Blini (Russian Crepes)

Blini

Another quick recipe! I was originally going to make this for pancake day but life (and fluffy Japanese-style pancakes shameless plug) got in the way.

I wanted to make this all because I was reading fanfiction about one of my favourite anime (Yuri!!! on Ice. The 3 exclamation points are very important) and the Russian character started talking about blinis. Which are apparently Russian crepes. Don’t judge me.

I ate mine with some sweetened condensed milk, Marco Polo jelly (or should I say, gelée. Ohohohoho look at how cultured I am. It’s a type of tea-infused jelly), and whipped cream. I think most people eat blinis as something savoury? Like in an hors d’oeuvre. Woah I had to google that spelling.

Ingredients (the original recipe predicted about 7-8 crepes but I ended up with 4, not sure if it was because of differences in the size of the pan/thickness of crepe)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk (or heavy cream if you’re feeling greedy. Guess which one I went for)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Approximately 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil + more for oiling the pan

Method

  1. Whisk the egg, milk, sugar, and salt together.
  2. Slowly start stirring in the flour. Start with half of the flour and gradually add in a little at a time until you get a runny batter that is thicker than milk.
  3. Stir in the oil. Then cover and let rest for 15 mins.
  4. Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and oil the pan using a kitchen towel lightly soaked in oil. Use either a 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup (whichever is more appropriate for the size of pan you chose) to scoop the batter (for consistency). Quickly tilt the pan until the batter spreads to cover the pan surface.
  5. Cook for 2-3 mins until small bubbles start to form on top and bottom is a light golden brown. Then flip and cook for 30 seconds, or until the other side is a light golden brown as well.
  6. Oil the pan before each blini.

Notes

  • Yeah the recipe seems a little imprecise but honestly it’s quite forgiving and you can always adjust the consistency of your batter with more flour if it’s too thin and more milk if it’s too thick.
  • I found that the batter got quite lumpy and I had to really work to get the lumps out. So I think just be a bit more careful when adding the flour and really whisk well.

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

For all you crunchy cookie lovers out there.

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The majority of cookie recipes I’ve seen on the Internet tend to be the large cookies with the chewy gooey insides and the slightly crisp edges. Nothing wrong with that.

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But back in Singapore (or in my family anyway), chocolate chip cookies were associated with either the small little cookies that comes in jars around Chinese New Year, or with the almighty Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies (the fresh ones NOT the packaged ones). Both of which are absolutely crisp all the way through.

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This recipe was an attempt to recreate that buttery, crumbly Famous Amos cookie that I used to sneak into cinemas all the time. Or carefully lower into a cup of milk to the point of near-disintegration and just inhale.

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Personally I don’t think this tastes as good as the Famous Amos cookie. It’s not as crunchy or buttery. But my cousins think they do taste like the Famous Amos cookie (bless them), and the cookies certainly taste delicious and are crispy and crumbly.

This recipe is great for baking massive quantities of cookies, so it is also the recipe I turn to when baking for a crowd.

I got the recipe from here and added cocoa powder (I just think it tastes better with the cocoa powder).

Ingredients (makes 64 small bite-sized cookies)

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder or coffee extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oats (not the instant kind)
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips/chunks (this amount is completely adjustable) and more to stud the tops of the cookies
  • 300g plain flour and 1/2 tsp of baking powder (or 300g self-raising flour)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. Beat the egg with the vanilla and coffee at least 2 hours before baking.
  2. Cream the softened butter with the sugar and salt until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg you previously prepared to the butter/sugar mixture.
  4. Stir in the oats, almond flour, and chocolate.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Fold the flour mixture into the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough into little balls, about 1/2 tbsp of dough in each ball. The dough doesn’t spread much, but still leave about an inch between the dough balls. Put some chocolate chips on each ball to make it look pretty.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 15 mins. The cookies are done when the tops are dry and you can lift the cookie from the sheet with a fork without the cookie sticking to the sheet.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack. The cookies will be soft when fresh out of the oven but will crisp up as it cools.
  9. Cool completely and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container.

Notes

  • For some reason unfathomable to me, this cookie actually tastes better after a night of refrigeration compared to fresh out of the oven. The flavours are just more developed. Which makes it even better for baking for a crowd since you can just bake these the night before and it’ll taste fantastic.
  • Feel free to add some chopped nuts as well.
  • I’ve made these looooads of time. The only thing I’ve made more than these cookies is my Blue Cheese and Walnut Bread. And if my 15 year old self could make these cookies successfully so can you.
  • In between batches of cookies you could cover the dough and refrigerate it. I find that refrigerating the dough doesn’t make any difference to the baking time and it makes the dough a little easier to handle (not that it was difficult to handle in the first place).
  • I’ve tried looking for another recipe that resembled the Famous Amos cookie more, but the legit ones I’ve seen all involved massive amounts of butter and shortening so I think this recipe is a nice trade-off between emulating that hallowed cookie, and not clogging up the arteries too much.
  • If you absolutely must only have the chewy type of cookie, I’ve got you fam. Check out my Salted Valrhona Manjari Dark Chocolate Rye Cookies.

Min Jiang Kueh (Fluffy Chinese Pancakes)

The pancake of many names.

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This pancake’s a traditional snack in Singapore. It’s called 面煎粿, which if you pronounce it in Mandarin is “mian jian guo”. But no one calls it that, it’s usually called “mee chiang kueh”, “bee chiang kueh”, “min chiang kueh”, or as how my family pronounces it, “min jiang kueh”. I think the pronunciation depends on which dialect group your family belongs to.

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This pancake can either be the moist and fluffy variety, as shown here, or the ultra crispy variety which I actually prefer. Usually it’s filled with a sweet and crunchy peanut filling, but I decided to go savoury here with a cheese and pork floss filling.

