meal in a cup

The other day while looking at BloggerAid’s website I came across this entry by Val in lieu of World Food Day, which will be taking place on October 16th. Here’s what Val had to say:

“As my way of raising awareness for the issue of hunger here in our own communities or worldwide I have created a recipe that can be served in a cup like the Red Cup representative of the School Meals Program. Serving food at school helps alleviate hunger among the world’s poorest children or enabling a girl to attend school rather than staying at home to help take care of her family. If even one child is allowed to go to school it provides them with not only food but with an education and the tools which are key to a better future for themselves as well as their community. If one child is educated imagine what would happen to an entire village. The future starts with our children!!!

I encourage you to raise awareness with your own voice by preparing a dish and posting it on your blog. Your dish can be inexpensive, it can be something that represents your part of the world or simply prepare something you enjoy and would like to share. Just serve it in a cup to represent feeding one child a healthy and nutritious lunch at school.”

Neat idea, right? Creating awareness by making something as simple as a meal that can be served in a cup. I never eat a meal out of a cup, my meals are always in big plates and deep bowls. there is always more than enough. But for so many, something as simple as a wholesome meal in a cup can mean an end to hunger.

I decided to do something simple, yet nutritional and filling. Something that would offer starch along with protein and that can be eaten at any time of the day. And of course, something that would be accessible.

This meal is a bit of a fusion between South African porridge made with corn meal and Chinese rice soup. I love both, but have never tried to combine them before. I used yellow corn meal or maize meal which is fairly common in South Africa and neighboring countries, but blue corn meal or rice would work as well, the preparation might just be slightly different.

For this meal you’d need:
1.5 cups corn meal
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt to taste

The process:
Put the meal into a small pot and add the 3 cups of stock/water. Bring it to a slow boil while stirring all the time. Be careful that it does not become to hot as it will burn or exploding porridge bubbles will land on your skin, which can seriously hurt. If the porridge is very tough, add more water as needed to turn it into more of a thick runny porridge. When it is cooked, stir in the egg until it combined with the porridge, add salt to taste and serve. You can also add any other ingredients at this stage like bits of cooked meat, some finely chopped vegetable or herbs to add to the flavor. I added a few drops of sesame oil and some soy sauce. Fill two large mugs (like I did) or 2 smaller cups, and serve.

* The BloggerAid Cook Book is pretty much ready to be sent to publishers. Excellent work done by all bloggers involved in this big undertaking!


I am terribly excited to announce that I mastered making the bin for dan-bin, one of my most favorite breakfasts in Taiwan. Dan, which I believe is the Mandarin for pancake, is a thin stretchy pancake also known as a Mandarin pancake. It is usually enjoyed in Taiwan for breakfast, accompanied by a slightly scrambled egg and rolled up with some cooked bacon, chicken or melted cheese. Very satisfying and I could never get enough of it while living there.

After leaving Taiwan (twice now) I always became very sad because I could not find the frozen pancakes used to make this breakfast at any import grocers, neither here in South Africa, nor in the States or even Thailand. I firmly believed that these pancakes could only be bought and not made yourself. I am still not sure where I got that idea from, but it kept me from ever trying to find a recipe.

I once stumbled onto a recipe in a newspaper in Bangkok of something that sounded like dan, but the process seemed complicated. Twice since have I read recipes, but the instructions always confused me and I never mustered the courage to try it. We recently picked up a really old Chinese recipe book and in it I saw a recipe for Mandarin pancakes. The steps seemed simple and easy to follow, and today I finally decided to try it out. And it was so easy!

The steps still sound a little awkward, but it turned out to be a lot of fun preparing them with Alexander and having our very own home and handmade dan-bin at home.

To make dan-bin you need to get:

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sesame oil


Mix the boiling water gradually in with the flour. I ended up not using the full amount of water recommended as the dough was looking like it was going to become too sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for about 5 minutes or more to form an elastic but not sticky dough. Leave in a bowl covered with damp cloth four 30 minutes or more.

Remove the dough and roll it into a log, about 1.5 inches thick. Cut 16 pieces from the log and roll them into balls, then flatten to about half an inch thick little rounds. Brush each round with the sesame oil and put them together two-by-two, oiled sides together. Flatten them slightly more before rolling them into thin pancakes, 5-7 inches in diameter. The two rounds look like they become one.

On a heated skillet (not greased), cook them quickly on each side, only until brown spots form on the underside of the pancake. Be careful of burning, they should stay on each side for only a few seconds. Remove the pancakes and separate them, storing them on a plate under a warm towel or aluminum foil. The pancakes can be refrigerated or frozen in aluminum for a later occasion, just steam them until warm before using.

The new roti pan we picked up today worked perfectly for making the pancakes and although mine did not turn out anywhere close to round the colors were perfect and the taste and texture fantastic. Just as I remembered it.

I served mine like they do in Taiwan with the egg, bacon and I added some avocado too for fun. To prepare it, break an egg into a pan and break the egg just a little in the pan and shape into a slight circle. Drop a pancake on the egg and push down a little to bring the two together, flip everything at once so the pancake is on the bottom. Let the egg cook while adding the bacon (or whatever else you want on it), roll up and serve. A thick soy sauce or chili sauce makes a pleasant accompaniment.


I was really surprised at just how easy it was to make the pancakes and I cannot wait to serve them to friends for breakfast now. The best of all is that I can now enjoy this tasty breakfast whenever I want in my own house. Of course this does not mean I don’t still miss Taiwan terribly, but it does help a little.

One more thing ere I go. I read about this event of BloggerAid on Jeanne’s blog a little while back. Through the creation of a cookbook they are contributing to the UN’s World Food Programme, specifically to the School Meals programme, which aims to provide meals to children at schools with low-attendance in poorer communities acroos the globe, thus encouraging children to attend school and get an education, as well as feeding them.

And all food bloggers are invited to help! Until the end of March, recipes can be submitted to BloggerAid for the cookbook, which will go on sale towards the end of this year on Amazon. They are looking for original recipes that you have not blogged yet. So if you have been experimenting with something new and would like to contribute to this project, head over here for more information.

It’s a fantastic excuse to play around in the kitchen and help some less fortunate kids.

*Note- I am so sorry for not commenting and reading any blogs at the moment. We are still figuring out internet at home. So I am limited to writing entries in Word, running to a cafe occassionaly and posting them, without getting time to catch up. It sucks, hopefully we can get something figured soon.


And here we are at the end of my Week of Breakfasts. For today I decided on a Dutch Baby. The name creeps me out, but I’ve heard they are really good, so I gave it a go.

To make a dutch baby you shoudl get:

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2/3 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

confectioner’s sugar

lemon wedges


Preheat the oven to 450F and generously grease a 10 inch oven-proof skillet.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, add the eggs and milk and whisk until combined. Pour in the belted butter and stir into the mix. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 15- 18 minutes. The dish is ready when it is really puffed and golden in color. Cut into wedges and serve immediately, dusted with the sugar. Squeeze some lemon juice over and if you like, have some preserves on the side.


This has by far been the easiest project of the week. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and tastes incredible. A mix between a pancake and a clafouti I’d say. The texture is lightly custard-like and the lemon juice adds a nice tang. For something impressive looking but really simple to kick off the weekend, this is just the ticket. Can’t wait to make it again. Maybe next time I’ll add a little bit of chopped chocolate into the mix.

This recipe is from A Real American Breakfast by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bil Jamison. It yields enough to serve 4 people.



It would have been wrong for me to do my week of breakfasts without making huevos rancheros. I am, after all, hanging out in New Mexico, just north of the border of the birthplace (I believe?) of this hearty breakfast. There are several recipes for huevos rancheros, so I could not really figure out if there was an exact authentic one. I guess you can wing it a bit to your own liking.

What I like about this recipe is that it suggests using roasted green chile, which is very New Mexican. I’ve never enjoyed green chile before my first visit here and I’ve instantly fallen in love with it. I knew red chile, but now green. Red chili is fine, but green is fantastic!

For huevos rancheros with an NM twist you need to hoard for the sauce:

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup chopped and roasted green chile

2 cups canned, crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1- 2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground

salt to taste

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I omitted this fav ingredient of mine as I forgot to pick it up- blah me)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

The rest:

8 corn tortillas

8 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 ounces Monterey Jack, or mild Cheddar, grated (I read somewhere that for authentic HR it needs to be Monterey Jack)

Sour cream, creme freche or chopped cilantro (optional)

To make this excellent breakfast, start with the sauce:

Warm the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic and onion over medium. Cook until limp. Add all the other ingredients except for the cilantro and lime juice. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until thickened. Add the cilantro (if using) and lime juice just before removing from heat. The sauce can be made the previous night and reheated before serving.

Next, heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a medium skillet, dip the tortillas in the oil, cook for a couple of seconds until soft, drain and arrange 2on a plate, overlapping.

Pour most of the oil from the skillet, but leave some to coat the surface. Warm over medium heat, add butter (1-2 teaspoons) and when foam subsides pour in the eggs, 2-4 at a time, cook for a minute while spooning over the butter, add salt and pepper to taste and turn down the heat, continue cooking until the eggs are to your liking.

Top the tortillas with eggs, sprinkle some cheese over each egg and top with portions of the sauce. Serve immediately, having each guest garnish with cream or cilantro if they wish.


I made the sauce last night, refrigerated it and just heated it up again this morning. I was not sure about adding the cumin to the sauce, I’m used to it being added to Indian dishes. Alexander tasted it though and said it tastes just right. I have not seen it being added in any other recipes for this dish, but I will certainly keep on making use of it. It added a really nice additional flavor to the spicy tomato-ness of the sauce.

I’ve also never been a big fan of runny eggs, but I’ve come to the realization that it goes really well with Mexican and New Mexican dishes as it melds together all the other flavors and ingredients. This recipe is a keeper and I cannot wait to make it for my own family!

This recipe is from A Real American Breakfast by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bil Jamison. It yields enough to serve 4 people.


This is the first time I’ve used blue corn in cooking. It’s been an important ingredient in Southwest cooking for centuries, but I only found out about it after Alexander introduced me to the beautiful blue corn tortillas so popular here. Pinon, or pine nuts, are another locally grown food and this recipe blends the two in an interesting pancake. The recipe suggested making an apricot-pinon compote and since this is a week of trying new things I decided to give it a go as well.

If making the the compote, do that first and keep it covered and warm while preparing the pancakes. You can also prepare it the previous night and reheat it in the morning.

For the compote you will need:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 cup chopped fresh or dried apricots

1 to 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 drop almond extract


Warm the buter in a small skillet over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Saute until lightly toasted for about 2 minutes, taking care not to burn them. In a saucepan, combine the apricots, corn syrup, cinnamon and almond extract together with a cup of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce to low and cook until the sauce is thick and spoonable. It should take about 10 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and keep it warm until ready to be served.


For the pancakes you should get:

1 and 1/4 cup pine nuts

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup blue cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 and 1/4 cups milk

2 drops almond extract

Preparing it:

Place 3/4 cup of the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse briefly to ground. Be careful not to pulse until it turns into a butter. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse until it forms a coarse meal. Scrape down the sides and mix it up a little at times to make sure it all mixes well. Spoon this into a large bowl and stir in the melted butter until it disappears in the mixture. Add the wet ingredients and the remaining nuts and mix.

Warm a griddle or non-stick pan and cook the pancakes the usual way. When the pancakes are ready, serve them with the warm compote.

These pancakes turned out very well. The batter was more runny than what I’m used to, but the moment the batter hit the pan they set nicely. They were nice and fluffy with the whole pine nuts added a delightful texture. The compote was excellent. I ended up adding a quarter teaspoon of vanilla essence while I was cooking it as the compote had a slightly ‘dry’ flavor, the vanilla lifted all the flavors nicely and it made for a tasty accompaniment to the pancakes.


This recipe is from A Real American Breakfast by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bil Jamison. It yields enough to serve 4 people.


I agree, that subject is way too long. It’s the middle of my Week of Breakfasts and I decided to go big. This was the first recipe that caught Alexander’s eye and sparked this little event. As a child I never cared for oatmeal breakfasts, I always found the texture gross and the whole business rather tasteless. This dislike grew by leaps and bounds in high school res where we got it for breakfast almost daily.

Luckily for oats Alexander recently restored my faith in it by preparing delicious bowls of warm oatmeal with pecans and fresh berries. I’m sure I would have been a much more agreeable youth if berries were as readily available in South Africa as they are here in the States. I am really enjoying have it with breakfast daily.

Today’s breakfast takes a while to prepare, but you can make the oats the night before (if using ramekins) and reheat it the next morning in a pan of gently simmering water. I will give the recipe for the oatmeal here and create a different entry for the ambrosia.

For the oatmeal pudding you need to take out:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup water

2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

And for the vanilla sauce:

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Butter four ramekins and set aside.

Toast the oats in a heavy saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the deepend a little in color and become fragrant.  Pour in the water, followed by the other ingredients for the oats.  Bring it to a boil, cover and lower heat to a bare simmer, cooking for another 5 minutes until it is soft and thick. Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins, cover with a single piece of foil and let it sit at room temperature until it firms in the ramekins, about 10-15 minutes.

While this is happening, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a saucepan and cooking over medium heat until it is reduced to about a 3/4 cup.

Next, run a knife around the inside of the ramekins, turn upside down on plates and give a light shake to release the pudding. Spoon the warm sauce over the each and serve, accompanied by the ambrosia. You can also just serve the pudding in the dish. I did not use ramekins, as I was not going to heat it up again, so I just used little glass dishes.


Serving both dishes at ones did not turn out to be too much. The oatmeal pudding was rich and creamy with a delightful taste of ginger. Taking bites of the fresh ambrosia in between helped to balance the rich and creaminess of the oatmeal. It also tasted great taken with bites of pudding. A winner.

This recipe is from A Real American Breakfast by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bil Jamison. It yields enough to serve 4 to 5 people.


I’ve never made ambrosia and I think I’ve probably never had it as well. I think. According to A Real American Breakfast, it is a Southern holiday dessert, but makes for a nice breakfast at any time of the year. The recipe used orange slices, but suggested strawberries too, so I decided to go with that. Because I did not have quite enough strawberries I rounded up the figure with some black berries.

For breakfast ambrosia you should find:

2 pounds berries, thickly sliced

confectioner’s sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup fresh orange juice

coconut water from a fresh coconut, brandy, orange curacao or sweet white wine (optional)

Preparing the ambrosia:

Arrange a layer of berries at the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle with some sugar and cover with a little coconut. Add another layer, using the black berries this time and also sprinkle some sugar and cover with coconut. Continue in alternating layers until there you’ve used all the berries. Pour some coconut water (or any of the alcoholic options) and the orange juice over the fruit, sprinkle with some sugar and cover with a generous layer of coconut. Refrigerate the ambrosia before serving, but not for too long, only about an hour.

I ended up halving the recipe and serving it in individual little glasses, showing off the layers of berries and coconut. It looked really pretty. A pleasant accompanied to breakfast and certainly something to keep in mind for a festive event.


This recipe is from A Real American Breakfast by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bil Jamison. It yields enough to serve 6 people.

Next Page »