Thursday, May 23, 2013

Berry Pavlova

I've always heard about Pavlova and seen beautiful pictures of this dessert but have never gotten a chance to try it out. Pavlova is basically a meringue with a crisp crust on the outside and is pillowy soft inside. It's often topped with whipped cream and fruits.

According to wikipedia, Pavlova is named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina. Although the dessert has a Russian name, it is believed to have originated from New Zealand (or Australia) when the ballerina was there during or after one of her tours to those countries in the 1920s. The dessert is apparently a popular dish and is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals in New Zealand and Australia.

With some egg whites sitting in my fridge, I was contemplating between making friand, french macaron  or pavlova. I decided to go with Pavlova coz it seemed to be the easiest to make and I have some fresh berries at home that I can incorporate to the dessert. Plus, I'm always curious about this dessert.

I googled for a recipe and went with one I found on making slight changes. As I fear that the dessert will be too sweet, I reduced the sugar a little. The outcome was perfect, not overly sweet and light. The meringue is indeed crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. The berries paired nicely and they added some freshness to the dessert.  This is a dessert you could definitely eat more without feeling too guilty! I brought the dessert over to my neighbor's for dinner and I think they loved it! =)  Berries are in season now and this make a perfect summery dessert!

Here's the recipe with my changes. Note to self, hull the strawberries next time =)!

*Serves 8-10

  • 4 oz Egg White (About 4 Large egg whites)
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tsp Corn Flour
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream (Add 1/2 Cup - 1 Cup more if you want more cream)
  • 1/2 Cup - 3/4 Cup Blueberries
  • 8-10 Oz Strawberries, Halved
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9" circle on the parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in sugar, about 1 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until egg white is thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice and corn flour. 

Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper.Working from the center and spread mixture toward the outside edge, making a slight indentation in the middle and building the edge. Bake for 1 hour then cool on a wire rack. **See Note**

In a small bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form and set aside. Place the meringue on a flat serving plate. Fill the center of the meringue with whipped cream and then top it with the berries.

June's Notes: Sugar needs to be incorporated well into the meringue if not your meringue will "weep" when it bakes if the sugar is not entirely dissolved prior to baking. 

I made 2 smaller meringue instead of one big one. I placed both meringue on the same baking sheet, making them about 5 inches in diameter each with about 2-3 inches gap between the two. The pavlova will spread a little once it bakes. Since my meringue is slightly smaller, I baked it for about 50 minutes instead. 

A lot of the other recipes I saw asked for the meringue to cool down in the oven with the oven door ajar after it has baked. I read that by letting the meringue cool slowly in the oven as opposed to letting it cool at room temperature helps so that the meringue does not deflate too much.  As my meringue cooled down, the center deflated a little and created a little crater. I thought it was perfect as I could fill the "bowl" with whipped cream and fruits.  I don't know if the pavlova is supposed to deflate and crack at all once cooled or it should retain its shape right after baking.  Maybe next time, I'll cool it in the oven and compare the results.  If you're not a big fan of strawberries and/or blueberries, feel free to top it off with raspberries, kiwi, peaches, etc. 

 If you're a Pavlova connoisseur, tell me....what's a perfect Pavlova like??


Simply June 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dorayaki (Japanese Pancake with Red Bean Paste Filling)

One of my favorite Japanese desserts/cake is Dorayaki. It looks like 2 silver dollar pancakes filled with sweetened red bean paste in the middle. The pancake is slightly sweet and a little more dense than the regular western pancakes. This pancake is great for dessert or for breakfast and can be very portable! 

I made a healthier version of dorayaki a few years ago. Although it tasted pretty good, this recipe that I'm sharing with you today will taste more authentic! It takes quite a bit of patience to cook this pancake so that the color is nice and even. When making this, I also realized that the pan used is very important to achieve the perfect texture and color. I think it has something to do with the heat distribution of the pan. I made the dorayakis using a crepe pan from Crate and Barrel and they turned out perfect. The color was nice and even, and the pancakes developed bubbles as they cooked (see below) which  made them slightly lighter. Upon tasting the dorayaki I made, my neighbor asked me to show her how to make it. This time, we used 2 pans to cook the dorayaki in hopes that we can finish making this quicker. Little did we know a difference in the pan used will give us different results in the dorayaki. The ones I made using the crepe pan turned out perfect. The ones my neighbor made using a regular non-stick pan was a little dense, no bubbles developed when the pancakes were cooking and the color was not as even. We eventually used my crepe pan to finish the rest of the batter and it came out perfect! 

