Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

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Foreseeing a free weekend at home and a busy week ahead, I wanted to make something for Sunday dinner that would carry F and me at least through Monday with leftovers. I didn’t feel like cooking meat so browsed through my bookmarked vegetarian recipes and came across this one from Simply Recipes. I’d never actually made eggplant parmesan but was eager to try my hand at it — plus, eggplants are abundant at the moment, so those two factors decided me.

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Eggplant parm does take some time — hence the Sunday evening project — but it’s worth it in the end. The procedure seems complicated, but bear with me, take it step by step, and you will be rewarded with cheesy deliciousness. F gave the it a rave review and it was just as good reheated the next day. I think traditionally the eggplant is fried, but this recipe “healthifys” a little bit by baking the eggplant rounds, saving quite a bit of oil.

Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Simply Recipes; serves 4-6)

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
  • to taste: salt
  • Simple tomato sauce:
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 cans  (~800g ) whole peeled tomatoes
    • 1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped roughly
    • to taste: salt & pepper
  • Eggplant coating:
    • 1.5 cups breadcrumbs
    • 1.25 cups parmesan cheese, divided into 1/4 cup + 1 cup
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat (or plain) flour
    • 4 eggs, beaten
  • to taste: olive oil
  • 600-700g fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

Procedure

  • 1.5 hours before prep/assembly time, slice the eggplants and salt both sides of each slice, then lay them on top of paper towels to drain.
  • After 1.5 hours, preheat the oven to 215C (425F) and rub some olive oil over two baking sheets.
  • Bread & bake the eggplant: Pat the eggplant rounds dry. Grate the parmesan and place it in a shallow bowl; add the breadcrumbs and mix together. Put the flour in a second shallow bowl, and in a third bowl whisk the eggs together. One at a time, dredge the eggplant rounds in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place the breaded rounds on the baking sheets, drizzle a little olive oil over them, then bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping the rounds at the halfway point.
  • While the eggplant is baking, make the tomato sauce (if you’re using your own sauce, feel free to ignore this step): combine olive oil, tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes until it begins to thicken and become fragrant. Set aside.
  • Slice the mozzarella.
  • Once the eggplant has finished baking, take it out and lower the oven temperature to 175C (350F).
  • Assemble eggplant parmesan: Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish. Place about 1/3 of the eggplant rounds over the sauce in a single layer. Place half the mozzarella on top of the eggplant and sprinkle 1/3 of the parmesan over the mozzarella. Place another 1/3 of the eggplant over the cheese, then spread 1 cup of tomato sauce over those. Add the rest of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the parmesan. Layer the rest of the eggplant rounds over the top, smother with the rest of the tomato sauce, and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over everything.
  • Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Whole Grain Bread

This bread was the third new recipe I tried over the (now long-past) August Bank Holiday weekend. After making stuffed flatbreads on Saturday and peach crisp on Sunday, I dedicated Monday to my first attempt at making/baking bread from scratch!

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After perusing many a bread recipe and reading tips from various blogs, I settled on this recipe from smitten kitchen (without the cinnamon swirl). Overall, the bread making process was enjoyable — if you have a free few hours, it’s fun to set and re-set the timer to wait/watch the bread proof, knead it a bit, then start to smell it as it bakes. Satisfying, too, to turn out your very own loaf from the pan.

risen & ready for the oven

risen & ready for the oven

In terms of the bread itself, I was very pleased with the taste — nicely wheat-y with some added depth from the rye flour. The crust, however, was disappointingly soft. I think that’s due to my novice bread making skills (or lack thereof), as further reading enlightened me to the fact that for a crustier bread I must bake it free-form and with some added steam in the oven. Note to self for next time! F professed to enjoy this loaf regardless, even though he also prefers a crustier and less crumbly bread.

just add butter

just add butter

Whole-Grain Bread (adapted from smitten kitchen; makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients

  • .63 cups warm water
  • 150g lukewarm milk
  • 25g (2 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 7g (.75 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 28g (1/8 cup) sunflower oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 318g (2.5 cups) whole wheat flour
  • 60g rye flour
  • 10g cornmeal
  • 10g wheat germ
  • 7g (1 tsp) salt

Procedure:

