Sunday, April 21, 2013

Basics: Sourdough Pancakes

Sourdough pancakes are a staple in my house and here's how I make them.
I'm not going to list specific amounts because I don't know how many you want
to make, or how big you want them to be. Generally, I allow almost half a cup
of batter for each man sized pancake. This is sourdough, it's very versatile
and rather forgiving.
Absolutely have to have some prepared sourdough sponge

Pour 2-3 cups of it into a mixing bowl
For each cup of sponge sprinkle on heaping tablespoon of sugar and half a teaspoon
of salt. Stir it all up.

Now add an egg or two for every two cups of batter. You can beat them separately
or just mix them on in. If your sponge was really thick, thin it with a little milk
or water. Stir this all up til it's well mixed and everything has been incorporated.
Now you can use this just like it is and you'll have a pretty dense pancake with a
very pronounced sourdough taste depending on your starter. Here's the magic that's
going to make them scrumptious-dissolve one teaspoon baking soda in one tablespoon
of water and stir it in. Now let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes and you'll be ready
to cook them up. This will soften up the "sour" and cause you batter to bubble.
While your batter is resting heat up the pan or griddle. I like my pan to be hot enough
 that a drop of water sprinkled on will dance, not lay there and boil away.
Stir that batter up and ladel it onto your hot pan or griddle.

Then when it's colored to your liking, flip it over and do the other side.
Stack them up and chow them down.
Feel free to add your favorite fruits (blueberries, chopped strawberries or
apples, mashed bananas), coated with a little sugar. Add some spices (cinnamon,
nutmeg, apple pie spice). Add some finally chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips.
Thin your batter way down with milk and eggs and use it like crepe batter.
Fill them with cream cheese!
Top them with butter and syrup or
fresh fruit and whipped cream or
a buttery caramel sauce and some toasted pecans.
There's the method, now go make some pancake magic!

Cream Cheese Filled Panckes with Berry Topping

It's like a whole plateful of Danish goodness! You can vary the toppings to your own tastes, but my favorites are always berry themed.

Here's what you're going to need:
         1 batch of your favorite pancake batter
         1 8 oz block of cream cheese, slightly frozen works best
         1 jar of your favorite jam, jelly or preserves
             Optional: butter, whipped cream;
   Highly recommended: A non-stick skillet or griddle, flexible spatula
       (because nothing on earth will glue a pancake to a pan better than cream cheese!)

I'm going to include my recipe for sourdough pancakes, but please feel free to use your own favorite even if it's instant out of a box. How much do you need? I don't know, how many pancakes do you want? I allow about a half cup batter for each pancake.

For the sourdough pancakes you will need:
         2 cups sponge
         1/3 cup sugar
         1 teaspoon salt
         1 egg
         1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
         ( milk or water)

If you've got your own batter, skip down to the part where we cook them.
Here's my sponge. It's my sourdough starter that I fed the night before.

As you can see, it's really thick.
Here's the starter in my mixing bowl with the sugar and salt sprinkled
on top. Then I stirred it up.

Now I've added the egg and some milk (because it really was too thick).
You can add more eggs if you want. Stir it up until thoroughly mixed. The last
step is to stir in the baking soda/water. Stir it in and let the batter sit as you
heat your pan and prepare your cream cheese. The batter will bubble, it's normal.
Start heating your pan. The absolute easiest way to do this is to grate the cream
cheese while it's frozen. But if you are impatient like me, you can cut off slices as
thin as you can get them. And if that doesn't work you can even use globs. Keep
reading, I'll show you!
Now pour a half cup of batter onto your hot pan. And by hot, I mean that
water spinkled on it will dance, not lay there and boil away.

Sprinkle the top of the pancake with the shredded cream cheese...

...or dollop on some cream cheese blobs

Then cover the cream cheese with additional batter. It doesn't have
to be perfect, do it as best you can.
When it's cooked on one side, flip it over and cook the other side.

