25 June 2015

Ginger Syrup for Homemade SodaStream Ginger Ale

0 remarks
Mmmm....Soda.  I used to drink Coke like it was going out of style and my waistband didn't appreciate it.  I dropped it cold turkey along with all other soft drinks for a while.  Nowadays, I allow myself to have a soda every now and then.  Nothing can be too bad in moderation, right?
I began to appreciate the specialty soda's.  Virgil's, Reed's, Jones Soda's, and the like.  I also enjoyed trying all the different soft drinks at Club Cool in Epcot when we went to Disney World.  That got me thinking; maybe I should start making my own soda.
Queue, the SodaStream.  I first experimented with a blueberry soda and it was delicious.  My sights then turned to a classic cola syrup.  I wanted one with real sugar, and no artificial flavors or colors.  Basically, I wanted to match Coke, but I failed miserably with the formulas I found and tried.  So, I put that idea on the back-burner for the forseable future. 
Then, I thought about Shire Water.  Shire Water is a mixed drink of Jameson Whiskey and ginger ale served at our local pub, Cook McDoogal's.  I could make my own ginger ale for Shire Water!  I set out in search of a ginger syrup recipe and found this little gem.

The syrup is just what I was looking for in a ginger ale, and it makes one heck of a good Shire Water.  The spices make all the difference.  There is a wonderful ginger flavor that isn't too overpowering, with just the right sweetness, and a wonderfully spicy finish.  Throw in a shot or two of Jameson, and you have yourself one darned good beverage. 
Ginger Syrup for Ginger Ale

2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 ounces peeled and sliced ginger
2 teaspoons cardamom pods
1 teaspoons whole allspice
1 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 star anise pods

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, brown sugar, and ginger. Toast the whole spices in a heavy-bottomed pan until they just begin to brown and become fragrant. Add them to the ginger mixture and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to steep until cool. Once cool, strain into a clean container and store in the refrigerator to chill. Add 2 Tbsp of syrup for every 12 ounces of soda water.

12 June 2015

Spiced Toast

0 remarks
To round out the Thai themed VBS snack menu, we are going to serve spiced toast and fresh fruit.  Similar to the sticky rice showcasing Thai sauces, plain old buttered white bread toast will be the vehicle to showcase some spices regularly used in Thailand.
The spices we will have available for the kids to try include:
It's hard to pass up cinnamon, but I may have to go with cardamom for this tasty treat.

11 June 2015

Sticky Rice

0 remarks
I felt like my Thai themed snack menu would only be complete if I included sticky rice.  I initially thought about taking the sweet route for the sticky rice snack, but ultimately decided that the rice would make a good vehicle to showcase some Thai sauces. 
This method worked perfectly on Ari the other night when I cooked up a pot of rice, dished it out with an ice cream scoop, and gave him some sauces to dip into.  We had soy sauce and a Thai sweet chili sauce at home, and I plan on also having a sweet and sour sauce option for VBS.  He loved it, ultimately choosing soy sauce over the sweet chili sauce.
I had never cooked sticky rice before and it definitely lives up to its name.  The grains of rice just cling together, but they are not at all mushy.  The rice ball stays together on its own and we were able to eat it with our hands, even after dipping in the sauce.  Delicious! 

10 June 2015

Flour Roll Cracker (Thong moun) with Spiced Pastry Cream

0 remarks
The third and final true recipe I found for my church's Cross-Culture Thai VBS came from a website called Thai Cuisine!. This is also the one that gave me the most fits. It seemed simple enough. Make a batter, pour it into a press, cook it until it's done, roll it up, fill it with cream, and devour. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I asked my sister Angela if I could borrow her pizzelle maker to make these crackers, and she kindly entrusted it to me. I was all set, the batter was made, the iron was hot, and so I lubed the top and bottom plates, dished out my first couple portions and closed the lid. When the light turned green, I opened the iron to unveil the horror. The batter had completely fused to the top and bottom of the irons. I don't know how to describe it, but it wasn't pretty.
I looked over the recipe again to see if I missed an ingredient or seven, but everything looked good in that regard. I then thought maybe the grooves on the pizzelle irons were too deep, and that's why the batter just stuck to them. It occurred to me that the batter was thin like crepe batter, so I got out my crepe pan, heated it, added some butter and dished some batter on to the pan. Again, horror, except this time I watched it happen before my eyes. The batter just spread out and bubbled on the crepe pan leaving nothing but a sticky mess. It was definitely time for plan C.
As Valerie diligently chiseled away the remnants from the pizzelle iron, I decided to add more wheat flour to the batter. About 1 cup more. I thought if I thickened the batter it wouldn't spread out so much on the pizzelle iron and would be sturdier. After I mixed the flour into the batter, I did a test run on the crepe pan, and it worked like a charm. It set up like a little pancake, and it tasted very good.
I moved on to the pizzelle maker and the crackers came out beautifully. My main problem now was getting them to roll. Most of the crackers fell apart when I tried to roll them, so I ended up just leaving them flat. Since I am making 300 of them, I figured I should take the less frustrating route. It ended up not really being a "roll" cracker, but all the flavors are still there.
As far as the cream filling, it couldn't be easier. The original recipe didn't call for the ginger, cinnamon or cardamom, but I thought those would bring more of a Thai feel to the dish. The cream isn't very sweet, but the crackers make up for it as they back more of a sweet punch of flavor. Just make sure to add the cream just before serving as the crackers do tend to get a little soggy. The two of them put together really make for a delightfully sweet and spicy combination.
Flour Roll Cracker (Thong moun)

1 cup (125 grams) tapioca flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 chicken egg
1 cup coconut cream

1.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, coconut sugar and salt.
2.  To the dry mixture, slowly whisk in the egg and coconut cream.  Continue to whisk until smooth and soft.
3.  Pre-heat the mold and pour the mixture into the mold.

