Buttermilk Crepes -or- A Tale of Two Pancakes

The boy is a huge fan of pancakes. While any form they might take will be greeted with glee, his favorite ones are the classic European sort (flat, eggy and eaten rolled up with jam). Just like his mother and grandmother make, obviously. Now, the pancakes I knew growing up were a bit different — while my mother didn’t really make any herself (our family’s idea of “breakfast” was never in tune with the American norm), we had them fairly frequently at school functions — fluffy, cake-like, and eaten in a stack with maple syrup and butter. So the first …

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Steamed Eggs (Chawanmushi or Water Egg)

So, every mom has some sort of special dish they make for when you are sick. Most Americans whip out the chicken noodle soup. My mom preferred to make either rice porridge or steamed eggs. Mmm, steamed eggs. In Taiwanese, we called them “diem nung” which translated into something along the lines of dunked eggs. It’s chawanmushi in Japanese. They’re pretty much a savory custard, soft and silken and just lightly seasoned. It’s all about the texture — done properly, it jiggles when you hold it, scoops like soft tofu and melts in your mouth like the creamiest flan. I …

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Viili Viili Good.

So one of the great things about Finland is that they’re big on lactose free and reduced lactose dairy products. While all I could get in the States was milk and maybe some vanilla ice cream if I was lucky, practically every dairy product here comes in different lactose gradients. Considering that I’ve spent most of my life working around the dairy problem, the variety here is almost mind-boggling. It’ll take me a while to work my way through everything, for sure. In addition to the above, the dairy section also includes a ginormous aisle of yogurt and yogurt-related products, …

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Going Out: Costa Mesa Omelette Parlor

There’s a certain hierarchy of breakfast restaurants. On the bottom, in great profusion, you have the mediocre chain pancake places that serve dependable-if-slightly-rubbery plates of fried batter coated in flavored corn syrup. You don’t feel bad about going to these in your dumpiest t-shirt and PJ bottoms because — let’s face it — if you’re there, it’s either an ungodly hour when nothing else is open or you’re desperately hungry with nothing else edible in the fridge and the laundry’s probably not been done either. Kind of the same reason you’d be at a McDonald’s, come to think of it. …

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Pannukakku/Dutch Baby/German Pancake

One pancake, a multitude of names. I’m going with pannukakku here because 1) it’s what the boy calls it, 2) it’s kinda fun to say, 3) it’s origin non-specific unlike the other two common names used in the US, and 4) it sounds better than “oven pancake”. Basically, what all of these names are referring to is a batter-based sweet baked breakfast dish with a consistency somewhere between Yorkshire pudding and quiche. The other main defining characteristic is its soufflé-like tendency to rise very high while baking, only to collapse upon being left out to cool. (I’m not saying that …

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Bread Machine Love: Spiced Applesauce Bread

So while you all know I love the banana bread, the boy is not such a big fan of it. He believes bananas should only be eaten in their original unaltered state. So in an attempt to introduce another form of sweet breakfast bread into the repertoire, I made up some spiced applesauce bread the other day. He tried a bit of it and didn’t mind it, which is at least a better reaction than what I get when I even suggest banana bread. Still not what I was hoping for, though. All the same, I found the applesauce bread …

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Bread Machine Love: Banana Quickbread Edition

I have a slight obsession with bread machines. My parents got our first one in the early 90’s, when I was in junior high. I remember trying out many experimental concoctions (with varying degrees of success) using that poor machine, and am amazed at how long it survived despite the abuse I put it through. Noting how attached I’d gotten to it, my parents gave it over to my ownership when I moved away to university. It went with me through two schools, countless LA apartments, and finally ended up here in our little home. That trusty old machine only recently met its end …

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The Gravlax Experiments.

As most of you may know, I’ve been visiting Finland twice a year for a while now. This has given me plenty of chances to sample Nordic cuisine and of the many things that I’ve become a fan of, their amazing gravlax selection (readily available in little plastic packets in the deli section) is definitely one of the biggest. The cured salmon they have out there is much closer to raw — smooth and buttery — than the stuff we manage to find here. Most of the lox we get here in SoCal is the smoked stuff, which is usually …

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