Tag: cookbook cooking

Francis Kuijk’s pandan fudge

Francis Kuijk has a well-known and beloved face in the Dutch food scene since she made it to the season 4 finale of Heel Holland Bakt (Dutch Bake Off). She has large online following, makes regular TV appearances and has released four cookbooks in the Netherlands up to date.

Her new book, Manis (Indonesian for ‘sweet’), is coming out this week and I had the pleasure of having a look before it hit stores. Like me, Francis is of Dutch-Indonesian descent so after her tomes on the foundations of Indisch and Indonesian cooking it was time for a book on Indisch and Indonesian sweets and baking.

Pandan all the things!

Manis offers a nice combination of nostalgic Indisch and Indonesian recipes alongside more modern concoctions that Francis came up with herself. Though her editor told her that maybe that was enough pandan for one book, personally I can never get enough pandan so I was quite happy to see so much of it (and gula djawa) in one book.

If you don’t know what pandan is, it’s often called ‘the vanilla of South East Asia’ but I never know if this is because it is so widely used or because people need to come up with useless comparisons. Flavorwise, except for the subtlety, it is nothing like vanilla in my opinion. All you need to know is that pandan is good, makes everything sweet more delicious and that it turns everything green (including my nose when I was making this fudge).

While we can now get fresh or frozen pandan in Europe, I remember the first pandan I ever had coming from Indonesian pandan chiffon cake mixes my grandmother brought over in the 90’s. This is probably why I prefer artificial pandan over ‘real’ pandan which is too mild for my tastes. I recommend the Koepoe Kopoe brand of pandan paste. I’ve tried those extracts in small brown bottles but suffer from a bitter note that is really gross and drowns out subtle pandan. Furthermore, as Francis points out in her book, extract ads more liquid to your bakes, which tends to cause problems.

Oh fudge

The recipes I was most eager to cook were the pandan and gula djawa fudge (Javanese palm sugar,  my other favorite Indonesian sweet ingredient – more on that that some other time) as they seemed the easiest to tackle. I’d wanted to combine them with one a swirl to the other, but as I’m a shit baker and they are made with two different techniques, Francis warned against it. I got the ingredients for both though, so I guess I’ll be eating fudge for the next month or so.

If you want to make pandan fudge yourself just follow the recipe below, for the gula djawa fudge I’m afraid you’re going to have to hope Francis will one day share it in English, or get the book and figure out the translations for yourself.

Other recipes that caught my eye are rose syrup marshmallows, kue putu mayang (fresh made noodles in a gula djawa sauce), rotikukus vanila cokelat (this is a steamed Indonesian cake I used to get for all my birthdays but I have yet to replicate my grandmother’s recipe) and brownies with a kue lapis crumble (hello?!).

Manis is unfortunately only available in Dutch right now, if you’re looking for an Indonesian cookbook recommendation Sri Owen’s Indonesian Food (UK) or The Indonesian Kitchen (US) is your best bet in English.

A wall made with green pandan fudge pieces in stacks of seven and rows of three, on a green marble and plain green backdrop.

Francis Kuijk's recipe for Pandan Fudge

Dorothy Porker
Make a sweet, soft and delicious venture into pandan with this super easy pandan fudge recipe from Francis Kuijk's Indische sweets andb baking book Manis.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting time 1 d
Course Birthdays, Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine Dutch Indonesian, Indisch, Indonesian


  • Baking tray the lower wider kind, that you'd use for brownies
  • parchment or baking paper
  • heavy bottomed large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Fridge
  • trivets


  • 3/4 c - 170 g unsalted butter roomtemperature + extra for greasing, see note in recipe and below
  • 2 c - 500 g white caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt leave this out if you only have salted butter
  • 2/3 c - 150 ml unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp pandan aroma I prefer Koepoe Koepoe paste, see blogpost above
  • 7 oz - 200 g white marshmallows see note
  • 8.5 oz - 240 g white chocolate callets, but you can also just coarsely chop up a bar


  • Grease your baking tray and line it with parchment. Set aside.
  • Place the 3/4 c - 170 g of butter, 2 c - 500 g of sugar, 1/4 tsp salt (if using salted butter) and 2/3 c - 150 ml of unsweetened evaporated milk in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • Place on a medium low heat and allow to melt and bring to a gentle boil while stirring continously.
  • Leave to simmer at a light boil for 4 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary, and keep stirring.
  • Once the 4 minutes have passed, add 1 tsp of pandan aroma before you add 7 oz - 200 gr of white marshmallows (see note). Keep stirring until the marshmallows have dissolved completely.
  • Turn the heat down and stir in 8.5 oz - 240 g of white chocolate callets or coarsely chopped chunks, stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
  • Pour your mixture out into your pre-greased and parchmented baking tray and leave to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Place in the fridge and leave to cool for at least 2 hours. I set mine on some trivets as the baking tray was still very hot and I didn't want to accidentally shatter my fridge shelves.
  • For best results, leave to cool overnight before cutting into even squares and tucking in.


