Four Clan Kitchen

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Archive for the ‘Breads’ Category

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls and Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 29, 2017



The cafeteria at work sells Vietnamese Spring rolls for a ransom.  I thought it was time to switch to home-made ones and really, they are so easy to make and so versatile that they should be in your lunch rotation.   You can use whatever you have in the fridge and scale up to any number of people you want to feed.  Plus throw a couple of dipping sauces in.   My favorites are peanut sauce and nuoc cham, the Vietnamese sweet chilli garlic sauce.    For the Spring Roles, I  am providing a list of what I consider to be essential ingredients, plus a list of other ingredients that you can pick from.  I am providing  no quantities, you can scale up and down as you wish. You can buy the peanut sauce and nuoc cham and you can easily find vegetarian versions of each.  I am providing a version of nuoc cham that I obtained from the blog Cafe Sucre Farine and will post a recipe for peanut sauce another time.



Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham): 

2/3 cup warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbs fish sauce

2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp sambal olek (chilli sauce)

1-2 tsp cilantro stems, chopped fine



Spring Rolls (Essential Ingredients):

  • Spring Roll Wraps (any size), available at almost all supermarkets
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
  • Mint, Finely Chopped
  • Avocados
  • Firm Tofu, or substitute cooked shrimp/ left-over noodles,  or simply add more avocados and bean sprouts.  Anything that provides body will do.
  • Roasted, unsalted peanuts, crushed


Optional ingredients:

  • Lettuce, finely slivered
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Radish, shredded
  • Raw Mango, shredded
  • Scallions, green parts, finely minced
  • Serrano peppers, finely minced
  • lime
  • Teriyaki Sauce, Soy Sauce, Salt




  1. Purchase or prepare dipping sauce(s).  For home-made  Nuoc cham, mix all listed ingredients and you are good to go.
  2. Prepare the Tofu:

Cut the Tofu slab into 5 horizontal sheets.  Heat oil in a frying pan and add the sheets.  Cook on high heat for a few minutes till both sides are browned (see image).  If you like, you can flavor the tofu with some teriyaki sauce as I did, or soy sauce or salt.  Cool and cut into match-sticks (see image).

3. Prep all other ingredients and have them available.

4.Place warm water in a large pan large enough to submerge the Spring Roll wraps.  A 9×13 baking pan works    well.

5. Assemble the Spring Rolls:

  1.  Submerge the Spring Roll wraps in the warm water till they soften and lose shape.  This takes seconds
  2. Place the wrap flat on a cutting board.
  3. Place ingredients on the wrap leaving a 1.5″ border on three sides.  Include the essential ingredients and any other ingredients of your choice from the optional list.  Do not overstuff.
  4.  Fold in the top and bottom and then the short  side.
  5. Roll the wrap and gently press the edges.  The edges will seal easily.
  6. Continue, till you are out of ingredients.
  7. Serve with dipping sauces.





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Whole Wheat Naan (Indian Leavened Flat Bread)

Posted by fourclankitchen on November 28, 2015


Naan as anyone who has made a trip to an Indian restaurant knows is an Indian leavened flat bread (most Indian breads are unleavened).  Given their high cost at the grocery store, I decided that I would try my hand at making these at home.  I found a recipe that uses Indian whole wheat (atta) flour at a website called Monsoon Spice.  While atta  is  technically a whole wheat flour, this variety of wheat has been bred over millennia to have very little bran and thus a relatively high glycemic index.   Regular whole wheat is not a great option for naans either since it is  tough-tasting and not at all delicate like a naan, typically made with all-purpose flour, is supposed to be.  I had read some place that whole wheat pastry flour, which is whole wheat flour ground superfine,  was a very good whole-wheat flour to use in breads, pizzas and even pastries (!) so I decided to give it a shot.  I was very pleased with the naans this produced, very supple and delicate.  So here is the recipe with a small number of adaptations from the original.


2½ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I am guessing that this can also be substituted by whole what pastry flour)
¼ cup warm milk
¾ – 1 cup Yogurt (I used 1 cup)
1 packet Yeast
½ tbsp Sugar
¼ tsp Baking Powder
1-1½ tsp Salt
2 tbsp Oil
Warm water for kneading

Flour for dusting and rolling the naan.

Ghee/butter for frying and for brushing on top.

Toppings: anything you like. I used: Nigella seeds (kalonji), garlic & chopped cilantro.



1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk (110˚F).
2. Mix flours, baking powder and salt.  Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, slowly add  yogurt, oil and yeast. Add little warm water as needed. Continue to knead till you get a soft pliable dough, about 7-10 min.   You can also make your dough in a high-end blender or food processor or you can knead by hand.
3. Make a smooth round dough ball and coat with a thin film of oil.  Cover the dough with a cheese cloth or plastic wrap and keep it in a warm place for 1½ to 2 hours till the dough doubles  in size.  I turn my oven on at the lowest setting for 5 min and then turn it off and let the dough rise in the oven.
4. Punch down the dough to release air and divide it into 8-12 equal  sized balls.


Cooking the Naan: 

There are several ways to cook the naan: in the oven, on a grill and on a griddle on a stove top.   The recipes for all of these are available on various websites.   I used a Lodge cast-iron griddle on the stove as follows:
1. Heat the tawa/griddle till quite hot.

