Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Weekend Comfort - Souffled Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Syrup


Another wet weekend in Seattle. Is it spring yet? Is it spring yet? Days like this scream "COMFORT", and this recipe is one of my go-tos for days like this. I found this in Rob Feenie's book, Feenies and made it for a snowy New Year's weekend away with friends. It was a big hit.

No big changes to this one. Know that when these come from the oven they will be lava-hot inside, so you'll need to allow for some resting time. Serve with a mountainous pile of bacon (as we obviously did. This is what you do when it's cold: You eat pork!)

Souffled Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Syrup

 From Feenie’s, by Rob Feenie

Maple Syrup

1 quart Maple Syrup

3 sticks cinnamon

6 whole star anise


1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

7 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, ¾ inch dice


10 large eggs

5 Tbsp sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ cups milk

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Icing sugar, for garnish


Maple Syrup: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan on high heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from the stove and allow to cool. Store syrup, with the spices in it, in a large jar in the refrigerator. Will keep for 4 months.

Apples: Melt butter in large frying pan on medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook for 3 minutes until bubbly. Add apples and cook for about 8 minutes, or until softened. Remove from the heat.

Pancakes: Mix together eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Add flour, milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, then whisk well. In small batches, process in a blender until frothy. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 Farenheit. Divide apples into four 8-inch (or six 6-inch) ungreased casserole dishes. Ladle the pancake batter into the casseroles (1 ½ cups for each 8-inch dish or 1-cup for each 6-inch dish). Bake in the oven for 7 minutes. Rotate the dishes 180 degrees, then bake for another 7 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.

To serve: Place each casserole on a plate. Garnish each serving with a dusting of icing (powdered) sugar. Serve with a jug of cinnamon maple syrup on the side.


Udang Nestum (Cereal Prawns)

This week was one of those crazy work weeks where there was no time to breathe, the days were nonstop meetings, and by the end of the week I was absolutely fried. Staying focused for "strategic planning" meetings without cutting someone or hugging yourself and rocking back and forth in your chair, moaning “Bored…bored…bored…boredboredboredbored” isn’t easy! I know, I know--Those of you who have jobs outside the corporate world would drown in the corporatespeak overload. As much as you think you won't go there, you do! I catch myself spewing out words like "leverage", "ROI" and "value proposition" way too often. And yes, I hate myself for it every time those words tumble from my mouth. 

My friend Becky (I’ve told you about her amazing food before. Did you go get her cookbook yet?) and I had planned to have brunch together Saturday morning, because it had been a while since we’d hung out and caught up. Rather than going out somewhere we decided to make food for each other, drawing from our respective “death meal” lists.

If you’re someone who is focused on food and cooking, and can think of no better way to spend a Saturday than sitting on the floor with cookbooks scattered around you, interrupting one another when you find something you Want. To. Make. Now, then you probably have an idea of what I’m saying.  We all have our mental list of “this would be one if the food items I want included in my last meal on this earth.” Naturally, those lists are nuanced, depending on the person. Mine involves a naked Ryan Reynolds, assorted farm animals and a jar of peanut butter.

But I digress…

Becky and I have our own lists of favorites, and when we spend time together we inevitably get to, “Ohmygod I have to make _____________ for you!” Saturday, we picked a couple of the dishes we knew the other had never tried and gave it a go. Becky made the most amazing lamb and mint meatballs with a creamy tomato and fenugreek sauce. They were melt in your mouth gorgeous and reminded me of butter chicken, even though they didn’t have a ton of dairy in the sauce. If you ask her nicely, she may even give you her recipe.

For my contribution, I made a street food dish I tried during my last business trip to Singapore, called Udang Nestum, or Cereal Prawns. Fried prawns, mixed in a caramelized, buttery, chile-blasted, curry leaf spiked sauce with bits of Nestum Cereal. Nestum is a Nestle product sold in Southeast Asia, and is similar to cream of wheat. It has a vanilla-y, malted aroma to it. It sounds a bit strange but it will knock your socks off. It’s hard to find in the US (I’ve relied on friends traveling to and from Singapore on business to procure it), but I finally managed to find a link here and figured since the ingredients are obtainable, I’d share the recipe with you. For frying the shrimp, you can sub in other flours for the cornstarch. I prefer cornstarch because I think it adds more crunch to fried foods on its own than it does mixed with other flours.

Oh, I realize indian lamb meatballs and Indonesian cereal prawns aren’t the most traditional breakfast food, but we accounted for that too. Just make a pot of coffee, fry an egg and put it over your cereal prawns (I guarantee you will be a convert forever), and add some gossip. It’s brunch!

Thanks, Becky, for taking photos while we cooked! Thanks also for destroying my New Years diet.

