I’ve been a weak-ass poster over the last few weeks because I was back in school, and who wants to mise en place a whole new recipe and clean a whole new kitchen mess after spending all day doing it at school? Not this chick. I’m all down with cooking and occasionally cleaning up after myself, but cleaning an enormous kitchen makes me want to eat nothing but takeout for the rest of the day, every day.
Anyway, I’m all done now. The school’s vindictive, mentally-unstable secretary let me know I had graduated by shoving my diploma in my gym bag with my dirty running shoes while I was in the kitchen. Hooray for fanfare!
I’m back in my own kitchen, and already missing the hilarious chef instructors and the deck ovens and the kitchen manager. My own personal oven doesn’t seem to turn out the golden brown, gorgeous breads and crisp-crusted pizzas that used to fall out of that deck oven, but it makes a mean baked potato, dammit.
I’m trying to keep busy now, which presents its own unique set of challenges. I spent my first couple of days off catching up on some shopping (Costco carries cases of Red Bull AND 7 For All Mankind jeans at ridiculous discounts), and resting up for the Austin 1/2 marathon that we ran yesterday. Don’t know that there’s a point to getting a job for the four months that we have left in Texas, but I can’t just sit at home and watch my dog destroy plush toys for that long, either. Can’t shop for houses, because who knows where we’ll be assigned? Would go to the library and just read forever, but our library has about as many books as I do in our reading room. Underfunded libraries make me sad. I think it’s the side effect of being the daughter of a librarian in a town that values literacy.
So what’ll end up happening is that I’ll start doing some preliminary packing, using up the contents of our cupboards in new and exciting ways, and chasing my dog around the park. It’s actually pretty good news for my blog, since I have four months to use enough food to feed a family of four for six months. And much of it is wack-ass ingredients that I bought thinking “What??” Like the clear fluid filled with basil seeds that I found at Asia Mart that one time. Or the spelt flour I bought in the bulk section of a hippie store because I saw it and thought “he who spelt it, dealt it” would be a really funny spelling bee joke. Plus Choosy Beggar Tina sent me a cache of awesome Indo-Pakistani ingredients to play with, because she’s a total badass of culinary tricks. I am rich of cool ingredients.
Oh, and there are the fresh black truffles I preserved in butter and froze when I had a glut of them and couldn’t use them all up in time.
And two whole, frozen, spiral cut hams that I got because they were on clearance and were certified humane.
Good thing I’ve got a family to feed. I woke up on Saturday to the boys watching the original Transformers cartoons (I got Chris the boxed set for Christmas). Could you look at these fellas in their jammies and not want to make them a hearty, pre-marathon breakfast? So I did, and Chris and Willie watched the Constructicons become Devastator, and were rabidly excited.
These pancakes that are high in protein, packed with flavor, carb-balanced, and fun. I stole the recipe from Epicurious.com, then added and subtracted some components to make it less like blatant theft.
Ricotta-Orange Pancakes with Blueberries and cardamom
-4 large eggs, separated
-1.5 C ricotta
-1.5 T sugar
-1.5 T freshly grated orange zest
-a pinch of freshly grated cardamom
-.5 C blueberries (fresh or frozen)
-.5 C all-purpose flour
– pinch salt
-Preheat an oven to 200 F to keep the pancakes warm as you make ’em.
-Whisk together egg yolks, ricotta, sugar, cardamom and orange zest until combined.
-Stir frozen or fresh blueberries into flour, then stir both into the yolk mixture.
-With an electric mixer (or by hand if you’re a sadist), whisk egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form. Like so many things, these will go limp if you overbeat, so only go until stiff peaks form–not past.
-Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then GENTLY fold in the rest of the egg whites. The idea here is to keep it very light and fluffy. It looks weird and breakfast-chum-like, but trust me.
-Heat an electric skillet (or frying pan, if you want) to a medium heat, and oil or butter lightly.
-Scoop the batter into rounds of your own desired size. You may need to spread the batter with the back of the scoop as you go, since it is very thick and tends to stay mounded up a bit. You want the layer to be about 1/2″ thick.
-Flip when bubbles start to come up. At this point, you’re just making pancakes the way you always do, but with thicker batter.
-Cook until golden brown on both sides, keep warm (covered) in the oven, then serve with WHATEVER YOU PLEASE.
I served ours with clotted cream and some absolutely GORGEOUS apricot syrup from Canada (courtesy of Tina). They were delicious. I made Chris an over-easy egg, because he’s really fond of runny yolks. I am NOT fond of runny yolks. Which means that when I (invariably) break one of his egg yolks, I just finish cooking that one over very hard for myself. It’s a good system.
Ricotta pancakes are infinitely fluffier and richer than regular pancakes. You have to try them for yourselves. And Organic Valley makes good ricotta for those of you who are trying to do organics or certified humane. If you’re not, then any old ricotta will do.
I used to hate ricotta, you know. I thought it was reminiscent of…well…I won’t say. Gross things. And I wouldn’t eat lasagna or ravioli or anything else. But then I tried it once with honey and cinnamon. It was delicious. Now I’ll eat it in pretty much any sweet application. I’m hoping to work my way up to savory apps. It’s just a super-mild, not-at-all-cheesy substance that’s packed with calcium and protein. Like cream cheese, sort of. If you can get past the way it looks, it’s a great thing to have around. I direct this paragraph mainly to my brother and sister, who won’t eat much of anything. I think we can probably blame our parents for our picky eating. But the majority of us are trying to get better about it. So give it a shot. I promise you’ll like it. Plus, here’s a picture where it looks like ice cream. Delicious, no?