Anyway, I turned to my now favorite Japanese food blog for a dorayaki recipe and loved the end product. It was overall quite easy to make these yummy Japanese desserts. I made my dorayakis just a tad smaller so that I can make a little more dorayakis! =) Nami's blog is excellent with step by step instructions on making dorayaki. Here's the recipe extracted from Nami's blog. 

*Makes about 14 (2-1/2") dorayakis

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar (OK to reduce to 1/2 Cup)
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp Water
  • 1 Can/Package Sweetened Red Bean Paste (You will have some leftovers)

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar and honey. Whisk well until mixture has a lot of bubbles and is fluffy. Sift flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and mix well. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. 

Stir in 1/2 tbsp of water at a time to get the right consistency. The batter should be slightly thicker than regular pancake batter. If batter is too thin, dorayaki will be too flat and not fluffy. 

Heat a large non stick frying pan (in my case, crepe pan works perfectly!) over medium low to medium heat. Dip a piece of paper towel in oil and rub the bottom of the pan with oil. The pan should be slightly oiled but shouldn't be visible. Scoop the batter with a table spoon (for a smaller dorayaki) and drop the batter from about 1" above the pan to create a 2" diameter pancake (batter will continue to slightly spread). When you see the surface of batter starts to bubble, flip over and cook the other side just till it's slightly browned. Transfer to a plate and cover up with damp towel to prevent from drying. Repeat until all batter has been used up.

Before assembling, roughly pair 2 pancakes together to ensure they "match" properly. The nicer/more even surface will be the outer layer. Scoop a heaping teaspoon of red bean paste and place it in the center of the one the pancakes. Slightly spread the red bean paste to the side, but ensuring the center is slightly higher. Sandwich with another piece of pancake, gently pieces together. Wrap each assembled dorayaki with saran wrap until ready to serve.

Serve the dorayaki with some green tea or coffee. It's great for an afternoon pick me up!

June's Notes: I ended up adding 1 tbsp of water to the batter to slightly dilute it. Oiling the pan is very important. You need to ensure that no oil is visible as this is the trick to get a nice and even color on the pancake. I also noticed that the first batch after oiling the pan will usually turn out a little ugly; though still edible. The heat is also important, too high heat you'll get a burnt (and slightly under cooked) dorayaki. Too low, the dorayaki might not develop bubbles that it needs. It literally made about 3-4 bad pancakes to learn from my mistakes and yield perfect ones after. So, don't be discourage if you had some bad pancakes in the beginning! 

Amount of red bean paste to fill is up to your personal preference. Fill more (without it spilling out from the sides) if you like more, less if not..If you're not a fan of sweet red beans (though I think you're missing out!!), fill it with some peanut butter or perhaps nutella! 

Since these dorayaki does not have any preservatives, I wouldn't keep this for more than 3 days. The husband and I had no problems finishing the dorayakis in 2 days... They are so good and convenient to eat! 


Simply June 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Easy Grilled Pork Chop

With my new purchase of a grill pan from, I knew I needed to find a recipe so that I have an excuse to try my new toy. The picture is not the greatest, but the piece of meat was delicious. Lesson learnt, use a boneless piece of meat next time. I only had bone-in pork chops in my freezer and was lazy to get a boneless one from the store. It was definitely a bad idea coz it took a long time to cook the meat.

The recipe called for cumin in the marinate and as much as I like cumin, I at a first glance of the recipe thought it might taste funky. However, the reviews were I decided to go with the recipe anyway. To my surprise, the pork chop was delicious. The cumin was not very overpowering and all the seasoning was just right! I think the apple cider in the recipe helps to tenderize the meat too. 

Here's the recipe with my slight changes. Original recipe by Sunny Anderson can be found HERE.


