Canadian Culinary Championships pt.3 - Gold Medal Plates Finale

Canadian Culinary Championships - Gold Medal Plates Finale pt.3
This part 3 of a 3 part series,

read the part 1 here--->

Black Box Competition

The chefs participated in the "Black Box" Competition, whereby they were given five mystery ingredients, had 10 minutes to decide what to prepare with them, and then 60 minutes to prepare the meal for judging. Inside each black box were artic char, large quails, aborio rice, fresh fennel, dragon fruit and a local pale ale. As chefs quickly prepared their dishes in front of the judges and the cross-Canada crowd of culinary enthusiasts, it became clear that emotions and the competition were firing up with the ticking of the clock. Intense and exciting, each chef delivered his outstanding presentation to the sound of rapturous applause.

The black box competition allowed the chef and an assistant to showcase their ability to quickly assess their ingredients and come out with a dish that utilizes all the secret ingredients. In the first year of Gold Medal Plates Finals in 2007, four of the seven chefs failed to use all five ingredients in the box, for which the were docked ten marks out of 100. Chef's were also docked marks it they were plating after time was called. This year, all the chefs were able to utilize the ingredients and I believe only one or two went over the allocated time. Coincidentally, in the first Golden Medal Plate, Chef Makoto Ono was the only chef that fully adhered to the rules that year. In the crowd were last years winner and runner-up, Chef Hayato Okamitsu, Frank Pabst. Also in attendance was Chef Bruno Marti, with over a decade of experience representing Canada at the Culinary Olympics.

Canadian Culinary Championships pt.2 - Gold Medal Plates Finale

Canadian Culinary Gold Championships - Gold Medal Plates Finale pt2

This part 2 of a 3 part series,

read the part 1 here--->

Mystery Wine Pairing

Each chef were given a mystery wine the night before and were expected to create an ideal meal that best compliments the wine. The next morning, with $400 in hand and a shopping list, each chef and their assistance/sous chef headed to Granville Island to prep and cook for 250 people. Here's what each chef created to compliment the mystery wine (Black Hill's Alibi)

Rob Feenie:

Scallop in lime juice ceviche on brunoisse cucumber-chive, salmon roe, topped with a cold creamy aioli/sabayon cheesy sauce; topped with pecorino romano and served with crostini. I am really stretching to figure this dish out. I am really guessing on this one.

David Lee:
Dungeness crab meat and scallops with thinly slice fennel, onions, dill in a lime marinade and sake consomme with some mini croutons.

Matthew Carmichael:

A duo of fresh kusshi oysters with albacore tuna with a coconut corn ceviche.

Matthieu Cloutier:
A cold appetizer with veal and celery root salad on the bottom, crab meat salad in the middle and topped with a mango/orange zest/ caviar salsa, with a drizzle of chorizo oil. A savory tuille separating the layers.

Jan Hrabec:
Pork loin stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. Served with apricot, celery root mash and a puree of dates and orange juice with a hint of vanilla.

Ivan Kyutukchiev:

Salmon served with grilled zucchini and eggplant and a onion confit.

Nathan Bye:
Pan seared red snapper served with a coronation grape beurre blanc, coriander pesto and topped with a corn and onion relish.

During the tasting, guest were given scorecards to decide the 'People's Choice Award'. The winner of this award was Matthieu Cloutier. The other two dishes that stood out were, Feenie's scallop, and Jan's stuffed pork loin.

continue pt.3---->

Canadian Culinary Gold Championships pt1 - Gold Medal Plates Finale

Canadian Culinary Gold Championships - Gold Medal Plates Finale pt1

Top chefs from seven Canadian Cities were selected to compete for the honour of being the Gold Medal Plate champion in 2009. The winning chef from each city now convene to Vancouver, to compete at the Gold Medal Finale. The winner will be crowned the 2009 Canadian Culinary Gold Championship and the top chef in Canada.