  • Make bread dough: in a large mixing bowl, whisk together water, milk, sugar, & yeast until everything dissolves. Add the oil and half of the beaten egg, and whisk to combine. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, wheatgerm, & salt. Add to the wet mixture and stir with a wooden spoon (or with a paddle in an electric machine) for 1 minute.
  • Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Now mix the dough for 2 minutes, either with a wooden spoon or with a dough hook on medium-low (machine). The dough will become firm and smoother yet stickier and more supple. If it is very wet, add flour a spoonful at a time. Conversely, if it’s quite stiff, add water a spoon at a time. Keep mixing for 4 more minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Knead it a few times then gather it into a ball. Cover the dough with the empty bowl (upended) and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the knead + 10-minut rest process 2 more times.
  • Proof/prove dough: lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof/prove for 60-70 minutes at room temperature or until it has doubled in size. (You can also proof/prove it overnight in the fridge.) While this is happening, lightly grease a loaf pan.
  • Form loaves: turn the dough out onto a floured counter and form it loosely into the shape of your loaf pan. Place it in the loaf pan.
  • Proof/prove #2: cover the loaf pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the bread proof/prove for 45-60 minutes at room temperature, or until it has risen to about 1 inch over the pan’s rim. Partway through this process, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
  • Bake bread (finally!): pop the loaf into the oven and back for about 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 88C (190F) and it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool a bit before turning out of the pan and slicing.

Enjoy!

Race Recap: 2014 Middlesex 10k, Victoria Park

…in which I run one of my slowest 10k races ever but am totally okay with it.

After my first full-time workweek while also doing a DELTA course, I wasn’t particularly keen on racing a 10k this weekend. My speedwork has been almost nonexistent since early summer, and I’ve been pleased to fit in two runs a week over the past month. But as I’d entered the race — and can’t pass up an opportunity to run in Victoria Park — I went along with the goal of taking it pretty easy.

I ran my 10k PR/PB in this race last year — it’s a big club race, tagged the Middlesex championships. I knew today wouldn’t be close to last year’s time, given my tiredness levels and low training volume. So strategy-wise, I decided to run comfortably for the first 5k and then pick the pace up if I felt okay. Treat it more like a slightly faster longish training run, I advised myself. Just enjoy running in this lovely park.

That’s exactly what I did.

Once the pack pulled away and thinned out after the start, I found myself running alongside a guy in a blue shirt (whom I hereafter shall refer to as “blue shirt”). Roughly aiming for under a 25:00 first 5k, I was pleased to go through the first kilometer in 4:49. The next one was even quicker, perhaps thanks to blue shirt’s nice pacing, but then he pulled away around 2.5k and I let him go. I ended up settling into just about a 5:00/km pace for the next few kilometers, going through the 5k in 25:02 — while getting lapped by the first six finishers, already on their third lap! Now start picking up the pace a little bit, Tamm. You’re tired but you can definitely finish under 50:00.

I didn’t want to push too hard until the last kilometer or two, but I tried to pick up my cadence for the rest of the second lap. That worked, as I was under 30:00 at 6k and under 35:00 at 7k. Great, just 3k to go. One lap. I was gaining on a few people, including a club-mate, who I passed just after 8k. Less than 10 minutes to go! I could see blue shirt up ahead and was closing the gap between us. Caught him at 9k (44:15 or so), and we ran alongside each other for a minute or two until I finally dropped him.

Pushing a bit down the final straight, but not kicking super hard, I ran through the chute and finished in 48:33 (7:49/mi pace; 4:51/km pace) — well towards the tail end of this competitive club race. But it was just what I needed to do: I was pleased to run under 50:00 and was glad I didn’t push so hard as to knock myself out for the rest of the day. Heathsiders were out in force today, and there were some great performances and big PBs all around. Well done, everyone! Perfect conditions — overcast, no wind, not too warm — certainly didn’t hurt.

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Recipe: Pesto & Zucchini Galette

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Galettes have been on my mind for a while — they keep popping up on the cooking blogs I read, filled at this time of year with stone fruit or late summer vegetables. I finally decided to try my hand at one when in the same week Melissa Clark posted a couple galette recipes with a great-looking rye-flecked crust, and The Kitchn came out with a summer vegetable galette. Both recipes looked great, so I adapted my crust from Clark, and my filling was inspired by The Kitchn.

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A galette comes together easily, in large part because you don’t have to shape the dough into a pie dish or anything — you can just go free-form and pile on your fillings of choice. F and I had made some pesto that we’d frozen, so I thawed it and spread it liberally over the crust; it worked as a lovely base for the tomatoes and zucchini. And this crust is very nice. Despite the excess oil/butter that appeared on the baking sheet at the end, the bottom of the crust didn’t get soggy and had a lovely bit of flaky crunch. I highly recommend this summery galette and am looking forward to trying my hand at a sweet version!