  • I picked out all the white marshmallows from the bag and then used the pinks to reach 200 grams, it turned out fine.
  • The original recipe was written in grams, milliliters and teaspoons. Follow those measurements for the best results.
  • The fudge keeps for 2 weeks in an airtight container. Be sure to separate the fudge by placing layers of parchment in between each layer.
  • If well packed, you can also keep this in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • This recipe is very sweet, if I make it again I would drizzle dark chocolate over the top.
Keyword Asian sweets, fudge, pandan

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Tortas de Chilaquiles – Mexican Sandwiches

I’m a simple woman. I see chilaquiles, I have chilaquiles.

The first time I had them was at Puerto Alegre in San Francisco roughly 10 years ago. I fell in love with the dish and red mole immediately. Both of these are hard to come by here in the Netherlands so I’ve had to make due with instant sauces and Thai-Mexican mashups of my own making.

The cookbook Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos surrounded by a few empty tomatillo husks.

Comida Mexicana – Rosa Cienfuegos

Lucky for me, GoodCook (one of my favorite Dutch cookbook publishers) were kind enough to send me a copy of their newly released a translation of Comida Mexicana (UK only) by Rosa Cienfuegos. It’s a stellar read. With amazing photography by Alicia Taylor. As well as wonderful personal story of creating a home away from home.

There’s lots of stuff I want to cook from this book, but the tortas de chilaquiles (a chilaquiles sandwich) was my number one.

A closeup of salted black totopos (fresh fried nachos made from fresh tortillas).

Sourcing Mexican ingredients

As mentioned, it can be hard to find Mexican ingredients in the Netherlands. In the past 10 years the situation has improved greatly however. So I was able to order tomatillos and jalapenos to make fresh salsa verde, as well as fresh tortillas to fry my own totopos from Westland Pepers. The tortillas are made by Tortillería Taiyara, who supplies all the best eateries and tokos in the Netherlands. You can also order your totopos ready-made from her.

A scathering of empty green tomatillo husks.


I decided to make mine with tofu schnitzel because I am trying to cut back on meat. To make this I froze my tofu straight from the shop. Thawed it. Pressed it and then coated it in panko. You are of course free to use veal, which the original recipe calls for, or buy storebought schnitzel because why the fuck not.

A jar of salsa verde.

All this? For a sandwich?

This recipe may seem like a lot of work for a sandwich but it’s a DAMNED good sandwich and you can skip a bunch of steps by going with store-bought totopos, schnitzels and salsa verde (if you’re lucky enough to have any nearby).

A tortas de chilaquiles (chilaquiles bread roll) with chilaquiles made with black totopos, sour cream, tofu schnitzel and feta cheese.

Tortas de chilaquiles - Chilaquiles sandwiches

Dorothy Porker
A recipe for tortas de chilaquiles (Mexican chilaquiles sandwiches) from the cookbook Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos, made vegetarian with tofu schnitzel.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Tofu freezing, thawing and pressing time 2 d 30 mins
Course Lunch, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6 tortas


  • Freezer, if making your own tofu schnitzels
  • Heavy object, if making your own tofu schnitzels
  • Griddle pan, if making your own salsa
  • Blender or food processor, if making your own salsa
  • Deep fat fryer or frying pan, if making your own totopos
  • Deep plate x2, if making your own schnitzels
  • Large frying pan x2


For the salsa verde, you can also use store-bought

  • 21 oz - 600 g tomatillos fresh or canned
  • 20 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 white onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T - 15 g salt
  • 1 bunch coriander coarsely chopped

For the totopos, you can also use store-bought

  • neutral oil for deep fat frying
  • 12 fresh corn tortillas cut into 8 pieces each
  • salt to taste

For the tofu schnitzels, you can also use store-bought

  • 1 egg whisked
  • 2/3 c - 150 ml milk the heaviest milk you can get, nutmilk is fine
  • 1 T - 15 g salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pack firm or semi-firm tofu frozen in its liquid, thawed, then pressed for 30 minutes and cut into 1/2" - 1 cm slices
  • 1 c - 100 g bread crumbs I used panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) because I'm fancy, but use whatever
  • sunflower oil for shallow frying

For the tortas de chilaquiles

  • 4 c - 1 l salsa verde recipe to follow, or store-bought
  • 2 lbs - 1 kg totopos recipe to follow, or store-bought
  • 6 teleras (Mexican bread rolls) I used what the Dutch call 'an Italiaanse bol', look for something slightly firmer on the outside but soft on the inside
  • 2 T - 30 ml sour cream
  • 2 T - 30 g cojita cheese I used crumbled feta
  • 6 tofu schnitzels recipe to follow, or store-bought


First, make the salsa verde

  • If you were able to source fresh tomatillos, remove the husk and wash 21 oz - 600 g of tomatillos. If using tinned tomatillos drain and pat dry.
  • Griddle them on a very hot griddle with 20 jalapenos and coarsely chopped white onion until they turn black on the outside. You can also do this directly over a hot flame if you dare.
  • Move all of the blackened tomatillos, jalapenos and onion to a blender or food processor with 1 clove of garlic, 1 T - 15 g of salt and 1 bunch of coarsely chopped coriander and blend until fine. If the sauce is too coarse add water until you get your desired consistency.