The Finalist:

Vancouver: Rob Fennie, Cactus Club
The local boy is clearly the odds-on favourite this year. Not only does he have the home-stove advantage, but Chef Feenie absolutely revels in these sorts of competitions. (See Iron Chef America season 1: Battle Crab). He won the regional competition in Vancouver in October with 24-hour sous-vide-cooked Virginia Jacobs duck meat, a sausage of Polderside Farms chicken, and foie gras garnished with pureed figs and a slice of frozen truffle. The battle-hardened chef will be a tough competitor to beat.

Toronto: David Lee, Nota Bene
 The unpredictable, iconoclastic and immensely talented Chef Lee may be Chef Feenie's biggest threat. His winning dish in Toronto may have been the most surprising dish served at a Canadian competition this year: crisp chicken skin and chicken cartilage. It sounds bizarre, but it's pure critic bait. A crisp cracker of chicken skin was topped with a plum and hoisin sauce and a sour apple compote. The chicken breast cartilage sitting on top was rendered tender by 24 hours in a pressure cooker. This is the kind of deceptively simple cooking that judges respond to with high marks.
Calgary: Jan Hrabec, Crazyweed Kitchen
To win the Calgary competition, the only woman in the final this year braised a Noble Farm duck leg in an orange and ancho curry and served it with Indian-spiced sweet potatoes, braised chard, crispy shallots and a glazed poppadom (a spicy Indian cracker). Her globetrotting style of cooking – her menu at Crazyweed runs the gamut from pizza to kimchi – may prove too distracting for the judges, but then again her soulful, comforting cooking could also be an advantage against some of the more technical dishes.

Montreal: Matthieu Cloutier, Kitchen Galerie
The duo prepared a rack of Stanstead rabbit cooked confit-style and served it with a foie gras parfait, pink beets, potato chips and a trompe l'oeil “brussels sprout” that was actually a ball of spinach leaves stuffed with ground rabbit and foie gras. Confit as a technique and foie gras as an ingredient tend to do well at competitions.

Edmonton: Nathin Bye, Lazia Restaurant
Chef Bye won the regional competition with a dish of extreme complexity. His trio of bison (tenderloin, “maki roll” and shortrib) included no less than three types of curry (rendang, Thai red and Indian garam masala), numerous garnishes (pineapple-flavoured panko crumbs, cucumber “coulis” and huckleberry salsa, to name a few) and a written manifesto of his culinary principles. In a national competition, so much happening on the plate leaves too much room for error. Unless he can pare things way back, this kind of fussy, overwrought cooking may not have much of a chance in Vancouver.
Ottawa: Matthew Carmichael, Restaurant E18hteen and Social
 Chef Carmichael zigged when others zagged, with a seafood-based trio when his capital-city competitors were more focused on meat, particularly pork. His winning dish included a seared rectangle of sea bass, octopus on a slice of chorizo sausage and a rock shrimp shumai dumpling topped with salmon roe, all sitting on a puree of Romanesco cauliflower and golden turnips and a curry sauce. He could be the dark horse this weekend.
St. John's: Ivan Kyutukchiev, Bianca's
Trained in Bulgaria, Chef Kyutukchiev brings a straightforward, classical approach. His winning dish in St. John's consisted simply of a savoury coffee sponge cake, beet parfait and some Labrador caribou served with a port and blueberry reduction – a dish similar to one he serves on his restaurant menu. This could be too traditional for Vancouver's sophisticated palates, so he will have to push the boundaries – without falling over the edge.

While Chef Feenie and Chef Lee are the two bigger names in this competition in terms of experience and recognition, expect Chef Cloutier, Chef Carmichael and Chef Hrabec to provide ample competition for the National title. This gruelling competition will come down to how well each chef score in all 3 events. Excelling in one event will not win you the title. As in previous years the winners are often decided by and seperated by less than a couple of point. It will be a fierce battle to the end.

The competition is broken into three challenges (each worth 1/3 of the total score):

Mystery Wine Pairing - Friday, November 27 (6:00 pm) at The Republic Nightclub

Chefs are given a mystery bottle of wine and must create a dish with local ingredients from Vancouver that best matches the wine in a set amount of time and with a set budget.