Pesto & Zucchini Galette (dough adapted from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking; recipe inspired by The Kitchn; makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients

  • Crust:
    • 80g (~2/3 cup) plain/AP flour
    • 90g (~2/3 cup) rye or whole wheat flour
    • 5g (1 tsp) sugar
    • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
    • 1 egg
    • Heave cream or milk, as needed
    • 113g unsalted butter, cut into big chunks
    • juice + zest of 1 lemon
  • Filling:
    • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Basil Pesto
    • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
    • 1-2 zucchini, sliced thinly
    • for garnish: grated parmesan cheese

Procedure

  • Make crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg and then whisk in enough cream or milk to make 1/3 cup; set aside. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work in with a pastry cutter or your hands, until the butter chunks are chickpea-sized. Drizzle up to 1/4 cup of the egg mixture (reserve the rest for later) into the flour-butter and stir until the mixture just comes together (it will still be crumbly — that’s okay). Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  • Lightly flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times, until it comes together into one piece. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
  • While the dough is chilling, slice your tomatoes and zucchini.
  • After the dough has chilledassemble the galette: Preheat the oven to 200C (400F — don’t use the fan/convection setting!) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch (30cm) round and slip it onto the baking sheet. Spread 1/2 – 3/4 cup pesto on the dough, leaving a 1.5-2-inch (3-4cm) border around the edges. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pesto, then top with the zucchini slices. Fold the pastry edges towards the center, overlapping as necessary (see photo above). Brush the exposed pastry edges with the rest of the egg-cream mixture.
  • Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden-brown. When you take it out of the oven, soak up any excess liquid with a paper towel or two. Cool the galette for at least 10 minutes, then garnish with grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

DELTA Course: Week 6

Need to catch up? Start back at Week 1 and continue on from there.

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Monday: A nice, if slightly rushed, input session by J on Language Systems: Written DiscourseWhat is discourse? you may ask. Well, discourse is real, natural language made up of larger units beyond the sentences level. We also learned that discourse = text and text = discourse. This relationship between discourse and text is important because texts are where real, natural language actually occurs. In other words, discourse is the bigger picture that we need to understand language.

There are two main characteristics of discourse/texts: coherence and cohesion. The former can be loosely defined as the “quality of making sense to the reader or listener.” The latter, on the other hand, is the “quality of being formally linked/’glued’ together.” Coherence is realized by the reader or listener, while cohesion is realized through formal cohesive devices, such as:

  • Determiners
  • Referencing (anaphoric, cataphoric, exophoric, deixis/deicitc)
  • Ellipsis
  • Substitution
  • Discourse markers (aka linkers)
  • Repetition
  • Indirect (avoiding) repetition
  • Lexical sets/chains
  • Parallelism

love cohesive devices! They play a large role in teaching writing skills (see Thursday’s session notes, below), and I just think they’re fun and fascinating to work with and think about. Cohesive devices are what makes writing/speech run smoothly and connect. Good times. But did you know that texts can be cohesive without being coherent, and vice versa? That’s right! Obviously the ultimate goal is to have cohesion and coherence, but one can occur independently of the other, although cohesiveness can help make a text more coherent.

And now that I’ve repeated “discourse,” “cohesive,” and “coherent” way too many times, let’s move on to Thursday’s session.

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Thursday: B led fun input on teaching writing skills. This session made me realize how opinionated I am about teaching writing — having done a bit of it myself, I feel quite strongly about how it should be done. B introduced us to product writing (students are given a model text and tasks to help them write their own such text), process writing (focus on planning, drafting, revising, editing, redrafting rather than final product), genre writing (focusing on the differences between genres/types of text), and that brilliantly-named hybrid, the process-genre approach to teaching writing! The latter integrates the process and genre approaches (oh, you’d already figured that you? You are so smart) into a nice model for staging a writing lesson:

  1. Generating/focusing ideas (process task)
  2. Focus on the model text (genre task)
  3. Organizing ideas (genre & process task)
  4. Writing (process task)
  5. Peer evaluation and reviewing

We also talked about four possible roles the teacher could take during a writing lesson: audience, assistant, evaluator, and/or examiner. I’ll let you look those up.

