I’m hooked on the book Heat by Bill Buford; so much so I spent most of Saturday with my head buried behind the bright yellow cover. For those of you who don’t know about the book, it chronicles Bill’s time working as a lackey in Mario Batali’s kitchen at Babbo. What’s so extraordinary about this premise you may ask? Bill isn’t a young chef straight out of culinary school. No…he’s a middle aged writer who got a hair up his ass and decided to throw himself at the mercy of Batali’s kitchen. I was unabashedly hooked from the moment I picked it up, so when my stomach started grumbling Saturday night, I wanted something fairly quick but delicious. And what’s a better dinner on a Saturday night than pancakes
I don’t want to hear anything about the fact that I was home with a book on Saturday night. Trust me, I get enough of it from my friends (the term “old lady” has been thrown around to describe me…my love of the Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote don’t help my case). But sometimes my party clothes can be so binding (major points for anyone who can identify that line), so I stay in and enjoy the company of a great book. Who are you to judge me?
Strawberries are almost out of season and I had a nice batch of them from my hippie box, so I decided to use them in the batter of my fool proof, favorite pancake recipe: Nigella’s American Pancakes. These pancakes are easy to throw together and always come out light and fluffy, so when I’m in the mood for breakfast for dinner (and really, when am I not), I turn to them. Since I was already throwing in strawberries, I figured “Why not add cardamom to the mix?”. And since I was on a roll, I decided to do a twist on my maple syrup: strawberry vanilla maple syrup!
Strawberry Cardamom Blender Pancakes (adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 heaping teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter unsalted, plus a generous pat for the pan/griddle
1 1/3 cups milk
Approximately 8 strawberries, hulled and cut lengthwise
Melt the butter and then allow to cool. Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cardamom and place into a blender. In another container, whisk together the milk, eggs and cooled butter. Pour the egg mixture into the blender and turn it on high. Depending on the power of your blender, you may have to stop ever so often to scrape down the sides and make sure the dry ingredients are incorporated. Continue blending until the batter is fully blended and there are no lumps. Take the blender off the base and fold in the strawberries. Keep the batter in the blender, as it makes a great pouring mechanism when you’re cooking the pancakes. Heat up a griddle or a large frying pan with a generous pat of butter and pour out the first amount of batter.
In case you ever wondered how to tell when a pancake is ready to flip, feast your eyes on this:
Notice all the bubbles in the center and how the edges seem a bit more solid than the center? That’s the pancake’s way of saying “Flip me!”. Continue this process until all the batter is used. This batter makes quite a bit of pancakes, even if you do tend to pour heavy. I made pancakes that were about five inches in diameter and still ended up with enough pancakes for dinner and breakfast Sunday morning.
As for the syrup:
1 cup maple syrup
4 strawberries, hulled and diced
1/2 vanilla bean pod
In a saucepan, combine the syrup, strawberries and vanilla bean pod and place on medium heat. When the syrup starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to continue to cook until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and fish out the vanilla bean pod. Allow to cool before using on the pancakes.
Adding the strawberries and cardamom to this great pancake recipe added a fruity yet smoky dimension to them, which I loved. And not to brag or anything, but the syrup was an added bonus! Have a great weekend (maybe with your own pancakes)! Now back to my book…