Batter Up

It’s National Pancake Week, boys and girls! I truly, honestly had no freakin’ clue until around 12 PM on Thursday. Otherwise, I might have held off on the Vietnamese sandwich shop talk until later and instead provided some pancakes for you to mull over early in the week.

Do you just love love love pancakes? Growing up, we didn’t eat waffles or french toast; at least not that much and not enough where I can remember it. I do remember pancakes though – they were griddled on the weekends if my pops wasn’t making those bacon, egg, and cheese samiches that we all loved so dearly. Straight from the box of Bisquick they were, but they were all I knew and quite frankly, all I cared to know.

Aside from Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup, which was the only syrup I would eat as a child. To this day, I like it better than maple syrup on my flapjacks (although I don’t eat it now, because now I know maple syrup is “better”). In fact, I hated eating breakfast at other kids’ houses; they always had Log Cabin or Mrs Butterworths, or even worse, some generic brand that tasted like sugar water. In those instances, I’d eat my ‘cakes plain, no lie. There was no Aunt Jemima substitute when it came to the syrup and as I mentioned, there still isn’t if you can get past the ‘high fructose corn syrup’ taboo.

So, friends, it’s a good day to be reading my ramblings. I have two tried and true pancake recipes for ya and until today I wasn’t sure when I’d be posting them :). I whipped up one of these batches for company a few weeks ago (s’mores weekend) and they were demolished in moments, sorta like the way my cat scarfs down a nibble of bacon. I’d consider that batch as one of my very favorite pancake recipes of all time – and really, who wouldn’t adore a flapjack that tastes like a slice of carrot cake? Exactly.

The other is from pancake fanatic, Joy the Baker, who must have at least 15 different pancake recipes on her blog. I made these for my lover boy on Valentines day morning, as I just happened to have some lovely Michigan blueberries in the freezer and a couple of Meyer lemons in the fridge. These, I think, might be his favorite pancakes, as he didn’t leave a crumb behind.

So, here you are. If I were you, I’d be making some weekend breafast plans right. this. minute.

Carrot Cake Pancakes
Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2010; serves 6

printable version

ingredients
5.6  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4  c  chopped walnuts, toasted
2  t  baking powder
1  t  ground cinnamon
1/4  t  salt
1/8  t  freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground ginger
1/4  c  brown sugar
3/4  c  low-fat buttermilk
1  T  canola oil
1 1/2  t  vanilla extract
2  large eggs, lightly beaten
2  c  finely grated carrot (about 1 pound)
Cooking spray
butter, for topping
maple syrup, for serving

instructions
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 c brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 c carrot.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or pancake griddle over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter.

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Blueberry Meyer Lemon Pancakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker; serves 3 (12 small pancakes)

printable version

ingredients
1 egg
1 c flour
1 T sugar
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 c thawed and rinsed frozen blueberries (or fresh, if in season)
cooking spray
butter, for topping
maple syrup, for serving

instructions
In a small bowl rub the lemon zest into the granulated sugar until pale yellow and fragrant.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and butter.  Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir until just combined. Batter will be clumpy and not smooth, which is perfect.  Fold in the berries with a few strokes until barely combined.

Heat a griddle pan or large skillet over medium-hi heat.  Add a smidgen of butter or cooking spray and let melt.  Add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter to the pan.  Heat until bubbles form and start to pop.  Carefully flip over and cook through.   Place cooked pancakes on an oven proof plate and let rest in a 200 degree F oven while you fry the rest of the pancakes.

Top pancakes with maple syrup (or Aunt Jemimas!) or as Joy suggests, mascarpone sweetened with a dash of powdered sugar and the juice of one Meyer lemon.

