Friday, December 08, 2006

Buttermilk Pancakes

I don't really love pancakes. They're ok, a little doughy, kind of boring. I do, however, love these pancakes. And to my mind there's something a little decadent about a good pancake breakfast (or, for that matter, lunch or dinner) that makes them even more fun to eat.

So, if you happen to have some time on a morning, and buttermilk left over from making scones, and feel like making a treat for whoever else is in the house, these will make everyone happy. No matter how gloomy and cold it is outside.

Buttermilk Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 to 3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 eggs
3 tbsp. melted butter or oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix dry (first 6) ingredients in a bowl
2. In another bowl, beat eggs and add butter/oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and stir.
3. Heat a nonstick or lightly buttered pan over medium-high heat. Drop 1/4 cup batter in at a time. Wait until small bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake-to-be (will take a couple minutes), and then flip them. Cook for another minute. Don't pat or screw with them more than necessary.

from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

The Perfect Scones

My last girlfriend charmed my housemates and I by, among other things, bringing over bags of warm, crumbly scones from a small bakery near her apartment. The scones were just right -- moist crumbs that melted perfectly in your mouth, a not-overwhelming taste of vanilla, plump bits of dried fruit. Being neurotic, I tried for months to replicate them using recipes culled from various sources. It wasn't until I found this recipe, in Once Upon a Tart, that I found what I was looking for.

Since I came back from Asia I've been spending a lot of time on friends' couches, and I like to present a bag of these scones as an expression of gratitude. For those a little less homeless, the scones also make a nice addition to brunch potlucks, or, really, to any day. Plus, making them take very little time or energy.

This is a basic recipe. I love the way currants work in it, but if you'd rather use something else (raisins, dried cherries, those yummy dried blueberries Trader Joe's sells, or candied ginger), you should go for it. This recipe makes a shitload of scones, so I sometimes halve it.

Buttermilk-Currant Scones (ie, the Basic Scone Recipe)

4 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 large eggs
1 cup cold buttermilk
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup dried currants

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Dump dry (first 5) ingredients into food processor and pulse.
3. Add butter and mix for a few seconds, until the batter looks like moist crumbs.
4. In a small bowl, mix eggs so they yolks are broken. Mix in buttermilk, vanilla, and currants.
5. Mix the dry and wet mixtures together. At first it looks depressingly dry, like no batter could possibly come together. Do not abandon faith. Keep mixing and it works out. (Now isn't that inspiring?) Stop as soon as flour is no longer visible.
6. Use a 1/2 cup measure to scoop batter into rounds on a baking sheet.
7. Bake 25-30 minutes. They will be golden brown (and your kitchen will smell really good).

For a variation, add a little powdered ginger to the dry ingredients and use chopped up candied ginger instead of fruit.

Adapted with love from "Once Upon a Tart" by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

Friday, December 01, 2006

Best Gingerbread Evu

i don't want to tell you this because it is so good that people will be breaking down your door with tears in their eyes asking for more, and that's just a dangerous position to put you in. But here you go.

1 1/2 c unbleached white flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 c dark corn syrup
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c buttermilk, room temp
about 1/2 c fresh ginger, grated

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan. Sift flour, baking
soda, and salt together. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl; add molasses and
corn syrup and beat together. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until
light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the molasses mixture until smooth,
stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times. Alternately
add dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry. Stir in
the grated ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the
top springs back or a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean - 35 to
40 minutes.

Here is an amazing cookie recipe too, seriously my favorite:

cherry oatmeal chocolate chip

I'm making preserves for J's family xmas presents and am wondering: besides carrot marmalade and pomegranate jelly, should i make pear or kiwi jam? kiwi is beautiful and green but pear is more comforting and christmasy! tell.