“Food isn't about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable” ~ Ina Garten
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For me, a list wouldn't be complete without pancakes. Of course, pancakes
There has to be something truly special about a dish that's been around at least since the Roman Empire. Not to mention it's universal. I don't think there's a culture that doesn't have a pancake of some kind
I've loved them since I was a kid. Remembering pancake breakfasts in church basements, or watching Bugs Bunny and Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday mornings in my pajamas with a plate of them by my side. As I got older and developed a great love for small-town diners, they're always remembered (or not) based on their pancakes
Admittedly, some of the best I've ever had have been made by men. Why is it that Dads, many of whom never really cook, don't think twice about throwing on an apron and opening a box of Aunt Jemina on a Sunday morning?
At our house, pancakes turn up nearly every day. Mostly in the morning although I'm certainly not above seeing them make a savory appearance in the evening
Thankfully, pancake supplies and techniques are similar whether they're sweet or savory. While, in theory, they can be made in any skillet, I much prefer a griddle. I like the larger surface and not having to contend with the sides of a pan as I maneuver my extra-large flipper.
The cardinal rule, when mixing the batter, is to go easy. In the case of a pancake, less is better. Trust me on this.
Don't worry about lumps, or stir with reckless abandon; the result will be unfortunately tough cakes. Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, combine them just before cooking, and always let the batter sit 10 minutes or so afterward.
For the first batch, I always start with the heat on low, knowing it can be increased from there. The second batch I begin at medium-low. Most batters should cook until bubbles appear on the surface and pop. From there they can be gently flipped and cooked until their under-belly is golden (the flip side always takes less time)
If you're not serving them right away, overlap them ever so slightly on an oven-proof platter, covering them loosely before sliding them into a 200-degree oven. (They can always be brushed with a bit with melted clarified butter to keep them moist and tender)
Pancakes are perfect for make-ahead breakfasts as they freeze beautifully, and can be reheated without de-frosting in the oven or toaster.
Not long ago, I met friends for a weekend brunch. A plate of pancakes to share, oh my, oh my. They were light, fluffy, and far more sophisticated than anything traditional.
In fact, they were so good, this non-lemon, non-citrus woman, came home, printed at least ten different recipes from the web, and has made a batch of lemon ricotta pancakes every day since, until I got it right.
There are a couple of secrets when it comes to making an incredible lemon ricotta pancake. Look for a recipe that uses less flour; you're looking for the ricotta to shine through and act almost like a soufflé
Baking soda over baking powder, you'll get far more lift
Lemon zest and lemon juice, you'll need both. The acid is important; it'll react with the baking soda.
Choose a recipe that calls for whipping the egg whites (back to the lift). They keep to whipping egg whites, start on low until they're broken up a bit. Then increase the speed of your mixer until they're beginning to look like soft billowy mounds. At this point, turn it to high and add the sugar. You're getting close when the whisk starts to leave trails and finished when they've formed nice soft peaks.
We've served them many ways, with only blueberries, a blueberry compote, a slather of lemon curd on top along with (or not) maple syrup.
ps: One last piece of advice? Pancakes of any kind are devastatingly good hot off the griddle. I'm just sayin'
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~ Adapted from Gourmet | September 1991
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
- 4 eggs, separated (large or XL)
- 1 ⅓ cups ricotta
- 1 ½ Tbsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- juice from ½ a lemon
- 1 ½ Tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch fine-grain sea salt
- clarified butter, melted (for brushing the griddle)
- blueberries for sprinkling into the pancake batter while they're cooking
- Blueberry Compote
- 2 cups blueberries
- ⅓ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Optional For Serving
- lemon curd
- In a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks, ricotta, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until just combined.
- Add the flour and baking soda. Stir until just combined.
- In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold stiff peaks. Add roughly ¼ of the egg whites to the pancake mix, and stir to combine.
- Fold in the remaining egg whites gently, but thoroughly.
- Heat a griddle over low to medium-low high heat, until it is hot enough to make drops of water scatter over its surface and brush it with some of the melted clarified butter.
- Working in batches, pour the batter onto the griddle by ¼ cup measures and cook the pancakes for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, brushing the griddle with some of the melted butter as necessary.
- Transfer the pancakes as they are cooked to a heatproof platter and keep them warm in a preheated 200° F. oven.
- Blueberry Compote (Optional)
- Gently combine berries, ⅓ cup sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
- Let macerate, tossing occasionally, until sugar dissolves and juices are released, about 15 minutes.