 

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Want some more pancakes to choose from? Here’s a few from around the blogosphere:

Chai-Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes from Joy the Baker (I will totally hit these up one day)

Whole Grain Pancakes w/ Blueberry Maple Syrup from 101 Cookbooks

Gluten-Free Pancakes from Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen

Uncle Austin’s Mexican Pancakes with Coconut from Homesick Texan

Strawberry Cardamom Blender Pancakes from Adventures in Shaw

Pour Some Sugar On Me

giant sugar cookie stack
Think you know a lot about food? The Chicago Tribune challenges you to test your foodie IQ. Go ahead – try it and see if you can beat my score. I dare you. Click and take the quiz. Put your score in the comments and I’ll tell you mine afterwards. Dont be scurred – you may know more than you think 🙂

In other cool news, I’ve been meaning to post this little blog award I received a few weeks ago from these bloggers. According to “blog award rules”, you’re supposed to pass it on to a few other fellow bloggers, chain-letter fashion in hopes of continuing the award-giving process. Easy enough! So without further adieu, I’m passing it on to: The Kitchen Table, The View from the 32nd Floor, The Whole Kitchen, Scrumpy in the City, Chow & Chatter, & Confessions of a Wishful Slacker.


sugar cookie batter


Alright, now let’s get to business.

We made another Saturday trip out to Arlington Park this weekend to bet on some horsies and thus collect our loads of winnings to pay for our roof repairs. The horse races are our new favorite weekend adventure – a great way to sit out in the sun, hang with friends, and enjoy cold beverages and tasty food. Oh, and hopefully end the day with more cash than you started with, although that rarely happens. And so after dinner Friday night I realized I hadn’t thought about the food for the day – and of course I’ll take any opportunity to make my own than to buy their cold, stale, lifeless blobs of barely edibles that is exactly like the fare at concerts and baseball games (minus the hotdogs at the ballparks – those are the exception to tasty treats at those events) – and so, for dessert, to Joy the Baker’s blog I went to find a quick, simple cookie recipe.

cookie blobs

I must confess that I’ve actually never before made sugar cookies. Well, not from scratch. I have bought plenty of those Pillsbury rolls, having eaten half of the roll prior to managing to make a few cookies. The raw dough just makes you feel so mischievious when you eat it. I remember the days I used to hand pick the cookie dough out of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It felt so good to be so bad – ya know?! And something about the dough in the ice cream container – it tasted so much better than anything else.


piles of cookies

I could easily do the same to this dough if given the opportunity. In fact, I was, and I did, as did Chris, and he did more than I. Now, that’s a lot of doin’. Equally as tasty, heck – a buttload tastier, than the store-bought. And I’m confident there is a way to make it a little lower in fat, but I needed a quick go-to cookie recipe that wouldn’t fail me and I didn’t have the time to play around with any substitutes. And quite frankly – some recipes just can’t and shouldn’t be altered. Maybe sugar cookies are one of them.


nice crumb


These cookies are a perfect recipe for a last minute gathering. The use of one bowl also makes for quick clean up. And the taste – just what you’re looking for – a little crunchy, a tad bit chewy, simple but decadent, and finished with that sugar crystal texture on top that every sugar cookie requires. Perfect. Want to make more than one batch? Go right ahead – it doubles easily. Shoot – you could even double it, split it in half, and roll one batch of dough right on into the ol’ icebox.


Giant Vanilla Sugar Cookies
From Joy the Baker, who credited The Pastry Queen; makes 1 dozen 4-inch cookies



ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for topping
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

instructions
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the oil (not to worry if it doesn’t fully incorporate – promise). Add the granulated sugar, powdered sugar, egg and vanilla, beating on medium speed until each ingredient is completely incorporated.
Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt all at once using a wooden spoon or the mixer set on low.

The dough will be soft.


Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes just so it’s easier to handle. Preheat the oven to 350 F prior to taking the dough out. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.


Dollop 2 Tablespoons of cookie dough onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. For smaller cookies use 1 Tablespoon for each cookie. Press the dough evenly with your fingers or palm to 1/4-inch thickness. Generously sprinkle sugar on top of the cookie dough.


Bake for 12 to 14 minutes for larger cookies or 8 to 10 minutes for smaller cookies. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely. The cookies will keep for up to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.