If you are celebrating Pi Day on Friday, March 14 (3.14), you will be in brilliant company, literally. For math lovers, it is a profound day to ponder the near-sacred number and its ubiquitous meaning and infinite form, which has intrigued mathematicians since Archimedes.
And it is, indeed, truly special – even a brief glance through the Pi Day official website leads me to question how I could have missed out on the great, collective love for pi. There are pi-stories, pi-poems, even pi-digit memorization contests, albeit for the truly pious. MIT is said to organize its application decision letters on this date, and perhaps most extraordinary of all, it is the date of Albert Einstein’s birthday.
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For others, Pi Day is a perfect pastry homophone, as naturally “pi” can be easily construed as “pie,” so why not celebrate both? It is like a numerical baker’s fate – two vastly different concepts – yet the “ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter” can hold many meanings, and math, on this day, your favorite sweet filling. Flour Bakery in Cambridge, Mass., shared its recipe for Rich Chocolate Cream Pie to commemorate the greatness of all things π.
I must concede this is my favorite pie at Flour Bakery – it is a rich equation of airy whipped cream that sit atop like perfectly formed clouds, a decadent, soft chocolate custard filling, and confectionery pie crust that beholds a perfectly blissful note of sweet and crunchy. While I cannot explain my love for this pie in mathematical terms – I truly wish I could – I do know it is as infinite and inexplicably adored as pi itself.
Rich Chocolate Cream Pie
Recipe courtesy of Flour Bakery in Cambridge, Mass., as adapted from the cookbook “Flour” by Joanne Chang. Published by Chronicle Books, 2010.
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 Pâte sucrée 9-inch pie shell [or use a ready made pie shell to save time]
6 ounces (168 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62 to 70 percent cacao), chopped
3/4 cup (180 grams) half-and-half
2-1/2 cups (600 grams) heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3- to 4-inch slab milk chocolate, at warm room temperature, for decorating
1. Bake the pie shell. Remove from oven, sprinkle with 1 ounce (25 grams) of the bittersweet chocolate, and return to the oven for about 30 seconds. Remove from the oven and using a pastry brush, paint the bottom and sides of the shells with melted chocolate. This will protect the shells from becoming soggy when pouring in the chocolate filling. Set pie shell aside.
2. In a medium sauce pan combine the half-and-half and 1 cup (240 grams) of the cream and scald over medium-high heat (bubbles will begin to form around the edge of the pan, but the liquid is not boiling). Meanwhile, place the remaining 5 ounces (140 grams) of the bittersweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Pour the hot cream mixture over the melted chocolate and whisk until thoroughly combined.
3. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and slowly whisk in the granulated sugar. Slowly pour the hot cream-chocolate mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the cream-chocolate mixture has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan often to prevent scorching, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly. To test, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; the custard should hold the trail for a couple of seconds before it fills. (First, the mixture will be liquid and loose, and then it will start to get a little thicker at the bottom of the pan. As it continues to thicken, it will start to let off a little steam. When you see wisps of steam steadily rising from the pan, you know the filling is almost done.)
4. When the custard is ready, immediately strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof pitcher or bowl, and stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour the filling into each chocolate-lined pie shell and refrigerate, uncovered, for about 8 hours, or until set, or up to overnight.
5. Fit the stand mixer with the whip attachment (or use a handheld mixer) and whip together the remaining 1 and 1/2 cups (360 grams) cream, the confectioners’ sugar, and cornstarch until stiff peaks form.
6. Pile the whipped cream on top of the chocolate filling, spreading it to the edges of each pie. Using the back of a small knife or a vegetable peeler, shave curls from the milk chocolate slab. (Make sure the chocolate is slightly warm, or splinters will form instead of curls.) Decorate the pies with the curls.