Although it will be challenging, I’m thinking about doing a writing lesson for one of my Skills LSAs. We have to do one lesson on either writing or speaking; speaking is the obvious choice for most people, as it’s fun and not too difficult to fill a lesson with speaking tasks. But I think I might take up the challenge of researching/planning/teaching a writing lesson, because it will be great for my professional development and I also bring a lot of my own experience to it. We shall see…

DELTA Course: Week 5

Need to catch up? Read about Week 1, Week 2, and Weeks 3-4. ——— Monday: J led an overwhelmingly dense session on teaching listening. Lots of good information to absorb, but delivered a bit too quickly  — I left in a bit of a daze (though that may have been due to the cold that had hit me the day before). Issues the presentation addressed included:

  • What’s difficult about teaching listening?
  • Why is teaching listening important?
  • What problems arise for students in practicing and developing listening skills (inside & outside the classroom)? (And how to address these issues?)
  • The nature of spoken language and why it’s difficult for learners (and how to address the difficulties)
  • Top-down processing vs. bottom-up processing

J also led a brief overview of how to stage a listening lesson. The basic stages are pre-listening, listening, and post-listening. Predictions are common in pre-listening stages and can be made from pictures, a title, or key words. In a listening lesson there should be two main listening tasks: for gist and then listening for specific information or detailed comprehension. After listening, the students should have to do a productive task related to the listening text or topic. This could take the form of a discussion, debate, paraphrasing/summarizing, extending or finishing a story, etc. ——— Tuesday: Not an input session day, but rather my DTA — that’s Diagnostic Teaching Assessment, for those of you not familiar with DELTA-lingo. This is the first lesson that DELTA trainees teach — our tutor observes it and gives us feedback, but it is (thankfully) not assessed/marked towards our final course grade. It’s a way for us to get comfortable writing the lengthy and detailed DELTA lesson plans and for our tutors to help us spot any weak points that we need to work on in order to pass our assessed lessons (the LSAs). I taught a grammar lesson on reported speech to an upper-intermediate class. Can’t say I was completely pleased with the lesson — hardly had any time for controlled practice, and though I was happy with the freer practice activity, my teaching of the grammar point was not particularly clear. That said, I got encouraging feedback from C and have a few things to work on as I start preparing my first LSA, including better materials/resource design and giving more varied feedback. ———

This is what DELTA work looks like.

This is what DELTA work looks like.

——— Thursday: C led two relatively relaxing input sessions. The first one was a phonology overview and got us all laughing and having a bit of fun, thinking about connected speech and intonation and the rhotic r. We’ll have two or three more detailed sessions on phonology later in the course; this one was just to get us thinking about it — “activating schemata,” if you will — for our upcoming lessons. I think these features of connected speech are really interesting and should be drilled in lessons, as they represent what happens to sounds when native speakers speak at normal speed. These things all happen for ease of articulation:

  • Elision is when a sound (phoneme) is dropped/omitted/elided due to being influenced by the sounds around it.
    • e.g. “listen” is pronounced /’lɪsən/ — the “t” sound is dropped
    • e.g. “next please” is pronounced /’neks pli:z/ — the “t” in “next” is elided
  • Assimilation happens when a phoneme is influenced by surrounding phonemes and its nature changes.
    • e.g. “Green Park,” pronounced quickly, sounds like /gri:m pɑ:k/ — the “n” sound changes to an “m” sound between the two words
  • Catenation aka Linking is when the last consonant sound of one word is attached to a vowel sound occurring directly after it
    • e.g. “get in!” becomes /ge ‘tɪn/ — the “t” sound migrates over to “in”
    • e.g. “print it” becomes /prɪn tɪt/ — the “t” migrates towards “it”
  • Liaison includes the intrusive /r/, intrusive /w/, and intrusive /j/ and is the act of pronouncing said “intrusive” phoneme for ease of articulation
    • e.g. in British English, “law and order” is often pronounced /lɔ:r æn ɔ:də/ — a slight “r” sound occurs between “law” and “and”
    • e.g. “blue egg” often sounds like /blu: weg/ — a “w” sound occurs between the two words
    • e.g. “we ought” sounds like /wi: jɔ:t/ — a “j” (that’s “y”) sound intrudes between the two words

The second session was an overview of DELTA Module 1 – that’s the exam we take in December. We went over the structure of the exam (9 tasks, 3 hours in total) and will have more sessions later in the course about the specific tasks and how to prepare for the exam.

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Can’t get enough of DELTA-land? Read about Week 6 here.