*Serves 2

  • 2 Boneless (1/2" Thick) Pork Chops
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp Cayenne Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a resealable zip lock bag (large enough to fit the pork chops). Add in pork chops into the marinade, seal and give it a quick rub/massage. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Heat a grill pan (or a grill) over medium heat. Remove the pork chops from the bag and slightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook the pork chops until they release from the grill (about 4 minutes). Flip and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes. Once the pork chops are cooked through, remove and serve with optional grilled vegetables of your choice of sides.

June's Notes: I sliced up some zucchini and par boiled some mini potatoes, tossed them in a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper to taste and cook them on the grill pan since I have some room on the side.


Simply June 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quick Pickle Japanese Cucumber Salad

I'm not sure if this dish is of Japanese or Korean origin. I first had this salad at a sushi restaurant and it was delicious. When I was searching for a recipe to replicate the dish I had, I came across this recipe HERE which called it Korean cucumber salad.

Since I first tasted this at a Japanese restaurant, and I'm slightly tweaking the recipe I found on, I'm going to just call it (Quick Pickle) Japanese Cucumber Salad. I hope you will enjoy this quick pickle cucumber salad as much as I do. Here's the super easy recipe with my slight changes.

*Serves 3-4

  • 4-5 Persian Cucumbers
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • About 1 Tbsp Salt 
  • 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1/4 Tsp - 1/2 Tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
Thinly slice cucumbers (skin on) with a mandoline (watch those fingers!) and place in a glass or porcelain bowl. Sprinkle cucumber slices with salt and sugar and gently toss to combine. Add vinegar and stir to coat all the cucumber slices. Cover and refrigerate the cucumbers for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seed before serving.

June's Notes: You can let the cucumbers marinate 2-3 hours before serving. You can also let it sit overnight, although I think the crunchiness is slightly lost due to the long pickling. Do not keep the cucumbers more than 24 hours as it's no longer as tasty. =)

Don't worry if it looks like there's not enough liquid in the pickling. The cucumber will release more liquid as it "marinates". If you can't find Persian cucumbers (which are smaller), English cucumbers are ok too. 1 English cucumber should suffice.


Simply June 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Marmite Honey Wings

The husband and I love wings; fried, grilled, roasted, etc! With some pieces of wings in the freezer, I decided to make some wings for dinner. As I don't want to start up the grill or fill up a pot of oil just to cook a few pieces of chicken, I opted to just pan fry them over the stove.

I decided to use some marmite to marinate the wings. Growing up I remember eating marmite in congee but never really had it as a sauce in a dish.  Marmite is a yeast extract, by product of making beer. It's dark, syrupy, salty and does have a slight bitter taste too. Not everyone like it distinct (and weird?) taste. Since I grew up with it, I was fine with the taste.  In the US, you can usually find it in the British Food aisle and it'll cost about $6-8 for a small jar.

In this recipe, I added some sweet and tangy elements to slightly mask the strong flavor of marmite. Here's the recipe! I bet it will be as tasty if cooked over charcoal grill as well.

*Serves 3-4 

  • 12 Chicken Wing Segments
  • 1 Tbsp Marmite
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tsp Oil 
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 1/4 Tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds (Optional)
Mix marmite, honey, ketchup and oyster sauce in a bowl. Add chicken wings and marinate for about 1 hour. 

Heat a frying pan with 2 tsp of oil over medium heat. Add marinated chicken (do not pour in the marinade juice) into the pan, season with fresh cracked black pepper and fry each side for about 1-2 minutes until you get a nice caramelization on the skin. 

Then add all the marinade juice and 2 tbsp of water into the pan and lower heat to medium low. Cover and let the wings cook for about 25-30 minutes turning them 1-2 times. Once the wings are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with optional sesame seeds and serve immediately with or without warm rice.


Simply June 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Korean Seasoned Spinach Banchan / Sigumchi Namul

With a little Korean bbq party planned at our patio, we needed to shop for some meat to cook and some banchan (Korean side dish) to accompany all that meat. I knew I needed a variety of spicy and non spicy banchan and decided to make some non spicy one myself. That way, we can control what goes into the dish and yes, save a bit of money while at it.