Now, make the totopos

  • Heat oil in a deep pan or in a deep fat fryer to 180° C - 360° F.
  • Fry the tortillas cut into 8 pieces in batches until crisp and starting to brown. Usually once they start floating and stop bubbling they are done.
  • Drain on some kitchen towel and season with salt.

Next, make the tofu schnitzels

  • Mix the whisked egg with 2/3 c - 150 ml of milk, 1 T - 15 g of salt and freshly ground pepper in a deep plate. Place in the slices of tofu and leave to soak for 3 minutes.
  • Place 1 c of bread crumbs in another deep plate and heat a decent layer of sunflower oil in a large frying pan.
  • Coat the tofu slices in breadcrumbs and fry until golden and crisp. This should take 5 minutes per side or so.

Now, make the chilaquiles

  • Heat almost all of the 4 c - 1 l of salsa verde in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add the totopos and a cup of water, stir and heat through for 5 minutes or so. If you like your chilaquiles a little crispier, I'd skip the water and the 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.

Tortas de chilaquiles, ASSEMBLE

  • Cut your teleras or whatever bread rolls you're using in half, top with a scoop of the cooked chilaquiles, the sour cream, cojita or feta, tofu (or other) schnitzel and a little bit of uncooked salsa verde and dig in.


  • Obviously these tortas do not keep and should be eaten straight away.
  • The salsa verde will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the fridge and are great for dipping chips or having on any number of tacos.
  • Totopos will keep for about a week in a cookie tin.
Keyword chilaquiles, Mexican food, sandwiches, tortas

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Bubur Ketan Hitam – Porridge

This recipe for bubur ketan hitam, Indonesian black rice pudding, comes from the award winning Dutch cookbook Indorock by rockstar food stylist Vanja van der Leeden. She created an amazing book, re-introducing the Netherlands to Indonesian food. To explain why that was necessary, I’m afraid a little history lesson is in order. Or just scroll down for the recipe.

The Dutch-East Indies

The Netherlands was a huge colonial power during what locally is still referred to as The Golden Age. One of ‘our’ territories was Indonesia, a vast archipelago of different people and cultures that were pulled together through colonial rule by the Portuguese, British and Dutch, mostly to gain dominance over the global spice trade. This dominance lasted for around 300 years.

Once the war ended Indonesia claimed independence and the Dutch were booted out. With that a lot of people of European-Indonesian descent were kicked out as well.

The Dutch had managed the colony in part by giving certain Indo-Europeans a special status, above native Indonesians. They used us (yes I am one of them) as a sort of mid level management. With all the perks of whatever being mid management entails. But also with the clear distinction that we were never going to be white, with all that that entails.

As a result of our position and attempts of some Indo-Europeans to become the new senior level managers in Indonesia after Dutch rule, Indonesians were weary off those of us who had collaborated with the Dutch and kicked us out.


Indo-Europeans were initially born out of sex slavery and later through covert forms of sex slavery, where a housekeeper would also have to ‘keep’ her employer in other ways.

Depending on the politics of the day, children born from these arrangements (interracial marriages did occur, but were illegal or otherwise punished at various times in colonial history) would be allotted this special status (or not) and even be taken away from their Indonesian mothers once a European man finally found a wife ‘proper’ (i.e. a white one). You can get a glimpse of these practices by reading about the life of my grandfather.

Because laws and practices about Indo-Europeans changed over time, our family histories are all very different. We are often spoken of as a coherent group, but we’re really not. A lot of (unacknowledged) Indo-Europeans stayed behind, some by force, some by choice. There are even some Indo-Europeans that were never accepted by the Netherlands nor by Indonesia and are still living as stateless people in Indonesia, surviving on donations.

Sooo, what does this have to do with food?

People often think Indonesian food is popular in the Netherlands. But what is really popular here is colonial Dutch-Indonesian food (also known as ‘Indisch eten’). A mishmash of Indonesian food and Dutch ideas and adjustments of it, that were brought here after a lot of us were booted out of the country and ‘repatriated’ (though most of us had never been here before) to the Netherlands.

Often, because of the status these refugees had in the colonies, they didn’t know how to cook. Most of them had a kokkie (a cook) in Indonesia. So once they got here and wanted a taste of home, they had to make stuff up. On top of that a lot of the ingredients used in the Dutch East Indies weren’t available here, so they had to improvise even further.

Oma Pipi

I got lucky because my grandmother started cooking at a very young age. She survived the war by selling small snacks on the streets. Her parents were afraid to go outside because her father was considered a collaborator for the Dutch. But was considered too Indonesian to be interned by the Japanese (not that that would have been any better, see my grandfather’s story linked above).

After Indonesian independence, my grandparents fled to New Guinea. There my grandmother ran a catering company. Until finally, after 5 years of pleading and begging (we weren’t considered European enough to repatriate), they were allowed to flee to Holland in 1962 where both my grandparents worked in factories while my grandmother sold snacks on the side.