DELTA Course: Weeks 3 & 4

I’m combining Weeks 3 and 4 of my DELTA recap because we only had one class in the third week. Catch up on Week 1 and Week 2 before reading this. ——— Week 3, Thursday: C led input sessions detailing some of our assignments: PDA Stage 2 and Writing the Background Essay for the LSAs. In plain-speak, that’s Stage 2 of the Professional Development Assignment — essentially a short reflection on our strengths and weaknesses as teachers, and an action plan for improving said weaknesses. For each of the four Language Skills/Systems Assignments (aka assessed lessons we teach), we have to write a background essay about the particular skill or system we’re teaching. This must be well-researched and include language analysis, anticipated learner problems, and teacher solutions. ——— Week 4 Monday:  J led a speed-through session on SLA (Second Language Acquisitionand all the theories about it. Before we got into the theories (there are about 50! But J only highlighted some of the main ones), we discussed how SLA is relevant to our teaching (answer: in all ways, because everything we do is based upon our conscious/unconscious beliefs about language acquisition) and how teaching and learning are related. We also touched briefly on FLA (First Language Acquisition) and the three main theories behind it: Behaviorism (think Pavlov/Skinner), Innatism/Mentalism (Chomsky), and Interactionism (Vygotsky). That set us up for these prominent SLA theories, many of which are based ton FLA theories but take into account that the conditions for SLA are different:

  • Behaviorism emerged in the 1950s and is widely employed in the Callan and Berlitz approaches to teaching. Behaviorist approaches include Audiolingualism and Situational Language Teaching. Behaviorist approaches include lots of drilling and controlled practice as well as instant error-correction and is widely considered overly-simplistic and incomplete.
  • Innatism/Mentalism comes from a linguistic perspective and builds on Chomsky’s theories of FLA, in that language is hard-wired and we each have an innate “universal grammar” (UG). Innatist approaches to language teaching include The Natural Approach and Total Physical Response (TPR). Innatism has been challenged because it doesn’t take the learner’s social environment into account.
  • Krashen gets his own category. This Canadian came up with five main theories about SLA in the 1970s. These theories have been hugely influential and, while they aren’t foolproof, do quite a lot to help explain and think about SLA. They are:
    • Acquisition/Learning Hypothesis: acquired language is picked up subconsciously and is thus “procedural” knowledge; learned language comes from a formal, conscious process and can be called “declarative” knowledge. Only acquired language allows us to speak, according to Krashen.
    • The Monitor Hypothesis: “Declarative” knowledge — that which is learned — monitors and corrects language, making little changes to the acquired knowledge system — that which allows us to speak fluently.
    • The Natural Order Hypothesis: There is a fixed sequence of how learners acquire grammatical structures and this does not change much for learners with different L1s (native languages).
    • The Input Hypothesis and i+1: Learners will acquire and comprehend language if input includes structures just above their current competence level (i+1). This hypothesis states that it is only possible to learn if we receive comprehensible input.
    • The Affective Filter Hypothesis: The “affective filter” is a barrier to learning that is based on motives/needs/attitudes/emotional states.
  • Cognitivism stemmed largely from Krashen’s hypotheses. It sees the learner as a computer or machine that processes language data and takes an active role in learning it. Cognitivist approaches include Early Communicative Language Teaching, the Silent Way, Problem-based solving activities, and discovery learning. Building on Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, Swain in 1985 came up with the Output Hypothesis, which says that practice helps learners notice and then acquire language structures.
  • We also learned about Emergentism/Connectionism and Interactionism/Socioculturalism, but I’ll let you look those up on your own! I will hint that Modern Communicative Language Teaching and Task-Based Learning (TBL) are based on Sociocultural Theory.

In terms of doing well on the DELTA, J gave us the following tips:

  • Focus on form is important — but balance it with focus on meaning
  • Corrective feedback within a communicative program does help with learning
  • It’s good to highlight when structures vary from a learner’s L1
  • Focus on emergent language needs
  • Get students to participate in “noticing tasks” (aka “guided discovery”) to draw their attention to forms used in later communicative practice

J finished his SLA lecture just after 9pm, so he spent the final 25 minutes of the session reminding us all how to structure a grammar lesson. While the SLA lecture was interesting, this bit at the end — clearly added on when J realized he had time — was more directly useful, as I have to teach a grammar lesson next week for my DTA (Diagnostic Teaching Assessment). ——— Thursday: B led a nice session on approaches to teaching grammar. We debated how important grammar is — some are in the Ur and Thornbury camp in that knowledge grammar is essential to achieving mastery of a language, and others (including me) lean towards the Krashen and Lewis camp of lexical chunks having a bit more importance than grammar in terms of being able to communicate. We talked about deductive grammar teaching versus inductive grammar teaching and Thornbury’s “golden rules” for teaching grammar:

