and thick, adding more water and sweetener to taste.