Friday, July 29, 2011

Gimme mah Pancakes!

One day, a few weeks ago, I was blindsided by a craving.  You know, one of those cravings you don't even see coming, and then BAM, suddenly you cannot be satisfied until you find something like bread and butter pickles or honey mustard pretzels.  No, you don't have to be a pregnant woman to want a certain food, and to want it made right...and right now.

For me, it was pancakes.  There was something in me that needed that fluffy texture, a buttery edge, and a healthy dousing of that good 'ol Vermont Maple Syrup in my life.  When the feeling never subsided, I knew nothing else would do.

After much wait and anticipation, last weekend I was finally able to make this Pancake Daydream a reality.  While perusing new recipes for inspiration, I found this recipe on one of my favorite go-to Inspriation Food Blogs; Smitten Kitchen.  Recently, the author had made these pancakes and I knew I had to have them.  Then, the Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones recipe caught my eye, and, surprise surprise, I had to have and make those too (and added lemon zest to boot).  The recipe is so simple it's silly, and only requires one bowl, one fork, and one sheet pan.

It was a breakfast of champions, a feast for the eyes, and a craving satisfier like you wouldn't believe.  Go take advantage of Blueberry/berry season and make these for yourself and the people you care about!  And add the freshly whipped cream and breakfast sausage to the wont regret it.

Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes

Makes 12 to 14 4-inch pancakes

2 large eggs
1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for buttering skillet
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (62 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (32 grams) barley or rye flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried

Melt half of butter. Remove from heat and stir in second tablespoon of butter until melted. This keeps your butter from being too hot when you next want to add it to the wet ingredients.

Whisk egg and yogurt together in the bottom of a medium/large bowl. If you’re using a thin yogurt, no need to add any milk. If you’re using regular yogurt, stir in 2 tablespoons milk. If you’re using a thick/strained or Greek-style yogurt, add 3 to 4 tablespoons milk. Whisk in melted butter, zest and vanilla extract. In a separate, small bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet only until dry ingredients are moistened. A few remaining lumps is fine.

Preheat your oven to 200°F and have a baking sheet ready (to keep pancakes warm). Heat your skillet or saute pan to medium. If you’ve got a cast-iron skillet, this is my favorite for pancakes. Melt a pat of butter in the bottom and ladle a scant 1/4 cup (about 3 tablespoons) batter at a time, leaving at space between each pancake. Press a few berries into the top of each pancake. The batter is on the thick side, so you will want to use your spoon or spatula to gently nudge it flat, or you may find that pressing down on the berries does enough to spread the batter. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, about 3 to 4 minutes, flip them and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden underneath. (If you listen closely, after a minute you’ll hear you blueberries pop and sizzle deliciously against the pan.) If pancakes begin cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Transfer pancakes to warm oven as they are done cooking, where you can leave them there until you’re ready to serve them.

Serve in a big stack, with fixings of your choice. Do not anticipate leftovers.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

The trickiest thing about these is the dampness of the dough. Yet that same trickiness is they bake into something that seems impossibly moist for a scone, and especially a whole wheat one. Keep your counter and your hands well floured and you won’t have any trouble getting them from bowl to counter to oven to belly, which, after all, is the whole point.

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter
1 cup (136 grams or 4 3/4 ounces) fresh raspberries
3/4 cup (189 grams) whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup (79 ml) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

With a pastry blender: Add the butter (no need to chop it first) and use the blender to both cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in raspberries and use the blender again to break them into halves and quarter berry sized chunks.

Without a pastry blender: Cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Roughly chop the raspberries on a cutting board and stir them into the butter-flour mixture.

Both methods: Add the ricotta and heavy cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula.Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t fret if the raspberries get muddled and smudge up the dough. This is a pretty thing.

With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even squares. Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set a bit more. I know, way to be a big meanie, right?