  • Rule of Context
  • Rule of Use
  • Rule of Economy
  • Rule of Relevance
  • Rule of Nurture
  • Rule of Appropriacy

The session also included a brief overview of lesson shapes for language lessons. A grammar lesson could be PPP (the classic Presentation, Practice, Production); ARC (Authentic, Restricted, Clarification); ESA (Engage, Study, Activate); OHE (Observe, Hypothesize, Experiment); TBL; etc… We are encouraged to do an ESA-shaped lesson for our assessed DELTA lessons — at least, it’s the “safe” option and hard(er) to go wrong. ——— Saturday: Only one of two Saturdays that we have DELTA class. C led a relaxed session on Module 3 of the DELTA, which is the “extended assignment” on an ELT specialism of our choice. We spent most of the time going over what we are required to do for the 5-part assignment and talking about possible ways to go about it. As a large part of the assignment is writing a course plan, C introduced us to various aspects of syllabus design, including six main types of syllabus (analytic, synthetic, product-oriented, process-oriented, content, student-oriented). It was a useful session and now I must decide on my specialism!

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Want to keep reading? Click through for Week 5.

Recipe: Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes

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I know what you’re thinking. More pancakes?! Doesn’t she have enough recipes already?

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Yes, probably. But Joy the Baker’s oatmeal cookie pancakes looked too good to pass up! Other than using raspberries instead of raisins and subbing in some whole wheat flour, I followed Joy’s recipe and it did not disappoint. F and visiting J commented on their fluffiness, though I actually wondered why they weren’t as fluffy as in Joy’s pictures. But fluffy or not (shall I say “fluffy” again? How about this video?), these ‘cakes have great flavor and just enough sweetness to satisfy without overwhelming. I’ll definitely make them again.

Oatmeal Raspberry Pancakes (adapted from Joy the Baker; makes 12-14 medium pancakes, enough for 3-4 hungry people)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted & cooled
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain/AP flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • Heaping 1/2 cup oats
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • to taste: freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh (or thawed-from-frozen) raspberries

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup, melted/cooled butter, & vanilla extract.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg).
  • Stir the dry into the wet ingredients, then fold in the raspberries.
  • Heat a skillet over medium, and cook dollops of batter in a little oil for about 2 minutes per side, watching for bubbles to pop.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Peach Breakfast Crisp

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A free long weekend (yay for the August Bank Holiday!) put me in the mood to try some new recipes. As you’ve already seen, on Saturday I made these stuffed flatbreads, which did indeed fuel F and me well for cycling the next morning. For post-cycling brunch on Sunday, I turned to the incredible smitten kitchen cookbook for inspiration. The result was this peach breakfast crisp, which I adapted from Deb’s apricot breakfast crisp — as she points out, any stone fruit (or berry, I imagine) would work well.

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This crisp is just right: tender, juicy peaches contrast beautifully with a crispy, nutty, not-too-sweet topping. Great with a dollop or two of plain yogurt. (F agrees!) As a bonus, the crisp comes together quickly — you can have it on the table in less than 45 minutes. Enjoy it for breakfast or brunch, like we did, or serve it as a light dessert. I’m definitely making this again, though I might have to double the recipe next time so it sticks around longer than one afternoon!

Peach Breakfast Crisp (adapted from smitten kitchen; serves 2-4)

Ingredients

  • Fruit filling:
    • 4 peaches, pitted & chopped into chunks (feel free to use other stone fruit or berry of choice)
    • 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
    • to taste: grated nutmeg
  • Crisp topping:
    • 65g (4-5 tbsp) unsalted butter
    • 60-65g (~1/3 cup) granulated sugar
    • 45g (~1/2 cup) oats
    • 30g (~1/4 cup) plain/all-purpose flour
    • 35g (~1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
    • pinch of salt
    • 3 tbsp sliced almonds
    • optional: 1 tbsp wheat germ

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  • In a small baking dish, stir together the chopped peaches with the sugar, flour, and nutmeg.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, oats, flours, salt, almonds, and wheat germ.
  • Scoop/sprinkle the topping over the fruit, the bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden-brown and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or cold with yogurt.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Stuffed Grilled Flatbreads with Basil Oil

IMG_5875

You know those recipes you see and immediately go, “I have to make this”? This, from Melissa Clark over at NYT Cooking, was one of them. I don’t know exactly what got me so excited, but who doesn’t love cheesy-doughy goodness? A free long weekend coming up meant I had time to make the dough on Saturday morning, let it rise, and prepare the flatbreads for dinner. Great cycling fuel, too, as F anticipated a long ride — and I a slightly shorter one — for Sunday morning.