If you don’t know what pork floss is, it’s like a dried meat product that’s both sweet and savoury at the same time. Kind of like meaty candy floss? Sounds weird, but everyone I’ve given some to has loved it. It has a Wikipedia page, check it out.

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I also tried putting some smooth peanut butter in (probably overfilled it there), which was good, but the traditional crushed peanuts filling was definitely better.

I got the recipe from here. That website also has instructions on how to make the traditional crushed peanut filling. If you want to try making the crispy variety try this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 130g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 160ml water (lukewarm)

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Cover and let sit for 30 mins.
  3. Oil a pan and use a paper towel to soak up excess oil and make sure the surface is evenly oiled.
  4. Heat the pan over low-medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a ladle of batter to the pan. Cover and cook for 4 mins.
  5. When the surface is bubbly and the sides are dry (just like a normal pancake), add your filling of choice on top of the pancake. Cover and cook for 2-3 more mins.
  6. Fold the pancake into half and serve.

Notes

  • The water has to be lukewarm. I completely missed this note and I think that’s why my pancake wasn’t as fluffy as it’s supposed to be. Still pretty fluffy though.

Chocolate Brigadeiros with Salted Roasted Peanuts

This is a really easy to make truffle-like snack that tastes exactly like a Snickers bar!

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Brigadeiros are a common Brazilian snack that’s usually made out of condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, and coated in chocolate sprinkles.

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I chose to substitute the chocolate sprinkles with some toasted peanuts though. Because I like peanuts.

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I really recommend coating the brigadeiros in nuts! I’ve previously made brigadeiros the traditional way (coated with chocolate sprinkles), and although it was nice, it basically tasted exactly how you’d expect it to taste. Not much flavour complexity to it.

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But adding the peanuts mixed with large flaky salt just adds that extra bit of savouriness and occasional burst of saltiness, which really makes this a treat.

The brigadeiro mixture can also be used as cake frosting! Which presents a whole world of possibilities.

Ingredients

  • 15g butter (1 tbsp)
  • 397g sweetened condensed milk (14 oz/1 can)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of (any) salt
  • Pinch of large flaky salt
  • About 1 tbsp alcohol of choice (Optional. I used some chocolate flavoured rum lying around)
  • About 100g chopped nuts (I used a mixture of 70% peanuts mixed with walnuts and almonds because that was the cheapest around)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the condensed milk, cocoa powder, alcohol, and pinch of salt.
  3. Stir constantly for about 10 mins. The mixture has reached the right consistency if it can “peel” off the bottom of the pan. In other words, when you scrap a wooden spoon through the bottom of the mixture, it should leave a clear mark.
  4. Pour the mixture over a buttered plate. Let cool for 1-2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, toast the chopped nuts together with a pinch of large flaky salt. You can either do this in a frying pan over medium heat or in the oven, maybe at around 180°C for 10-15 mins, until fragrant and browned.
  6. After the brigadeiro mixture has cooled, roll the mixture into balls with buttered hands.
  7. Coat each brigadeiro with the chopped nuts.

Notes

  • You can store it at room temperature for a couple of days, but keeping it in the fridge helps it keep its shape better and can help it last for a week.
  • It’s also easier to shape the brigadeiro after refrigeration.
  • Buttering your fingers is really important to stop the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Onion Cheddar Soda Bread

This bread tastes amazing and can be made under one hour.

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So I found out at 6pm today that I had agreed to go to a potluck that night. Which started at 7.30pm. I needed something that I could churn out in an hour with ingredients I had around the house and I immediately went: Soda Bread.

Soda bread is a quickbread, and uses baking soda as a raising agent instead of yeast. The baking soda reacts with the acidity of the buttermilk to produce bubbles, which gives the rise.

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The lovely ‘X’ pattern is supposed to let the devil out of the bread. So I did it. Because nobody wants the devil in their bread. (But really it’s just to help the bread cook evenly).

The smell of this bread was a-ma-zing. I had to carry this bread through the 30 mins walk from my house to the place of the potluck and every single passer-by did a double take when I passed by them. I basically had bread perfume. My friend thought it smelled a lot like chicken pie while I thought it smelled like French onion soup.

Anyway this bread smells and tastes delicious. It had a soft and tender crumb with a crunchy crust. Best of all, from start to finish it only takes 1 hour, so I really encourage you to try it!

I got this recipe from Paul Hollywood.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml buttermilk
  • Two onions, finely diced (raw)
  • 200g cheese (I used cheddar)
  • About 1 tbsp dried thyme (optional)
  • About 1 tbsp dried rosemary (optional)

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the two flours, baking soda, salt, onion, cheese, and dried herbs.
  2. Make a well in the center and add half the buttermilk. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients into the buttermilk. Slowly add the rest of the buttermilk and mix until you get a sticky dough which can hold together. You might not need all the buttermilk.
  3. Transfer to a well-floured work surface and form into a ball. DO NOT KNEAD or your bread will taste tough and not tender.
  4. Transfer onto a lined baking sheet and dust a layer of flour on top. Sprinkle some dried thyme/rosemary on top if you want as well.
  5. Using a bench scraper (or a serrated knife), score the dough with a deep cross, cutting all the way down to the baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the bread with a bit of flour and bake at 200°C for 30 mins, or until golden brown.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack, and try to eat on the day itself.

Notes

  • I didn’t have any buttermilk so I substituted using a mixture of 3/4 natural yoghurt and 1/4 water. You get the same result, don’t worry (I have tried this recipe using buttermilk before).
  • If you want to go to the other end of the bread-time spectrum, check out my sourdoughs, which usually take more than half a day to make but yields an intensely bready flavour.