2.  While the griddle is heating, roll or stretch the dough into a round or tear-drop shaped flat bread about 1/4 inch thick.   Sprinkle your toppings and gently press them into the dough using a  rolling pin.  I pressed a few Nigella seeds on both sides.
3. Flip the naan and sprinkle a little water and  place the water side down on the heated griddle. Cook for a minute or so  until you see a few bubbles form and  then flip. The naan should have brown blisters/spots on the side that was down.

4.  Cook the second side for a minute or so as well.  If desired,  smear some ghee/butter to the top of the naan before serving.

Serve with curries, pickles or any Indian meal.  Naans also make a great pizza base.


Flavoring/Tempering the ghee (tadka): Optional

As an alternative to smearing ghee alone on your cooked naan, you can temper the ghee with nigella seeds, minced garlic and cilantro and smear this concoction on the naan right before serving.  Simply heat 2 tbs of ghee in a small sauce pan, add the nigella seeds, minced garlic and chopped cilantro till the ghee turns aromatic, a matter of few seconds.  Take the ghee off the fire and your schmear is ready.

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Posted by fourclankitchen on May 18, 2013

photo 2

I used to have a go to recipe for popovers, the one that came with the pan.  But my sister in law turned me on to this simpler 5 min  recipe from Ina Garten.  Really the taste:effort ratio here is high,  really high.  There are no major tricks either. Just a few pointers:  These are best made in a popover pan, although a muffin tin will do (if you do use a muffin pan,  then you have to reduce the cooking time: I made it once in a mini (24) muffin tin and remember it taking around 5-10 min).  Make sure you preheat the  pan and have the milk and eggs at room temperature (You can bring eggs to room temp, by immersing them in luke warm tap water for a few min). Finally, eat them pronto because they  deflate quickly.

How to eat them?  Well let me count the ways.  We like to eat them with honey or jam and butter.  David Lebowitz has a cinnamon sugar variant which I am posting below but have not yet tried.  Also, they are wonderful served with a stew for dinner.  Really.

photo 1

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbs. sugar (not in original recipe)

3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Generously grease  popover pan (12 popovers) with  butter.

3. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat.

4.  Using a food processor, whir together  flour, salt, sugar if using.

5. With the motor running add the eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth.

6. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

photo 3

Cinnamon sugar coating  (optional)


2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup  melted butter


1. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Brush each popover all over with the butter

2. Roll each popover  in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat  completely.

3. Cool on a wire rack.

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Rosemary Shortbread

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 9, 2013

photo 4I love shortbread and I really  loved this one.  I normally don’t like faddish foods which combine odd flavors together, just because they can be combined.   So when I read about this rosemary shortbread on Melissa Clark’s blog,  it smelled faddish to me.  But then I started to see praise for this on other blogs and this recipe just stayed on my list of things to try.  Well,  I just did.  I have to say that the sweet-salt combo with the rosemary is really amazing.  Ms.  Clark’s blog suggests other shortbread variations.  If you are interested, head over there and find out for yourself.  Meanwhile, make this and hoard it away from your evil children and spouses who will eat it till it is gone!


photo 1


1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
2. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3.1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4. 1 teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt
5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks
6. 1 to 2 teaspoons rosemary, chestnut or other dark, full-flavored honey (optional).

photo 2


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Stem the Rosemary leaves and cut into fine pieces by rocking your sharpest knife over the leaves.

2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary and salt. Add butter, and honey, and pulse  until the dough just begins to come together, but still looks shaggy. Do not  overprocess.
3. Press dough into an ungreased 8-or 9 inch-square baking pan. Prick dough all over with a fork.

4. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch.

5. Cool for a bit and cut  into squares while still warm.

photo 5

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Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Posted by fourclankitchen on December 7, 2012

photo 1

I periodically visit a blog called Alexandra cooks and am never disappointed when I pick a recipe from this blog.  This orange ricotta pound cake (originally Giada de Laurentis’) is just my kind of dessert, simple, homey and delicious. The kind of dessert you can have for breakfast, coffee or after dinner.  It would be easy enough to dress up, with an orange marmalade glaze for example. But why?  It is perfect without the extra pzazz.  I only made a few changes to the recipe, moslty out of sheer laziness.  I made the whole cake in the food processor because I did not want to dirty my mixer.  Second,  I substituted lemon and almond extracts for vanilla:  the cake cried out for a more citrus flavor.  For the same reason,  I subbed the amaretto for 2 tbs of orange juice.  Next time,  I might sub  1/4 cup of flour with almond meal and I may add a little lemon juice.

photo 3


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan

1 1/2 cups all purpose

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt
 (Diamnond Crystal, the other kinds are saltier)

1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups plus granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond  extract
  (the original recipe calls for vanilla extract)

1 tsp lemon extract

2 tbs. orange juice  (the original recipe calls for amaretto)

1 orange, zested

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter. Pulse the flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pour it into a medium sized bowl.

2. Using the food processor, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the extracts, zest and juice until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.  (To do this properly, you should use a mixture and cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar.  But this is a homey breakfast type cake,  I can’t bear to make so many dishes for this, but I bet the texture of the cake would be better if you creamed the stuff correctly).

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Posted in baked, Breads, Breakfast, Dessert, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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