Crisp Scallion Pancakes

« MAKES 8 LARGE PANCAKES
Scallion pancakes are a classic snack that can be found all over Asia. I usually make bigger pancakes and cut them into sections. It saves time and requires less oil this way. The cooked pancakes can be frozen, defrosted, and reheated to be served later.
INGREDIENTS
3 cups cake flour*
1½ cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil (for dough)
1¾ cups boiling water
1½ cups finely chopped scallion greens
About ½ cup all-purpose flour (for kneading)
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
¾ cup olive oil
FIRST Stir together the flours, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the boiling water, and stir until a rough dough forms. Add the finely chopped scallions and mix together evenly. If the dough is too soft and sticky, knead in about ¼ to ½ cup more all-purpose flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, kneading in more all-purpose flour if the dough is sticky. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 20 minutes, or longer if possible.
SECOND On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a snake about 2 inches thick. Cut into eight sections and cover with a towel to prevent drying out.
THIRD Place one piece of dough cut side down on the work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll out to a 6-inch circle. Brush the top with sesame oil. Roll up into a cylinder and pinch the ends to seal. Flatten the roll slightly with your hands and, with the seam inside, coil it into a snail shape. Set aside on a lightly floured surface. Cover with a towel and prepare the remaining dough pieces the same way. Let rest for 15 minutes.

 FOURTH Lightly flour the work surface and roll each coiled pancake out to a 6-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Place on a lightly floured tray. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
FIFTH Heat a heavy skillet, pour in the ¾ cup olive oil, and heat to 350 degrees. Slip a pancake into the pan, and fry over medium heat, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Remove with a spatula or slotted spoon and drain briefly in a colander, then transfer to absorbent paper. Arrange the cooked pancake on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining pancakes, reheating the oil between batches. Cut each pancake into four wedges. Serve immediately or place in the oven to keep warm.
*If cake flour is unavailable in your supermarket, you may order it from King Arthur Flour online at www.bakerscatalogue.com or through its catalogue (see “Mail-Order and Web Sources”).
The scallion has been valued for thousands of years. The white section or bulb is mainly used, but the green stalk also has medicinal properties. It promotes perspiration, detoxifies poisons in the body, and is often prescribed to treat colds.
All parts of the scallion or green onion are believed to have health-giving benefits. Ayurvedic doctors believe the onion is a blood purifier, benefits the nervous system, and enhances libido.
Herbal Pestos on Grilled Flatbread
SNACKS FOR SIX
Since I often have guests, but like everyone else have a limited amount of free time, I make large batches of fresh herbal pastes, cover them with a bit of olive oil so they don’t darken, and store them covered in my fridge. They keep indefinitely and are wonderful as a base for sauces and salad dressings, or as a topping for uncooked and grilled vegetables or seafood. (See “Main-Dish Salads” chapter.) They’re also delicious as a spread on toasted or grilled bread, or as a garnish for some of the vegetable dishes in the “Pleasures from the Garden” chapter.
INGREDIENTS
6 rounds good-quality pita bread, brushed lightly with virgin olive oil and grilled over a low fire until golden brown
FRESH BASIL PESTO
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups fresh sweet basil leaves, rinsed, drained, and blotted dry
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 cup raw pine nuts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
FIRST While the machine is running, drop the garlic down the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or into a blender, and mince finely. Add the basil leaves and pulse, scraping the sides with a spatula. Process until smooth, adding a little of the olive oil.
SECOND Add the pine nuts and pulse to mince them evenly. While the machine is running, pour the vinegar into the mixture and slowly add the remaining oil, pouring in a thin stream. Once the oil has been incorporated, add the salt. Pulse several times to mix evenly. Spoon the pesto into a bowl and chill. Spread liberally over the grilled pita rounds and serve.

Basil acts on the digestive and nervous system, easing indigestion, flatulence, nausea, and stomach cramps. It also has a sedative effect and is used in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. See “Dr. Jim Duke’s Herbal Farmacy” for more information.
The leaves of the basil plant are often rubbed on insect bites to relieve itchiness and discomfort.
FRESH MINT PESTO
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1small hot red chile, ends trimmed and seeds removed, or 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
1 cup fresh mint leaves, rinsed, drained, and blotted dry
½ cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed, drained, and blotted dry
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons Japanese clear rice vinegar
¼ pound extra-firm tofu, pressed in paper towels or a cotton towel under
a weight for 20 minutes to remove excess water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
FIRST While the machine is running, drop the garlic and hot red chile down the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a steel  blade, or into a blender, and mince finely. Add the mint and basil leaves and pulse, scraping the sides with a spatula. Process until smooth, adding a little of the toasted sesame oil.
SECOND While the machine is running, pour in the vinegar, then slowly add the remaining oil, pouring in a thin stream. Once the oil has been incorporated and the pesto has thickened, cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes and put in the food processor, along with the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse several times, until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Spoon the pesto into a bowl and chill. Spread liberally over the grilled pita rounds and serve.
Recent research has shown that the volatile oil contained in fresh mint is antibacterial. The diluted oil is often rubbed on the chest for respiratory infections. The whole plant has an antispasmodic effect and is used to aid digestion, reduce cramps and gas, and in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
Mint is considered a cooling herb and is recommended to counteract body heat.