I had recalled eating a spinach side dish (Sigumchi Namul) at Korean restaurants and loving it. I also vaguely remember my mom saying it's quite easy to make. I think! After searching for different versions recipe, I decided to roughly do it my way, without garlic and green onion like some recipes required. I don't know if it's as authentic anymore, but it's surely is delicious and healthy! This dish can be eaten immediately or kept for a couple days. I made this a day ahead so that the spinach can absorb as much flavor as possible and so that I don't have too much things to do the day of the bbq. Here's the recipe!

*Serves 4-6

  • 2 Bunches Spinach (About 1-1/2 lbs total)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Low Sodium)
  • 3 Tsp Sesame Seed Oil
  • 1 Tsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
Trim the ends of the spinach, remove any wilted leaves and then wash the spinach thoroughly. Prepare an ice bath; a bowl of water with a lot of ice. Boil a large pot of water (large enough to fit the spinach) over high heat. 

Once the water is boiling, blanch the spinach for about 30 seconds. Then, quickly remove and place in the ice bath immediately to stop the cooking and cool the spinach. This will also help retain the beautiful green. Drain and squeeze it gently to remove as much water as possible.

Cut the spinach a few times and set it in a bowl. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Using a chopstick, toss and mix well. Transfer onto a serving plate and serve immediately with some rice and your favorite meat dish. Alternatively, keep it covered and refrigerated (you can keep up to 3 days) until ready to consume.

June's Notes: You can definitely add more soy sauce and sesame seed oil to your preference. Start with the amount in the recipe first, taste then add more if you want a little more salt in your dish. 


Simply June 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Salmon Teriyaki

I recently stumbled upon this lovely Japanese cooking blog and have since fell in love with it. The recipes posted are easy and the dished come out delicious! I have since tried a few other Japanese recipes from her blog with delicious results.

With a piece of salmon I got on sale, I decided to cook up some teriyaki salmon for the husband and I. Right away, I knew I had to look up Nami's blog: Just One Cook Book for this dish and was delighted to see that she has a recipe for it. I had most of the ingredients in the pantry and was able to make salmon teriyaki as planned.

Unfortunately, I did not have sake in my pantry but was able to use dry sherry as a substitute. I cut my piece of salmon fillet to larger pieces than what the recipe asked for; so cooking time was slightly longer. Result was a very delicious piece of teriyaki salmon; one each for the husband and I and extra for my neighbor. We served the salmon teriyaki with some steam rice with furikake and clam miso soup. Dinner that day was super yums!

Here's the recipe adapted from Nami's blog. The instructions on her blog are clear with step by step pictures.

*Serves 2


  • 2 Salmon Fillets, Skin On (About 3/4" thick - the skin will hold the flesh together when cooking)
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Dry Sherry ( or Sake)
  • 1/4 Tsp Toasted Sesame Seed (Optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Green Onion (Optional)
Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp Dry Sherry ( or Sake)
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin (or 1 Tbsp Sake + 1 Tsp Sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce 

Combine the sauce ingredients and mix well until sugar is mostly dissolved. 

Rinse salmon and pat dry with paper towel. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and black pepper. Then sprinkle 1/2 tbsp of flour on one side of the salmon and spread evenly. Flip over and do the same to the other side. Gently remove the excess flour. 

In a frying pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Do not burn butter and if the pan gets too hot, reduce heat or remove from heat temporarily. Add salmon fillets, skin side down and cook the salmon for about 3 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned and crisp. 

Add dry sherry and cover with lid. Steam the salmon for 3 minutes or until it's cooked through. Transfer the salmon to a plate. Then, add sauce ingredients to the pan and heat it up. When the sauce starts to boil, add salmon back in the pan and spoon sauce over the salmon. When the sauce thickens, turn off the heat. Transfer salmon and sauce onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with optional sesame seeds and green onions and serve immediately with some warm rice.

June's Notes: As the piece of salmon I used was big, I seared both sides of the fish (starting with the skin side first) for a couple minutes to ensure it's cooked through. 


Simply June 
Related Posts with Thumbnails