Ingredients for Cream Filling
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
3.4 oz (100 ml) Water
3.4 oz (100 ml) Evaporated Milk
5 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Corn Flour

1.  Whisk the egg with the sugar, salt, and spices.
2.  In a medium saucepan, combine the water, evaporated milk, butter, and corn flour and heat to a simmer.
3.  Temper the egg mixture into the hot mixture.
4.  Cook over a low heat until the cream is mixed and thick, then leave to cool.

09 June 2015

Crunchy Coconut Balls (Kanom Pia)

0 remarks
My journey into the world of Thai snacks continued when I found this recipe.  Again from Appon's Thai Food, these crunchy coconut balls looked perfectly simple and delicious for our Thai themed VBS.

I have made these little beauties twice, and the second batch turned out much better than the first.  The big difference was my method of getting them on the baking sheet.  Instead of the pinch and roll method, I used a piping bag, and it resulted in a much crunchier uniform bite; and it was quicker, too.

The reason I chose to pipe these out is because this recipe technique reminds me a lot of making pâte à choux.  Though not exactly the same, the dough has a certain sticky quality that reminded me of making cream puffs.  The final baked product is much different, though.

The crunchy coconut balls are indeed crunchy, so I would suggest not making them any bigger than the recipe suggests.  In fact, you could even go smaller.  They are crunchy, coconut-ty, and a little sweet.  It is hard to eat just one.  These are not enough for a full snack on their own, but I will pair them with fruit or just have some around for the kids and volunteers to munch on.

Crunchy Coconut Balls (Kanom Pia)

3/4 cup Cassava Starch or Tapioca Flour (100 grams)
1 cup Coconut Milk (230 ml)
3/4 cup Sugar (150 grams)
2 Egg Yolks
1 Teaspoon Butter

1.  In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk and sugar on a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
2.  Turn the heat off and temper the eggs yolks into the mixture.
3.  Put the cassava starch into a dry frying pan and dry-fry for 20-30 seconds over a high heat. This will give the starch a slightly toasted flavor.
4.  Add the starch to the coconut mulk mixture and constantly stir over low heat until it forms a thick sticky dough, about 5 minutes.
5.  Grease a baking tray with parchment paper and a little butter.
6.  Use a piping bag or take off pieces of the dough and press them into 2cm diameter balls and place them on the tray.
7.  Bake at 170 degrees celsius (338 degrees faranheight) for 1 hour or until brown.

08 June 2015

Thai Sandwich Cake (Ka-Noom-Pan Sungkayha)

0 remarks
Vacation Bible School (VBS) has changed a lot since I was a kid.  I remember just hanging out in the church basement singing "This Little Light of Mine" and "I've Got the Joy".  We'd drink some Little Hug Fruit Barrels, eat some duplex cookies, watch our teachers act out a few Bible stories, and be on our merry way.
VBS of today is a little more complex, at least at my church.  This year, we are doing a Cross-Culture Thailand theme and I happily volunteered to be in charge of snacks.  It has been said that you have to taste a culture to understand it, and I wanted to bring that mentality to the snacks we would serve.  Having no prior experience with preparing Thai cuisine, and minimal experience even eating it, I knew I had a challenge in front of me. 
I took to the internet to do my research. I found that most Thai snacks and desserts are sweet and filling, as opposed to a light and airy Western style dessert. They generally are characterized by sweet syrups, coconut cream, tropical fruits, and sweet sticky rice.  There were so many exotic dishes to choose from, and I had to keep in mind that I needed to make approximately 300 servings, so simplicity was an important factor, as well.
The first snack I decided upon was a Thai Sandwich Cake I found on Appon's Thai Food.  This definitely fit the bill in terms of simplicity.  It is basically just a coconut pudding layered between pieces of bread.  Score!  I am also grateful that I have a digital scale and a measuring cup with milliliters displayed.  I wasn't thrilled with the notion of trying to figure out .71 cups of sugar.
Not only simple, the cake is delicious.  The pudding isn't too sweet and the coconut flavor is front and center.  I found a lot of people who say they don't like coconut, did in fact enjoy this dessert.  I think it's because there is no shredded coconut in the pudding, and sprinkling it on top is optional.  I think it's the texture of shredded coconut most people don't like, not necessarily the flavor.  I won a lot of people over to coconut with this one.
My first foray into the world of Thai cuisine was a success, and I owe it all to VBS.  There will be no duplex cookies for our Thai themed Vacation Bible School (much to some people's dismay), though I may keep the Little Hug Fruit Barrels around just for the sake of nostalgia.
Thai Sandwich Cake ( Ka-Noom-Pan Sungkayha)

Ingredients for 5 Cakes
1.1 cup (250 ml) Coconut Milk
.71 cup (150 gm) Sugar
.85 cup (200 ml) Evaporated Milk
3 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
2-3 Drops Green Food Color

10 Slices of Bread
Desiccated Coconut for Garnish

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the bread and desiccated coconut in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine.
2. Heat the mixture on low for 15 minutes, stirring continuously, until it becomes thick and doesn't run if you swipe your finger across the back of your spoon.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool
4. Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and layer the bread and sauce alternately, with the top layer being the sauce.
5. Dust with dried coconut as desired.


Related Posts with Thumbnails