A bottle of mystery wine was given to the chef the night before the event. They were given an opportunity to taste the wine and plan on what they were to cook th next day. The wine was later revealed as Black Hill's Alibi from Oliver, BC. Alibi is a great summer wine, with a Sauvignon/Semillion blends. It is around the $20-30 price range. It is a clean crisp, citrus wine.
Each Chef was given $400 dollars and told to prepare for 250 people. Which works out to $1.60 per person. And they were told to shop in Granville Island for all their needs. The could negotiate, deal, barter, beg and steal what they needed but could not go over the budget. Ok maybe not steal, cause that would be cheating. But certainly with a limited budget and only allowing to shop at the cities most expensive market certainly makes the challenge harder. The competition basically begins at the market. As the earliest arriving chef would have the best chance of procurring the freshesh produce and finest ingredient they needed.

The Black Box - Saturday, November 28 (9:30 am - 1:00 pm) at Sheraton Wall Centre

Chefs are given one hour to plan and create two dishes with no prior knowledge of the ingredients.

The chef's had to used ALL ingredients in the 'black box'. The 'Black Box' contained large quail, artic char, aborio rice, india pale ale, fennel and dragon fruit. Chefs going over the 1 hour time limit were deducted points.

The Grand Finale - Saturday, November 28 (6:30 pm) at Sheraton Wall Centre

On the final night of competition, anything goes. Chefs create their best dish for guests to sample.
The finale is the pièce de résistance. Where each chef's can truly shine and demonstrate their individual strenghts and innovation. This is a no-hold's barred, no restictions cooking demonstration. Chefs can use whatever ingredient's and technique to create their winning plate to be paired with a Canadian wine. By evening's end, Canada's greatest Chef of 2010 will be crowned.

continued Part 2----->

Food Review Rating System

Why do i want to write food reviews? if I got a dime for every time someone asked me about my favorite ........."fill in the blank", I would be richer than Anthony Bourdain. I am also keen of keeping track, to record, document and share my dining experiences.
It would be great to log and share my experiences in a fairly neutral way. Without prejudice, if I may. I personally love dining of a push cart cart in Siem Riep equally as much as a Michelin star restaurant in Paris. For eating is not measured by status, class or culture; rather what it triggers emotionally and sometimes even physically. Whilst in my search for food nirvana bliss or 'food-gasm', I will eat, review, write and share my experiences here online.

My Rating System:

Rating is based on a scale of  1-10;
1  - Hog Shit/Don't Bother
5  - below average,
6  - better than average,
10- Foodgasm!/Exceptional/Unbeatable value

I will never give a perfect 10-10-10 rating nor a 1-1-1. Nothing is perfect in the culinary world when you impossible to achieve such a mark. Things are never as bad or as good as it may first appear. Anything over a 7 is worth a visit. When comparisons are close I will give an extra .5 points to help distinguish a marginally better option.

All ratings will have some relative comparisons to similar competitors in region, cuisine, affordability and experience, where possible.

There are 4 categories of rating; Food, Ambiance, Overall and Value. The first three categories are self explanatory. Value equates to value for money. NOT by how much the bill or meal cost rather by whether, I got my money's worth? In my humble opinion, this is the most important rating. Because regardless of how much you can afford to spend, the question is, was the meal worth the cost? The value proposition index is what i would best describe.

NOTE: I don't rate service by a point system but rather will just share my experience in the review. It is unfair to judge a server or service by a point system. As there are too many variables and factor determining your experience in singular dining. I have worked with professional server that have worked in one restaurant for 40 years to those that don't it make past the first day. From my experience there are many factor that determine good service and each restaurant will have varying standards. And everyone has varying different expectations of what is considered good service. I will highlight my own personal experience.

My reviews are based on my 20+ years of personal and professional experiences. As much as i will try to be neutral, I will write from my point of view. Which may at times sound biased and critical, i hope it will also be insightful and truthful. Asking me to review food and have it not be personal would be like asking me to marry without love. You can't have one without the other. Eat Well and Live Happy!

