Long Live the Short Stack

From puritanical health food to reviled processed junk and back again, granola has gone on a wild ride in terms of public perception over the years. Toasted whole grains, enriched with fruits and nuts, it’s not hard to understand the appeal of the basic concept, or why it’s had such staying power despite unpredictable shifts in nutritional decrees. Indulgence needn’t be linked to unsavory ingredients or wanton disregard for sound dietary advice, though. Granola can be smart way to treat yourself, without any sacrifice.

Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday suffers from a similar image problem. Pancakes were originally singled out as the culinary splurge of choice because the traditional inclusions of eggs, sugar, and fat would be forbidden during the Lenten fast to follow. Using them up to make fluffy, sweet short stacks would make sure they wouldn’t simply go to waste. Why can’t we have our [pan]cakes and eat healthfully, too?

Boost your breakfast with a sweet yet smart way to celebrate. Fluffy pancakes meet the unbeatable combination of toasted oats, crunchy nuts, and chewy dried fruits with the simple addition of ready-made granola. This satisfying morning meal proves that with the right recipe, any food can not only taste good, but be good for you, too.

Continue reading “Long Live the Short Stack”

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Flipping Over Pancakes

The greatest traditions of excess are born from their polar opposites, of fasts or famines, celebrating, repenting, or simply surviving. Shrove Tuesday carries that torch with unmatched enthusiasm, having evolved into an unrestrained eating and drinking bender, theoretically in preparation for the 40-day Lenten fast ahead. Pancakes are the star of the menu because historically, the fresh eggs and milk already on hand would spoil during that time of abstention, so the only reasonable thing to do would be to make massive amounts of flapjacks and throw a huge party, naturally. How this simple predisposition to thriftiness evolved into the revelry and debauchery of modern day Mardi Gras is a whole ‘nother story.

Those same concerns of preventing food waste certainly aren’t of primary concern for current festivities, but the universal love of pancakes has kept the practice alive. A simple sort of decadence, pancakes are as easy and uncomplicated as they come, making themselves right at home on the fanciest and unfussiest of tables alike. Regardless, it always feels like a special occasion when diving into a fluffy short stack, buttery and sticky with maple syrup. Despite their humble nature, countless cooks still find the prospect of flipping the perfect pancake rather daunting- Myself included. My own personal pancake disasters are too numerous to recount, but particularly infamous misadventures include scrambled pancakes, pancakes that are both raw and burnt at the same time, and pancakes flipped perfectly… Outside of the pan and literally into the fire.

For this Pancake Tuesday, I decided to seek advice from a master. Sitting myself down at Saturn Cafe with full view of the open kitchen, a few key elements for pancake perfection became clear.

1. Consistency matters. This means two things, actually: The viscosity of the batter is essential for the right texture. Too runny and you’ll get crepes. Too thick and you’ll get doorstops. Your best bet is a ratio of approximately equal parts liquid to flour by weight. The other component to this concept is that you should be consistent in your delivery. Use a ladle or measuring cup to dose out the same amount of batter every time, and space them an equal distance apart. Don’t forget to allow sufficient space to flip!

2. Take it slow. Pancakes already cook quickly so there’s no need to rush things. Keep the heat closer to medium-low to prevent them from burning on the outside before cooked all the way through. Look for the surface to be covered in ruptured bubbles before proceeding.

3. Add in, don’t mix in. Goodies like nuts, fruits, and chocolate chips are often the spotlight ingredients of truly decadent pancakes, but like any celebrities, they should arrive fashionably late to the party. Mix-ins stirred directly into the batter with sink to the bottom, creating some scantily clad pancakes. Wait until they’re about halfway done cooking before sprinkling your starlets on top, keeping them evenly distributed and at the center of attention.

4. Keep it on the down-low. When it comes time for the dreaded flip, don’t try anything fancy. Don’t expect to toss those little flapjacks in the air like pizza dough and don’t pretend that you can flick the pan forward to succeed without a spatula. Check to make sure that they’re ready by peeking underneath first. If the bottom is evenly golden brown, you’re good to go. Make sure the spatula is completely underneath and supporting the cake and keep it as close to the pan as possible when you turn it over. Be firm but gentle. Don’t slap it down forcefully, unless you’d like to redecorate your kitchen walls with raw batter.

