here and there

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chinese Green Pancakes

Yesterday, I decided to do Chinese Pancakes with my Granddaughter as she had loved the purchased ones her mom had bought for an Appetizer on Father's Day.  I cringed at the calorie count for these babies.

Perhaps there was a healthier version, but after looking  at the different videos and recipes, I don't think so!

The dough for these pancakes is basically flour, salt and water.  The dough is like pyrohy dough or flatbread.  The process of layering fat is very much like making Croissants or Salenjaci which I have blogged about. 

This layered flatbread is called "Bing" in Chinese and comes from Northern China.  Check out this video of the pancakes made at a street vendor.  Chinese Green Onion Pancakes China Shanghai.

Using the flowing recipe

2 c flour
1c hot water*
Mix together, then knead, let rest for 30 minutes
*boiling water is used in most of the recipes, But I do think this recipe needed more water. I would use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups so the dough is stickier/

Divide the dough into 4 portions
Roll the dough as thin as possible, then oil the dough

Fold a third over, then the other side, roll again to make a very thin sheet

Add oil to the dough. I used Olive oil but lard or chicken fat is said to be better.. Now where would I find Chicken fat?

One of the sites, sprinkled flour and coarse salt over the oil.  This site added the following as did the street vendor in the video above.

Paste and seasonings
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • (Optional) 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Fat or melted lard    

This site also added sunshine egg to the top of the pancake as a garnish 

Add the chopped green onion, but certainly I should have added more as in the above video on the street vendor that makes this pancakes. Since I had scapes from my garlic, I added these.  My granddaughter also thought grated carrots would be great!

Roll up the dough as a pinwheel and flat the roll to release air, oil the strip and roll up to form a small disc.

Roll out the disc to form a flat pancake

Fry in a hot Cast Iron pan

Dipping sauce;

Egual portions of soya sauce, rice vinegar, water
Add mince garlic, chopped green onions, pepper flakes and minced fresh ginger

This video is too cute to not include... Enjoy!

video video

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bun Rieu, Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Soup

I love using Instagram as I gleam many ideas from the postings.  Recently a posting of Bon Rieu sent me on a search of this recipe and what makes this soup authentic.   The addition of mixed seafood, ground pork and egg to a hot broth made me wonder if this was done as one tired of making wonton dumplings and wanted to use up the mixture quickly! 

I first saw the soup picture below on Instagram posted by the Little Vietnamese Kitchen, and wasn't quite sure what it was.  Thuy Pham Kelly runs her own restaurant in London and a place I would love to visit.

Here is a video of her making chicken soup

Before my nursing reunion in Winnipeg, I was having my nails done and was given the soup recipe by the two young women that were doing my nails.  They became excited to know that I wanted to make this recipe.  The translation of this recipe by these Vietnamese speaking women was lost on me, until the owner's young niece came to our aid.  She did forward me a recipe and I did research many sites.  Some recipes used so many purchased items for this soup that lead me to look for a soup that used fresh items only. 

This is an incredible picture that was posted on Instagram by Thuy Pham Kelly. Where would you begin?

Bun Rieu, Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Soup


Pork Broth
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 -4 cloves garlic
  • 6 medium tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed
  • 10 cups water
  • Pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or salt
  • 1- 1 1/2  Tamarind soup mix or vinegar
Rieu (crab mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 5.6 ounce cans “minced crab in spices (gia vi nau bun rieu)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped 
  • 3.5 ounces dried shrimp
  • 1 -2 eggs, beaten

A lot of the products for this soup are listed in blogs can only be found in Asian stores.   I am not quite sure what the authentic taste of this soup is.  This recipe was said to have been developed by those not in Vietnam and not having readily available fresh Crab or Tamarind.   Dried shrimp was also used in making the Rieu.  

I find that Pork Rib bones are harder and harder to buy in the local supermarket, but plentiful  at the Asian Market.

Making the Stock

Fill a large pot with water, add salt, then the washed rib bones, bring to boil and parboil the ribs until semi cooked.
The Vietnamese add a very interesting step in making their broths. 
They throw out the water and wash the meat again

Starting fresh, fill the pot up with fresh water, add salt, an onion and some bay leaves.
Bring to boil, skim the top if necessary, then reduce to simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

One of the things my Mom always did for a clear broth was to pour the hot broth through muslin cloth which I did. 

I was able to find this Tamarind soup base in the Asian market with some help.  According to The Spruce
Tamarind is a sour, dark fruit that grows in a pod. While some cuisines use tamarind to make desserts and even candy, in Thai cooking it is used mostly in savory dishes.  When combined with sugar, tamarind gives dishes a beautiful sweet-sour flavor.  

A tablespoon of Tamarind Soup base was added to the soup. 

I did see some recipes where vinegar were added and I would think that vinegar would work as well if you can not find this soup base. 

I also must add that after making such a clear broth, the soup mix muddied the broth, which vinegar would not!  Some recipes for this soup calls for Fish sauce. 

Preparing the tomatoes

quarter the tomatoes
1-2 chopped shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
Saute in oil, until tomatoes soft
gently stir to not break up the tomatoes
Some of the recipes used only minced garlic, others only used minced garlic
I used both.
Some of recipes just added  the tomatoes uncooked to the broth and then added the sugar into the broth

Making the Rieu

The dried shrimp were also found in the refrigeration area of the Asian market. The shrimp needs to be washed a couple of times and then soaked in hot water for 1 -2 hours to make it easier to chop. This liquid that the dried shrimp soaked in can be added to the broth.

You could also pulse the dried shrimp in your food processor.  Personally if you can't find them, I would not worry about it.  I would just add more fresh shrimp or crab, not to mention the cost was five dollars a bag.  

The one item that I do believe was amazing tasting was the canned Minced Shrimp in spices.  The label read "gia vi nau bun rieu" and added a great flavor! Some blogger said this made the soup.  However, this can also be omitted as does have a lot of additives and oil.  Check out this recipe by Run Away Rice.  as she suggests to just add more seafood.  

Mix the ground pork, canned minced shrimp, dried shrimp,garlic, green onion, fresh shrimp.  I like the look of a coarse mixture and also like to see what I'm eating, so I mixed this by hand.  But you could also pulse this in a Food Processor.  Some of the recipes also did not use ground pork only the seafood to make the rieu. 

Add the tomatoes to the soup, bring to boil. If Tomatoes are uncooked, cook them until soft.
Add the Rieu or meat and shrimp mixture to the boiling broth.   Some of the recipes suggest adding the mixture in small spoonful so that you have small meat patties.  My recipe suggested dumping everything in at the same time. I would add it in spoonfuls the next time for smaller patties.
Reduce heat to simmer 
The soup is ready when the rieu flows to the surface.

As with the picture above from the Little Vietnamese Kitchen, garnish is most important. 

Slices of Lime, Bean sprouts, hot sauce and herbs like basil, cilantro, perilla leaves and water spinach are set out for garnish.  The water spinach uses a special tool to cut the stems.  Cabbage or celery can be be also used

I will be making the soup again, but relying more on fresh products and added more tomatoes to the soup. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Country Babka

One of the Breads that is made at Easter is called Babka.  The word Babka or Baba is the Ukrainian word for Grandmother.  Folklore suggests that that Babka Bread originated in prehistoric times when women ruled Ukrainian communities.  Traces of Matriarchal society are evident in folk songs, role of women in a family and the rank of women in the community.  There is also Archeological finds and evidence of a Matriarchal system in ancient settlements of the Trypillyan Culture which suggest religious rituals preformed by women priestesses.  Some of the rituals connecting with fertility of soil may have used this bread in the ritual.  Certainly growing up with very strong women in my family, these findings  are no surprise to me. 

