He give her a look that you could of poured on a waffle.
~Ring Lardner

Carbo loaders unite!…but for the butter.

Waffles are leavened cousins of the ancient communion wafer which were once baked in irons and likewise displayed a honeycomb pattern. Waffles were first introduced to this continent in the 17th century by Dutch settlers. Even Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron from France at considerable trouble and expense when “waffle frolics” became the fad. Quite the image. Sounds like a scene from La Grande Bouffe, a controversial early 70’s film with its scatological humourous depictions of sex and over eating. Picture President Jefferson with his slave-lover-baby-mama Sally Hemings, batter, syrup and butter…an early 19th century 9 1/2 Weeks. A waffle frolic, to be sure.

BUTTERMILK WAFFLES WITH PECANS

2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 T sugar
1/2 t sea salt

4 organic egg whites
4 organic egg yolks
2 C buttermilk
12 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 T pecans, roughly chopped and toasted

Preheat waffle iron

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside. Beat egg whites until they hold about a 2″ peak. Set aside.

In another bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks, add buttermilk then the melted butter and whisk further until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients except for the egg whites. Gently whisk them together with several swift strokes. Gently fold in the toasted pecans and then the egg whites. The batter should have a thick pebbled, unincorporated appearance much like muffin batter—it is preferable to undermix than to overmix.

Pour between 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter (or the amount recommended by the maufacturer) onto the preheated waffle iron. Spread the batter to within 1/2″ of the edge of the grids. Close the lid and bake until the waffle is light golden brown.

Serve with unsalted butter and pure maple syrup.

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The concept of rugged individualism (valuing self sufficiency above all) was coined by Herbert Hoover in the 20’s, but was culturally nourished years earlier by New England writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau. Of course, the oft harsh climate and occasionally unyielding lineage were the early shaping forces. You can even see this noncomformism working at the griddle. When the first International House of Pancakes recently opened in the state of Vermont, the franchise owners requested a company variance in order to offer customers the real deal — pure Vermont maple syrup instead of the artificial swill offered in the some 1,400 other IHOPs in North America. IHOP upcharges for the genuine stuff, which seems a tad shameful, especially for the unaware.

Although the precise origins of the recipe are unknown, French toast originated as a means to use day old bread. Mention of a similar dish was made in Apicius’ 4th century collection of ancient Roman recipes. Some suggest that it dates back to medieval Europe when battering and frying many foods came into vogue. In French regions, it has been christened pain perdu, or “lost bread”, since it is a simple way to reclaim stale bread.

FRENCH TOAST

3/4 C whole milk
3/4 C heavy whipping cream or buttermilk
8 large organic, free range eggs
1 T organic honey
A pinch of sea salt
A grating of nutmeg
1/4 t vanilla
1/2 t ground cinnamon

16 slices of baguette, croissant, brioche, ciabatta or challah
Ground cinnamon
Freshly crushed black pepper
3 T unsalted butter

In a mixing bowl, vigourously whisk together the milk, cream or buttermilk, eggs, honey, salt, nutmeg and vanilla. Douce slices in custard for 30 seconds or so, and allow the excess custard to drip away some as you move them to the waiting pan.

Over medium heat, melt some of the butter in a heavy saute pan. Place a few slices of bread at a time into the pan, very lightly sprinkle one side with cinnamon and black pepper and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining butter and custard coated slices.

Serve immediately with pure maple syrup (my fav), confectioners’ sugar, preserves, honey, crème anglaise, whipped cream or fresh seasonal fruit/coulis.

Pourboire: in some versions, the milk and cream or buttermilk can be placed in a bowl separate from one with the eggs, and the bread can be dipped in a two step — first in the milk bowl, then the eggs.

I remember when I was a kid I used to come home from Sunday School and my mother would get drunk and try to make pancakes.
~George Carlin

Is Kansas truly as flat as a pancake?

A few years ago, three geographers compared the flatness of Kansas to the flatness of a pancake. The findings of these scientists from Texas State and Arizona State Universities were published in the Annals of Improbable Research. They used topographic data from a digital scale model prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey, and they carefully culled a pancake from the International House of Pancakes. If perfect flatness were a value of 1.00, they reported, the calculated flatness of a pancake would be 0.957 “which is pretty flat, but far from perfectly flat”. Kansas’s flatness however turned out to be 0.997, which they said might be described, mathematically speaking, as “damn flat.”

One of my now grown nieces asked for the pancake recipe which we often made on Saturday mornings when everyone was young—a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. For good measure, a recipe for their more delicate French cousins, crêpes, is posted as well. By no means are these flat delicacies limited to breakfast fare.

BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

Dry Stuff:
3 C all purpose flour
6 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t sea salt

Wet Stuff:
4+ C buttermilk
6 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs

2 T coconut or canola oil
1-2 T unsalted butter

Unsalted butter
Maple syrup
Preserves or jam (optional)
Berries (optional)

Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl and whisk wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and with a spoon gently mix them together until just combined. You may need to add more buttermilk to attain the proper batter consistency. After mixing, the batter should have some small lumps. Make sure you do not over mix the batter, or the pancakes will be tough and rubbery, as gluten is created.

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium low heat — until a few sprinkles of water dropped on the griddle or skillet dance about (a lesson mother taught me). Then, place some coconut oil and put a tablespoon or more of butter on griddle or skillet. When oil & butter foam subsides, ladle pancake batter onto griddle or skillet, using a ladle or 1/3 measuring cup, directing the batter into rounds and making pancakes of any size you desire. But, do not overcrowd.

Cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancake and turn until the underside is light brown. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, the first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Almost invariably, the first batch will be of lesser quality. So, as with all cooking keep the faith.

Pancakes can be served in many ways: by rolling them around a curtailed sweet preserve filling; presented flat with butter and real maple syrup; or with just a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

For blueberry, blackberry or other berry pancakes: using restraint, sprinkle fresh berries on the tops of the pancakes just as bubbles start to appear on the top surface of the batter, then turn when ready.

Serve.

Pourboire: Pure maple syrup is far superior to the artificial varieties, which are often made with corn syrup and maple flavoring. Maple syrup is graded based upon USDA regulations according to color and flavor. Grade A Light Amber, is quite light and has a mild, delicate maple bouquet and flavor. Grade A Medium Amber, is a tad darker, and has a more pronounced maple flavor. Grade A Dark Amber, is darker yet, with a robust and hearty maple flavor. Grade B, sometimes called Cooking Syrup, is made late in the season, and is very dark, with a very strong maple flavor, as well as some caramel flavor. Finally, consider topping a small stack of fresh pancakes with a healthy dollop of fine ricotta.

CREPES

1 C whole milk
2 large eggs
1 C all purpose flour
2 1/2 T granulated sugar
3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 t salt

Unsalted butter for cooking

Jam or preserves (your choice)
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 200 F

Blend milk, eggs, flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt in a blender, scraping down side once or twice, until batter is smooth, about 1 minute. Let batter stand at room temperature 1 hour which allows the bubbles to subside and helps prevent tears during cooking.

Add butter to a heavy nonstick skillet to coat bottom. Heat over moderate heat until hot, then pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom evenly. Cook until the underside is pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes, then loosen crêpe and flip with a spatula. Again cook until the underside is pale golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven.

Again with restraint, spread with your favored jam or preserves, roll them up and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.