If you have flour in the pantry, you could have pancakes for breakfast. The most basic formulas need little more than that to yield ambrosial breakfast treats, to dress up or down as your heart desires. There’s no reason to wait until Fat Tuesday rolls around to break out the skillet, but while we’re all throwing caution to the wind and pouring the syrup on thick, you might as well take advantage of the celebration to indulge.

Gong Hey Fat Tuesday

If you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate, you needn’t look far. Before the glow of one jubilant holiday fete can fully fade from view, yet another occasion to rejoice arises from its ashes. Depending on which traditions you hold dear, you could easily keep the party going 365 days a year, without even delving into the more dubious list of unofficial observances. Keeping up with the standard routine is hard enough on an average day, but a calendar peppered at random with noteworthy events can become downright intimidating.

Mardi Gras and the Lunar New Year happen to fall on consecutive days this year, each arriving with a riot of colors, rituals, and lucky foods. Pressed for time and sufficient enthusiasm to properly honor both, I was suddenly struck by one unlikely common thread, uniting Creole and Chinese customs: Pancakes.

Fat Tuesday earns its moniker for all the indulgent edibles typically served during the festivities, particularly pancakes. Fluffy, flat, big, or small, every unique twist on the humble breakfast cake is welcomed with open arms- And a sticky pitcher of thick maple syrup. Less common but no less appreciated are savory renditions, ideal for balancing out the inevitable deluge of sugary sweets.

Chinese pancakes exemplify the pinnacle of pancake perfection for revelers craving salty snacks instead of desserts. Impossibly thin, flaky layers cradle flecks of green onion, just assertive enough to be heard above the baseline of nutty toasted sesame. Built upon the simplest of ingredients and just undeniably, apologetically rich, each narrow wedge tastes like a joyous carnival all by itself.

Clearly, it was high time for these two cultures to become acquainted.

Unexpected Cajun and Creole flavors infuse this time-honored dim sum addition, drawing bright citrus notes into the stratified dough itself. The real coup de gras, however, is delivered in the fiery dipping sauce. A cool and creamy base balances out a wide palate of spices, ranging from warming to immolating. Once blended and melded the resulting harmony of heat could easily become a new standby to accompany any cuisine.

Ala Madigra and Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Yield: Makes 20 Pancakes; 1 Cup Sauce

Citrus-Scallion Pancakes with Dynamite Cajun Dipping Sauce

Citrus-Scallion Pancakes with Dynamite Cajun Dipping Sauce
Unexpected Cajun and Creole flavors infuse meet in scallion pancakes, drawing bright citrus notes into the stratified dough itself. The real coup de gras, however, is delivered in the fiery dipping sauce. A cool and creamy base balances out a wide palate of spices draws new life into this dim sum staple.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Dynamite Cajun Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro, Finely Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Creole Seasoning
  • 1 Teaspoon Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Finely Minced

Citrus-Scallion Pancakes:

  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 – 8 Tablespoons Warm Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Scallions
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 – 5 Tablespoons Peanut Oil

Instructions

  1. To prepare the dipping sauce, simply mix everything together, adding sriracha to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve, for up to two weeks.
  2. For the pancakes, mix together the flour, 6 tablespoons of the warm water, lemon juice, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Stir until the liquid is absorbed, adding more water one teaspoon at a time as needed until the dough pulls away from sides of bowl. The goal is to create a cohesive, firm dough that is barely tacky to the touch.
  3. Knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until smooth. Cover with a moist towel for 20 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
  4. Meanwhile, take this opportunity to mix together scallions, garlic, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  5. After resting, roll the dough into a skinny snake-like shape and cut into 20 equal pieces. Roll each segment into balls and keep covered with the towel.
  6. Working with one small ball of dough at a time, place on a well-floured surface and roll into a circle approximately 4-inches in diameter. Brush liberally with peanut oil, sprinkle with 1 – 2 teaspoons of the scallion mixture, and roll the pancake up tightly like a rug. Curl the roll around in a spiral, pinch the end to seal, and flatten it back out into a very thin circle, about 1/8 of an inch in thickness. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
  7. Heat one tablespoon of peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the pancakes, one or two at a time, until the bottom is golden brown and perfectly crisp. Keep warm in a low oven or slice into wedges, serving immediately alongside the dipping sauce.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 117mg Carbohydrates: 12g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 1g Protein: 1g