So: my grandmother a) knew the original recipes and b) knew how to replace ingredients she couldn’t find. Though I imagine there’s a lot of stuff she didn’t even try because ingredients weren’t available. I remember we didn’t get pandan cake until the mid 90s and it was just a ready mix for chiffon cake.

The cover of Vanja van der Leeden's Indorock

Vanja’s Indorock

To bring it back to Vanja’s amazing Indorock. The Dutch interpretation of Indonesian food had been at a standstill for decades. Fed by nostalgia for our former home, or our grandparents’ homes (as in my case), what we were eating was a maybe 30’s to 40’s Dutch colonial interpretation of Indonesian food. With the kind of tweaks a diaspora makes when ingredients are missing.

Vanja traveled through Indonesia as it is now and brings its current flavors to us. Adding in some of her own ideas and preferences. In Indorock she highlights the many chefs, restaurants and people she met during her travels. She finishes off with small but crucial touches like explaining the difference between ‘Indisch’ and Indonesian. And using current Indonesian spelling for foods, rather than Dutch colonial spelling that is more commonly used here.

Bubur ketan hitam is just one of over a 130 exciting and inspiring recipes, that are all super fresh and light compared to the stodgy cooking of 40’s colonial Indonesia. At the moment Indorock is only available in Dutch and German, but hopefully it gets picked up internationally soon as well.

Indorock by Vanja van der Leeden, Coconut&Sambal by Lara Lee and De Bijbel van de Indonesische Keuken by Maureen Tan

Want to know more about Indonesia?

As you may have noticed I’m not just into food but also very interested in Dutch Indonesian (post)colonial history. I think being a child of refugees. Growing up in what is essentially lost (colonial) culture for the first 20 years of my life have really informed the rest of my well… life.

It always surprises me how little people speak and know about Indonesia globally because it is the 4th most populous country in the world. It’s also one of the largest countries in the world.*

  • P.A. Toer‘s The Buru Quartet, this is a long read but it gives a fictionalized history of Indonesia from the butt end of the colonial period until a little after Indonesian independence and gives you a really great insight into Indonesian history. I cannot recommend it enough (and I recommend it always)
  • The Interpreter from Java by Alfred Birney, a critical history (which is too often read as a personal history) of postcolonial life in The Netherlands
  • Indonesia Etc. from Elizabeth Pisani, a sort of travelogue through Indonesia as it is now and a great explanation of how complex a nation Indonesia is (though I found some of it a bit Eurocentric)
  • Sri Owen‘s Indonesian Food, Sri is the Grande Dame of Indonesian cooking and while I don’t have her book yet she is the Grande Dame for a reason
  • For Coconut&Sambal by Lara Lee worked with Sri Owen among others, and her book is hopefully the first in a long line of new Indonesian cookbooks available in English
  • De Njai by Reggie Baay explains the history of Indo-Europeans and the njai, our fore mothers, in great and painful detail. Unfortunately it’s only available in Dutch right now
  • De Bijbel van de Indonesische Keuken by Maureen Tan is unfortunately only available in Dutch for now, but in this book Maureen organised a huge amount of Indonesian dishes by island and region, using local batiks for specific recipes, making this one of the most complete books on Indonesian cooking you will probably find

There are many more interesting books, so if you want even more I suggest you get to Googling.

* For the record: I have yet to visit Indonesia. As a teenager I hated the question if I’d ever been ‘back’. And later I hated the idea of going ‘back’ to a place that really doesn’t exist anymore. Indonesia is not the country my grandparents left behind and I do not feel a special connection to Indonesia as such. I am well aware I’d be a tourist. Now I would love to visit, but finding the time and funds (and now  corona) means I’ll probably be a while. 

Now, for that recipe…

A black plate with black rice pudding and white coconut milk with a skull shaped teaspoon and a lime leaf, with fried sweet potato chips and a halved lime on the side

Bubur ketan hitam - Indonesian black rice porridge from Indorock

Dorothy Porker
Bubur ketan hitam is an Indonesian black glutenous rice porridge served as breakfast or as an afternoon pick me up. It's quite heavy, but in smaller portions it also makes for a nice dessert.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Soak (overnight) 8 hrs
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 2 - 4 people


  • Large pot x 3
  • Small saucepan
  • Pan for shallow frying
  • Slotted spoon
  • Paper towels


For the rice

  • 7 oz - 200 gr black glutinous rice
  • 6 makrut lime leaves
  • 0.5" - 2 cm ginger peeled
  • 2.5 oz - 75 gr gula jawa this is Javanese palm sugar, accept no substitute!
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr salt

For the pandan coconut milk

  • 13.5 oz - 400 ml coconut milk look for coconut milk with low water content, it's often marked by stores as coconut milk for desserts
  • 1/4 t - pinch salt
  • 2 large pandan leaves tied into a knot, OR
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr pandan paste be sure to get paste, pandan essence is gross

For the sweet potato chips

  • 6.5 oz - 200 ml water
  • 6.5 oz - 200 gr plain sugar
  • 1/2 sweet potato cut into thin slices
  • sunflower oil for frying

To serve

  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 handful pistachios unsalted, roughly crushed


The night before (or 8 hrs ahead of time)

  • Wash 7 oz - 200 gr of black glutenous rice and soak it in at least double the amount of water overnight.