Do ahead: Scones are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Strawberry Pie with Rosemary-Orange Crust

Do you know one of the main reasons I love food?
I know.... it sounds stupidly simple. But, here's the thing;
Flavors are why we eat (well, besides the whole maintaining life thing). Flavors entertain us, they please us, they add variety to our lives. Without flavors, why would we love food?

Let's say you have a base flavor that you love. Say...strawberries.
You love the flavor of strawberries. It is a unique taste only owned by a strawberry, and it is delicious and pure in its natural, untouched form.

Then, one day you have an experience where your familiar strawberry flavor meets another, and transforms into an experience.
Say, you were in Spain. An Ecuadorian woman, who is married to a Frenchman, just served you a dessert of the finest french cheeses paired with a strawberry and rosemary salad on the side.
Let's just say.
At that moment, two separate but familiar flavors come together and completely transform each other into more than the sum of their parts. A new flavor is born.

Because of flavor experiences like this (combining familiar yet uncommonly paired tastes together like rosemary and strawberry), you find yourself in a constant search to discover more of them. Not only that, but once these combinations are discovered, it also becomes an on-going challenge to apply them in even more unexpected places.

Like in a pie.

In a series of fortunate events, I found myself at the doorstep of creating this recipe. First, it started in Spain (okay, maybe the hypothetical Ecuadorian woman story a was a true, personal story); A flavor combination was born. Then, a friend moved into a new house; A pie had to be made. After, a conversation was held with a dear friend, coworker, and Baking Empress; Creative genius was piqued. Then, multiple flavor combinations formed into one big harmonious new flavor, in a completely foreign dessert setting; A recipe was born.
Strawberries and rosemary...rosemary and and fig balsamic vinegar...fig balsamic vinegar and strawberries...

Yes, it had to be done. And yes, it is good. A homerun, high-fivin', 'no way!', 'what the...', 'this is cool', head back, eyes closed, rockin' good pie. And a one-way ticket to Flavor Town.

Strawberry Pie with Rosemary-Orange Crust


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use all AP flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut up into ½” cubes and thoroughly chilled
½ cup ice cold water


2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
2/3 cup sugar (or less depending on sweetness of strawberries)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar (you can use regular balsamic, but the fig is just that much more sweet and unique)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

1 egg, slightly beaten with a splash of water or milk
Coarse sugar

To make the crust:

Pulse flours, sugar, salt, orange zest, and rosemary in a food processor until combined. Add cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough just comes together and you can squeeze it in your hand to form a mold without it falling apart. The amount of water needed will depend on the day.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and press down with your palm, smearing the dough out in a few different directions before bringing it together and forming a loose ball.

Divide the ball in two and form each piece into a flattened dish about 1” thick. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

To make the pie:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees 10 minutes before taking out your first dough disk. Once chilled, take one dough disk out of the fridge and roll it out with a rolling pin - …or, if you’re me…a wine bottle… - to 1” beyond the edge of your pie pan. Press the dough into the pie pan, making sure it is an even thickness and height all around the pan. Trim any excess dough, leaving a bit on the rim for the top crust to eventually adhere to.

Place a piece of tinfoil over the crust and fill with pie weights, uncooked beans,
- or…if you’re me…rocks that you’ve gathered (and washed and dried) from the patio outside. This is to prevent your crust from puffing up too much and to maintain its shape.

Blind bake (that is what it’s called when you bake your bottom crust before adding a filling) your bottom crust for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the filling and roll out your second pie disk, making sure to keep it cold if there is a time gap. Pour filling into the bottom crust and brush exposed edge with egg wash. Cover with the top rolled out crust. Crimp edges to form crust rim.

Brush egg wash all over top crust and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut small slits in middle of pie with a sharp paring knife.
Place the pie back in the oven at reduced temperature of 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 40 minutes longer. If the outer crust gets too brown in the middle of baking, cover just the edge with thin strips of foil and continue baking.

Let cool almost completely before diving in. This is the most difficult part of the recipe.