The Perfect Korean Pancake Mix

Jeon - Korean Pancake

Hope you have tried to make the Pajeon. Pancake mix are really easy to make, aren't there? This simple batter mix works great but probably won't taste or compare well to using a Korean Pancake(Jeon) Mix (Buchim Garu) sold in any Korean Market. All you would do is add water to make the batter. This mix contains all the ingredients to make the batter. Whilst this is a quick and easier solution, where is the fun in that? And you don't really learn to cook by using the pre-mix. ^_^ . Why use a mix when making a batter is easy. So let's examine what is in a commercial pancake mix.

There are some recipes online that suggest mixing jeon mix (Buchim Garu) with the fry mix (Twigim Garu). To get a crispier pancake. Let's look at the ingredients in the packaged mix: 

Jeon Pancake Mix (Buchim Garu) - wheat flour, corn starch, baking powder, emulsifier, salt, vitamin b, mixed seasoning, salt, onion powder, MSG.
Fry Mix (Twigim Garu) - wheat flour, rice flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, vitamine b, mixed seasoning.

 Pancake Mix (Buchim Garu)

Fry Mix (Twigim Garu )

To make the jeon flour mix you need wheat flour, rice flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, sugar and seasoning. The major ingredients are readily available. And if you make your own you can omit or replace the MSG. Also, in case you don't live next to a Korean Market that carries Jeon Pancake Mix. You can make your own authentic commercial pancake batter.

Jeon Flour Mix:
Dry Ingredients:
3 cup           wheat flour
1 1/4 cup    rice flour
2 Tbs          cornstarch
2 tsp           sugar
2 tsp           baking powder
2 tsp           onion powder
1 tsp           garlic powder
1 tsp           salt
1 cube        bouillon; I prefer organic cubes with no MSG (crushed)
1tsp            baking soda
You can make the dry ingredients ahead of time. You double the recipe, and stored in a dry air tight container. 

Wet Ingredients:
3                  eggs
2 tsp           doenjang*; crush into a paste (Korean bean paste)
4 cup          ice cold water (add a few ice cube)
*It is a soybean protein with lysine and essential amino acids. Does not contain any artificial additives and has healthy amounts of essential vitamins, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B12.

1. If you can sift the dry ingredients to ensure that they are well mixed. Alternately in a dry mixing bowl use a whisk or fork and mix the flour mix well.

2. Add the doenjang paste and mix evenly into the flour mix.

3. Form a mound like a volcano and break the eggs into the flour mix. With a fork bind the egg into the flour mix until you get a lumpy mealy mixture.

4.  Add 1/3 of the ice cold water into the flour and egg mixture. Blend till you break the large lumps. Add the remaining ice water. Blend till you get a slightly runny batter. Do NOT over mix. It is normal to have some flour lump in the pancake batter. If there are any ice cubes, you can leave it in the batter.

5. Rest the batter for at least an hour or overnight. The batter is done!


If you thought pancake making was an art, well it's probably more of a science. To better understand what makes a good pancake batter, it help to understand how the ingredient effects your pancake. Now, let's look at the science behind some of the ingredients: 

Cornstarch - Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent. While cornstarch thickens as it heats, it also sets as it cools, so it's particularly useful as a gelling agent to bind all the ingredients in the pancake. also note than because cornstarch is a binding agent, the more cornstarch makes it less crispy.

Baking Powder - Baking powder is key if you want the pancakes to rise at all. Baking powder is baking soda (which is an alkaline) with enough acid to cause a balance reaction. When the baking powder neutralizes it gives off carbon dioxide gas. Depending on the type of baking powder, it is activated when liquid is added or when it reaches a certain temperature (heated). Chances are the baking powder in you supermarket is "double acting" meaning it will act when you make your batter, and again when you are frying the pancake. If you want a fluffier pancake do not mix the dough once you've let the batter rest. As this will release the trapped air. Protein in eggs and flour provide a stretchy structure that traps the gas. When your batter is heated up it will cause the batter to rise. Note:-Browning works best in an alkaline environment. Because baking powder is neutral, the batter will rise but will have no effect on browning. 

Sugar  - Attracts moisture in the batter which reduces the amount of gluten formed in the flour. The result of this is twofold.  First, less gluten in the batter produces a more tender pancake. Second, because not as much gluten is formed, the batter will be lighter. When cooked, the batter will be able to rise more and the result will be a pancake with more volume. Sugar also adds color to the pancake, add more sugar if deep frying. The browning is the result of the sugar reacting with the protein in other ingredients (eggs, milk) when heated. The higher the sugar content the darker the pancake will turn out. 