Cereal Prawns

Serves 4


1 lb. prawns (Note from Marc: Becky schooled me on this one: Try to find prawns from the US, wild if possible, to avoid all of the antibiotics and crap pumped into foreign and farm-raised shrimp)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 egg, lightly whisked

1 cup corn starch

2 tbsp butter

2 salted duck egg yolks 
(Note from Marc: You can buy salted duck eggs at any Asian market)

3 red thai chilies, sliced thinly, diagonally (Note from Marc: If you don’t love the heat, you can substitute milder Fresno chiles)

50 g curry leaves

2 Tbsp granulated or palm sugar

50 g Nestum cereal original

Peanut oil (for frying shrimp)


  1. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  2. Mix salt and pepper into the shrimp and let it marinate 30 minutes.
  3. Heat cooking oil in a wok. Dip prawns in egg and dust with cornstarch.
Deep-fry prawns in hot oil for 3-4 minutes till golden.
Drain on paper towel and set aside for later use.
  4. Melt butter in a wok. Add mashed salted yolks into hot butter. Stir-fry for a couple of seconds.
  5. Add curry leaves, sliced chilies, sugar and Nestum cereal.
Quickly stir-fry for 2 minutes, till cereal changes color, getting somewhat light and crunchy.
Toss in fried shrimp. Mix well and remove from heat.

Smoked Baby Chicken with Tomato and Eggplant Sambal

Another day of snowbound togetherness.  Another day TRAPPED IN THIS HOUSE TOGETHER.  What do you do with a week of enforced intimacy?  You try not to kill each other during the day and then cook a kick ass dinner, blow off your New Years resolution diet, drink a bottle of wine and then realize, “Hey, I’m not driving anywhere” and suck down another!  Yeah, that was our Thursday.

Earlier this month, I received an email from a very nice woman at Tealeaves.com who had seen the feature in 425 Magazine in the fall, featuring local food bloggers/twitter loudmouths like me. She asked if I would try their teas and let them know what I thought. I was flattered, and surprised to get a huge assortment in the mail. With our stupid New Years diets, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea instead of wine (WTF, right?), and the assortment she sent has been delicious. I'm also a geek for cool packaging, and loved how these arrived. There is a sealed bag inside a sealed tea compartment inside a cool tea tin. It's like a Russian Doll of tealeaves. My favorite tea has always been (and remains) Jasmine, so I used that to smoke the chicken in this recipe.

This recipe is a goldmine. It has the perfect marriage of sweet and spicy, delicious textural combinations between the creamy eggplant and tomato sambal, the seared chicken, and the crunchy fried sambal on top. Like the other Ezard recipes I’ve blogged about, this was delicious and so completely the type of food I like to cook.

Don’t be put off by the steps—it sounds more involved than it really is. It didn’t take more than an hour to throw this all together. And besides, it’s a winter wonderland out there. What ELSE do you have to do today?

Notes on the recipe: I couldn’t find Green Ginger Wine anywhere, and ended up subbing in a lychee rice wine I picked up the Asian market. It was quite nice. Also, I smoked this with Applewood chips. The type called for in this recipe are unique (I think) to Australia. Finally,…baby chickens? While I love the horrific descriptor, this is not something easy to procure here, so we used chicken thighs. Other than this, I promise I didn’t dumb down this recipe. It’s too damned good to modify.

Smoked Baby Chicken with Tomato and Eggplant Sambal

Adapted from the cookbook Gingerboy, by Teage Ezard


85 ml light soy sauce

15g (approximately 3cm) fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons green ginger wine

2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine

2 x 500g baby chickens, butterflied (or 8 boneless chicken thighs, as we did)

100g woodchips (mankua is the best but any from your local barbecue store will work), soaked in water for 20 minutes, then drained

2 tablespoons jasmine tea leaves

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


2 eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthways into 12 wedges

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sea salt

4 roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthways

250 ml(1 cup) pat chun (Chinese sweetened vinegar)

2 red shallots, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 red bird’s eye (thai) chile, thinly sliced

2 tablespoopns shaoxing rice wine

2 tablespoons kecap manis

1 large handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves

1 cup crispy fried sambal (recipe below)


1 tablespoon belacan shrimp paste, roasted

750ml (3 cups) vegetable oil

6 red shallots, thinly sliced

3 long red chiles, thinly sliced on the diagonal

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

30g (approximately 6cm) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced


Smoked baby chicken

  1. Combine the soy sauce, ginger, green ginger wine and shaoxing rice wine in a large container, add the chickens, skin side down, and rub the marinade into the flesh. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to marinate. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and leave for 10 minutes to come to room temperature.
  2. Place a perforated stainless steel disc insert in a steamer basket, then add the chicken and cover with the lid. (Note from Marc: I just used a regular chinese bamboo steamer for this) Line the base of a wok with foil, sprinkle in half of the soaked woodchips and place over medium heat.
  3. Stir the woodchips around until they start to smoke, then place the steamer on top. Cover and smoke for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and leave for 4 minutes. Remove the steamer from the wok, turn the heat back on, stir the woodchips around, replace the steamer and repeat the smoking process.
  4. Remove the steamer from the wok and then remove the foil and the woodchips. Replace with a fresh sheet of foil and the remaining woodchips and repeat the smoking process. The last time you move the woodchips around, place the wok over medium heat and, once the woodchips start to smoke, sprinkle on the tealeaves. Place the steamer on top, cover and leave to smoke for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.