To make the rice porridge

  • Add 4 c - 1 liter of water to the glutenous rice and the water you used to soak it in overnight. Add 6 lime leaves, grate 05" - 2 cm of ginger into the pan and mix it into the rice.
  • Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
  • Stir in 2.5 oz - 75 gr of gula djawa and 1/2 t - 2.5 gr of salt and leave to simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Your rice should now have reached a porridgy consistency. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the pandan coconut milk - make this while the rice is cooking

  • While the rice is cooking, slowly heat 13.5 oz - 400 ml coconut milk in a saucepan with 1/4 t - pinch salt and 2 large pandan leaves tied into knots or 1/2 t - 2.5 gr of pandan paste.
  • Allow the flavors to slowly combine for around 10 minutes before removing the pan from the heat.

To make sweet potato chips - make this while the rice and coconut milk are cooking

  • Bring 6.5 oz - 200 ml water to the boil with 6.5 oz - 200 ml of plain sugar.
  • One the sugar water mixture has come to the boil, briefly cook the thin slices of sweet potato in the sugar water - 5 minutes or so. Remove and pat dry.
  • Now heat some sunflower oil in a pan to 360° F - 180° C. You can test whether the oil is the right heat by throwing in one potato slice. If the oil comes to a ferocious bubble immediately, you're ready to fry.
  • Fry the sweetened sweet potato slices to a crisp and leave them to cool on some paper towels.

To serve

  • Squeeze some lime juice into the rice porridge to bring up the flavor, or serve lime wedges on the side so people can adjust according to their own taste.
  • Depending on how many people you're serving and how hungry you are, divide the rice porridge across 2 - 4 plates, with some of the coconut milk, a handful of sweet potato chips and toss some roughly crushed unsalted pistachios on top.


I don't like reheated porridge, but maybe you do. I'm sure the sauce and porridge will keep for a day.
I recommend frying up a whole sweet potato because odds are you'll eat half of the sweet potato chips before you're ready to serve.
Keyword black pudding, breakfast, Indonesian food, Indonesian recipe, indorock, porridge, vanja van der leeden

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Black Sesame Swirl Pound Cake

Getting all my posts back up and edited yesterday I thought it was time for a celebration. And what better way to celebrate than with some cake?

Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee

Since I’m a pretty shit baker, I’ve always wanted to learn to just make a basic cake. When I saw the recipe for pound cake in Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee, I knew this was The One.

The cover of Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin

Toni Tipton-Martin has spent her career shedding light on the history of African-American cuisine and cooks. In Jubilee she brings together their stories and recipes for a compelling and hunger inducing read.

The book really does feel like a true celebration and is highly recommended reading for anyone who wants to understand more about the history of North American food.

Black sesame fiends and snack exchanges

I’ve been doing snack exchanges with Yone, who lives in Taiwan, for a while now. One of the things she’s sent me is black sesame paste. On my request, because I love black sesame and wanted to use it for baking.

And use it for baking I did.

A mess, some stress and then perfection

One of the things that intrigued me about Toni’s recipe is that you start the cake in a cold oven.

Turns out, if you add a fuck tonne of sesame paste to a recipe it’s not going to cook the same. During its time in the oven my black sesame swirl cake was looking a tad hopeless for a while, but I left it in until it was solid, which is a lot longer than Toni’s recipe, and in the end I cut into the most perfect moist and fluffy cake I’ve ever had.

So if you’re going to tackle this, have faith. It’s going to turn out alright.

Slices of black sesame swirl pound cake stacked on top of each other on marble and wooden cutting boards with a light green background

Black sesame swirl pound cake

Dorothy Porker
This recipe combines Toni Tipton-Martin's beautiful pound cake recipe from Jubilee with a black sesame swirl all the way from Taiwan.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Or 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Birthdays, Dessert
Cuisine African American, American
Servings 10


  • Tube pan - 10"/ 25 cm
  • Small bowl
  • Big bowl
  • Stand or hand mixer
  • Spatula
  • Oven
  • Metal spoon
  • Wire rack


  • butter for the pan
  • 5 c - 380 gr all purpose flour plus extra dor dusting the pan
  • 1/2 t - 5 gr baking powder
  • pinch salt omit if using salted butter
  • 1 t - 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 8 oz - 230 gr butter room temperature
  • 1/2 c - 95 gr shortening
  • 5 c - 615 gr sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 c - 250 ml whole milk
  • 4 oz - 125 gr black sesame paste loosened if caked together and drained from oil


