Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pancakes for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

Growing up I preferred eating a bologna sandwich to eating eggs, oatmeal, french toast or pancakes for breakfast.  I have always wondered why it had taken me until my adult years to develop an appreciation for breakfast foods, particularly pancakes. Lots of theories around this wondering of mine. But once I developed an appreciation for pancakes, the thrill has been in discovering restaurants where great ones are made. Walker Brothers in Illinois, Keys Cafe in Minneapolis, and Clinton Street Bakery in New York all serve pancakes worthy of a road trip or the endurance of waiting in long lines.  But one should not have to drive or wait in line to eat great pancakes. Life is too short.

It was my sister who shared a pancake recipe with me that I think is amazing.  You have to know that I am often skeptical when my sister gives a recipe her rave reviews.  It has everything to do with the competitiveness between us.  So it was one lucky day when she came across the pancake recipe from "The Pancake Handbook: Specialities form Bette's Oceanview Diner" by Steve Siegelman, Bette Kroening and Sue Conley reprinted in a local newspaper.  And it was an even luckier day when I tasted them.  Just one bite and I was in pancake heaven.

It is really a simple recipe. With the exception of buttermilk most of the ingredients are usually in one's cabinets.  However, this is a recipe that will want you to make buttermilk a staple your refrigerator.

No sifting is required of the dry ingredients.  No mixer is required in the making of the batter.  A bowl or two, measuring cup, measuring spoons, whisk, spoon, spatula, and griddle pan or non-stick frying pan is all you need to make this recipe.  And if you don't have a griddle pan, this recipe may inspire you to buy one.  
The mixture is supposed to be slightly lumpy when all of the ingredients are mixed together.  Too much over mixing is not a good thing with this recipe. Once the batter is mixed you are supposed to let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  Patience has never been one of my virtues so anything requiring wait time has to be good for me to persist. But then 10 minutes isn't really a long time to wait for something so delicious.  And if you are just making this recipe for yourself or one other person the batter can be covered and put in the refrigerator overnight with great results.

These are thick puffy yet light pancakes.  So those of you who prefer your pancakes flat, this recipe is not for you.  On the griddle, they turn a beautiful golden color.
I am purist when it comes to eating pancakes.  No syrup, only butter.  But for those of you who love either or both, use them as sparingly or liberally to suit your tastes, but promise me you will first take a bite of the pancake before you pour on any syrup.  You might just turn into a pancake purist like me.

Pancakes for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (Kosher salt is always my preference)
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter
Optional:  One cup of fresh blueberries or thawed frozen blueberries

1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs then stir in buttermilk and butter.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients stirring just to blend.  Remember the batter will be slightly lumpy and quite thick.  If you want blueberry pancakes, this would be time to add them in.
4. Let the batter rest 5 to 10 minutes. 
5. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or heavy non-stick frying pan.  Using either large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measure pour batter on griddle.
6. Cook 2-3 minutes before flipping.  The bottom should be lightly browned or golden when you flip.
7. Once gently flipped, cook until the other side is lightly browned or golden.
8. Transfer to a plate or platter to serve.  Enjoy!

These pancakes are not just for breakfast.  They are lunch and dinner worthy. They are great on their own but a side of cooked maple flavored sausages or crispy bacon adds to the completeness of the meal.

Most importantly, once you make them for your family and friends they will be happy to travel any distance to eat them. That is, of course, if you want them coming back. I think this just might be the recipe that encourages my friends to travel to Rhode Island to visit me.  And I promise that when I make these pancakes for my house guests, I will use the fresh eggs my neighbor Sheila gives me. The eggs from her chickens are a recipe game changer.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Beginning

Like many, I have always loved the entire process of planning, preparing and presenting food for friends and neighbors. My sources of inspiration come from taking in the thousands of cooking magazines I have purchased over the years, from reading the hundreds of cookbooks I have collected, from reading the food blogs of others, from eating in restaurants, from watching some of my favorite chefs on television, from the few cooking classes I have taken, and maybe most importantly, from the memories of great meals in the homes of friends. 

Nothing gives me more pleasure than making memorable meals for others or just making gifts of food. Okay, maybe there are a few other things that bring pleasure to my life. But seriously, my passion for baking and cooking rank pretty high on the list.

I am of the age where I remember Martha Stewart having 'holiday' specials on television.  She and her magazine turned me into a collector of beautiful dishes, glassware and all sorts of baking tools. Then came Ina Garten and the simplicity of white plates with beautiful napkins gave me yet another canvas option on which to serve food. I have convinced myself over the years that a beautifully set table turns an ordinary meal into an extraordinary meal as a way to justify my continued purchases of plates, platters, glassware, and napkins. Yes, I rationalize most everything.

For years I have thought about creating a blog where I can share recipes, stories, photos and some of the things I have learned about cooking. Life distractions and changes have kept me from turning my thoughts into a reality. Thank goodness I finally had the epiphany that those things will always be in my sometimes chaotic life.  So the time has now come for me to push myself to move forward with creating a space to combine a few of my passions.  Salted Sugared Spiced is a work in progress as I am certain that it will evolve as I do. Finally this new journey begins.