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I was unsure how to do the folding and re-rolling (probably should’ve watched Melissa Clark’s video first — oops), so my flatbreads ended up very doughy on one side and very cheesy on the other. That also could’ve come from using cubed rather than grated mozzarella. That said, I didn’t care because the dough is delicious. Dollop on some extra basil oil, sprinkle it with some salt, and you’ll be good to go. Feel free to stuff the flatbreads with whatever you want — I’d like to try olives next time — or don’t stuff them at all and just enjoy them with that delicious basil oil. The dough would also be amazing as pizza dough — after all, these are basically calzones.

Stuffed Grilled Flatbreads with Basil Oil (adapted from Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking; makes 8 flatbreads, serving 6-8 people)

Ingredients

  • Flatbreads + Filling:
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 7g active dry yeast
    • 375g whole wheat flour
    • 13g sea salt
    • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 250-375g plain/all-purpose flour (+ more for counter dusting)
    • 200-300g mozzarella cheese, grated or cubed
  • Basil Oil:
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 50g fresh basil leaves
    • 1 garlic clove OR 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together honey and 2 cups of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir until it dissolves.
  • Gradually stir in the whole wheat flour, taking about 1 minute to stir everything together. Let the mixture rest uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the salt, yogurt, and olive oil, along with 250g (~2 cups) of the plain flour. Add more flour as needed, until the dough is too stiff to easily stir.
  • Flour a flat surface and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth, elastic, and only a little bit sticky.
  • Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with a dish towel and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles (~2-3 hours). If you want to make the flatbreads the next day, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
  • Make the basil oil by pureeing the fresh basil, olive oil, and garlic in a blender or food processor.
  • After the dough has risen, turn it onto a floured surface and divide it into eight equal pieces. If the dough has warmed up too much, chill it for 30 minutes.
  • On your floured surface, roll a piece of dough into a circle about 6in (15cm) across, or about 1/4in (1/2cm) thick. Brush it with some basil oil, then evenly distribute some mozzarella over the dough round. Fold edges of dough to the middle of the circle, pinching them together  to seal in the filling. Re-roll the dough into a circle. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces.
  • Before cooking, brush each side of the dough rounds with some olive oil. Place the dough rounds either on a grill or in a skillet over medium heat, and cook for about 3 minutes per side (flip when the dough/bread starts to puff and bubble). Alternately, place the rounds on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven at 450F (230C) for 10-15 minutes.
  • Before serving, brush each flatbread with some basil oil and sprinkle some salt over the top.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Basil Pesto

green=good

green=good

Every summer since I can remember, my dad has made an amazing basil pesto with basil from the garden. He used to make it with pine nuts — the classic combination — but those are so expensive now that he has started using a mixture of pecans, walnuts, and almonds. We always eat it on whole wheat spaghetti — the secret to extra creaminess is a dollop of buttermilk or yogurt — with frozen peas on the side.

peas are a must

peas are a must

F and I had been wanting to make pesto for a while, and when Simply Recipes published a pesto recipe — which coincided with Cookie and Kate posting this dish — I knew it was time. My dad has always used the classic Silver Palate recipe, but as I forgot to write it down during my most recent visit, I went for the Simply Recipes version. Making pesto is so simple and satisfying: combine basil, nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Toss with pasta or spread on pizza or a sandwich.

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? How do you like to eat it?

Basil Pesto (adapted from Simply Recipes; makes 3 cups of pesto)

Ingredients

  • 4 packed cups basil leaves
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 1.5 cups grated parmesan and/or romano cheese
  • 1 cup nuts (I used 1/2 cup walnuts + 1/2 cup almonds)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Place the basil and garlic in a food processor and pulse until blended (you can use an immersion blender if you don’t have a food processor). Add the cheese and nuts and continue pulsing until the mixture is uniform.
  • Slowly add the olive oil while running the food processor continuously. Keep blending until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Stir in salt and pepper.
  • Note: If you’re adding pesto to pasta, reserve/mix in 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid per 1 cup of pesto.

Enjoy!

DELTA Course: Week 2

Need to catch up? Click to read about DELTA Course: Week 1. ——— It was a good week in DELTA-land — the input sessions were interesting and I learned a lot. Here’s what we did: Monday: B (one of my CELTA tutors last year — fun to have him for some input sessions on the DELTA) led two sessions. The first one, on analyzing language (MFP), was very useful and, as B pointed out, is one of the most important parts of the DELTA: we’re asked to analyze language on the Module 1 exam as well as in our background essays and lesson plans for Module 2. We, as teachers, basically need to be prepared for any and all language questions that students might have for us. A large part of that is being able to anticipate problems that learners might have with certain language structures. And of course, any language system (grammar, lexis, phonology, discourse) lesson should include work on MFP: meaning, form, and pronunciation. We did an activity in which B gave us a text that could be used for a lesson and asked us to identify the target language, talk about how we’d set it up for a class, and think about what aspects of MFP we could teach (including key features and anticipated problems). It was a really useful session, although it made me realize that I’m definitely the least experienced (or have a more eclectic range/order of experience) of/than my classmates. I know I’ll have to work hard to keep up to snuff, but I’m confident that taking it a week at a time and being my usual methodical self will pay off. Our second input session on Monday was a brief discussion of classroom management. B handed out a sheet of questions that we discussed with a partner and then with the class. While you might think classroom management is just about “controlling” the students and making sure they stay focused, it actually encompasses a lot more than that, including:

  • facilitating equal participation
  • establishing and maintaining rapport with the class
  • how/why teachers might vary their role in a lesson
  • keeping students focused on lesson aims and learning outcomes
  • when to ask open vs. closed questions
  • when a teacher should limit how much he/she speaks
  • when to give quick vs. longer feedback

In reading through and discussing the aspects of classroom management, I realized that this is stuff I really enjoy and am already pretty good at as a teacher. That’s not to say I can’t improve, but I’m quite confident in my ability to manage a classroom. ——— Thursday: H came in for a guest lecture titled “Approaches to teaching and learning: a brief history of English language teaching.” While he gave a disclaimer that many of us might find it dull, I actually found it fascinating to learn about how language teaching approaches have developed, from good old Grammar Translation in the 18th century up to Lexical Approaches and Task-Based Learning today. It was refreshing to be reminded that, in Howard’s words, we English language teachers “are part of an intellectual tradition.” There has been tons of research and experimentation with different approaches and methods to language teaching — and there is no golden, magical method for what’s most effective. I won’t go into too much detail, in part because I wrote a little about it during the CELTA course, but suffice it to say I enjoyed being reminded of all the possible approaches and thinking about how my personal approach to teaching uses bits of many different approaches. Piggy-backed onto the history of ELT session was a brief overview of one of our DELTA assignments: the Experimental Practice assignment. We must choose one approach (or aspect of an approach) that we’ve never used before, design a lesson plan and evaluation criteria, and teach the experimental lesson. It’ll be wild! I have a few ideas for what approach/method I’ll use, but I won’t disclose them quite yet…

———

Want to read more? Here’s my summary of Weeks 3 & 4.

Recipe: Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup)

vibrant

vibrant

While I was visiting my parents in Rochester, T invited us over for Sunday brunch on the cozy back patio (S was away hiking). As usual, T provided a delicious spread: blueberry cake, salmon quiche (have to get that recipe!), and this incredible kholodnyk. It’s a traditional Russian/Ukrainian/Polish cold buttermilk and beet soup — it made a delicious first brunch course on a warm morning. I immediately asked T for the recipe, which she said came from epicurious and was really easy. She was right — this takes 10-15 minutes to whisk together and makes a vibrant, healthy summer soup. It works well as a brunch accompaniment, as we enjoyed it, or as an appetizer before dinner. It received full marks from F when I made it back in London. I went heavy on the beets and forgot radishes — it still tasted great. Feel free to take this recipe as a base and modify ingredients and amounts for a chunkier or thinner soup.

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Do you have a favorite cold summer soup? Share it in a comment below!

Kholodnyk (Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup) (adapted from epicurious; serves 3-4)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups (~250g) grated pickled beets
  • 1/4 cup beet liquid (if not using pickled beets, use 1/8 cup water + 1/8 cup white wine vinegar)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups English cucumber, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped radishes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Procedure

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, & salt.
  • Stir in the grated beets, beet liquid, cucumber, radishes, & dill.
  • Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes, then serve cold as an appetizer or light main course.

Enjoy!