Thursday, August 22, 2013

Come on, I've never posted whole wheat buttermilk pancakes?

Searching, searching and checking again but I'm pretty sure I've never shared my favorite pancake recipe with you.  I've got some fancy versions on here, but not the straight up, good every time and sure you can make them fancier pancake recipe I've been making since I first saw the recipe in Cooking Light in 2002.  I haven't changed it much over the years.  Why reinvent the wheel?  We had some pretty yummy pancakes in St. Kitt's on the beach (beaches and pancakes seem a little counterintuitive, buy hey...) and we deduced the secret ingredient was most likely cinnamon so there's the big change and we made that one back in 2008.  So you're probably thinking a couple of things right now.  Here's one possibility:  who eats carbs and wheat flour in this paleo crazy world?  Balanced people who are thankfully not Celiac.  Or another possibility:  who has time to make pancakes?  Well, you do.  They are super fast.  You could mix all the dry ingredients the night before and then just measure the buttermilk and whisk in the oil, egg,  and egg white while you heat your griddle pan.  Or you could do what I do:  get hungry for pancakes, make them at some random time like after dinner or an hour before bedtime or whenever and then freeze them in portioned ziplocs to reheat the next time you want pancakes.  Even if it's the next morning that you're going to pop them in the microwave, freeze them.  They stay lighter that way.  Don't ask me why.  I don't have all the food science answers, but I'm guessing the peak of puffiness is when heat is added to the powder, soda and buttermilk equation and so freezing them while still warm might preserve the puffiness.  Sounds scientifically plausible, so we'll go with that.

Treat your family or just yourself to pancakes every now and then.  You see what goes in them.  All things you can pronounce.  Nothing scary or tricky (well, you might not keep buttermilk but you can easily find it).  You can drop some blueberries, chocolate chips or banana slices on them after you pour them out on the griddle.  I even like to use one of those options and then a nutty crunchy thing like grape nut flakes or granola to be all fancy.  Or just whip up a little fruit compote (some frozen berries and a tablespoon of sugar heated and stirred until the liquid is reduced and a little thickened which really takes all of about 5 minutes).  You know real maple syrup is always good too.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

3/4 C all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour)
3/4 C whole wheat flour (I like KA white whole wheat flour)
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 C lowfat buttermilk
1 T vegetable oil (I use Smart Balance)
1 egg
1 egg white
more vegetable oil for the griddle

Whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Measure buttermilk and whisk in oil, egg and egg white.  Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and whisk together just until moist.

Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Brush with some cooking oil (sometimes I use butter, but it can get too hot and then your pancakes aren't all pretty and golden).  Do that trick where you drop a drop of water on the pan and if it "dances" it's hot enough.  Pour or spoon batter onto pan (you decide how big or small, it makes no difference).  When the tops of the pancakes are covered with bubbles and the edges look set, flip the pancakes and cook just a bit more (a minute or so) until both sides are golden.  I usually heat my oven to 200 degrees and put the finished pancakes on a baking sheet until all of them are made.  So they are all warm and ready to eat or freeze.

Serves 4

No pancake pictures today, so here's a hilarious photo of our cat and our kitten.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Simple Summer Corn Salad and Banana "Soft Serve"

I threw this summer corn salad together with leftover grilled corn and Greg loved it so much I had to make a big batch for our anniversary dinner with his parents, Sara and her Duke roomie, Annie.  My father in law loved it so much that he told me not to post it, but to enter it in contests first.  Well, that's a pretty good endorsement.  I have been crafting all kinds of summer salads with all the good farm stand and farmer's market produce we haul home and the herbs we grow at the top of our driveway.  My best vegetable plot would be my front yard, so I buy all my vegetables to maintain the order in our neighborhood.  Sara and I have our favorite vendors at the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market and I usually make at least one trip a week to Johnny's Market on College either on my way home from yoga in B Ripp, or it's worth the trip on a day off to stock up mid week between farmer's markets.  Good sweet corn is easy to find in Indiana.  It's kind of our thing.  Acres and acres of corn and soybeans.  Our tomatoes are pretty delicious too.  We're loving the heirloom variety cherry tomatoes that are fairly brown in color, look for some and give them a try.  I'd love to tell you the variety, but I have no idea.  I just grab my bags, fast cash 20's from the ATM and buy whatever looks good until the money runs out.      There's a plan for you.

If you are a Barefoot Contessa fan you know how she says "good" olive oil.  There is a reason.  When you are using simple ingredients, the right olive oil pulls it all together.  My favorite for this recipe is one I bought for $21 (Olio Santo from California) in Durham at Parker & Otis mainly because they had a little sign that said it was Ina's recommendation.  Good enough for me.  Really, $21 olive oil just has to be good.  I save my bottle for dressing and dipping things when I really want a smooth and rich olive oil taste, but I have found it on Amazon for $14 a bottle which will loosen up the reigns on it's usage.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Sara's not on campus until January this year and I can only ration for so long.

