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This was probably our most successful and delicious week of pancakes, yet. And maybe even the healthiest.

Banana Pancakes with StrawberriesDay One: Banana Pancakes with Maple Syrup & Fresh Strawberries and Orange Wedges.

A very simple, classic American-style pancake for which I can’t even provide a recipe with measurements, but they are made in the vein of simple pancakes: egg, milk, flour, baking powder with a tiny bit of salt & sugar; not at all complicated. They take about 15 minutes to cook from start-to finish.

When making banana pancakes, slice a banana in any shape you want, pour the batter and place the banana slice on top. You may want to cover the banana slice with a tiny bit more batter. Flip like a normal pancake.

 

 

 

Day Two: Cauliflower & Herbs with Cheddar & Sour Cream.

When my dear friend Eggie visited us, she made delicious cauliflower and potatoes for dinner, which left us with a half of a head of cauliflower to use up. I’m not one to waste things, and what better thing to try than – what turned out to be – delicious cauliflower pancakes.

I loosely followed a recipe online, but added green onions & cilantro to the mix. We topped them with cheese and sour cream.

 

 

 

Day Three: American Flapjacks with maple syrup, eggs & orange wedges.

We went shopping for pancake week a few days earlier and bought a quart of delicious, real maple syrup. Because we don’t have (on purpose) a microwave, to warm the syrup, I put it in a small ceramic creamer and place the creamer near the griddle using ambient heat of the cooking to warm it. There’s no reason to waste that heat. More and more I find different ways to make use of ambient heat for all kinds of different projects, and this one is definitely one of my favorites.

You can also just place the container in hot water or inside a “cold” gas oven if you get up early enough. The inside temperature of a gas oven is around 70ºF, which is useful for a variety of reasons, especially keeping cakes right off the griddle reasonably warm.

 

Day Four: Pisachio Cream Biscuits with Honey Butter.

So one idea behind Pancake Week is a celebration of the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. Our days get both longer and warmer, and the symbol of the glorious pancake is that of a sun.

I’ve been making cream scones for a while, and more often recently since my favorite place to get the holy Ginger Biscuit stopped retailing them at our favorite coffee shop, thus putting me in a beggar’s position from friends that work at said bakery. So I’ve been perfecting my own.

But I digress: The idea for the pistachio biscuits was Justin’s. He wanted a flavor similar to Baklava. So we ground up a bunch of pistachios and added them in place of the usual candied ginger. The recipe for this can be found in the Joy of Cooking; an approximate online version is here.

Also Day Four: English Muffins

English Muffins are ridiculously easy to make. I’ve made them before, using Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible for the recipe. They take only about two hours from start to finish, and if you wanted a sourdough variety, you could retard them overnight in the fridge to bake in the morning. Because they’re enriched with egg & milk ,they keep for longer periods than “straight” bread, which can stale within 24 hours.

The King Arthur Flour blog has a recipe which is pretty close to Hensperger’s.  I suggest everyone try this at least once, especially with the help of children. I think they’d love to not only cut out the muffins, but watch them rise on the griddle.

Day Five: Poached Eggs on English Muffin with Mock Hollandaise & Wilted Kale, Lemon Curd & Orange Wedges.

Admittedly, this is one of our most favorite breakfasts. It’s elegant, delicious and undoubtedly nutritious. We always love the combination of kale & eggs, but lately, I’ve turned to the poached egg as my preferred style.

I’m still not too big on runny eggs, but mixed with the hollandaise, it’s  kind of pleasurable; I mean, really, the hollandaise is prepared with raw egg yolk as it is. So, logically, one can’t really complain about a runny yolk, even if it does kind of “skeeve” me out.

One thing for sure, though, is I’ve only had Eggs Florentine when I’ve prepared them myself, so I’m uncertain that I would enjoy them if someone else prepared them for me. That’s the nice thing about cooking at home. Everything is always at your own preference.

Day Six: Aebelskiver (Danish Pancakes) with Melon Wedges.

This rounded little puff requires that you have a special pan, which I do. If you want to make these, keep an eye out for the pan at thrift stores, they aren’t terribly hard to find. Mine is cast iron, because I only cook on cast iron. The cast iron variety is sometimes more difficult to find in thrift, but not impossible, as that is where I found mine for a price well under five dollars (in fact, I think it was only three).

I have made Aebelskiver (or ebelskiver) in both sweet and savory forms. I have brought them to many potlucks and parties and people go absolutely insane over them. The possibilities are endless, really.

In the summer, I stuff them with a cherry tomato and crumbled feta; sometimes slices of roasted pepper.  I mix the batter with thyme, oregano, basil, even rosemary if the other ingredients seem to fit it. I haven’t tried stuffing them with meat, but I imagine a small meatball would be quite impressive. They are very “eggy” with a consistency somewhere between a popover (Yorkshire Pudding) and a pancake.

The recipe is pretty basic, and can be found all over the internet, but the one I use is from AllRecipes.com.

 

Day Seven: Ricotta-Stuffed Crepes with Citrus Sauce, Melon & Orange Wedges.

We love crêpes both savory and sweet. And I’ve learned how to pour a crêpe to coat the pan with some ease without the use of one of those fancy crêpe spreaders, though one day I would like to get one.

While crêpes are really easy to make, despite their proofing time, this recipe was a bit involved as I made everything from scratch: the crêpes, of course,  the ricotta and the syrup.

Starting with the crêpes: it is important to note that the batter should sit for a couple hours at minimum. We cheated and let it rest for only a little more than an hour, and while they were still very good, taste (and pouring) of the crêpe improves with time. The bonus is that they are incredibly simple fare: eggs, milk, water and a little bit of flour will make a deliciously thin disc ready for stuffing with whatever you choose.

Fresh Ricotta

While I think, technically, this isn’t true ricotta, as true ricotta is a by-product of mozzarella, it is a fair home substitute. Again, this is one of those things that everybody should try doing at least once in their lives. I used 1cup of heavy cream and a little more than 2 cups of whole milk and a pinch of salt. I heated this to a slow simmer and added two tabelspoons of lemon juice and let it sit. That is the main process.

Next, I used a ricotta tin I saved from the old days of buying ricotta at the farmer’s market. It has little holes, but it’s an extra thing that you don’t need to worry about if you don’t have one. I lined the tin with a flour sack towel and then poured the ricotta into the tin which sat in a bowl.

As the bowl filled with the whey, I drained that into a jar to save and use to make whole wheat bread later in the day (more on that later). And that’s it! Unbelievably simple.

Citrus Syrup

Again, I referenced my sweet, old copy of the Joy of Cooking. This was probably the most difficult part of the entire meal, but in reality, not all that difficult. The recipe calls for using a double boiler, which I don’t have, so I tried using a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water, which was taking forever. All I could think about was how much gas I was spending on the syrup and how cost-inefficient the end result might be. So I abandoned the advice of using a double boiler and used a stainless steel pot directly on the flame, stirring constantly.

Into the syrup base, I added some lemon extract and orange zest, (which also went into the crêpe batter, unifying the flavors). When the syrup base was finished, I used a couple tablespoons of butter, as the recipe calls and lime juice as the main flavoring agent. The sauce is perfect:  is sweet, but not too sweet; rich, but not too rich and delicately balanced with tartness. We used very little for our crêpes, leaving us with about a half cup of sauce for some other gastronomical delight. I imagine it would keep in the refrigerator for a while, being sugar-based, but I don’t imagine it will keep that long in our refrigerator.

So that’s it. That’s our Pancake Week for 2012. And now we welcome Spring.