Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pancakes: momma's southern cooking in a Paris apartment

There are two secrets to successful pancake making: mix the batter as little as possible (there may even be dry flour left... but stop mixing!) and when cooking them in your pan, flip only once. You'll know its time when the top is covered in little bubbles.  Remember: at each step in the process, bubbles are your friends.

Otherwise, it is a basic english pastry recipe where you mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately and combine them just at the last minute.

For a hearty 2 person breakfast:
Dry ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 generous tsp baking powder
optional: replace 1/2 the flour with whole wheat
optional: 1/3 cup almond powder
optional: up to 1/2 cup nuts, pecans or walnuts

Wet ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tbsp oil
1 splash vanilla
optional: (and I think better) replace the milk with a soy, almond, or oatmeal milk. I find it makes for fluffier pancakes.
optional: fruit chunks are always yummy, especially thawed blueberries

Combine Dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients, starting by slightly beating the egg.

Heat your frying pan to medium heat, and if it is not nonstick add a touch of butter.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, a whisk is best because it allows you to combine with little movement.

Ladle 1/3 to 3/4 c batter into the pan at a time in small circles. The batter will spread out, so keep that in mind for your spacing.

It is best to only flip the pancakes one time each pancake. You'll know its the right time to flip because raw top will have a hundred little bubbles that rise to the surface.

The cooking pancake in photo just above and to the right is about halfway there, but you can already see the bubbles starting around the edge. (the lumps are walnuts...) Also, I start seeing the edges of the pancake dry out, but that might be specific to my pan.

The second side will need to cook less than the first as the middle is already mostly done.

If you're cooking many at a time, let your pan cool down a bit after half the batter or the pancakes will start burning before the middle is done.

Eat with Brazilian Doce de leite, nutella, or just be boring and smother them in butter like Jac.

Pastel: Brazilian "not ravioli"

I am going to break my rules a bit here and share something with you that neither you nor I will ever be able to recreate. It might have been from scratch at some point in its Brazilian artisan form, but all of the ingredients arrived on our doorstep on my birthday with my roommate's mother, straight from Sao Paulo. Happy birthday to me! And indeed it is, because our cupboard is now full of 3 suitcases worth of fresh doughs, sausages, dried meats, and I even got some brilliant brazilian nail polish out of the deal. 

We tend to think of frying food as a very greasy affair, but like most things, there is a secret to it: if the oil is the right temperature it creates an immediate seal around whatever is being fried and the outside crisps but the oil is never absorbed. This is why frozen fries, for example, are so greasy. When you throw them into the oil, the temperature immediately drops and since the oil isn't hot enough to seal the potato's outside, it soaks up all the oil. Alternatively, if you "seal" a piece of meat in a frying pan before putting it into a liquid dish, it will keep all the good juices... The result here is a beautifully crisped outside and a tender, soft inside. And a bit less guilt because grease is not draining down your fingers as you eat.

So here we go, Pastel, or "not ravioli" according to Jac, in pictures: