Tuesday was Mardi Gras, as everybody knows. We didn’t have wine in the morning, but we did have some breakfast at night! I’ve talked before about my love for pancakes. There’s something so comforting and, sigh, I hate to say it, because this word has been advertise-speaked to within an inch of its life, there’s something so wholesome about them. (It’s actually quite a nice word, if you think about it!) When I was younger, I remember thinking that if I ever got pregnant, I’d want to eat pancakes three meals a day, because a baby made up of pancakes was sure to be sweet and happy. Silly, but true. (I didn’t do that, of course, but my boys are still mostly sweet and happy, I think!) And I’ve always loved eating pancakes for dinner. You feel like you’re getting away with something, even if you’re 42 years old. And we ate them with whipped cream – even more transgressive and exciting. The whipped cream was mixed with maple syrup, and it was deeeelicious. We also had fresh strawberries, as a treat. And I made a compote of fruits. (“Compote” is another word that I love! Compote!) I love the smell of fruit cooking – apples and cinnamon, for instance, because applesauce is a compote. I made a mix of things that are regularly (and not-too-expensively) available in the winter – dried tart cherries, pears, orange juice, and black currant jam. Bright, tart, sweet. I’ve been eating it for breakfast since tuesday, mixed with granola, but it would be good with ice cream, too. It’s like a distillation of summer smells and flavors for a February day. When we were growing up we called crepes “flat pancakes,” so, of course, we called fluffy pancakes “fat pancakes.” That’s what I made for fat Tuesday, and I made them with apple cider, cinnamon and ginger. They’re really tasty, and easy peasy.
Here’s the Carter Family’s Chewing Gum, because it’s been in my head all morning! She mentions apples and pears, which is why it’s in any way remotely connected to this post. Can I just say that I heard this song for many years before I saw that it was called “Chewing Gum,” and it was a huge surprise to me that those were the lyrics. That’s not at all what I heard!
CIDER PANCAKES (to make these regular pancakes, you simply replace the cider with milk)
3 eggs, separated
4 T butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1 1/2 cups cider (or milk)
butter for the griddle
Combine the yolks, cider and melted butter in a bowl and whisk well. Add all of the dry ingredients, and whisk till it’s nice and smooth. I have to be honest here, and say that I usually add a bit more flour, then a bit more cider, etc etc, till I get the right consistency. But that shouldn’t be necessary. You want it thick but pour-able. Like whipped cream.
Whisk the egg whites till they’re quite stiff and fold them into the batter.
Warm a frying pan or griddle. Put enough butter to coat it. When the butter is quite hot – just beginning to brown, add about 1/2 cup of batter. It should spread out all by itself. It’s important to makes sure the pan is hot enough, or the first pancake will stick. When the top of the pancake has lots of little holes in it, and looks slightly firmed up, flip it and cook the other side for a few minutes, till golden brown. The whole process will speed up as you go along.
You can top them with anything. Butter and real maple syrup is a classic, of course!
1 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup orange juice
1 or 2 ripe pears, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 T blackcurrant jam
1 T cassis (optional!)
Put the cherries in a saucepan with the orange juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the pears and jam, mix well, and simmer until the cherries and pears are soft. At least half an hour. Add a tablespoon of water now and again, if it gets too thick. Add the cassis towards the end, but let it heat for a few minutes to cook the alcohol off.
Serve warm over ice cream or pancakes. Or let it cool and eat it with granola and milk.