Sunday, August 9, 2009

The first real recipe

When I was younger, breakfast was by far my favorite meal of the day. Pancakes, waffles – especially Belgian ones with strawberries on top - anything, really, I was up for, anytime of the day. All of the starchiness, I guess, really did it for me.

After a sleepover in a friend’s quaint red farmhouse one night in third grade, we woke up and tackled Sunday breakfast; looking back, nothing could have been more appropriate – we may have even collected fresh eggs for the occasion from her chickens in the backyard. She taught me how to make what was known in her family as “Grandma’s Pancakes,” a sort of crepe-like, thin, buttery flapjack that we rolled up and ate with butter and jelly. I copied down the recipe that day, in a red fancy print that I tried, with a sense of purpose, to replicate, and that became the first real recipe in my repertoire. I cooked those pancakes with reckless abandon from that day on. Grandma remained anonymous, but she, whoever she was, never went unappreciated.

On nights my brother and I were feeling adventurous, or rebellious, (or both) we would pitch a tent in our sprawling backyard to spend the night. As soon as the sun was up, I would give up my dreams of mutiny and scurry back to the kitchen to make us breakfast. Grandma’s pancakes were always on the menu – I would make them, expertly, and bring two stacked plates back to the tent for us to devour.

I am no longer pitching tents in my backyard, but I am still making breakfast. We all have to eat in the morning, and the only thing I’ve found over the years that contends with Grandma’s perfect recipe is one for buttermilk pancakes. And with my recent acquisition of a truckload of blueberries, it seemed like a no-brainer. If you leave the batter nice and lumpy, you’ll get fluffy, faintly sweet pancakes that rival pillows in texture. I like to wait until the batter is set on the pan to add the blueberries, that way I can make sure the blueberry placement is as it’s supposed to be, that is, plentiful. Or I can make shapes if I’m feeling artistic. Make these on a lazy Sunday morning, or if you can swing it, bring them to eat in a tent, preferably pitched in the backyard.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
(From Bon Appetit)

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking (Note: I used salted, because that's all I had, and it worked out just fine; I used just a little less salt in the batter.)
Fresh blueberries
Pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 250°F, and stick a baking sheet in the middle rack to keep the pancakes warm as you go. Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter in medium bowl; stir into dry ingredients.

Heat large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush with butter. Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. After you drop the batter, place your blueberries in the circles of batter, however you like. Cook pancakes until brown, brushing griddle with more butter as needed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to oven as they are done. Serve pancakes with maple syrup, if you're traditional, or butter and sugar if you're me, circa 1995.

1 comment:

Lauri said...

I saved the recipe with the fancy cursive that you were trying to perfect. It has a few smears of red ink which adds to its charm. I have copied this Buttermilk recipe but will keep it safe from splattering ingredients!! You always were a messy (but good) cook!