You don’t need to share an individual serving of sweet nutty bread pudding drizzled with cognac caramel sauce!
Heavy whipping cream is not readily available in Ulaanbaatar. This surprised me. Since the Mongolian culture is heavily tied to herding and to dairy, I assumed that whipping cream would be much easier to get than in remote Point Hope, Alaska, where we had to fly in this precious commodity. The plight of whipping cream difficulties has followed me across the globe. Well, that’s a bit overdramatic. I did come across heavy whipping cream in the one store that carries many western groceries here in UB. But at about $28 a liter, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Plus it was UHT (ultra heat temperature processed) in order to keep it shelf stable. My experience with UHT whipping cream is that it turns to butter with the slightest amount of whipping.
The other day, I noticed a box of a new product in the dairy section of a grocery store we frequently shop. Everything was in Korean, except for the words “whipping cream.” Since the price was reasonable and since I could not find anything that looked like “UHT” written anywhere, I took a chance. Boy, am I glad I did! Not only does this cream whip up beautifully, it is the best tasting whipping cream I have ever had.
As is often the case in Ulaanbaatar, a product is here one day and gone the next. Alas, I can no longer find this whipping cream, so I am using it sparingly. I hope it will show up again.
One of our favorites is bread pudding. Using pantry staples such as homemade French bread, toasted almonds, and good cognac, I baked a small batch of individual bread puddings. It was the perfect amount for us to enjoy and share with guests. And it was a delicious way to use some of the precious heavy whipping cream.
Almond Bread Pudding with Cognac Caramel
- 1/4 cup almonds, chopped and toasted
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 1/2 cups French bread, cubed small
Ingredients for cognac caramel
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tbsp good quality cognac
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Grease 6 cups in a muffin tin. Set aside.
- Whisk together melted butter, milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract and eggs in a medium bowl.
- Stir in bread cubes. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the bread to soak up egg mixture.
- Divide mixture equally into prepared muffin tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Add almonds to the tops of bread puddings and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Let the bread puddings cool in the tin for 10 minutes. While they are cooling, make the cognac caramel.
- Bring brown sugar and cream to a boil in a small pan and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Sauce should thicken.
- Remove from hit and stir in cognac.
- Loosen the bread puddings from tin by cutting around the edges with a knife. Transfer puddings to individual plates.
- Drizzle cognac caramel sauce on each bread pudding and serve warm.
Fluffy homemade pancakes served with perfectly ripe bananas, toasted almonds, pure maple syrup and rich, whipped cream. Serves two. Fantastique!
I don’t know how many times we’ve heard that scratch pancakes won’t come out as good as pancakes from a mix. In fact, we’d heard it so many times that for years we fell into blindly relying on Krusteaz pancake mix. Good stuff, but not as good as this…
Everything from scratch tastes better. So we thought it was time to put the pancake myth to the test. Armed with seven pantry staples – things you probably already have in your kitchen, on your camper or in your galley – I went to work. The verdict? Everything from scratch tastes better!
Scratch Pancakes for Two
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vanilla, milk, egg, and butter.
- In the large bowl, make a well in the center of the flour.
- Pour milk mixture into the well.
- Whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until smooth, do not overmix.
- Heat a lightly oiled medium frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Scoop about 1/4 cup of mixture onto frying pan. Brown both sides of pancakes.
- Serve hot pancakes with toasted nuts, syrup, fruit and whipped cream.
Sweet adzuki bean paste rolled into matcha-flavored dough with a dollop of buttery frosting… a confection you might expect to find in a trendy coffee shop in San Francisco’s Mission District.
My culinary love affair with matcha green tea is deepening. Cookie dough was an easy place to start with the distinctive flavor of this Japanese tea. In the midst of sampling my matcha butter cookies, my mind was already racing to the next possible recipes that could feature matcha… and then I remembered the bag of dried adzuki beans sitting on the shelf. What about sweet adzuki bean paste rolled into a matcha green tea dough – an Asian fusion cinnamon roll? Brilliant! All the fun of unrolling breakfast and enough tasty sweetness to satisfy without the gooey sugar overload of a traditional cinnamon roll.
Thinking ahead to life in a tiny home, I created a small batch version of these rolls that are made in a 6-muffin tin. I made the rolls the night before and placed them in a buttered muffin tin in the fridge overnight. They rose in the fridge and were ready for breakfast with minimal time and minimal oven energy. All good aspects for a tiny home recipe.
Matcha Adzuki Bean Glazed Rolls
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp green matcha tea powder
- pinch salt
- 1 cup adzuki bean paste*
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp milk
- Warm milk and butter in a small saucepan until it reaches about 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).
- Place yeast and granulated sugar into a large bowl. Pour warmed milk mixture into bowl. Whisk together.
- Whisk in egg and salt.
- Mix in matcha powder.
- Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
- When dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Let dough rest for about 10 minutes.
- Roll out dough to about a 6 x 9 inch rectangle.
- Spread adzuki bean paste evenly onto dough.
- Take the 6-inch side and roll dough, jelly roll style. Pinch seam to seal.
- Cut into 6 equal pieces.
- Place pieces into buttered 6-muffin tin. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Bring rolls out 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190C).
- Bake rolls for 15 minutes. Top will be golden brown. Remove rolls from muffin tin to cool slightly.
- While rolls are baking, whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth.
- Dollop glaze onto slightly cooled rolls and enjoy. Leftovers are a good snack served at room temperature.
*I made adzuki bean paste using just dried adzuki beans, water and sugar following the excellent directions from Japanese Cooking 101.
Traditionalists might argue that this is a dessert; we say a bakery item made fresh in the morning loaded with fruit and eggs works perfectly for breakfast.
This time of year, the warm, yellow sun may invite thoughts and flavors of Spring. But here in Mongolia, we were greeted this morning with fresh snowfall, prompting me to serve a warm baked breakfast with hot cups of tea. Of course, this baked creation served with French vanilla ice cream or a hot custard would satisfy any time of the day.
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups frozen or fresh raspberries
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp cherry flavored brandy
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp Penzeys lemon peel powder (or fresh zest)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
- Grease an 8 x 8 inch (20 cum x 20 cm) glass baking dish with unsalted butter. Sprinkle bottom of baking dish with 2 tbsp of granulated sugar. Spread raspberries evenly in baking dish.
- Using a stick blender, or regular blender, mix 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, milk, brandy, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon powder and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Add flour and almonds to mixture. Blend until smooth.
- Pour mixture evenly over blackberries.
- Bake flaugnarde until edges are puffed and golden, and center is firm, about 25-30 minutes. When wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, the flaugnarde is done.
- Let cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Moist and not overly sweet, lemon poppy seed cake is a quick way to brighten up a cold winter day.
This afternoon, the sunshine poured through the living room window, filling our third floor apartment with warmth and the illusion that it wasn’t as cold as it actually is outside. But no mistake, we’re still deep in winter’s grip here in Ulaanbaatar. Today, the temperature soared to a chilly high of 17 degrees F – a bit warmer than it’s been the past several days. Snug inside our apartment, we fantasized about spring while we sat in the sunbeams enjoying warm pieces of moist lemon poppyseed cake with freshly brewed cups of tea.
Lemon Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Grease two regular-sized loaf pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon zest.
- Stir in oil, eggs, yogurt, almond extract, and lemon juice.
- Pour batter into prepared pans.
- Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
- Mix together drizzle ingredients.
- Prick cake many times with tines of a fork while warm.
- Brush drizzle on top of cake allowing the drizzle to settle into the cake.
An inspiring breakfast: topped with a dollop of sour cream, this apple-filled pancake is like a mile-high crepe, as delicious as it is beautiful .
Morning rituals. Jack and I start every day with a hearty breakfast. This important meal is usually accompanied with a big mug of coffee or tea and a selection of a few poems, which, lucky for me, are read to me by my favorite reader. A day that starts with healthy fuel for the body and sustenance for the mind is likely to be positive and fruitful (wink).
Our breakfast menus traditionally include items like nourishing hot cereals, egg dishes, or something freshly baked. This morning’s menu came straight from the only baking recipe book I have with me here in Mongolia, The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book. If you are only going to have one recipe book, I highly recommend this one. It includes many foundational recipes for breads and desserts which can be easily modified or experimented with. I followed the German Apple Pancake recipe to the T. It came out perfectly. I am already dreaming of this mile-high pancake with farm fresh pears featuring galangal as the centerpiece spice.
German Apple Pancake
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus 1 tsp)
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 large apples, cored and cut into wedges 1/4 inch thick (6 mm). I used Fuji apples.
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche. I used 20% fat yogurt.
- Using a blender, or a stick blender, mix eggs, vanilla, and 1/2 cup sugar for about 5 seconds.
- Add flour, baking powder and salt. Blend for an additional 10 seconds. Set mixture aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Place a 10-inch (25 cm) ovenproof, nonstick frying pan over medium heat and add butter.
- When the butter is heated, add apples and sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and remaining 1 tsp of sugar. Stir over heat until apples are evenly covered with cinnamon and sugar.
- Move the apples so that they are evenly spread in the pan.
- Pour batter over top of apples.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until bottom is firm, about 8 minutes. You will notice the edges are set.
- Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top of the pancake is firm, about 10 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven. Invert a flat plate over frying pan and flip the pancake onto the plate.
- Cut the pancake into 4 wedges and transfer wedges to individual plates. Dust each portion with confectioners’ sugar. Place a dollop of crème fraîche on each wedge and serve immediately.
- This pancake may inspire someone to read you poetry after they are finished eating their breakfast!
A slice of moist cake stuffed with blueberries and topped with crunchy streusel makes for a great start to any day.
Jack says muffins are cake. Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, a batch of these muffins is easy to whip up anytime. They’re a favorite with fried eggs and fresh fruit for a tasty, satisfying brunch. Today, I made the recipe again, but in a 9-inch springform pan for a lovely snack to go with afternoon tea. A warm slice of this cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would be an indulgent way to end a dinner – and an absolutely wrong way to begin your day!
Streusel-Topped Blueberry Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries or thawed frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners.
- Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Mix oil, egg and yogurt in a medium bowl.
- Stir oil mixture into flour mixture until just mixed.
- Fold in blueberries.
- Fill muffin cups right to the top.
- Mix together streusel topping ingredients.
- Place even amounts of topping on each muffin.
- Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven. A wooden stick inserted into center of muffin will come out clean when muffins are done.
Makes 12 streusel-topped blueberry muffins.