And when you totally glue it to the pan and tear it all up, just keep
cooking it until it's done. (Let me add a word of wisdom, it's way easier
to scrape out a cooked mess than a half raw mess)
Stack it on a plate, add some butter (or not)
Prepare your topping. This is some home made berry jam, I warmed
it in the microwave and thinned it with a little water stirred in (a teaspoon of water
in a quarter cup of jam, this is salmonberry, but raspberry, blueberry and
strawberry are all really good)

Pour melted jam over the stack

and garnish as desired.
If you serve these hot, right off the griddle (rather than stopping to take pics)
the melted cream cheese will just ooze out. Either way, they are yummy!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Egg Rolls: Turtle (Pecans, Caramel, Chocolate)

Who says that you can't have egg rolls for dessert?? These little jewels are filled with all the same goodness as turtle candy - pecans, caramel, and chocolate. And what could be better than candy? DEEP FRIED CANDY!! I'm pretty sure that I'm in love with egg roll and won ton wrappers. I can now wrap up all kinds of unhealthy goodness and make it even worse by saturating it in hot oil!

I'm not going to even try convincing you that this is in any way healthy, but it is really good!

Here's what you need to make 'em:

          1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces
          1/4 cup caramel pieces
          1/4 cup chocolate chips
          1/4 cup brown sugar
          1 package won ton wrappers
          Oil for deep frying

1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup caramel pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Mix them all together
1/4 cup brown sugar
Open up the package of won ton wrappers.
Place a little bit of the nut mix on the wrapper and spinkle a little brown sugar over it. Moisten all the edges of the wrapper with water.
Roll it up and pinch the ends shut. I tried several different folds but liked this one the best. As you can see, the rolls are only about the size of a finger. Let them rest and dry a bit before you fry them.
Deep fry in hot oil (350-375 degrees) until golden brown. Flip over as necessary and follow the instructions for your fryer. Drain and cool on a rack or paper towels.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Basics: Corn Tortillas

Home made corn tortillas may not be a staple in your kitchen, but they should be! Easy and inexpensive, the only real investment is a tortilla press and you can get one just like mine for about $15. (I got mine at a yard sale.) I grew up and learned to cook in the Southwest, I love Mexican food, so this is a natural in my kitchen.

So what do you need? A bag of instant masa mix, salt, hot water. You'll need a press, a baggie to keep them from sticking to the press and a hot, dry skillet to cook them on. Here we go, step by step.

I use Maseca brand, it's readily available in my local stores. Sometimes it's in the baking aisle and sometimes in the ethnic food aisle. You need two cups for this recipe.
 Pour it into your favorite dough making bowl and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over it. Mix it in with your fingers. Now pour 1 to 1/4 cups boiling water over the flour. Start with one cup, you can always add more hot water if you need to. Let this sit for a few minutes while you prepare your baggie. Take the baggie (I used a regular sandwich bag) and cut along both side seams so that you have one long piece that you can fold back up.
Now stir the four water mix with a fork until most of it has been moistened. You can do this with your hands if you want. Your going to think that you're doing it wrong, that this is just one big crumbly mess. So set the fork aside and knead it with both hands until it comes together and forms a big ball.
 Let this big ball rest while you get you skillet out. An eight inch skillet will work and you want the heat pretty high. These things are only going to cook 1-2 minutes per side. Now divide the big ball into 12-16 equally sized little balls.
Now open the tortilla press and place the opened baggie on the press.
Place a ball of dough in the center, I like to flatten my balls slightly.
Fold the other half of the baggie over the ball.
Close the lid.
Flip the handle down and press. Open up the press, rotate the bag ninety degrees and close it back up and press it again.
 Do this 3 or 4 times until your tortilla is about 5 inches around an 1/8 inch thick.
Carefully open the baggie, flip the whole thing over in your hand and peel the baggie off the other side.
Place it in the hot, dry skillet and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. While this one is cooking, press the next one.
Flip it over and cook the other side. Adjust your cooking time and/or burner setting to achieve the color you desire. I like mine to look like this.
Stack them up and chow them down! I'm going to wrap these up in foil because I'm not going to use them until later in the day. Easy to warm up in the oven, or with a moist paper towel steamed in the micro wave. You can fry them or spray them with cooking oil and bake them until crisp (350 degrees for about 15 minutes). Enjoy!

PS- This batch is scheduled to be turned into tostadas!