7. The pie can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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These lemon muffins are something like a hybrid muffin-cupcake. They aren't heavy-dense like a muffin, but not entirely cakey light like a cupcake. Or maybe that's just how I make muffins. The batter seemed a bit stretchy when I was scooping it out so I was afraid I had overmixed it (heavy hands) but the texture of the baked muffin wasn't tough.
Taste-wise, they weren't super lemony but I think that was also because the tartness of the lemon was muted by the butter-sugar topping. I did add some lemon zest to the granulated sugar topping and I liked having that added lemon flavor. I opted not to add yellow food coloring as I prefer the yellow color to come from the egg yolks and the lemons rather than anything artificial.
The key thing when filling the cupcake cavities is to ensure the same amount of batter is used since you don't want too small of a muffin baking too much, alongside a giant muffin in the next cavity not baking enough. I tried the ice cream scoop method of doling out the batter since that technically almost forces you to scoop the same amount of batter into each muffin cavity. But I used my largest ice cream scoop and even that didn't seem like it put in enough batter into each cavity. So I ended up doing partial scoops to top them up. Which meant I eyeballed the amount of filling in each cavity anyway.
These would make a sweet start to the today, or a treat for an afternoon tea.
From Sugar Pies Food
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sour cream
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon, finely grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2-4 drops yellow food coloring, optional (I didn't use any)
1/4 cup sugar, for topping
1 tablespoon butter, melted, for topping
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tin with liners or lightly grease.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together lemon juice and lemon extract in measuring cup.
3. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated. Add lemon zest and yellow food coloring, if using, and mix.
4. Alternate flour and lemon juice mixtures in thirds, beginning and ending with flour. Mix just until combined.
5. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool in muffin tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from tin and allow to cool until just warm.
7. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush on top of each muffin. Place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl and roll each muffin top in sugar.
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This week is a big week at meat markets everywhere as it seems they all have corned beef brisket on sale for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
It is a very good time to stock up – and when doing so, one will need to find some recipes for all that beef. Of course, there is always the usual braised corned beef, but sometimes, something a little different, delicious and a bit unexpected is always welcome.
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Far from being Irish, the Reuben sandwich has some disputed origins (as usually happens when something really great occurs and it seems everyone wants to take credit). One account has it that Reuben Kulakofsky, a Lithuanian immigrant to Omaha, Nebraska, and grocer, created this gem. Another account holds that the German owner of Reuben’s Delicatessen in New York City (Arnold Reuben) created it around 1914. This does seem to be substantiated in part by a magazine article around 1924 mentioning it, but others deny it and say the Reuben from the deli didn’t even have corned beef in it.
All arguing aside, corned beef on bread and grilled hot can’t be such a far-fetched idea and may have had, in fact, many origins. Who is to say who first put it together? Perhaps it is more important to hope that no one will ever be the last. In time, there will be many incarnations of this sandwich, perhaps made as many different ways as there are stars in the sky. But for now, this is pretty much the basic recipe.
And whether you make it to use up some leftover corned beef, find it a great addition to your football parties, or like a little change of pace for New Year’s food, or just … because! Because it is delicious and in fact, very easy and quick to make. Combined with a cold vegetable salad it makes a simple and satisfying lunch or dinner.
4 ounces lean thinly sliced deli corned beef
2 (1 ounce) slices swiss cheese
2 slices rye bread
1/3 cup sauerkraut, well drained
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing (to taste)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1. Bring corned beef and Swiss cheese to room temperature; squeeze kraut dry then heat until it is warmed to about 120 to 140 degrees F.
2. Butter both sides of bread.
3. Place cheese on bread, then corned beef on each side so the kraut can be in the middle; this helps keep the sandwich dry. Put about a tablespoon of Thousand Island dressing inside the sandwich on the corned beef.
4. Put sandwich together and griddle over med-low heat until crisp and golden, turning once.
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When I leaf through cookbooks, I mark recipes that look interesting with little post-it flags. I frequently go back through those marked pages when I am looking for ideas, and it is always interesting when I return to books to see what caught my attention at any particular moment.
