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Posts tagged ‘crepes’

Corn Meal Pancakes & New Lunch Time Classes

My husband referred to our four-year-old as the breakfast tyrant this morning. And it’s true. I’m not sure how and when it started but the first thing he says when he wakes up now is: “Can we have crepes for breakfast?” and without waiting for my reply he usually adds: “We have enough milk, don’t we? And eggs?!”  If I say no (to the crepes) he turns to pancakes or waffles or biscuits. . . I love to cook. I cook several times a day every day and making crepes in a blender is practically as fast as cutting up some fruit for him and adding it to his muesli and granola which is the everyday breakfast around here. But on weekday mornings, the answer is often no. But not on weekends.

Another good thing about these pancakes is that they cook in a flash.

On Saturday we had crepes but on Sunday we had my favorite–corn meal pancakes. He loves them too and so it didn’t take much convincing. I’ve been making these–an adaptation from an old Joy of Cooking recipe–for many, many years. And each time I make them I wonder why I would ever make any other kind. They are light and lacy around the edges if don’t skimp on the oil in the pan. They have a little crunch and wonderful fragrance thanks to the lemon zest. I often add blueberries straight from the freezer to the batter. They are wonderful served with jam, with syrup, with a fruit compote or with greek yogurt and chives and I’m sure with most things you might think of.

Blueberries and lemon zest are a wonderful combination. I neglected the blueberries in this weekend's version but I'll have another opportunity soon thanks to the breakfast tyrant.

They are a bit thinner than regular pancakes and they are best with a medium to coarse grind of corn meal and even better if the corn meal is fairly fresh. We happen to be fortunate enough to have a local farm (several now actually) who sell freshly milled grains. Bob’s Red Mill medium grind corn meal or polenta work well too as do most commercially available kinds. The corn meal is mixed with boiling water and gets to sit for 10 minutes which softens the crunch.

One of the corn meals I buy is called Roy's Calais and has beautiful reddish flecks in it.

Corn Meal Pancakes

–adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 cup medium or coarse white or yellow corn meal

1 teaspoon salt

1 – 2 tablespoons honey, syrup or sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 egg

1/2 cup milk (preferably whole milk)

2 tablespoons melted butter

the zest of one lemon, finely grated

1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

oil for frying

Whisk the salt and sugar into the cornmeal in a medium bowl. Carefully whisk in the boiling water and syrup or honey (if using that instead of sugar) since the hot water will prevent it from clumping. Cover bowl with a plate or lid and let stand for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile whisk the egg with the milk and melted better. Mix the flour and baking powder in a third bowl. Add the egg and milk mixture to the cornmeal; add the lemon zest and flour mixture. Combine quickly. Add blueberries here if you’re using them.

Fry the pancakes in a hot, oiled pan. They only take about 90 seconds per side. Flip when the edges appear golden and the bubbles begin popping on the surface.

Makes about 12 4-inch pancakes.

P.S. you can also make fancy pancakes for the young or young-at-heart at your table–see below!

Cowboy boot pancake--hard to flip but very fun.

P.P.S. I’m launching my new Lunch Time classes next week. So depending on your locale (I’m in Portland, OR) and lunch routine, the classes I’ve scheduled over the next couple of months might be appealing. You won’t have to pack a lunch or buy one (elsewhere!) and you’ll get to learn a couple of new one-dish meals that make for excellent leftover lunches and enjoy a delicious meal! And knowing my love of desserts, I’ll spare you that mid-afternoon cookie run by sending you off with a sweet treat of some kind.

So check out the lunch-time classes here and sign up! I’m in inner SE Portland, very close to downtown, in case that’s where you find yourself during the day. . . .Classes are from noon – 1:30pm, February 24, Mar 17, and April 14.

Crepes

There's hope!

This photo has little to do with today’s post but I did want to share it to give hope to my fellow Portland-area gardeners. My tomatoes are really ripening and delicious!