Tomato and Eggplant Sambal

  1. Preheat the oven to 380 F.
  2. Spread the eggplant in a single layer on a baking tray, drizzle on the oil and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Roast for 25 minutes until golden brown and soft. Set aside to cool.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking tray. Pour the pat chun over the top, season lightly with the remaining salt and cover with foil. Roast for 30 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked but still hold their shape. Leave the tomatoes to cool in the liquid. Once cool, the skin can be easily removed. Strain, reserving 80ml (1/3 cup) of the pat chun liquid.
  4. Heat a wok over medium heat, add the eggplant and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the shallots, garlic, chile and tomatoes and stir-fry for 1 minute. Pour in the shaoxing rice wine, cook for 20 seconds, then add the kecap manis and caramelize for a further 30 seconds. Stir in the reserved pat chun liquid, cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Crispy Fried Sambal

  1. Using your fingers, crumble the shrimp paste into a bowl and set aside (Note from Marc: to roast the belacan, just wrap a piece in foil and cook in a 350-375 degree oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes)
  2. Heat the oil in a wok to 350 F (you can test if the oil is the right temperature by dropping in a cube of bread; if the bread browns in 50 seconds, the oil is ready). Fry the shallots until golden brown, remove with a slotte spoon and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the chile, garlic and ginger.
  3. Add all fried ingredients to the bowl and gently mix with the shrimp paste.
  4. This sambal is best made fresh on the day.


  1. Preheat the oven to 380 F (180 C.)
  2. Season the chicken lightly on the skin side. Place a non-stick frying pan over high heat, add the oil and chicken, skin side down, and cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip over, cover and cook for a further 4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Cut each chicken into quarters.
  3. Spoon some sambal into the center of two serving plates, top with the chicken and garnish with the coriander and crispy fried sambal.

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab with Chile, Lime and Palm Sugar Dressing

SNOW! We have Snow!!! 

Snow means working from home. Working from home means I can work AND cook. Working and cooking means I can try new recipes from the cookbooks that have been arriving in the mail, calling my name and torturing poor David. And let's be honest....nothing says "I love you" quite like the gift of crabs.

It seems like everyone released a cookbook this fall, and there are some incredible new publications on the market. None of them were more greedily anticipated in this house than Teage Ezard’s new book, “Gingerboy.”

If you read this blog (thanks to both of you who do), you know I’m a huge Ezard fan. An Australian celebrity chef and owner of multiple restaurants, his food is the Asian-influenced, sweet/salty/spicy goodness that never ceases to pull me in. When I read about Gingerboy coming out, I scrambled to get my hands on a copy.  Well worth the effort to procure it from Australia, it is a GORGEOUS book, with beautiful pictures and recipes that will make your mouth water. Cocktails, small plates, shared plates and desserts are the format, ranging from very simple to the recipes I love where there’s a little more time investment required.

Last night my friend Becky threw an impromptu potluck, anticipating the snow (which didn’t arrive until late last night where we live). We made this soft shell crab dish as our contribution and it was a hit.  Hope you like it too!  My next attempt will be his Smoked Baby Chicken with Tomato and Eggplant Sambal. Stay tuned…

Just a note: the only adjustments we made to this recipe were to add more chile to the dressing to make it a little more atomic hot and using a bit more of the peppersalt blend than called for in the recipe. Delicious!

Thanks to Becky Selengut for styling and shooting the photo while I slaved over the hot stove. I have to do EVERYTHING around here!!!

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab with Chile, Lime and Palm Sugar Dressing

Adapted from Gingerboy, by Teage Ezard

Serves 4 to share

Chile, Lime and Palm Sugar Dressing

170g light palm sugar, grated

1 Tbsp water

200 ml lime juice

4 Tbsp fish sauce

2 red bird’s eye chiles (thai chiles), finely chopped

½ tsp chile powder

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab

6 soft shell crabs, quartered and cleaned

3 tsp salt and pepper mix (recipe below)

150g (1 cup) plain flour

750ml (3 cups) vegetable oil


1 large handful coriander (cilantro)

3 garlic chives, finely chopped

1 red bird’s eye (thai) chile, thinly sliced (optional)

1 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded


Chile, lime and palm sugar dressing Place the palm sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, fish sauce, chile, chile powder, garlic and kaffir lime leaf. Set aside to allow the flavors to infuse.

