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Ricotta pear pancakes

Light, creamy ricotta pancakes topped with fresh fruit will wow your guests after the big meal.

By Blue Kitchen / November 26, 2010

Ricotta pancakes with sautéed pears are a delicious start to the day.

Blue Kitchen


Thanksgiving is arguably the most important food holiday. Sure, food matters with other holidays, but for Thanksgiving, food is the holiday. For food magazines, the Thanksgiving issue is the September issue of Vogue, and the cover girl is invariably the turkey.

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At Blue Kitchen, we prefer to focus on the periphery, providing interesting side dishes that liven up the holiday table. Sweet Potato Vichyssoise for a surprising, elegant first course, Kasha, a non-traditional traditional side in our house that gravy loves every bit as much as mashed potatoes, Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Root Vegetables, a tofu-free vegetarian main course or side…

And this year, a simple, delicious holiday breakfast for weekend guests – light, creamy tasting ricotta pancakes topped with fresh fruit. In keeping with another Thanksgiving tradition at our house, I’m going to get out of the way and turn the kitchen over to Marion to tell you about them.

For us, Thanksgiving often marks the beginning of weeks of house guests. Sometimes lots of house guests. I remember one particular five-week period in which we never had less than two people visiting on any given day.

I make it sound all stressy and awful, but it wasn’t. It was pretty wonderful. And now that the holiday season is just starting up, we are looking forward to visits from our family and friends, and thinking about things to fix for them outside of turkey and its accomplices.

We plan to be fixing this recipe a lot in coming days. These pancakes are delicate and elegant in taste and texture, and they are also very polite, flattering all sorts of delicious accompaniments. After I had a serving with the sautéed pears, I had one more pancake with raspberry jam, and that was wonderful. Any fruit preserve would do marvelously with these; so would any fruit compote, or fresh berries, or sautéed apples or peaches, or beautiful juicy chunks of peeled orange with a bit of dark chocolate grated over all – in fact, the latter, with a drifting bit of whipped cream, could be dessert.

These pancakes are leavened with beaten egg white, not baking soda, meaning that the characteristic baking-soda-pancake taste won’t be in evidence.

This dish also generates a lot of bowls. Not Thanksgiving dinner-level, but don’t freak out when you keep seeing me calling for more and more bowls.

Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Pears
Makes 15 to 20 small pancakes

For the pancakes:
3/4 cup flour
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, brought to room temperature and separated
1-1/4 cups ricotta
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt plus a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons lemon zest, divided in two
Cooking oil for the sauté pan

For the pears:
Four to six ripe pears – more is better
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Make the pears. Core and peel the ripe fruit. Cut into small slices and put the slices into a bowl. Toss with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

In a nonstick sauté pan, melt the butter and spread it around the pan. Slide in the pears, one flat side down, in a single layer, and let them sauté for about two or three minutes on each side. Turn. If the sautéed side isn’t nicely golden brown, sauté on that side some more. When the pear slices are golden brown, they are ready to served. If the pancakes are not ready yet, hold in the sauté pan.

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