Recently, I was flipping through some old community cookbooks to pass the time and I came across a marker on a recipe for cottage cheese rolls. I can’t imagine what made me mark it, as I am neither a baker of rolls or a particular fan of cottage cheese.
But as it happened, I had a container of cottage cheese in the fridge I had mistakenly bought instead of ricotta, so I decided this would be a good way to use it. And it was. These rolls are simple enough for a yeast-fearing girl like myself, but the cottage cheese makes these rolls light and delightfully tangy. The dough is wet so the finished rolls are moist and fluffy.
Cottage Cheese Dinner Rolls
Makes 24 rolls
2 packets active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
16 ounces cottage cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, at room temperature
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1. Rinse the bowl of a stand mixer with warm water so the bowl is not cold. Pour the 1/2 cup lukewarm water over in the bowl and sprinkle the yeast over. Sprinkle in a little of the sugar and stir. Leave for about 5 minutes to proof.
2. Heat the cottage cheese in a small pan over medium-low heat just until it is lukewarm. Do not let it scorch or bubble. Add the cottage cheese to the yeast in the bowl, then add the rest of the sugar, the salt, baking soda and the eggs and 1 cup of flour and beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Add about 3 to 3-1/2 cups of flour, a little at a time, just until you have a shaggy, wet dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Scrape the dough into a well – greased bowl, turn it over so the top is greased as well then cover and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume (see Note).
3. Remove the risen dough to a surface dusted with about 1/2 cup of flour. Knead the dough a few times in the flour to remove some of the stickiness. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces with a floured knife or bench scraper. Lightly flour your hands and roll each portion into a ball. Place the balls close together in two greased 9-inch round pans. Cover the pans loosely with a towel and leave to rise for 30 to 40 minutes until doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes until firm and golden on the top. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with a tea towel until ready to serve. I like to serve these warm from the oven with butter to spread inside, but you can brush the tops of the cooled rolls with melted butter, loosely cover with foil and reheat in a low oven for a few minutes, just to warm through.
Note: Here’s a tip I learned from a friend. The microwave is a warm, draft free place great for rising dough. Just leave a post-it not so no one turns it on. Even better, create a moist, warm dough habitat by putting a measuring cup with 1/2 cup of water in the microwave before the bowl of dough and zap for 2 minutes, until the inside is nice and steamy. Quickly stick the dough bowl in and shut the door.
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Peanut butter, jam, and muffins. These are literally three of my favorite things and I don’t know why it took so long for this recipe to make an appearance in my life.
I don’t eat peanut butter in large quantities, but I do eat it constantly. So that means that I open up my jar at least twice a day, but it takes me about a month to finish it off. I’ve always preferred crunchy, natural, salted (oh hello, Trader Joe’s!), but when desperate any peanut butter will do. It is the universal condiment. Chocolate sauce goes well with most sweet things, and ketchup goes well with most savory things, but peanut butter is the one that can cross the line and work with both! Think about it – peanut butter cookies are great, as is Thai peanut sauce.
And jam. I feel strongly about jam. People always look at me quizzically when I say I’m having a "peanut butter and jam sandwich," because you’re supposed to say "peanut butter and jelly." But they are not the same thing! Jelly is made out of fruit juice and has no seeds or chunks of fruit. Jam aka “preserves” has all the good stuff still in it. And I have always been on team jam, so yes I would like a peanut butter and jam sandwich, thank you very much.
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OK, back to these muffins. They’re barely sweet and pretty dense, definitely muffins and not cupcakes sans frosting. They’re not terribly unhealthy, since the only butter is the peanut butter. You can use any jam you like – I started with raspberry, and when I ran out I switched to fig. And they’re pretty awesome straight out of the oven or warmed up in a toaster oven the next morning for breakfast. I adapted this recipe, using a combination of plain yogurt and water instead of milk. The dough is super-thick, but they turned out well so don’t worry!