Babka Bread is a sweet yeast dough that has raisins and is baked in a tall cylinder container.  My Mom used a large coffee tin as did many of her friends.   This bread is very rich, spongy and very light due to the large number of eggs, butter, milk and sugar in the recipe.  

The recipe that I have been making over the years comes from Traditional Ukrainian Cookery by Savella Stechishin.. My Mom also started to use this recipe as she did not like the Babka Bread made with a lot of eggs.  My grandmother use saffron in her Babka Bread, something I was going to try but forget to add the saffron. 

This recipe is very similar to the recipe that Martha Stewart's Mom made and a very lovely video is online of the two of them making Babka.  Their Babka Bread was made using a Food processor and Bundt pans. The use of a food processor surprised me, given the age Martha's Mom..

Most Babka recipes start with making a sponge and letting it rise for one hour.


  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 T traditional Yeast 
  • 1 cup scalded milk, lukewarm
  • 1 cup  flour
Mix together  yeast, sugar and warm water. let stand about 10 minutes until you see bubbles.

Mix in the flour and milk.  Let sit for for about an hour, until the sponge is light and bubbly.

  • 6 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2c sugar
  • lemon juice and rind
  • 1c butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1c Golden Raisins
  • 1c Citron peel
  • 5 1/2 c flour
Beat eggs, gradually add sugar while beating the mixture
Beat in butter, vanilla and lemon
Combine with the sponge mixture.

Add in the flour a cup at a time and mix with spoon until you can no longer do this

Knead the dough until it is smooth and does not stick to your hands.  Add in the raisins, glazed fruit and knead until this is incorporated into the bread. 

Cover with saran wrap and let rise until double in size.  

The bread is much nicer if you let this dough rise again after being punched down. This step was always done by my grandmother but not my Mother.

Prepare the pans, grease well and use parchment to the line the tin cans.
Fill the tins about 1/3.  This recipe uses about 3 coffee tins.  When forming the Babaka, make sure the top is smooth for a nicer looking bread 

Let rise until double in size. 

Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.  Some recipes suggest a hot oven for 10- 15 minutes, then 350 for the rest of the baking time. 
Adjust the baking time for the of the size pans.

Let the bread cool in the tins for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Cool on a soft surface and turn to prevent setting.. 

This is something I forgot to do and my bread did settle.  I did take them out too quickly from the tin and cooled them on wire rack and they did settle on one side. 

Do check out Martha Stewart delightful video of her Mom making Babka..

I have compared the different portions of three recipes, one is the Country Babka, Martha Stewart's Mom and one my sister makes which is out to the Roblin Manitoba Catholic Women cookbook.  My sister recipe is very close to mine.  Martha's Mom uses more milk, thus she needs more flour to make her recipe.  Yet all of them do not use tons of eggs as most Babka recipes do! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Poached egg on Asparagus with white sauce.

This had to be the most delicious lenten dish that was prepared this Lent.  With the arrival of pencil thin fresh asparagus from the states, we have been enjoying this vegetable very much. 

With fresh asparagus in the supermarket, this is a simple but an elegant dish full of spring flavors!  My husband requested this dish as his Mom made this as a lenten dish. His Mom would make a basic white sauce to top over the poached eggs. 

Since I was out of bread, I made pan fried bread from the Refrigerator dough I had previously. This is something my Mom did as she was waiting for her bread to proof. I loved this treat with Cheese Whiz or with some of her homemade jam.  As a kid, I loved how the spread or jam would melt on the hot bread. 

A White Sauce  was prepared for the dish.  Grated cheese can be added to the sauce, but this plain sauce works perfectly with poached egg and roasted asparagus. 

Although the asparagus my Mom in law used was canned, fresh asparagus was roasted for a few minutes in a toaster oven. The ends were snapped, a drizzle of olive oil, some grounded black pepper and baked for 4 minutes.    Delicious!

To this I added fresh spinach and smoked salmon.