NoT Halloween – Squash/Pumpkin pancakes – nán guā bǐng 南瓜饼

squash bing

I ate a lot of these in Beijing…

Chewy little pancakes, slightly crisp and nutty on the outside and chewy on the inside. Rolling in sesame seeds before frying adds nuttiness.

There are no exact measurements for this recipe, quantities vary according to the size and water content of the pumpkin.

Use roughly between 1:1 and 1:2; pumpkin: glutinous rice/ mochi flour.

Eat as they are, or with fruit and honey/condensed milk/ gula melaka syrup/ ice cream.. .

Ingredients

200g roasted pumpkin/ squash (roughly 1/2 squash)
200-300g glutinous rice flour/ mochi flour
sesame seeds (optional)
vegetable oil (for frying)

Method

Cut the pumpkin/ squash into large sections, remove seeds and roast for 30 minutes (or until soft) at 200C/390F.
Scoop the flesh out from the skins and mash, removing as many lumps as possible.
Weigh the squash (mass/ volume) and add equal amounts of glutinous rice flour.
Mix until a smooth dough is formed, adding more flour if necessary. It should be a bit like play-dough, will form a ball, not sticky.
If dough is too dry, sprinkle a teaspoon of water, gradually adding until the right consistency is formed.
Divide dough into balls about an inch or so in diameter (or however big you like ’em).
Roll in sesame seeds (if required).
If you have big balls (!) you can boil the bing first, to speed up the cooking time.
To boil: add the balls to a pan of boiling water, cook until they float to the top, then drain.
Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and fry the balls until they’re golden brown on the outside.
If they seem to stick to the pan, they’re merely not done yet, so give them a little while longer.
Serve immediately and EAT with anything you like :)

Sen Nin, Islington: Crazy cheap Express Lunch menu

Sen Nin, Islington branch is an expensive looking teppanyaki restaurant that isn’t actually that expensive and has an incredibly reasonably priced express lunch menu, which is available on Saturdays.

Appetisers such as gyoza, edamame are £2.50, bento, rice bowls, sushi, or noodles are all £5 each

Sen Nin bento

Gyoza (not pictured) would have been preferably a little crisper, but the yaki soba had plenty of (the japanese equivalent of) wok hei, and the pork belly katsu bento was very hearty, pork belly meltingly soft and the curry sauce was very pleasant.

A bento box/main would be substantial for 1 person, with 3 highly ravenous people, splitting 2 appetisers, 4 mains, and a bottle of prosecco, £18 per head (including service) is incredibly reasonable for the area.

Perfect fodder for an autumnal afternoon.

Sen Nin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Banh Mi Town, W1

banh mi town

Banh Mi Town would make a fantastic lunch stop but is also good for a healthy, quick meal in Central London, away from the craziness and tourist traps of Soho/ Oxford Street.

They aren’t licensed so if, for example, you’re visiting as an early evening pit stop en-route to a recording of a Radio 4 “Comedy” show, be sure to top-up your hip flask somewhere nearby.

Pho/ noodle dishes are all around £6-7, banh mi around £5, so works out around £10 per person including a (non-alcoholic) drink.

Banh Mi Town Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butter Tart Squares

this is officially the most rapid way to inhale calories that does not involve consuming pure saturated fat

butter tart squares

Butter Tart Squares: “Square” (ie. tray-bake) version of Butter Tarts, a “quintessentially Canadian” dessert, shortbread-type base, with the topping/ filling a combo of sugar/ eggs/ butter and raisins/ walnuts.

Similar to: pecan pie (with raisins added/ substituted) or ecclefechan

Best eaten on Vancouver Island, sitting on a beach, chilling with sea lions n otters n such, but also delicious in shitty cities (ie. London).

Based on this recipe from CD Kitchen (minus the oats)

175C, 9″ square cake tin (lined)

Ingredients
base
1 cup/ 200g plain flour
1/2 cup/ 100g butter
1/4 cup/ 50g sugar (white or brown, doesn’t matter)

topping
1/4 cup/50g melted butter
1 cup/200g brown sugar
1/4 cup/ 2tbsp honey
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins/ walnuts (some combination thereof)

Method
base
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs, then stir in the sugar.
Press into the lined cake tin and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven to cool and prepare filling

topping
Stir together topping ingredients, pour onto base.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the topping has set (it won’t wobble when you take it out of the oven)
Cool completely, slice and eat.

CNY Pineapple Mango Tarts aka Greedy Tarts

pineapple mango tarts

Confession: I’m not the massive-est fan of pineapple tarts, but baked these in some attempt to appease family/ ancestral guilt
Confession 2: I altered the recipe to be the opposite of what pineapple tarts are supposed to be like. ie. pastry shell: less crumbly and more solid, jam: less sweet

Makes approximately 20 tarts – 10g filling, 12-15 g cookie layer

Pineapple “Jam” filling

1 can pineapple, drained
2 tbsp/ 40g sugar
50-100g dried mango, chopped
1-1.5 tbsp cornflour
plain/ all purpose flour – dusting, optional

Blend or grate the pineapple until almost pureed
In a small saucepan, simmer pineapple with sugar and dried mango until liquid has dried up and the pineapple is golden
Add cornflour and cook for another few more minutes
Cool pineapple completely, then form into 10g balls. Lightly dust hands with plain flour if the filling is sticky.

“Pastry”
Almond cookie dough used for the tart “shell”
Use 1/3 quantity of the almond cookie recipe, omitting the baking powder (if you remember) instructions here (based on an awesome almond cookie recipe from Everybody Eats Well in Flanders).
Plus: glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1-2tsp water

Method
Form the pineapple filling into 10g balls, using a light dusting of plain flour if the filling is too sticky.
Form the almond cookie dough into 12-15g balls.

Roll each cookie dough ball out to a circle big enough to wrap the pineapple balls.
It may be helpful to roll the cookie dough between sheets of cling film, to avoid it getting too sticky/ crumbly.
If you’re having trouble wrapping the tarts, you can also use the cling film to form the tarts by placing a ball of filling onto a circle of cookie dough, then gathering the cling film up and twisting, which will gradually press it all into a round wrapped ball.

“Mend” any cracks in the tarts by gently smoothing them over with a flat edge eg. butter knife.

Glaze the tarts with egg yolk and bake at 150C for about 15 minutes (until golden brown)

baking pineapple tarts

If you have any leftover almond cookie dough, bake some almond cookies :)