Understanding food chemistry will enable you to fine tune the mix to suit your personal preference. Don't be afraid to experiment, there are no failed batters. But another learning experience; of what not to do next time. Each time you make the batter, you will learn something new.  And you will be closer to your perfect Korean pancake batter. Eat well and live happy!

PaJeon - Korean Green Onion Pancake

Basic Pa-Jeon Recipe

Here are the ingredients you will need:

Batter Ingredients:

Dry Mix:
1     cup Wheat Flour (OR 1/2 cup Rice Flour & 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour*)
1     teaspoon Corn Starch (Optional)
1     teaspoon Salt

1 1/4   cup Iced Cold Water
2        cups Green Onions (4 Green Onions)
4        Eggs
1/4     cup Vegetable Oil
*you can use 1 cup All Purpose Flour if you have neither Wheat or Rice Flour

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add 1 cup (save the 1/4 if needed) ice cold water and fold in the flour. The batter should be a slight runny consistency, add more ice water if needed. Set batter aside in a refrigerator. Batter can be made ahead of time of left overnight.

2. Slice green onions in 4' length wise. Use only the green stems for the pajeon. Save some of the white bulb stem can be used for the dipping sauce.

3. Heat a skillet/griddle on high, add a tablespoon of oil to a large non stick skillet/griddle. Lay a layer of green onion onto the skillet/griddle.

4. As soon as the pan starts to smoke or get hot, add a thin layer of the batter. About 3/8' inch thick, depending on personal preference.

5. Cook the pancake on one side till golden brown, check by lifting the bottom with a rubber spatula. Then flip the pancake over and drizzle a little vegetable oil around the edges of the pancake.

6. Once the pancake is turned over, crack the egg over the pancake. With a fork or spatula break the yolk and smear the egg over the entire top of the pancake.

7. Cook pancake on low to medium heat until the other side achieves your desired doneness.

8. Cut in wedges similar to a pizza and serve with the following dipping sauce.  


When mixing the batter, don't be concern if your batter is lumpy. Little lumps are preferable to over mixing the batter. The more you mix the more you develop the gluten in the flour. The more gluten, the more bread like and doughy your pancake is going to be. You want a light and crispy pancake NOT a dinner roll.

Resting the batter several minutes, or even overnight, before cooking is encouraged. Rest in the refrigerator. This resting period allows the gluten in the flour to relax so the pancakes will be tender. When you rest batters, you’ll notice that the batter gets thicker. This is a sign that the dry ingredients are continuing to soak up water from the wet ingredients. The result will be a finer texture. If you find that the batter is too thick you can add a couple of tablespoon of ice water. And remember NOT to mix the dough. But slowly fold the water.

There are no fail proof measurements in recipes for the home cook! As humidity, temperature, flour composition or even the water you use will effect the end result. Best to learn from your own experience. Or in the word of the old Nike slogan, " Just Do It!".

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup Soy Sauce (light)
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (OR Distilled or Rice Vinegar)
Scallions (White Bulbs), chopped
1 teaspoon Dry Chili Flakes (OR Sliced Fresh Chili or Sambal Olek)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

In a bowl mix all the ingredients together. Whisk together for a minute. Serve with your favorite Jeon.

Pancakes From Around The World

What is a Pancake?

A pancake is a thin batter cooked on a hot surface. The batter's base recipe is made by mixing flour with a liquid. Some of the flour used in pancake include all purpose flour, buckwheat flour, self raising flour, oatmeal flour, wheat flour, cornmeal flour, semolina flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, corn flour, teff flour and millet. Often a mixture of flour and dry ingredients are mixed to achieve the batters consistency and desired result. Some examples of the liquid can be water, alkaline water, milk, buttermilk, yogurt, coconut milk or beer. Some pancakes have bread like quality and may contain yeast or may be fermented.

