Archive for November, 2012

I love any recipe for a lightened, banana cookie.  Years ago, their cake-like texture was odd to me, but I’ve grown fond of these healthier gems.  This recipe features an extra coconut kick – Rice Kernel’s obsession of late, courtesy of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Banana Coconut Oatmeal Cookies


2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola/vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 very very ripe banana
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour, all-purpose, white whole wheat or whole wheat
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick, not instant)
1 cup coconut, preferably unsweetened
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Melt butter in a small dish in microwave, 10 seconds at a time.  (Oil works fine as well, I think.)  Transfer to mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, thoroughly mix in sugars, banana, egg and vanilla.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Stir in oatmeal and coconut.  Fold in chocolate chips, if desired.
  4. Drop dough by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set and golden. Cool 5 minutes before removing from tray.

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With some extra red bean paste in our fridge, I thought about the classic pairing of green tea and red bean and turned to this simple dessert.  This dense cake may look light, but it is decadent with the addition of cream cheese and butter (or oil).  A cup of freshly brewed green tea would be the ideal accompaniment.

Green Tea Pound Cake


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened or 1/2 cup canola/vegetable oil (see photo differences; oil is less fluffy on top)
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar, depending how sweet you prefer
1/2 pkg. (4 oz) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp green tea powder (for baking)
1/2 tsp salt

optional 1/2 cup red bean paste to layer in the middle or top, or swirl

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 1 min. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat an additional 5 min. or until very light and fluffy. Add cream cheese; beat 1 min. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, green tea powder and salt. Add to butter mixture. Beat 1 min or until well blended. Pour batter into greased and floured 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Nondairy version, from Cotton and Cloud

3 medium eggs
100g cane sugar
140 g sunflower oil
40 g soya milk (I used alpro soya)
180 g self-raising flour
2 tsp maccha powder

  1. Turn on and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Sift the flour and maccha mixture once.
  3. Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk for 10 min until white and flully (pic 1).
  4. In a small jug, mix the sunflower oil and soya milk using a spoon so that you get a nice emulsion (pics 2 & 3).
  5. Very slowly drizzle the oil and soya milk mixture to the batter made in step 1. If possible keep on whisking (if not, add a little, then mix – repeat this process).
  6. When you get a nice fluffy even mixture of eggs, sugar, oil and soya milk (wet ingredient), stop mixing. Sift the flour and maccha powder (dry ingredient) into the batter. Carefully mix using a scraper not to burst any air bubbles.
  7. When you have mixed the dry and the wet ingredients so that there are no powder to be seen in the mixture, pour the mixture into the cake tin.
  8. Even out the surface by lightly tapping the bottom of the cake.
  9.  Bake at 180C for the first 8 min then reduce the temperature to 170C and bake for further 25-30 min or until the skewer comes out with small crumbs of cake (if it doesn’t then it is definitely cooked so take it out of the oven quickly to prevent it from drying).

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As part of a rainbow diet, “white” foods don’t exactly have favored status.  But cauliflower is one of those white foods you can certainly consume in excess.  Here, it is seasoned with brightly-colored and aromatic spices.  It’s delicious freshly cooked, but even better the next day, after the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Spicy South Indian Cauliflower


1 large cauliflower (1 3/4 to 2 pounds), broken into florets
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced and cut into thin slivers or minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
1 to 2 serrano chiles, to taste, seeded if desired and minced
1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut in wedges, for serving

1. Place the cauliflower in a steaming basket above one inch of boiling water. Cover and steam for one minute. Lift the lid and allow steam to escape for 15 seconds, then cover again and steam for five minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender. Remove from the heat and refresh with cold water. Quarter the larger florets, and set the cauliflower aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or wok above medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin seeds and chiles, and stir-fry for one minute. Add the cauliflower and stir-fry for two to three minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ground coriander, cayenne, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for five minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is fragrant. Taste and adjust salt. Stir in the cilantro, stir for another 30 seconds and then serve, passing lime wedges for squeezing.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


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Italian Shredded Roast Pork

Perfectly seasoned and roasted pork – for pasta, in wraps / sloppy sandwiches, or filled in calzones.  The ideal on-the-go snack or meal.

Italian Shredded Roast Pork


2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 6 large chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 bunch parsley stems, tied with string
2 bay leaves
1 cup water


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer the pork to a plate.
  3. To the pan add the onion, celery, and carrot and sweat until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes to cook off the raw flavor and caramelize it. Sprinkle with the flour and cook another 2 minutes to cook off its raw flavor. Whisk in the wine and reduce it by half.
  4. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, then stir in the beef stock, parsley stems, and bay leaves. Add the water if liquid does not come up to the top of the pork. Do not cover the pork with liquid.
  5. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

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The kids have been sick recently – moreso than I’d care to admit. Rice Kernel had an ear infection and pneumonia and Claire had a terrible cold.  Rice Kernel is a pretty easy-going, energy-filled sick patient so he’s the easy part.  But my little one? She doesn’t sleep well when her nose is drippy and her throat coarse, and that makes for many blurry nights and days for the rest of us.  I’d go so far as to say this has been the most difficult stretch of parenthood since Claire’s birth – it was easier with a newborn.  Thankfully, I think we’re slowly getting over it…. and there’s nothing like a comforting meal when appetites return.  A healthier, flavorful meatball baked to perfection with a light coating of Rice Kernel’s favorite Italian-spiced Japanese panko breadcrumbs.  Who says fusion doesn’t work?

Meatball recipe here.



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There’s been so much baking and sweets in our kitchen the past few weeks, I’ve been hankering for extra vegetables.  We’ve resorted to easy standbys, like bags of broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and chard.   While I would never tire of the aforementioned repertoire, I know the boys could use a shake-up. 

Pea shoots and tendrils are more of a spring / summer offering but in our part of the country, you can find them fairly easily, particularly in Asian markets.  Pea shoots and tendrils are tender enough to serve with no or minimal cooking, although I mostly prefer them lightly sauteed with garlic.  Rice Kernel isn’t always open to a dish of pea shoots by themselves, so tonight we’ve mixed in some shredded cabbages, carrots, and several cloves of garlic.  Sauteed simply with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, it is the ideal, detoxifying vegetable dish after a month of candy and pumpkin baking projects!

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Coconut Red Bean Pancakes

I love red bean paste.  Filled in mochi and breads or slathered atop ice cream, I love their texture and taste.  Red beans are nutritious on their own, but cooked in syrup, that’s a different story.  Nonetheless, I rarely take the effort to make my own red bean paste so I rely on store-bought versions.  There are endless varieties, so be sure to look for one with whole beans and reduced sugar.  These are a great treat – slightly dessert-like but oh-so-filling.

Coconut Red Bean Pancakes


1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp agave or honey
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk, milk or coconut (as I used here)
1/4 – 1/2 cup red bean paste, to taste


  1. Combine wet ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix together wet and dry ingredients until just combined.
  2. In a skillet or griddle set over medium high, spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter.  Cook until bubbles form, flipping once. 

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