A (Berry) Gay Valentine’s Day!

Ah, Cupid! It’s that time of year, again, when everyone with a wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, mistress, lover (or one or more of the above, or just those who are pining over another) sweat over the little things and every gesture assumes the importance of all that is good in the world – love, life, and chocolate. Rose purveyors and chocolatiers the world over count on Valentine’s Day to boost the bottom line and every dimly lit dining room fills to the rafters on February 14th – a boon this year since romance day falls on a Tuesday.

Mix it all together.

We decided to celebrate early with these Saturday brunch blueberry pancakes. To gay it up, we used our heart shaped pancake molds (yes, we have heart shaped pancake molds in our equipment pantry!) and finished the pancakes with a deliciously tart raspberry ginger syrup. They were beautiful and tasty!

Hearts on a griddle.

America’s Test Kitchen inspired the pancake batter recipe. Fresh blueberries add a sweet, warm juiciness to each bite. The raspberry sauce is a bright alternative to traditional maple syrup. The leftovers will go into the freezer, ready for the toaster oven for this Tuesday’s quickie breakfast, before the rigors of work set in.

Corn Flour and Blueberry Pancakes

1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 cup milk
2 oranges (zest only)
1 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cups (5 ounces) corn flour (do not use cornmeal or polenta)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 to 2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, preferably wild, rinsed and dried

Whisk the milk, yogurt, and orange zest in a medium bowl or large measuring cup; set aside while preparing the other ingredients. Whisk the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine.

Whisk the egg and melted butter into the milk and yogurt until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the bowl; pour in the milk mixture and whisk very gently until just combined (a few lumps should remain). Do not over mix. Set aside to rest.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes; add 1-teaspoon oil and brush to coat the skillet bottom evenly. Pour a cup batter onto three spots on the skillet; sprinkle 1-tablespoon blueberries over each pancake. Cook the pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a thin, wide spatula, flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on both sides, 1 to 1 minutes longer. Serve immediately, and repeat with the remaining batter, using the remaining vegetable oil only if necessary.

Note: If you are using heart shaped molds; spray the molds with non-stick cooking spray and place them on the skillet for 1-2 minutes to heat up before adding the pancake mix. Fill the molds about half full. Add about ½ tablespoon blueberries to the pancakes and gently press the blueberries to the center of the pancake. The blueberries may not be fully immersed in the batter. Cook in the molds for 2-4 minutes and gently remove the molds. Flip the pancake and repeat with the remaining batter. Remove any pancake stuck to the molds and spray with cooking spray after each use to avoid the pancakes from getting stuck.

Raspberry Syrup

Raspberry, Orange, Ginger Syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Juice of two oranges
¼ cup The Ginger People ginger syrup

Add the raspberries, orange juice and ginger syrup to a small saucepan over medium heat. Smash the berries and cook for about five minutes. Put the syrup through a strainer to remove the seeds and place the strained syrup back on the stove. Cook until thickened.

Pancakes Extraordinaire

Ah, Sunday! Sleep in, wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and J’s unbelievable muesli pancakes. We’ve developed our own muesli blend and we think it puts all others to shame. This wonder mix acts as the base of the pancake batter. The resultant pancakes are rich, moist, fluffy yet substantial, full of flavor and extraordinarily nutritious. Think whole grains, dried berries, a variety of raw nuts and a couple of nut meals, flax seed and flax meal … you get the picture (below). We’ve been eating this muesli for a couple of years now. Our typical consumption is fairly straight forward: a half cup of the muesli mix and enough kefir to make it soupy goes into the fridge the night before. By morning, the mix has thickened and the rolled grains have softened. With a little chopped fresh fruit of whatever variety, this breakfast is complete.

J adapted a great America’s Test Kitchen whole grain pancake recipe to include our homemade muesli. The adapted recipe calls for some of the muesli mix to be ground fine in a food processor. The batter includes the ground muesli as well as a bit of whole muesli mix, some whole wheat flour, butter and eggs, milk and yogurt. After the batter rests a while, the pancakes are cooked on our griddle and topped with fruit compote, a little maple syrup or yogurt.

This well-tested pancake recipe never disappoints. The time from prep to table is shorter than you might guess and reminds us that packaged pancake mixes are for the very confused. If you have a box of pancake mix in your pantry, throw it out. Now, clear that space in the cupboard and fill it with a nice hand-mixed batch of muesli. You’ll use it for more than just pancakes, but this breakfast treat is a perfect place to start!

– Steve

Muesli Pancakes

[Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, by Matthew Card. The official recipe is only available to premium subscribers.]

I usually hate pancakes. And don’t even get me started on Bisquick® pancake mix or the kind that you find at Denny’s or any of the chain diners. They’re usually gummy and bland and soaked in artificial “maple” syrup leaving you needing to brush your teeth and feeling a bit queasy after you eat them.

I found this recipe when I was subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated and I had just discovered my muesli recipe. I now can recite the recipe by heart, that’s how many times I’ve made it. And even though I’ve never made the original Cook’s Illustrated version I think my version is just as good if not better.

1 ½ cups kefir
½ cup whole milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) original muesli mix
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 ¾ ounces) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Mix the kefir and milk together with the eggs, butter, and vanilla. Set aside. Finely grind the muesli in a food processor, add to a large bowl with the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix dry ingredients together then add the wet ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated. Let the batter sit while you heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a little vegetable oil to the skillet and a small amount of the batter to test the pan. If it’s too hot reduce the heat, not hot enough, raise the heat. After the heat is sufficient and consistent, add a ladle full of batter 2-3 ounces into the oiled pan. Cook for a few minutes on the first side before flipping them over.

If you have made pancakes before you know the routine. If you’re new to making them it might take a few tries before you get the hang of it. Trust me, its not that hard. The worst thing that can happen is that the pancakes get smooched together or fall on the floor. If they fall on the floor, pick them up and brush them off, if your floor is clean, or throw them away if you have a dirty floor. These pancakes freeze wonderfully and make a great weekday breakfast that’s just as quick as  a bowl of cereal and milk. Give them a try and let us know what you think of them.

– Jason