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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries | The Art of Escapism Cooking

Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
TLC Book Tours host
I'm happy to be hosting today's TLC Book Tours stop for the recently released cookbook by Mandy Lee (of Lady and Pups blog) called The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors. I'll start by saying that this book is not for the weak. It's thick and meaty; it dares you to spend time getting to know yourself, your kitchen, and some ingredients and methods that you may not be familiar with.

Start by reading the beautifully written introduction by Mandy Lee; it sets the tone. And don't skip the section that immediately follows it called "First, Pantry", because, well...your pantry is your foundation, and you'll need it to be well-stocked if you're going to tackle the recipes on these pages. Each chapter begins with a story (which I think is the best technique a cookbook author can employ - the inclusion of stories); a reason behind the escape, if you will.
The Art of Escapism Cooking
For those who are less adventurous or skilled in the kitchen (or just don't want to go there), it does make a beautiful coffee table book. As well as the poetic writing that accompanies each chapter and recipe, there are bold, mouthwatering photos. And it's special enough that it would make a welcome gift to that cook or foodie in your life (flip to a recipe you think they'd enjoy and buy one special ingredient or tool from the recipe to include in your gift).

I have a good handful of recipes marked to try (see below), but this is the first one I decided to escape with - Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries. Thoughts? It's unexpected. It's sophisticated. One mouthful covers all the bases: soft, thick, warm pancake...cold, crunchy blueberries...sweet and tangy balsamic honey syrup. Again I say, it's not for the weak.

The Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee

The Art of Escapism Cooking

author: Mandy Lee
publisher: Morrow Cookbooks, an imprint of Harper Collins
catch the tour: TLC Book Tours
photos: YES
hard cover: 400 pages

about: In this inventive and intensely personal cookbook, the blogger behind the award-winning reveals how she cooked her way out of an untenable living situation, with more than eighty delicious Asian-inspired dishes with influences from around the world.

For Mandy Lee, moving from New York to Beijing for her husband’s work wasn’t an exotic adventure—it was an ordeal. Growing increasingly exasperated with China’s stifling political climate, its infuriating bureaucracy, and its choking pollution, she began “an unapologetically angry food blog,”, to keep herself from going mad.

Mandy cooked because it channeled her focus, helping her cope with the difficult circumstances of her new life. She filled her kitchen with warming spices and sticky sauces while she shared recipes and observations about life, food, and cooking in her blog posts. Born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, she came of age food-wise in New York City and now lives in Hong Kong; her food reflects the many places she’s lived. This entertaining and unusual cookbook is the story of how “escapism cooking”—using the kitchen as a refuge and ultimately creating delicious and satisfying meals—helped her crawl out of her expat limbo.

chapters: My Days as a Ma-Jiang Line Cook (For Getting Out of Bed) | New York, New York (For Slurping) | Meet Richard (For a Crowd) | The Breakup (For Snacking, Shit I Eat When I'm by Myself) | The Chimney (For Sweets) | The Pups (For Pups)

fun features: a small chapter at the end devoted to recipes for pups. I have cats, but I love the sentiment behind it.

(a few of the many) recipes destined for my kitchen: Rice Chowder with Sausage Cornflakes, Sichuan Hot Chicken, Gooey Cheese Soup Dumplings on a Lacy Crust, Saliva Chicken Meatballs, Spicy Chickpea Poppers, Black Hummus, Spamocado Toast, Chongqing Melted Cheese, Cruffins with Salted Yolk Custard, Wonton Wrapper Cigars Soaked in Orange Honey, Milk Tea Swamp Camp with Sago Pearls

about the author: Mandy Lee founded her award-winning “angry food blog,” Lady and Pups, in 2012 out of sheer frustration after moving from New York City to Beijing. She and her blog have been featured in numerous publications and sites, including Saveur,,, Yahoo, Food52, and She currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and pups.

connect with the author: blog | facebook | instagram | twitter | pinterest

recipe I have already tried: Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries

Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries

Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries

Yield: 1 large pancake, to serve 2 people
A stand-along, tall and lofty pancake paired with clusters of cold, sweet blueberries encased in a hardened web of shattering caramel, then drizzled with a dark, tangy, and floral balsamic and honey syrup.


Balsamic Honey
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Scant 1 cup (125 g) fresh (not frozen) blueberries (see Note)
  • 1/3 cup (52 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Crackling Pancake
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (195 mL) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick / 54 g) unsalted butter, melted, for cooking


How to cook Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries

Make the Balsamic Honey
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the vinegar until it's reduced by half. Turn off the heat. Fold in the brown sugar and salt until fully melted, the mix in the honey until smooth. The balsamic honey can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored at room temperature.
Make the Blueberries
  1. Wash and gently pat the blueberries dry, then put them into a zip-top bag with a paper towel and flash-freeze them for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until frozen. This can be done the night before.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl gently but do not stir, letting the sugar cook until fully melted with a deep amber-caramel color.
  3. Now turn off the heat and add the frozen blueberries all at once. Immediately fold them into the caramel with a large spoon, only for a few seconds, then gently dump everything onto a plate. The caramel will be hardened by the cold blueberries, holding everything in a messy cluster. Transfer the plate to the freezer until needed.
Make the Crackling Pancake
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, oil, and egg until smooth. Pour the wet mixture in to the dry mixture, then stir gently together with a large fork until a thick batter forms. Small lumps are totally okay.
  2. This recipe is just perfect for an 8- or 9-inch (20- to 23-cm) cast-iron or deep nonstick skillet.  Anything too small or too big will result in a pancake that is too thick or too thin and changes in cooking time. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly. Pour the batter into the skillet and evenly distribute it around the skillet with a spatula. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the skillet with a lid. I prefer a glass one so I can see what's going on inside, but any lid will do. Now let it cook for 8 minutes without peeking. We need the steam to be trapped inside the skillet in order for the pancake to cook through. After 8 minutes, check to see if the edges and bottom are deeply caramelized, forming a golden brown, crusty surface. If not, continue to cook with the lid on for another couple of minutes. Gently lift the edges and tilt the skillet to let the butter run underneath the pancake, then cook with the lid off for 5 minutes, or until the second side is golden brown as well.
To Serve
  1. Serve the pancake with caramel-clustered blueberries straight out of the freezer. Drizzle the balsamic honey syrup over the top and eat immediately.


Do not use prefrozen blueberries that might have been semi-defrosted during storage and are therefore watery and contain lots of frost. The excess liquid will dilute the caramel and turn it into syrup.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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