Simple Summer Corn Salad

corn kernels from 4 ears of grilled corn
one avocado, pitted and cubed
one pint basket cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
one small red onion, thinly sliced or minced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
"good" olive oil
white wine vinegar (any variety you like)
freshly ground pepper

I always grill my corn.  Shuck it, line up the ears on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil (the regular cooking one you use) and grind over salt and pepper.  Roll the ears around on a baking sheet and rub to coat.  Grill about 10-12 minutes, turning once or twice until nicely marked.  Cool to handle.  Stand ears on pointy end and run a sharp knife along the cob to release the kernels.  This is messy.  Stray kernels can be snacked on.

In your serving bowl, toss the kernels with the avocado, tomatoes, onion and feta cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil (a good pour, maybe 3 T to 1/4 C) and some white wine vinegar (just one T or so).  Grind over some salt and pepper to taste.  If your vinegar is too forward, add more oil to mellow it out.  If it's all a little flat, add more salt to bring out the flavors.  I toss mine with salad hands and the avocado and feta get all smooshy, but you can toss more gently so it's prettier.  Serves 4-6.  Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Banana "Soft Serve"
Bonus dessert recipe:  It's fruit fly season and if they are driving you crazy put all your ripe fruit in your refrigerator for starters.  I ended up with so many overripe bananas and after making my banana oatmeal snack cake with some mini chocolate chips mixed in, I peeled the rest of the bananas and froze them.  If you've never whipped them into "ice cream", you need to give it a try.  Mine always need about 30 seconds in the microwave or a little thawing on the counter so they are still frozen, but not rock hard.  Toss them into your food processor and process until the consistency of soft serve/fro yo.  Sara and I love to toss in a few mini chocolate chips and possibly a bit of peanut or almond butter and or some pretzel sticks.  So good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

get your grill on: Brickin' Chicken

The cover of The Grilling Issue of Bon Appetit with Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers and 25 Tips, Tricks & Recipes for Crisp Juicy Chicken sold it.  My free subscription to BA went to my LA girl for her apartment cooking pursuits and so she would get at least one piece of fun mail a month.  But, that cover made me fork over my hard-earned $4.99.  The skewers, by the way, are divine but require that extra napkin to dab on my forehead, just a little heat in the glaze.  Phew.  My favorite of the 25 tips in the issue is #3 You Don't Need a Recipe to Grill Chicken.  True, but I'm going to give you one anyway.

Follow tip #1 Buy a Good Bird and get a nice whole chicken from Bell & Evans at Marsh (if you're a local Indy person) or the nice whole chickens from Whole Foods.  The WF butchers will butterfly your bird if you ask them.  So say thank you and smile pretty and let them do it for you.  If you need to butterfly it yourself it's not hard.  Apparently there's an official and catchy other name for that technique and it's tip #5 Spatchcock is Not a Dirty Word.  But I'm not too sure anyone in the midwest would know what you meant if you asked them to, "Please spatchcock my chicken".  Sounds British.  Which in turn makes it clever and funny.  

And that, in a round about way, brings us to tip #4 Buy a Brick.  We had our home built, so we actually have some nice large brick pavers under the deck stairs so for me it's Go Knock Some Pillbugs Off Your Bricks and then wrap the bricks in foil.

We grill a lot of chicken at our house and of course we're familiar with the chicken under a brick concept, but we've never tried it.  Let me tell you that it was absolutely fabulous.  Crispy skin and very moist chicken.  So the bricks will stay near the grill and I'm guessing we'll be making "brickin' chicken" often.  I haven't given you a funny little aside yet, so let's review "brickin' chicken", shall we?  Have you ever seen someone shoot a basketball with two hands and their elbows cocked out to the side like chicken wings?  Have you ever seen me shoot a basketball?  Right?  Looks like a chicken and often misses and hence the "brickin' chicken".  That's me.  Clearly they love me and appreciate my skills.

Brickin' Chicken (plus the start of grilled salad)

Brickin' Chicken

one 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 pound chicken, butterflied
2 T olive or vegetable oil
kosher salt (about 2 tsp)
freshly ground pepper (about 1 1/2 tsp)
paprika (about 1 1/2 tsp)

Heat grill for high indirect heat (medium high if indirect is not an option).  Place chicken, skin side up on a baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with paprika.  Tuck wings slightly under breast (or just under the legs, that's all the limberness my chickens usually possess).  Place chicken, skin side down on grill over indirect heat (turn the burners off under the chicken or the fat from the skin will drip down and flame up which either burns the chicken or leaves an unpleasant black smoke coating or both).  Place foil-covered brick or bricks (depending on size of bird and bricks) on chicken.  cover grill and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 25-30 minutes. Using tongs and very thick mitts, remove bricks, turn chicken skin side up and replace bricks.  Grill another 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked through (165 degree internal temp in the thickest part of the thighs).   Remove bricks carefully and serve the chicken whole on a platter or cut into pieces on a platter.

Serves 4 (or 6 if you have a big bird and little people)

If you'd like to grill your salad:  lightly brush or drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper your romaine (split in half), tomatoes, onions and avocados.  Grill until they have nice grill marks.  Serve by assembling on a plate or platter and sprinkling with a yummy vinegar and plain olive oil or plain wine or sushi vinegar and flavored olive oil.  You  could also sprinkle the salad with crumbled feta or goat cheese or use a vegetable peeler and shave on some Parmigiano Reggiono.

covering the bricks
seasoned chicken 

chicken under bricks plus grilling the salad ingredients