Depending on the region, pancakes have a variety of toppings. There are varieties of sweet and savory pancakes. Pancakes may be served at any time for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack. Pancakes are probably the oldest form of bread. Pancakes, or similar to what we call pancakes today, were eaten in ancient roman and medieval Europe. Dosa, a South Indian crepe made from rice and black lentils, is noted in the Tamil Sangam Literature from 100 BC to 300 AD. The first tortilla dates back to 10 000 BC. Today pancakes are enjoyed by almost every culture or region around the world.

Here are some of the pancakes from around the world:

In North America pancakes are sometimes called batter cakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks (US) and are usually leavened with baking powder or baking soda and are served with syrup. They are served for breakfast sometimes with fruit compote, maple syrup, butter.

Buttermilk Flapjack

Mexican Hotcakes, are similar in style to pancakes served in the U.S. Hotcakes are more often made with cornmeal as well as or instead of wheat flour. They are topped with different sauces such as condensed milk fruit jam or a sweet goat milk spread called cajeta (taste like caramelized condensed milk, Mexican "dulce de leche"). You can find street vendors in Mexico selling hotcakes.

Mexican Hotcakes

Malaysia/Singapore Apom Balik (Pancake Turnover in Bahasa), Ban Chian Kuih - Pancakes usually filled with sweet toppings and may contain grounded roasted peanuts, sweetened dessicated coconut, corn, egg, bananas and sugar, often sold by street vendors. There are several versions of this sweet dessert type pancake. Some have a thicker batter, cake like and spongy, folded over with the topping in the middles. My favorite are the thin, crispy ones filled with crushed roasted peanuts, sugar and sweet cream corn. They are both cooked on one side then folded in half. A warm sweet dessert pancake.

El Salvadore Papusas/Pupusas - is a thick, corn biscuit-like flat bread made using a maize flour. It is normally stuffed with cheese, beans, or fried ground pork. My favourite was the queso (soft Salvadoran cheese called Quesillo) and Salvadorian chicharrón (Fried Pork). Served with some fresh tomato salsa sauce and curtido (pickled coleslaw).

Papusas (pronounced poo-poo-sa)

Vietnam's Bánh Xèo - A savoury pancakes made out of rice flour, water and turmeric. Some versions use coconut milk and saffron instead of tumeric. Depending on the region, but normally stuffed with thinly sliced pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts. Served with nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish sauce, lime juice, chili). Often served with fresh greens and herbs. I remember literally begging my gandma to make this pancakes when I was a child. Her version was the best I've ever had.

South India's/Sri Lankan Dosas - Regular dosa batter is made from rice and split skinned urad bean (black lentil) blended with water and left to ferment overnight. The batter is spread thinly like crepe on a hot tava (griddle) greased with Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter). Dosa's are wheat and gluten free. It is often eaten with your hand, accompanied with an array of side dishes: sambar, coconut chutney, mint/corinader chutney, dahl, pickles, chillis, fish/chicken/mutton curry  or dry spices/salt/sugar. Eggs, fresh sliced chillis and onions can also be added to the batter during the cooking process. Dosas can also be stuffed, the most common stuffing is the masala dosa (stuffed with potatoes, onion cooked with masala spices). My favourite dosa is the rava dosa (semolina) with some fresh slice chilies with a cracked egg. Served with dahl, sambar and tomato chutney.

Masala Dosa served with a coconut chutney, dahl and sambar.

French Crêpes - A crepe is a very thin pancake cooked on one or both sides that is rolled and stuffed. Crepes are made from a batter usually consisting of flour, eggs, milk, butter and a pinch of salt. They are generally served rolled or folded around a filling. Crepes can be sweet or savory. They are lightly sweetened and filled with things like berries or fruits. English pancakes are similar to French crepes. They have three main ingredients: eggs, flour and milk. They may be eaten as a sweet dessert with the traditional topping of lemon juice and sugar. You see crepe cafes popping up around the world now with many new ideas and topping ideas. Crepe is extremely versatile, with over a century of crepe recipes it wouldn't be difficult to find one that you will love.

A fresh Crepe loaded with chicken shawarma, cheese and onions from a vendor in Montmartre, Paris.