Salt and pepper soft shell crab Place the crabs on paper towel for 15 minutes to absorb any excess liquid. (Note from Marc: Because we bought ours frozen, we found it useful to squeeze the excess water from the crabs between layers of a towel to help it crisp up.)

Mix 2 teaspoons of the salt and pepper mix with the flour in a large bowl. Dust the crabs with the seasoned flour until completely coated.

Heat the oil in a wok to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit) – you can test if the oil is the right temperature by dropping in a cube of bread; if the bread browns in 30 seconds the oil is ready. Deep-fry the crabs for 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Lightly season with the remaining salt and pepper mix.

To Serve

Combine the cilantro, garlic chives and chile, if you like it hot, in a large bowl. Add the crab and gently toss. Drizzle the dressing around the outer edge of four shallow serving bowls, place a neat pile of lettuce in the center of each plate and top with the soft shell crab.

Salt and Pepper Mix

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

2 tablespoons white peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole star anise

100g sea salt


Toast all of the ingredients in a wok for 2-3 minutes, or until a nice aroma is being released. Set aside to cool.

Transfer the salt and pepper mixture to a mortar and pestle and pound into a find powder. Pass through a fine sieve.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes 1 Cup


Marrowbone, Caramelized Onions, and Chimichurri

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, the chefs at Animal in Los Angeles. They showed me that not only do I love pork, I love the bits of pork I never even considered. Their Fried Pig Ears with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette rocked my world.

I was thrilled when I bought the Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food cookbook last month (by Lucy Lean) to find they had contributed another bit of unexpected deliciousness to the mix. Bone Marrow, anyone?

I never knew how much I loved bone marrow until the first time I tried it while staging at the Herbfarm in Woodinville. One of the chefs made French Dips for family meal one night, served with fried bone marrow chips. They were orgasmic. Since then I’ve been a bone marrow pig. (I don’t know why it’s so hard to diet in this house.)

This recipe isn’t very complicated, but does involve some work a day ahead to get the marrow ready. Not a ton of work—you just need to salt them overnight. Calm down. We always have caramelized onions in the fridge (see above regarding difficulty dieting), so the actual assembly is pretty quick.

In my last post I talked about my fun day last month with Matt Wright, working on food styling and photography. This was one of the four dishes we prepared and it was the unexpected surprise in the mix. It is absolutely, spectacularly delicious. Creamy, beefy marrow with sweet caramelized onions and zingy chimichurri. How could you not love this? Well, unless you're vegetarian. Or vegan. Or stupid.

This cookbook already contains many anal-retentively filed bookmarks and references for me to come back and try other recipes. Usually, a cookbook needs 3 or 4 good recipes for me to buy it. Made in America far surpasses that. I’m always rambling on about not dumbing down restaurant recipes. This one doesn’t. It’s the real deal.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 

Marrowbone, Caramelized Onions, and Chimichurri

Adapted from Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal, Los Angeles



3 center-cut veal marrowbones, 6 inches long, split down the middle (6 halves)

NOTE FROM MARC: My butcher was not able to cut the bones when I came in, so I bought bones cut vertically. They still worked as intended so don’t get too hung up on the size. (Mark this date as the first time those words have come out of my mouth)

Chimichurri Sauce:

1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh oregano

1 whole jalapeno (leave some seed and membrane for heat), worked to a paste

¾ cup distilled vinegar

7 cloves garlic, worked to a paste

1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil


Caramelized Onions:

1 ½ tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 small diced white onions

To Serve:

Chimichurri Sauce

4 tablespoons Caramelized Onions

6 pieces Marrowbone

6 slices pain de mie or good quality white bread (NOTE FROM MARC: As always, you can make this gluten free by omitting the bread and replacing it with a large piece of tree bark)

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

Serves 6

To Prepare the Marrowbones:

  1. Heavily salt the marrowbones the day before and refrigerate for about 20 hours.
  2. The next day, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Wash off the marrowbones and pat dry.
  4. Place the marrowbone, uncovered and face up, on a sheet pan. Transfer to the oven for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the size, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Farenheit all the way through.

To Make the Chimichurri Sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive bowl, and set aside.

To Make the Onions:

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the grapeseed oil; it should slide across the pan with ease. Add the onions. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are deeply caramelized, about 30 minutes.. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate.

To Assemble and Serve:

  1. Heat the caramelized onions in a pan until hot.
  2. Meanwhile, cut six 2-inch slices of pain de mie (or bark), butter both sides of the slices, and toast in a pan over medium heat. Remove the marrowbones and divide among six plates. Divide the caramelized onions equally among the six marrowbones and spoon on top of each. Spoon some chimichurri sauce on top of the caramelized onions. Cut the toasted pain di mie in half diagonally and place to the side of the marrowbone.

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