Flipping Over Pancakes

A hallowed date with many names, there is all but one antiquated nickname that I can fully endorse, even as a nonsecular participant. Sorry, but the title of “Fat Tuesday” no longer fits the bill for modern times, especially when the moniker of “Pancake Tuesday” can be readily swapped in for a far more appealing and accurate label. Born of religious traditions that involve gorging oneself before the leaner days of lent, the celebratory aspect is the only piece I’m interested in, quite frankly. That’s to say nothing of how the so-called fat pancakes of yore bear little resemblance to the eggless, dairy-free flapjacks that grace my skillet today, which could run circles around those early butter-laden diet bombs. It’s no wonder that revelers would feel compelled to repent after such a gut-busting day of indulgence.

It’s time to leave those feelings of guilt and regret in the past. Pancakes are the star of the day and deserve to shine with fresh flavors, just like this punchy little short stack right here. Fluffy, lightly sweetened pillows that are no pushovers, equal parts flour and cornmeal contribute a heartier texture in addition to a subtly savory cornbread flavor. Juicy raspberries and crisp jalapenos dot the surface of each disk, making every bite both sweet and spicy. Although you could certainly cut one or the other out of the picture to simplify, especially if catering to a strong sweet tooth or salt tooth, the combination is positively invigorating, no matter what time of day you prefer to celebrate your pancakes.

Yield: 4 Servings

Raspberry-Jalapeno Cornbread Pancakes

Raspberry-Jalapeno Cornbread Pancakes
Fluffy, lightly sweetened pillows that are no pushovers, equal parts flour and cornmeal contribute a heartier texture in addition to a subtly savory cornbread flavor. Juicy raspberries and crisp jalapenos dot the surface of each disk, making every bite both sweet and spicy.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Finely Ground Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh or Frozen and Thawed* Raspberries
  • 1 Fresh Jalapeno, Seeded and Finely Diced
  • Additional Fresh Raspberries and Maple Syrup to Serve (Optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt, mixing thoroughly to both aerate and combine the ingredients.
  2. Separately, mix the oil, non-dairy milk, and vinegar before adding all of the liquids into the bowl of dry goods. Introduce the berries and jalapeno at the same time, stirring with a wide spatula to incorporate everything into the batter. It’s perfectly fine to leave a few lumps remaining, as it’s much better than running the risk of over-mixing and creating tough pancakes.
  3. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and very lightly grease the bottom. When hot, spoon about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan for each pancake, leaving a good amount of space in between so that there’s ample room for flipping. Lightly smooth out the tops to further round the shapes and even out any central peaks.
  4. Cook until bubbles appear all over the surface and the underside is golden brown. Flip with a spatula, and cook until equally browned on the other side.
  5. Serve hot, topped with fresh berries and/or syrup if desired.

Notes

*If using frozen and thawed raspberries, just bear in mind that your pancakes will take on more of a pink hue overall, due to the excess juices. Try to drain the berries as best you can to mitigate the effects.


Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 3mg Sodium: 597mg Carbohydrates: 54g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 19g Protein: 6g

A Sweet Start to Spring

There may be a fresh coat of snow on the ground, but here’s some news that will surely put a spring in your step: The spring 2013 issue of Allergic Living Magazine has been been unleashed! Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate with our calendar-assigned seasonal switch, a responsible publication will always follow the rules. Like clockwork, the latest quarterly will hit newsstands near you well before the flowers bloom.

