pecorino and parsley pancake with arugula

More is almost always better. More whole grain flours, more herbs and more flavour… until it becomes too much. This was a lesson in moderation. Too much and your pancake will be flat!

I still remember the awe I felt when my sister made a puffy Dutch baby pancake–it rose to an incredible height in the oven, but then as soon as we pulled it out, it collapsed before my mum could see how tall it rose. Subsequently covering it with fruit and maple syrup, it didn’t matter.Since then I’ve found a deeper browning of the pancake can help ensure it stays puffy, but collapsed or not, a soft and light and airy pancake makes for quite the lovely start to the day.

This one would be good for a group breakfast, a savoury pancake with cheese and herbs and topped with a lemony arugula salad. It ended up being a lunch for us, as my first pancake didn’t quite pan out.

I piled in the herbs and the cheese in my first attempt. What I ended up with had none of those billowy crisp edges and puffy ridges of a typical pancake–it was squat, thick and flat, and completely solid. So the second time around I toned everything down to let the pancake rise and ended up with one that was still flavourful, but also had a good bit of air to it as well.

In the usual Dutch baby pancake style you sprinkle it with lemon juice and dust with icing sugar. The acidity is a welcome relief against the buttery pancake.

For this version I used a very very bright and acidic lemony vinaigrette on arugula, which kept the pancake bright and light.

But just in case you happen to be feeling like a rubbery flat pancake is just the thing you’re in the mood for, and I’ll admit, it did taste quite good, I’ve provided both recipes below.

 

From left to right: flat pancake, puffy pancake.

flat pancake.

3 eggs

68 g approx half milk, half heavy cream

43 g spelt flour

large handful parsley

1/2 slice of red onion, chopped

1/2 tbsp grainy mustard

some grated nutmeg

pinch kosher salt

ground black pepper

large handful finely grated pecorino romano

35 g butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Finely chop the parsley steps and chop the parsley leaves a bit less finely.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream. Whisk in the flour until smooth and then stir in the remaining ingredients except for half of the grated cheese and all the butter.

Heat the butter in a 9″ cast iron pan until melted, swirling to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour in the batter. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining half of the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until well browned and still very flat.

 

puffy pancake!

3 eggs

63 g approx half milk, half heavy cream

43 g flour, approx half spelt, half all purpose

a few stalks of parsley

a bit of chopped red onion

a bit of dijon mustard

some grated nutmeg

very scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt

ground black pepper

a small handful grated pecorino romano

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Finely chop the parsley steps and chop the parsley leaves a bit less finely.

Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream. Whisk in the flour until smooth and then stir in the remaining ingredients except for all the grated cheese and butter.

Heat the butter in a 9″ cast iron pan until melted, swirling to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Heat the butter until fairly hot–it will sizzle when a drop of batter is added and the batter will bubble. Pour in all the batter.

Sprinkle with the grated pecorino romano, most of it in the centre of the pancake–the part which we don’t want to rise anyways–not the edges.

Bake at 425F for 15 min until poofed and browned, then turn the temperature down to 375F for another 5-10 minutes until very nicely browned.

 

to top: lemony arugula salad

bowlful arugula

zest and juice of 1/4 lemon

dijon mustard

just a splash of neutral oil

parsley

small length of fennel stem, thinly sliced

spoonful of capers, chopped

Whisk together lemon juice, zest, oil, and mustard with some salt and pepper for a very acidic dressing. Toss with the arugula, pile onto the pancake. Sprinkle with the capers and fennel and some additional parsley leaves.

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rhubarb, apricot and poppy seed muffins

For some reason my junior high, a public school of otherwise unremarkable virtue, was miraculously endowed with a climbing wall. We learned to belay and boulder and of course, as it was not a team sport, it was my absolute favourite gym module.

And now, several years later, it seems like everyone climbs! Labmates, friends, acquaintances, and even my sister, visiting for a week, casually dropped that she started bouldering as well.

It’s made me want to revisit climbing. I still have the belaying movements ingrained in my memory, but the calls are a bit foggy apart from “on belay?” and “belay on!” Speaking to a junior high friend, we might go together, maybe just bouldering for now, to relive some of those old days of physical education. Though, rather than reliving, it sounds like we might get ourselves into a new, and suddenly rather popular, pursuit.

In the meantime, in a rather contradictory move, here are some muffins. The rhubarb is growing and it demands to be baked.

rhubarb, apricot and poppy seed muffins

Adapted from the blueberry muffin recipe in Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.

86 g a.p. flour

109 g whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

96 g softened butter

75 g granulated sugar

2 tbsp honey

2 eggs

zest of 1 navel orange, finely grated

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

50 g thick 10% yoghurt

2 tbsp milk

80 g dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

200 g rhubarb

streusel

30 g butter

30 g whole wheat flour

30 g brown sugar

30 g rolled oats

pinch salt

Whisk together the flour, salt, poppy seeds, baking powder and baking soda. Cream the butter until light, then cream in the sugar and honey, followed by the eggs (one at a time) and the orange zest and vanilla extract. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yoghurt and milk to the butter, mixing until just combined. Mix in the apricots and then cover the batter and let rest in the fridge overnight.

For the streusel, first mix together the flour and butter, then the sugar, oats and salt. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop the rhubarb and toss with a little bit of additional flour. Mix into the muffin batter–as it’s cold, it will be very thick and a bit difficult. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and divide the batter among 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle generously with streusel–you’ll have some left.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean.