Pantry Woes

A morning inevitability – you excitedly leap out of bed with a brilliant breakfast idea in mind, only to realize that you’re short one ingredient. It’s 9am on Labor Day so I’m not sure if the grocery stores are open yet, plus I’m not ready to see the world without breakfast in my stomach. Rumble goes my tummy, and the timeline to relief seems scarily distant.

My stomach wants cheddar jalapeno waffles. A Google search on those three words leads to a Rachel Ray recipe, so I try again, this time with only “cheddar waffles.” The recipe from Season 7 Cheftestant Andrea Curto-Randazzo looks pretty good – – so I set about assembling the ingredients, only to discover that either I can’t find the baking powder or we just don’t have it. The latter is an impossibility, so I hunt through every cabinet, to no avail. Eek!

I look up baking powder replacements and learn a lot about the differences between soda and powder. According to, “Baking powder is made of baking soda and the right amount of acid to react with the soda.” We have baking soda, hooray! I can’t find the cream of tartar, though, that would act as the acid. I’ll bet it’s hanging out with the baking powder, bewitched away by a Household Goblin ( who is mischievously munching on some season-appropriate fruit shortcake. Now what?

On my tour of our pantry, I unearthed a box of water chestnut flour that expires when we are abroad. I’m not even sure why I bought it, perhaps for its chic Mainland-style packaging? In any case, I start looking up recipes and most are a steamed dessert cake that I’ve had a few thousand times and never really loved. It’s popular for Chinese New Year and served as dim sum, but it’s certainly not my top Sino-sweet.

Finally I found this: We happen to have some leftover potatoes that I made the other day, a mix of Adirondack blues and reds that I par-boiled and added to sautéed onion, curry leaves, ginger and mushrooms, and finished cooking with fresh ground clove, coriander and mustard seed. I mashed the potatoes and added it to a whole jalapeno that I had optimistically minced earlier, then added water chestnut flour, peanuts and cumin, and mixed by hand. They turned out delicious – breakfast in Kerala is served!

Singada tikki sprinkled with cilantro and corn salsa, and served with green papaya salad, tomato jelly, mango chutney

Bergen Street Singada Tikkis

1.5 cups parboiled potatoes, mixed with your choice of ground spices

1 cup water chestnut flour

1 whole minced jalapeno

¼ c ground roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Tikki Dough

Mix the above by hand and form a dough that is more dry than sticky – it should not stick to your hand. If need be, add more flour or maybe even an egg to achieve the proper consistency, but I found the proportions above to be perfect. Roll out lemon-sized portions and place one in the center of an oiled piece of foil atop a cutting board. Fold the foil in half and mash the dough with the palm of your hand until it’s ¼-inch thick. Melt ½ tablespoon of butter in a pan and add the tikkis, flipping over when browned, which takes about five minutes a side. Serve with chutney or any jam/jelly you have on hand. Makes five tikkis.

Oh and I found the baking powder. Can you find it in the banner above? Look for the -ing!

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3 Responses to Pantry Woes

  1. Ken Munsey says:

    Nice blog guys. We are sending some freshly picked heirloom tomatoes via the Matt connection. Enjoy before you leave.

  2. Bill Dennis says:

    And you cook, too! Water chestnut flour is one of those things …I actually can’t even find a comparison for water chestnut flour. Let me compare it to a summer’s day: it is looked for long, long remembered, but seems quick to disappear because of the virtue of goodness it displays.

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