  • NOTE: do not preheat the oven. We will start heating the oven once the cake is in. This is different but I found it really works. Patience permitting.
  • Coat a 10" - 25 cm tube pan with butter and dust lightly with flour. I like to fridge mine while I make the batter so it really makes a strong coating.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 5 c - 380 gr of all purpose flour with 1/2 t - 5 gr of baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • Cream 8 oz - 230 gr of room temperature butter on medium speed in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula every so often as you go along.
  • Add 1/2 c - 95 gr of shortening and beat for another 2 minutes.
  • Now set your mixer to low and slowly beat in 3 c - 615 gr of sugar in three portions and then beat for an additional 5 minutes on medium until the batter is light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add 5 eggs one by one. Until all the eggs have been fully incorporated and you're left with a light batter.
  • Now set your mixer to medium and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, incorporate, add 1/2 c - 125 ml of milk, incorporate, add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, incorporate, add 1/2 c - 125 ml of milk, incorporate and finally incorporate the final 1/3 of the flour mixture until the batter is just smooth.
  • Rinse out your smaller bowl and dry and move roughly half of your batter to this bowl.
  • Beat 4 oz - 125 gr of black sesame paste into the remaining batter on medium for 2 minutes or so until well incorporated. You can add more black sesame paste to taste if you like.
  • Lightly fold the plain batter back into the black sesame batter, 2 to 4 folds max, to get a little marbling going on.
  • Pour the cake batter into the pan and place in the middle rack of a cold oven.
  • Set the oven to 325° F/ 160° C and bake until the top is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean. Toni Tipton-Martin's recipe (without the sesame paste) should take around 1 hour and 15 minutes, where as my cake took about 2 hours and 15 minutes with the sesame paste incorporated.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out on a wire rack to cool completely. Maybe cut yourself a slice cause it's really nice when it's still warm too.


This cakes keeps for around 1 week in an airtight container.
Keyword american cakes, black sesame, cake, pound cake

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Lucky Peach’s Shroom Mapo Tofu

Lucky Peach presents Power Vegetables comes in particularly handy during Veganuary, though a lot of the recipes are actually vegetarian.

A bookshelf filled with cookbooks and a copy of Power Vegetables shown in front.

Sichuan pepper love

One of my other favorite ingredients is Sichuan pepper. It’s just a floral spicy bundle of joy. This vegan rendition used shiitake mushrooms, which bring a lot of additional ooooooh-mami to the table. Sheer perfection if you’re into funky food.

Vegan check

Be sure to check the ingredients of the doubanjiang, black bean and chili crisp sauce. Sometimes these contain animal products.

What do I eat with vegan mushroom mapo tofu?

I like to have mine with plain white rice and some stir fried baby bok choy, broccoli or just same plain old cucumber.

Do more with vegan mushroom mapo tofu

You can keep leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days, in the freezer for a couple of months and wrap them in wonton skins to make some bangin’ ass gyozo.

I used the spice mix to come up with my own hot-tingle mapo hot sauce, get the recipe here.

A small white enamel bowl with a blue rim, filled with vegan mushroom mapo tofu on a grey laminate background surrounded by sichuan peppercorns, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms and the book Lucky Peach presents Power Vegetables

Lucky Peach Vegan Mushroom Mapo Tofu

Dorothy Porker
This vegan mapo tofu made with shiitake mushrooms is a must-have for anyone that likes Sichuan food or umami, vegan or not.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Soaking time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Chinese, Sichuan
Servings 4


  • Bowl
  • Small plate
  • Food processor
  • Large pot
  • Strainer
  • Frying pan or wok
  • Kitchen towel


  • 4.5 oz - 125 g dried shiitake mushrooms see instructions
  • 9 oz - 250 g fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 oz - 350 g silken tofu cut into cubes - firm tofu works but is less nice for mapo tofu
  • salt
  • 2 t - 10 g corn starch
  • 1/4 c - 60 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 T - 30 ml sunflower oil
  • 1 leek sliced into thin strips
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 T - 30 g grated ginger
  • 4 T - 60 g doubanjiang chili bean sauce
  • 2 T - 30 g black bean sauce
  • 1 T - 15 g chili crisp
  • 2 T - 30 g Sichuan peppercorns black seeds and woody stems removed
  • 1 T - 15 g gochugaru Korean chili flakes


Soak the dried mushrooms

  • Remove the stems from 4.5 oz - 125 g dried mushrooms and leave them to soak in water for at least 30 minutes. To submerge them it helps to place a small plate on top.
  • Drain and set the liquid aside.
  • Now use a food processor to chop the dried shiitakes together with 9 oz - 250 g of fresh shiitakes to a rough pulp.

Poach the silken tofu

  • If you are using firm tofu you can skip this step and press the tofu for 30 minutes with a heavy object instead. But silken tofu really gives the best result for mapo tofu imho.
  • Cut the silken tofu into 1 inch - 1.5 cm cubes.
  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot and poach 12 oz - 350 g of silken tofu for 3 minutes or so. Strain, salt lightly and set aside.