Peanut butter and jam muffins
Click here for a printable recipe from Eat. Run Read.
Yield: 12 muffins (I tend to make smaller muffins, so I got about 18 out of this recipe)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Jam of your choice
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners, or spray each well with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add peanut butter, and mix on medium speed until well combined and crumbly.
4. Add in egg, yogurt, water, and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
5. Use a medium-sized spoon to scoop about 1-1/2 tablespoons of batter into each muffin well. Shape a little well in the center of the dough for the jam.
6. Next, place 2 teaspoons of your favorite jam in the center of the muffin batter and top with another scoop (1-1/2 tablespoons) of muffin batter. If necessary, use a spoon or knife to gently spread batter to cover the jam.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
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An easy weeknight treat is a great recipe to have on hand. I love this version of a a classic pizza casserole, updated my way with no jarred sauces or chemical laden boxed mixes.
This is a real family pleaser, better than greasy delivery and easier than making or rolling out dough. A mix of beef and Italian sausage with fun bites of pepperoni up the pizza factor.
If your diners will stand it, you can sauté some shredded carrots, bell peppers and onion with the meat to add a little touch of vegetables. Or sprinkle a little red pepper in with the filling if you like spice. You could even use ground turkey and turkey or chicken Italian sausage.
Upside down pizza pie bake
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage (or links with casing removed)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup diced pepperoni*
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Break the beef and sausage into a large skillet and cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces as you go. When the meat is cooked, stir in the garlic and the oregano and stir to combine. Stir in the pepperoni. Add the tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons flour and stir until thoroughly combined and thick.
2. Spread the meat mixture a well-greased 8-inch square baking dish. Leave to cool slightly, then spread the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the eggs, milk and olive oil together in a small bowl, then add the flour and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the batter over the top of the meat and cheese and spread to cover the top completely. Sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake the pizza for 35 to 40 minutes until puffy, golden, and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and let the dish sit for 5 minutes. Loosen the sides of the pizza with a thin knife, then invert it onto a platter. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
* The last time I made this, I found some “mini” pepperoni rounds at the grocery. They are perfect for this recipe, and cute to boot!
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We are so over winter. Two weeks ago, I reported here that we were already a foot over our annual average of three feet of snow. We have now had more than five feet of snow, and we’re not done.
The only good thing I can say about the weather is that it encourages firing up the oven and roasting savory cuts of meat. The warmth fills the entire apartment, as do wonderful, meaty fragrances. Chickens, beef pot roasts and, when I’m feeling flush, legs of lamb all spring to mind when I’m ready to roast. Somehow, though, as much as I cook with pork, I seldom think of it as a roast. This weekend, I decided it was time to fix that.
So many wonderful cuts of meat come from the pig. Pork belly is enjoying a moment right now, both as the source of bacon and in its own right. Hams, chops, ribs, shoulders, jowls and even feet, snouts, ears, and skin all yield deliciousness when properly prepared.
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And therein lies the problem. With so many cuts to choose from, trying to pick the right one for the cooking technique you have in mind can be a challenge. I’d been seeing pork loin roasts in the butcher case lately. The name sounded promising, but I wanted to know more about the cut. So I checked in with the National Pork Board’s Pork Be Inspired website for more information.
According to the site, the loin roast “comes from the area of the pig between the shoulder and the beginning of the leg It is sold either bone-in or deboned.” Even though it is right next to the shoulder, a versatile cut that lends itself to roasting, braising and stewing, the loin roast has “a tendency to lose tenderness and fall apart when cooked using moist heat.” Roasting and indirect grilling are the best techniques for cooking this cut.
Boneless loin roasts are typically cut into 2- to 4-pound pieces and include a nice thin layer of fat. The handsome one I bought this weekend was about 2-1/2 pounds. Because of the name, loin roasts are sometimes confused with the smaller, longer pork tenderloin. As you can see, it is not the same thing.