So, I eat too quickly. I have ever since I can remember. I’m not sure whether it’s because I grew up in a large family and there was always a rush to get seconds before it was all gone or not. As you well know my mother is a good cook which meant we–us children, my father and whatever exchange student or visitor was at the table–always wanted more. I’d like to think I’ve slowed down a little bit over the years but it is something I really have to work on. I don’t like inhaling my dinner yet I often do, lately maybe even more now having a young child since meals aren’t quite as peaceful as they once were.

As involved as I am in Slow Food (even though we are NOT about cooking or eating slowly!) you’d think I’d ease up a bit and appreciate and savor meals more. The other problem with dinner is that by the time we sit down to eat, I’m already half full. I taste the food I make as I prepare it and I emphasize this almost more than anything else in the classes I teach. So with all that tasting and with my usually being really hungry by the time I’m putting dinner together, I taste a little more generously than I would need to.  Now it might follow that since I’m half-full already I would really not need to eat quickly when we actually sit down, but alas, this is not a rational issue. It’s funny how irrational I (we all?) can be about our food preferences, habits, quirks. . .. A topic maybe for another post.

Crepes sprinkled with cheese and a little cream about to go in the oven

In any case, a dinner I made last week inspired this confession. It was one of those truly last-minute what-do-I make-for-dinner? evenings. I looked around the fridge and the garden and came up with crepes filled with a mix of lots of onions, a few diced tomatoes and generous sprinkling of thyme that I stewed together for about 15 minutes. I didn’t taste the filling very often but the crepes were the problem. You know the first crepe always falls apart and another was just too thin to hold up, so hungry as I was at 6pm, I ate both of those mishaps flavored with the tomato bits clinging to the side of the stewed veggie pan.

I filled the rest of the crepes with the onions and tomatoes, sprinkled each with a bit of Asiago Stella (my regular aged, grating cheese I use instead of Parmesan–much cheaper and very tasty and similar enough to fool some folks–and available at Pastaworks and City Market). I packed them in a casserole dish, sprinkled the whole thing with more cheese and drizzled on about 3 tablespoons of heavy cream and baked the whole thing for about 20 minutes until heated through and the cheese was melted and bubbling. It was a really good dinner! Despite all my snacking I managed to enjoy it and the green salad we had on the side very  much and may even repeat it.

That’s the funny thing about this cook-with-what-you-have method. I find myself inventing things that sometimes turn out really well but then I rarely repeat them. The blog is a good tool for cataloging these though and in choosing to share it with you all I will also remind  myself to repeat and adapt this as the months go by. I’m thinking that they would be equally good with a mix of winter squash and leeks (one of my favorite fall/winter veggies combos); or caramelized onions and sausage; or sweet versions with stewed apples and/or plums with a bit of ginger and cinnamon. . . .you get the drift.  Oh and I did make enough crepe batter so that we had the leftover crepes for breakfast with greek yogurt and strawberry jam. So I got two meals in one this time.

I don’t think you need a recipe for the filling, just remember to taste for salt add more herbs or a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if it’s bland. But here’s my crepe recipe. This will make about 15-18, 8-9 inch crepes.

Crepes

4 eggs

3 cups whole milk (2% works in a pinch)

1 1/3 – 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons melted butter

pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 15 seconds, scrape down the sides of the blender and blend again briefly until smooth. Let sit on the counter for half an hour (or in the fridge for longer and up to a day or so) if you have the time, otherwise, start cooking. I use a non-stick crepe pan but a well seasoned cast iron pan works well and you get more of a fore-arm workout:) like my mother! For the first crepe I add a little bit of oil or butter but after that it never needs any (especially with the non-stick) since it has butter in the batter. Ladle in about 1/3 cup of batter and lift the pan off the heat and rotate and jiggle the pan until the batter more-or-less evenly coats the surface. Cook briefly on both sides until golden around the edge and in spots. Stack them on a plate (and don’t bother separating them with wax paper or some such if you’re not going to use them immediately). I’ve never had a problem getting them apart again.

Fill the crepes, sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with cream and bake at 400 degrees, if you’re in a hurry as I usually am, for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Happy cooking and (slow) eating!

P.S. I may not blog for the next 10 days or so but will resurface after my brother’s wedding. I did just buy 7-dozen eggs, that’s 84 eggs, which will be turned into deviled eggs next week. Photos will be taken and posted . . . .