Make vegan mushroom mapo tofu

  • Mix together 2 t - 10 g of corn starch with 1/4 c - 60 ml of water to create a slushy paste.
  • Now get all your other ingredients together alongside the mushroom pulp, poached silken tofu and corn paste so you have your mis-en-place ready and are good to go.
  • Heat 2 T - 30 ml of sunflower oil in a large frying pan or a wok. Add the shiitake mushroom pulp and spread it out in an even layer, folding it every few minutes or so until any remaining liquids have evaporated and the shiitake are starting to brown. This should take 5 minutes or so.
  • Now add 1 leek sliced into thick strips, 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 T - 15 g of grated ginger and mix this in with the mushrooms for another 2 minutes or so until fragrant. Remove the mushroom and leek mixture from the pan and give the pan a quick wipe with a kitchen towel before returning it to the heat.
  • Add 2 T - 30 g of Sichuan peppercorns, 4 T - 60 g of doubjiang, 2 T - 30 g of black bean and 1 T - 15 g of chili crisp sauce to the pan with 1 T - 15 gr of gochugaru and stir until the oils start to separate from the sauce, before adding the mushroom mixture back in. This should take 2 minutes or so. Now gently stir in the soft tofu and finally add the corn starch slush to create that mapo tofu glaze.
  • Now gently fold in the poached silken tofu cubes and finally add the corn starch slush, allowing the liquids to thicken ever so slightly before serving.


Mushroom mapo tofu freezes okay though the tofu becomes a bit of an acquired texture. It's the perfect filling for gyozo too.
Mushroom mapo tofu will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months and can be reheated by allowing it to thaw and then briefly frying it back up in a greased frying pan.
Keyword chinese recipe, easy vegan, lucky peach, mapo tofu, mushrooms, sichaun food, sichuan, sichuan recipe

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Classic Shellfish Stock

I’m trying to be more fastidious with my scraps, so after I’d grilled a bunch of prawns recently, I set the shells aside in my freezer to make stock. I also want to make better use of the unreasonable amount of cookbooks that I own, so when I was in the mood for risotto earlier this week, I stuck my nose into a stack of books to find advice on making stock.

Flavor makers for classic seafood stock

Fish stock basics according to Harold McGee and Escoffier

Most of my books were more focused on making fish stock, and the main advice seems to kind of be: don’t.

As Harold McGee explains it, you don’t add fish to your stock until the very end. Fish collagen has such a low melting point you can extract it into the broth at a very low temperature in a very short time. Cook it any longer and your broth will turn murky from the calcium dissolving from the fish bones. So what both he and Escoffier recommend is making a so-called court-bouillon (a very quick and basic broth) and then adding the fish once it’s cooled down to 80 degrees Celsius or so before briefly poaching the fish.

Where McGee and Escoffier differ, is that the former advises you to add the peppercorns at the very end, to avoid bitterness, while the latter is more of a ‘chuck it all in there’ kinda guy.

Save your prawn shells and heads to make a great seafood stock

Shellfish stock according to Fergus Henderson

But I didn’t even have any fish bones to begin with. I went to my market to find som but I get there too early and had zero patience. So I decided to go for it anyway, with the remains of 10 or so large prawn and a few pointers from the legendary Fergus Henderson. He basically recommends you smash your shells before use. So that’s what I did. And the result was rather wonderful.

The below will make you about a liter of shellfish stock. It combines Escoffier’s recipe for a white wine court-bouillon, McGee’s insights into when to add the peppercorns and Fergus’ advice on how to treat a shell to make a really nice stock. He does also add tomatoes, but I was like nah. I’ll let you know how I got on with my risotto next week.

A word on prawns

I used to make this dish with just any old prawns. But there are a lot of problems with how prawns are farmed. Prawn farming produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases and support abusive labor practices. So check where your prawns are from and how they are produced. If you can’t find any sustainably sources and humanly farmed prawns consider not making this recipe at all.

A pint of shellfish stock in a Pyrex measuring cup with the head of a prawn balancing on the rim

Classic shellfish stock - McGee, Escoffier and Henderson

Dorothy Porker
A spectacular, well-researched punchy shellfish stock, based on the findings of food legends Harold McGee, Escoffier and Fergus Henderson.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Supplies
Cuisine English, French
Servings 1 liter


  • Plastic bag
  • Rolling Pin
  • Large pot with lid
  • Fine sieve


  • remains of 20 large prawns or similar, less won't do
  • 2 T - 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 oz - 20 gr carrot finely diced- fennel is also nice
  • 1 oz - 20 gr onion finely diced
  • 4 c - 1 liter water
  • 1/4 c - 50 ml white wine
  • 1 oz - 20 gr parsley stems and leaves
  • 1 rind of Parmesan optional, you can save rinds in the freezer as well
  • 2 t - 10 gr salt
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 4 white peppercorns black peppercorns will work too


A note on my leftovers

  • My prawn shells were pre-cooked. I’d gotten fresh large prawns the week prior, marinated them briefly in olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, parsley and some chipotle flakes before grilling them for about 2-3 minutes on each side and digging in. All this added additional flavor and heat.