As with many cuts of pork, loin roasts take well to brining, spice rubs and glazes. For this recipe, I made a glaze of Dijon mustard, shallots, rosemary, garlic, coarse kosher salt, and black pepper. After coating the roast with the glaze, I wrapped it in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for several hours. This gave the meat a chance to absorb some of the flavor – and for the various flavors of the glaze to meld.
Besides being a flavorful, tender roast the day you make it, the roast leftovers make delicious sandwiches.
Mustard-glazed pork loin roast
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pork loin roast, about 2-1/2 pounds
1. Combine first six ingredients in a small bowl. Spread a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to completely wrap the loin roast on a counter or table. Lay the roast fat side down in the center of the plastic sheet. Using your hands, spread mustard glaze over the bottom of the roast and then turn it fat side up. Spread mustard glaze over the top, sides and ends of the roast, coating all surfaces. Wrap in plastic wrap, place on a plate (in case of any leakage of glaze) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
2. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the roast, take it from the fridge (and remove it from the chilled plate) to let it warm up. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Unwrap the roast and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place on the center rack in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F., and roast until an instant read thermometer reads 145 degrees F., when inserted in the center of the roast, about 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Transfer roast to cutting board, tent with foil and let it rest about 10 minutes before carving. Slice thinly crosswise and serve.
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I have been making jambalaya for a number of years now and it has become a regular staple in our home, especially in early spring, around the time of Mardi Gras. It is a spicy dish and can be made either as a casserole with the rice mixed in, or as a meaty sauce spooned over cooked rice. Either way it is really delicious and makes a wonderful one-dish meal for your family.
And although I list chicken breast, andouille sausage, and shrimp as the prime ingredients, you can easily feel free to use whatever strikes your fancy or what you may have on hand. Thus, chicken can be exchanged with turkey or duck. Besides andouille, many types of sausage will suffice, including all types of smoked sausage.
In fact, I even used a bit of bison smoked sausage with jalapeno flavor in this one just as a change of pace (and it’s what I had on hand). The shrimp don’t necessarily need to be large. You can use any color of bell pepper – I use a mixture, saving extra pieces to use in tossed salad. Poblano peppers would be excellent in this as well, giving it a bit of a nice little bite. So as you can see, this casserole is very user friendly and adaptable.
I do hope you enjoy, and have a fabulous time before Fat Tuesday and if you observe, I hope you have a very Holy Lenten season.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs; may use turkey or duck, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces andouille sausage or other smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Cajun spice (such as Tony Chacheres or Emeril’s Essence)
Salt and black pepper or substitute
2 ounces dry white wine (optional)
1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped,with juice
2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups stock
4-8 ounces shrimp, shelled and prepped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large pan or Dutch oven, brown chicken pieces in the olive oil; add the andouille, onion, celery, bell pepper, thyme, oregano, paprika, Cajun spice, salt, and pepper to the pan, cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes until onions are tender; add wine to pan and stir until it evaporates.
3. Add rice, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring to a boil.
4. Place mixture in a baking dish or oven-proof casserole (I used a lasagna pan); cover (can use foil) and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until rice and chicken are done and tender.
5. Stir in shrimp, parsley, and green onions; cover and cook 5-8 minutes longer or until shrimp curl and turn bright pink (if the shrimp are already pink/precooked, the extra cooking is unnecessary – just stir them in).
Kitchen tip: If rice is a bit wet, drape a clean dish towel over the casserole dish and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The towel will absorb some of the steam, and when you come back and fluff it with a fork, you may find it to be more fluffy and palatable. I do this every time with rice. If you cook rice in a saucepan, just take the pan away from the heat source and put a folded clean towel on top between the lid and the pan. I promise you will like your rice much better!
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My mom used to make pancakes often for us when we were growing up. I was always unhappy when she did because I never liked pancakes. Isn't it crazy how our taste-buds change as we grow older?