It was my pleasure to work with the incomparable Alisa Fleming once more, illustrating her latest batch of tempting recipes. For this issue, it was all about bringing a bit of sweetness to the early hours of the day, all without any gluten or dairy, and easy options to accommodate any dietary restrictions.

Crisp on the outside but light and fluffy within, Strawberry Shortcake Waffles are sure to pull anyone out of even the deepest winter funk. Softly whipped coconut cream tops off each ridged breakfast cake, complete with gently macerated and fork-tender ripe strawberries. It’s the complete package for anyone who’s craving a bit of decadence first thing in the morning.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes were clearly designed with the voracious sweet tooth in mind, satisfying that sugar craving without starting the day in a sugar coma. Luscious ripples of brown sugar and cinnamon are swirled throughout each and every flapjack, perfectly fitting their namesakes both in taste and appearance. The whole short stack wouldn’t be complete without a light drizzle of icing, of course.

Recipes this good really shouldn’t be relegated only to the morning’s first meals… Either of them are more than worthy of a dessert or after dinner treat, too!

Oldie but Goodie

Recipes come and go as the years pass, but coconuts are forever. At least, the latest coconut craze seems like its a trend that could last until the end of eternity. Looking back on older posts where I declared 2009 the “year of the coconut,” I have to wonder what that made 2010, and now 2011, too, because that tropical fruit was still king of the health food castle last time I checked.

Not everything is the same since that original review though. Branding has become more dangerous, a fine line between enticing and deceiving customer, and wording on packages more careful. You’ll no longer find coconut kefir in the marketplace, but “cultured coconut beverages” instead. Same thing, new name. Perhaps it was deemed a more accurate description of the opaque bottles’ contents, or just a more approachable label for those intimidated by fermented edibles, but I can’t say for sure. All I do know is that it can still make a mean stack of pancakes.

Though these pancakes originally showed up around the same time as that review post, I never shared the recipe. Unsurprisingly, the no-bake “kefir” cheesecake stole the spotlight at the time. It’s a damn shame, because these are some of the fluffiest pancakes to escape my frying pan, and the added nuance of subtle coconut flavor adds an irresistible element of salty, savory goodness. Their naturally tropical flavor makes them the perfect fit for a summer breakfast or brunch, but still every bit as tasty served up in any season.

If you can’t find the cultured coconut beverage in your area, you could very happily substitute 1 cup of plain coconut yogurt plus 1/2 cup of plain coconut beverage (or any non-dairy milk) instead. To really bump up the coconut flavor if you want more than a gentle hint, add a splash of coconut extract.

Yield: 3 - 4 Servings

Fluffy Coconut Pancakes

Fluffy Coconut Pancakes
Light and fluffy pancakes with a subtle coconut flavor, adding an irresistible element of salty, savory goodness. Their naturally tropical flavor makes them the perfect fit for a summer breakfast or brunch, but still every bit as tasty served up in any season.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cultured Coconut Beverage or 1 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt + 1/2 Cup Plain Coconut Beverage
  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Like most pancakes, these couldn’t be easier to whip up. Just combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, and whisk to distribute all of the dry goods. Separately, stir together the coconut beverage, water, oil, and vanilla, and then pour these liquids into the large bowl as well. Whisk just to combine; a few lumps are just fine here, so don’t over-mix.
  2. Place a large (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium heat, and very lightly grease. Use about 3 – 4 tablespoons of batter for each pancake, and cook on the first side for 4 – 6 minutes, until bubbles burst on the top and they feel sturdy enough to flip.
  3. Flip, and cook on the second side for an additional 2 – 5 minutes, until golden and fully cooked through in the center.
  4. Serve immediately, or keep warm in an oven preheated on the “warm” setting.

Notes

For a treat that combines the best of breakfast and dessert, try a short stack of these babies with a generous scoop of coconut ice cream on top!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519 Total Fat: 30g Saturated Fat: 24g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 3mg Sodium: 437mg Carbohydrates: 58g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 23g Protein: 8g