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Friday, May 09, 2008

Pandan Waffles

We all know waffles, right? A light, slightly eggy cake cooked in a waffle iron so that it's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. We enjoy it with a pat of butter and real maple syrup. Some people eat waffles with fried chicken as a savory Southern twist.

The Southeast Asians put their own twist on the waffle by adding a bit of pandan extract to the batter. Pandan, or screwpine, is a tropical plant that has fans of long, green leaves that, when cooked, imparts a sweet, pleasingly fragrant aroma to whatever it is cooked with. We used whole pandan leaves to infuse our nasi lemak coconut rice dish.

Here's a pandan waffle recipe that makes a delicious breakfast, snack or dessert so good, you won't want to stop eating them. It is a tried and true recipe, something we make quite often. The recipe comes from food blogger Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen, who is the author of "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen".

Pandan Waffles (makes 3-4 waffles)


1 cup bleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (OR 1 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp baking soda)
1 egg, whites separated from the yolk
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp pandan extract
(You can use vanilla extract if you don't have the pandan, but then it really wouldn't be pandan waffles anymore, now would it? Find pandan extract in the baking section of your local Asian market.)

*If you double the recipe, most cans of coconut milk will be less than 2 cups, just add water to get correct liquid amount.
*Sugar can be halved for less sweet waffles.
*Self-raising flour can be used in place of flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.


1. Turn on your waffle iron.

2. In one bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut milk, melted butter, egg yolk, and pandan extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently stir it in. Switch to a folding motion towards the end to incorporate all the flour. The batter will be a little lumpy and thick, but the important thing is not to overmix it.

3. Whisk the egg white until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg white into the batter.

4. Now here comes the easy part. When the iron is hot, ladle some of the pandan waffle batter onto the grid. Close the lid and go get a plate and a fork. Breathe in that wonderful pandan aroma (but be careful not to stick your nose into the steam rising from the waffle maker!) Tell your tummy to stop growling already, because in a couple of minutes it's going to be mighty happy.

5. When the waffle maker signals that your pandan waffle is ready, lift it out with a fork onto your waiting plate. Put the fork down. Resist the urge to pick up the waffle and jam it into your mouth. Wait for it to cool a little. If you don't, you'll give yourself first-degree burns on your fingertips and that little piece of skin on the roof of your mouth will hang down and bother you for the next two days. Resist!

Go back to step 4 and prep another waffle. There, that ought to be enough time now. Go for it. Forget the fork. Forget syrup. Just pick it up and devour to your heart's content.

In our house, we double the recipe, sometimes even triple it. The kids love these pandan waffles and so do we. They freeze well (the waffles, not the kids!) and reheat nicely in the toaster.

Somehow, they don't last too long in the freezer though. Within a couple of days, they're all gone. Pandan waffles are great for breakfast, snack or dessert. Try it with some vanilla ice cream or, better yet, some azuki bean ice cream. Yum!


More breakfast recipes: Chantilly Crepes, Mushroom and Gruyere Omelette, Omurice

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tofu, Tomato and Egg Scramble

Sometimes, you look in the fridge and you just don't know what to cook. There are the usual basic ingredients in there, plus some ingredients that have been partially used up for other dishes. But what can you do with that?

For Annie, it's all instinct. Or, "simply hantam", as she calls it.

Here's how she came up with this "Tofu, Tomato and Egg Scramble"

Annie took a couple of eggs and half a block of tofu out. She minced some garlic and ginger and fried that in an oiled pan until fragrant. Then she smashed up the tofu and fried that in the pan with the ginger and garlic until it started to brown a little. She cracked the eggs and scrambled them in until they were well incorporated.

To the scrambled tofu and egg, she added half a can of chicken broth and finally a few homegrown tomatoes, cut into large chunks. She seasoned with salt, white pepper and soy sauce.

A very interesting and tasty combo! I added some sambal chilli sauce for heat.

On the right side of the plate is some leftover filling for a lettuce cups dish that Annie made. It consists of diced chicken, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and onions. The sauce for the filling includes corn starch, water, soy sauce, rice wine, and a little sesame oil.


More quick and easy recipes: Corned Beef Hash, Crab Cake with Salad, Cream of Corn Soup, Smoked Salmon Salad, Spicy Cod Roe Spaghetti, Sweet-Sour Tilapia Fillet

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Semi-gourmet Fish Tacos

One of the more popular posts on House of Annie is the pan-fried tilapia post (which reminds me, I really gotta update that page and do a proper recipe for it). When I was growing up in Hawaii, tilapia used to be known as a "rubbish fish" because it lived anywhere (fresh water, brackish water, salt water) and ate anything. We'd catch it in the stream behind our house, let it live in the laundry room sink for a week to clean out and then we'd steam it whole with black bean and ginger to mask the muddy smell.


Nowadays, tilapia is becoming more widely used around the world, especially as frozen fillets become available in local markets. You don't have to gut, skin, or fillet it. It tastes fine, with no muddy smell or flavor. Tilapia fillets have a firm, white flesh that lends itself quite well to lots of different applications.

Here's a semi-gourmet, muy delicioso fish taco recipe using tilapia fillets that is perfect for Cinco de Mayo, or any day of the week for that matter.


2 fillets of tilapia or any firm, white-fleshed fish
1 tsp Penzey's Adobo Seasoning
1 tsp paprika
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp oil
4, 10-inch flour tortillas
2 grilled sweet peppers, seeded and sliced into strips (this is the "semi-gourmet" part ;-) )
1/2 cup guacamole
1/2 cup fresh tomato salsa
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Season the tilapia fillets with the Penzey's Adobo Seasoning, paprika, and salt and pepper. Heat up the oil in a pan over medium heat and then pan-fry the tilapia fillets until they are browned on both sides, but not overdone. Remove the fillets from the heat, let them cool, then break them apart into chunks.

Start by laying some tilapia chunks onto the center of the tortilla. Add a few strips of grilled peppers, then a couple spoonfuls of guacamole and salsa. If you like, you can put a spoon of sour cream on. Finally, sprinkle on some shredded cheese. Repeat for the other three tortillas.


Other Mexican-ish recipes: Churrasco Taco, another Fish Taco using tilapia chunks, Chicken Quesadilla, Fish and Shrimp Quesadillas, and Chopped Mexican Salad

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Polenta Pie

Annie had such a delicious success with the Roasted Leg of Lamb recipe from "Cooking In Style the Costco Way" that she picked up another Costco cookbook, "Easy Cooking the Costco Way". In it, she found a recipe for polenta pie that she really wanted to try.

Normally, we buy polenta in a thick, sausage-like tube from Trader Joe's. We cut the tube up into rounds and then pan fry or grill them. The polenta cakes then serve as the base for any number of different main dishes.

This recipe calls for making polenta from ground cornmeal and cheddar, then pouring it into a pie tin and forming a crust. The filling consists of bulk Italian sausage, sauteed with onions, garlic, salt and sun-dried tomatoes. (Of course, we couldn't use dried tomatoes when we've got great, homegrown tomatoes straight from the garden!).

Thaw a box of frozen, chopped spinach and squeeze the spinach dry. Then layer the spinach on top of the polenta. Add the sauteed sausage and onion filling. Finally, top with shredded mozzarella cheeze and bake in a 400*F oven for 15-20 minutes.

It is as delicious as it looks!


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