To make classic shellfish stock

  • Place your shellfish remains in a bag and smash them with a rolling pin. You can omit the bag, but even with the bag there was stuff flying everywhere, so use a bag.
  • Heat a 2 T - 30 ml of olive oil in a large pot. Add 1 oz - 20 gr of finely chopped carrot and onion each and cook on a low heat until softened but not browned.
  • Now add the smashed prawn shells and stir until you, as Fergus calls it, “Smell splendid shellfish things.”
  • Add 4 c - 1 l of water, 1/4 c - 50 ml wine, 1 ounce - 20 gr of parsley, the Parmesan rind (if using), 2 t - 10 gr salt and 1/2 a bay leaf, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and leave to simmer gently for 1 ½-2 hours, lid off. Add 4 white peppercorns 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  • Strain your stock through a fine sieve, making sure you crush every last drop of liquid out of your shells and veggies before discarding them.


Shellfish stock keeps for about 4-6 months in the freezer.
If you want to be even more frugal with your leftovers, be sure to save any leftover cubed carrot and onion in your freezer, which is something I forgot.
UPDATE (Augustus 13th 2019): After sharing this recipe local hero Noah Tucker commented that white peppercorn works slightly better with fish and shellfish so I've adjusted the recipe accordingly.
Keyword bouillon, broth, leftovers, shellfish, stock

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Korean Fried Chicken

I love Korean food and flavors, I will literally slap gochujang on everything. So when I made sweet potato buns a few weeks ago, I thought that was as good a time as any to make Korean fried chicken and stick it on a bun.

Lessons from Nombelina and Koreatown: A cookbook

For this recipe I took inspiration from Nombelina’s fried chicken adventures. And combined them with the recipe for Koreatown fried chicken from Koreatown: A Cookbook, by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard. I get tingly all over even just thinking about it.

The cover of Koreatown: A cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

What do I eat with Korean fried chicken?

Korean fried chicken works just as well on its own as on a burger bun with some lettuce and spring onion. But is also great with fries and mayo or with rice and a simple cucumber pickle.

A hand holding a piece of Korean fried chicken in front of a space backdrop

Korean fried chicken recipe

Dorothy Porker
This recipe for Korean Fried Chicken, the one and only true KFC, will make you feel tingly in all the right places.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Marinade time (optional) 8 mins
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine American, Korean
Servings 2


  • Shallow container with a lid, optional
  • Paper towels
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Deep fat fryer
  • Tongs or a fork


For the overnight marinade, optional

  • 2 c - 500 ml buttermilk
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch salt

For the chicken

  • 4 pieces chicken de-boned, skin off - I prefer thighs
  • oil for deep frying
  • 1/2 c - 60 gr cornstarch
  • 1/2 c - 60 gr all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t - 2.5 gr baking powder
  • 1 t - 5 gr salt
  • 1/2 c - 125 ml soju vodka also works if you can't find this
  • 1/2 c - 125 ml cold tap water as cold as your tap will run

For the sauce

  • 1/2 c - 60 gr gochujang
  • 5 t - 25 gr Frank's red hot if you like it hot, OR
  • 5 t - 25 gr mirin if you like it a little milder


The night before, optional

  • Tenderizing your chicken in a bath of buttermilk really helps, but if you don't have the time you can skip this step.
  • Mix some salt and pepper into 2 c - 500 ml of butter milk and place in a shallow container with 4 pieces of de-boned skin off chicken. You want your chicken to be completely submerged in the milk so that the acidity from the milk can work its magic on tenderizing your chicken. Set in a fridge overnight.

The day off

  • When you're ready to eat, preheat your deep fryer to 180° C/ 360° F.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the 1/2 c - 60 gr of cornstarch and flour, 1/2 t - 2.5 gr of baking powder, 1 t - 5 gr of salt, 1/2 c - 125 ml soju and cold water until just smooth.
  • Remove the chicken from the milk and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  • Now set up your fry station: chicken, batter, kitchen towel lined plate or tray.
  • Check to see if your oil is up to temperature by dumping a tiny bit of batter into the oil. When the batter sizzles and floats to the top you're good to go.
  • Dip the chicken into the batter, shake off any excess and gently lower it into the fat. Don't use a wire bask or skimmer at this point as the batter will immediately crisp up and get stuck. You'll want to carefully lower it into the fat with tongs or a fork so you can let go before the last corner hits the fat. Depending on the size of your fryer you can fry about 2-3 pieces at a time. Avoid overcrowding the pan.
  • Fry until the batter is golden and crisp and the chicken is cooked through. This will take 7-10 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your chicken.
  • While the chicken is frying, mix together your 1/2 c - 60 gr of gochujang with 5 t - 25 gr of Frank's OR 5 t - 25 gr of mirin, depending on your heat resistance, and place at the end of the line of your fry station.
  • As you move chicken from the fryer let it sit on the paper towels to remove any excess oil and then, while still hot, toss in the hot sauce for a nice glaze.


This recipe will not work in an air fryer or oven as the batter is too liquid and needs to crisp up immediately to get the proper effect. 
If you are preparing the chicken to serve at a later time, you can fry the chicken ahead of time and reheat it in an oven at 175° C/ 350° F for 10 minutes before coating it in the sauce. If you coat it and leave it to cool the batter will lose its crisp.
Keyword chicken recipe, deuki hong, fried chicken, kfc, korean freid chicken, koreatown, matt rodbard, nombelina

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