These days I find myself making pancakes often and absolutely loving it. I'm enjoying all the things that one can add to the batter from chocolate chips, to bananas, grated apples, and guava puree. Not to mention the various berries! Instead of ground cinnamon, which we traditionally put in pancakes (at least in our home), I've been making mine with ground cardamom, too, sometimes a hint of all spice, or a pinch of nutmeg.
Any citrus I have at hand, the zest gets tossed in, too – grapefruit, orange, lime, lemon or tangerine. Let yourself have fun with pancakes!
Chocolate-chip Pancakes and Sauteed Bananas
Serves 4 to 5
1 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
A pinch salt
A pinch ground cinnamon
1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk (substitute with water)
2 heaped tablespoons chocolate chips (semi-sweet or regular)
1. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon to a bowl and mix together.
2. Add egg and milk to make a batter of dropping consistency (you may need more or less milk/water depending on your location). The batter should not be thin or watery.
3. Cover batter and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. The longer it rests, the higher the pancakes will rise (it's all about science, Alton Brown is better at explaining it).
Fold in chocolate chips just before cooking pancakes.
4. Add a few drops of oil to a non-stick pan and swirl. Heat on medium heat. If using a tawah or griddle, heat up pan first then brush with oil.
5. Pour or ladle 1/3 cup of batter in/on to pan and swirl with the back of a spoon. Spread batter to about 4 inches in circle. Let cook until bubbles or holes start to form. Flip pancakes (do not slam down) and let continue cooking until it comes away easily from the pan. Do not press down on pancakes while it is cooking.
6. Remove cooked pancake and place on wire rack or paper towel. Repeat until all the batter is used up. Insert a piece of wax paper between each pancake when it is done cooking to avoiding steaming and sticking.
7. Pancakes can be kept warm in a 200 degrees F. oven while you continue making the others.
2 ripe bananas (average 1 per person), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons canola or any neutral tasting oil
1. Add butter and oil to a pan and place on medium heat to melt. When the butter starts to froth, add the bananas to the pan, spread them into a single layer, you want each piece to make contact with the pan. Let cook for 1 minute or until it starts to caramelize a little. Flip, cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Spoon over pancakes, drizzle with syrup or honey and serve.
Note: These sauteed bananas can be served topped on many desserts.
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Editor's note: Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Pancake Day, or Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is part of a worldwide Catholic tradition that indulges in rich treats, such as pancakes and doughnuts, before a 40-day penitence period known as Lent, during which observers give up decadent luxuries in efforts toward self-discipline. Stir It Up! blogger Cynthia Nelson has an abundance of pancake recipes for you to try any day of the year, including this Dutch baby pancake.
Also known as a German pancake, this is essentially a large popover baked in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Don't be dismayed when it falls shortly after pulling it out of the oven. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the puffy pancake, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and you will delight your friends with a breakfast or brunch item that is as magnificent to eat as it is look at as it arrives to the table pipping hot.
Dutch Baby Pancake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and sugar to a large bowl and mix well.
3. Mix together milk, eggs and vanilla and pour the mixture into the bowl with the flour and mix well to incorporate, ensuring that there are no lumps. Do not be afraid to beat the batter to ensure that everything is integrated.
4. Brush an 8-inch ovenproof skillet or baking dish with the melted butter (if using a baking dish, it should be about 3 inches deep).
5. Pour the batter into the dish and place in the oven. Let bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until puffed really high and the edges browned.
6. Remove from the oven and serve immediately – with dusted sugar, syrup or any toppings of your choice.
You can make individual pancakes. Brush 6 regular-sized ramekins with some melted butter and pour in batter about half way up each ramekin. Or brush a 12-inch regular-sized muffin pan and pour in batter half way up and bake for the same amount of time: 12 – 15 minutes or until puffed up and edges browned.
If using ramekins or muffin pans, place on a tray before adding to the oven.
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