French Galette - A large, thin buckwheat flour pancake. A savory crepes made from buckwheat flour and filled with cheese, meet, fish or vegetables. One of the most popular varieties is a galette covered with grated emmental cheese, a slice of ham and an egg, cooked on the galette. In France, this is known as a galette complète (a complete galette). Galette are normally cooked on one side, wrapped with savory toppings and sometimes enjoyed in place of bread as basic food in regions of Normandy and Brittany. My favorite galette experience was in Paris at an organic farmers market. The proprietor insisted that I would not find another place that served his galette pomme de terre (Potato Galette). Served warm the flavors of the organic farm fresh eggs, potatoes and onions stood out and it complemented the of tartness.

Galette Pomme de Terre from a stall at an organic market in Paris.

Dutch Pannenkoek - Pannenkoek is Dutch for pancake. Pannenkoeken are usually larger (12') and thinner (thicker than a crepe) than American or Scottish pancakes. The base ingredients are flour, milk, and eggs, and the batter is left overnight so there are less bubbles that form when cooking. There are sweet and savory toppings similar to the french crepe, though pannnekoek are thicker and may include beer in the batter for flavor and acts as a rising agent. Plain ones are often eaten with white sugar, brown sugar or Dutch stroop (dark, thick syrup). They can be served in place of regular pancakes, and make an excellent bottom for the traditional egg Benedict with Hollandaise sauce. Pannenkoek are extremely versatile and can be topped with or accompany fresh fruit, cheese, meat, smoked fish, starch and eggs. One of my favorite pannenkoek, includes hash-brown potatoes, crispy bacon and onions inside the batter then topped with sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and apple sauce. For those who love to load up on carbs, try a Nasi Goreng (Indonesian for fried rice) Pannenkoek topped with fried egg.

Grapes Compote and Cream Cheese Pannenkoek

Ethiopian Injera - is a pancake-like bread made out of teff flour. teff is rich in iron and only grown in regions of middle elevation with adequate rainfall. because of it's scarcity, many poor Ethiopian's farmer that grow their own grains; other flours are used to replace teff content in making injera. The teff flour is left to ferment similar to making a sourdough starter. As as result injera has a slight sour taste, similar to dosa's. Injera is a flat pancake commonly cooked on a clay plate (mogogo) place over an open fire. Injera has a spongy cake like texture and sometimes served as a tablecloth covering the table. You then tear pieces of injera with your hands and use it to scoop meatless stew, vegetable sides, salads, cheeses, crunchy peanuts and herbs. Injera soaks the sauces of stew well, the sides of saucy, spicy and cooling sides.

Injera at the bottom of a potpourri of flavors and texture.

Jewish Latkes - Latke is Yiddish for potato pancake. Latkes are made with shredded potato and egg, sometimes with grated onions, cheese, spinach, zucchini can be added. Traditionally served with sour cream or apple sauce. Note that Russian, Belarussian, Czech, Ukrainian, German, Hungarian, Polish, India and Korea cuisine also have similar potato pancakes. Latkes can be cook on a flat-top, griddle, pan-fried or deep fried. There are versions that call for cooked and mash potato similar to a croquette.

Potato Latkes with sour cream and apple sauce

Korean Jeon - Jeon (also spelled jun or chon) literally translates to pancake in Korean. It is enjoyed by Korean Royal Court to farmers and peasants alike. There are many interpretations of the jeon, and it's variation in name is ofter associated with the other main ingredient [i.e. kimchijeon (kimchi pancake),  pajeon (green onion pancake), ganjeon (beef liver), hwajeon (flower/sweet pancake)]. The batter is mainly flour and water. And, depending on thee style, may be mixed with a fry (tempura) or egg batter. Ingredients such as sliced meats, poultry, offal, seafood and vegetables. Jeon is eaten as an appetizer to be shared before a meal, with other Korean side dishes or when drinking among friends. Jeon is easy to prepare and often cooked at home as part of a main meal. It is served with a soy sauce and vinegar mixture base.

