Do not touch anything unnecessarily. Beware of pretty girls in dance halls and parks who may be spies, as well as bicycles, revolvers, uniforms, arms, dead horses, and men lying on roads -- they are not there accidentally. - Soviet infantry manual, issued in the 1930's

05.12.23 0504 [PST]

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Mandarin Pancakes

* 2 cups unbleached white flour
* 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
* 3/4 cup boiling water

1. Mound the flour in a mixing bowl. Gradually add boiling water while mixing with a spoon to form a smooth dough. Knead the dough in the bowl for 4 to 5 minutes. Form it into a ball, cover it with a towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes. Shape it into a long cylinder, 1.5 inches in dimaeter by about 14 inches long. Cut this cylinder into twelve equal pieces, each a little more than an inch wide.

3. Flatten each piece between the palms of your hands to form a round slice 2.5 inches in diameter. Lightly brush one side of each slice with sesame oil and then place the oiled side of a second slice against it. In other words, you will have six pairs, oiled face to oiled face. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out each pancake pair to an 8-inch rouch. Thinness is important or the pancake will be chewy.

4. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Cook each pancake pair in the unoiled pan for a couple of minutes on each side or until just speckled brown. Place it on a plate to cool for a few seconds before peeling the pancakes apart (what fun!). Stack them on a plate covered with a damp cloth.

If you're preparing these in advance, you can cover and refrigerate them for one week or freeze them for up to three months. Reheat the pancakes in a steamer before serving.