PaJeon with octopus

Japanese Okonomiyaki - Is a savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi (what you want), and yaki (grilled). The batter is made of flour, grated yam, water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. Ingredients such as green onion, meat (generally pork or bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, kimchi, mochi, cheese, yakisoba and yakiudon are added. Cooked okonomiyaki is topped with ingredients that include fried egg, otafuku sauce/okonomiyaki sauce, aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (fish flakes), Japanese mayonnaise and pickled ginger (beni shoga). There are restaurants where you sit in front of a griddle, a chef, and ingredients where you can personalize you okonomiyaki.

Russian/Lithuanian/Polish/Ukrainian/Yiddish Blintzes - A thin pancake similar to a crepe except that yeast may be used. Prepared with wheat flour, buckwheat flour, potato flour oatmeal or millet with milk or water and egg. Bliny are thin, crisp pan fried pancakes that can be sweet or savory, commonly served with caviar and sour cream or folded over and filled with cream cheese or jam. It can be folded or rolled with fillings that include fresh fruit, fruit jam, mash potato, cottage cheese, caviar, cooked ground meat/chicken, or even a Chinese egg roll mix (bean sprouts, cabbage, onions). Blintz can be re-fried, deep-fried, sauteed or baked.

Blintz filled with cottage cheese

China's Jian Bing - A Chinese crepe made from mung bean or millet flour, soy milk cooked on griddle. Then an egg is added followed by tian mian jiang (sweet wheat flour sauce), garlic/bean chili sauce. Then chopped green onions, Chinese parsley and crispy crackers (similar to deep fried wonton shells). There are some variations to this recipe. Other toppings/filling include scallions, chives, pickled vegetables, Chinese donuts, sausages, rice noodle, fried shallots, fresh cilantro, thinly shredded egg omelet, grated daikon, lettuce, crushed roasted peanuts and black sesame seed. It is an inexpensive (2-5RMB/USD.25-.60cents) and great tasting snack. Imagine the texture a warm soft crepe with the eggs together with the crispy, crunchy cracker with a sweet and spicy sauce. I would use chicken skin crakling in my Jian Bing. Simple and delicious!

Jian Bing with green onions, crispy cracker, eggs, pickled vegetable.

This are just some of the more common or well known pancakes that are enjoyed around the world. There are many many more great pancakes out there in the world to be enjoyed. Some other pancake or variants are the Irish Boxty, Welsh Cakes, Indian Uttapam, Taiwanese/Malaysian Popiah (wafer thin crepe), Chinese Green Onion Pancake, Costa Rican Arepas, Japanese Taiyaki and Chinese Bao Bing (Thin Crepe) used as a wrap in Moo Shu Pork or Peking Duck. So when you are tired of the the tasteless foam pancakes smeared with butter and syrup. Maybe it is time to start exploring some of the many other pancakes people from different regions have been enjoying. Hopefully you will discover and share some of this new comfort foods. Happy eating!

Oven Roasted Chicken Skin Crackling

A good way to use what would normally be discarded; chicken skin. If you've never tried chicken skin this is a simple recipe than can be used in many recipes or as a snack.

Roasting allows the chicken skin to be rendered in its own fat. This allows more flavor to be retained. But cooking off the excess fat, means cooking away the excess fat consumed.

Here is what you will need: chicken skin, some dry seasoning and a baking tray.

- First thing to do is to pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees.

- Next, lay the pieces of Chicken skin flat on the baking tray.

- Season the top of the skin with kosher salt, dry oregano, paprika.

- Place in the pre-heated 350-degree oven; bake without turning for 30 minutes. Turn the skin over and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. The skins will have reduced considerably, but should be crisp and brown.

- Carefully remove the crispy chicken skin and place it on paper towel to drain off any excess fat.

Reserve the chicken fat for future use.

The crackling can be cut into one and a half inch strips. You can eat it as a snack. I would use it in salads or in place of bacon, pork rind and where you'd want added flavor.

Note:- If using a convection oven (instead of a conventional oven), preheat oven to 325-degrees. As a general rule, reduce the temperature by approximately 10% when using a convection vs a conventional oven.


After about 15 minutes of roasting

After turning over the skin after 30 minutes

Crispy chicken skin....