Wednesday, June 10, 2009

White Bean and Olive Salad

3 cups cooked white beans, rinsed and drained if canned
2 small celery ribs, thinly sliced
15 Spanish green olives, pitted and sliced
2 Tbsp chopped tarragon
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Gently mix beans, celery, olives and tarragon in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine vinegar, garlic, paprika and salt, then whisk in oil. Taste and adjust seasonings then pour over bean mixture and mix gently again. Add pepper and serve at room temperature.

Broccoli Salad

¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1 head fresh broccoli florets
½ cup raisins or Craisins
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

In a large bowl, mix together the bacon, broccoli, raisins, onion and sunflower seeds.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar and vinegar. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Tuscan Bean Salad

Tuscan Bean Salad

1 can kidney beans
1 can white beans
½ cup chopped fennel
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped celery
1 carrot chopped
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 tsp sage

Prepare the vegetables, rinse the beans, mix the wet ingredients. Then mix it all together.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes

I am not so good at making them pretty, but these babies 3/4 inch thick and light and fluffy.

I have never really thought much about pancakes. I know I don't like them to be dense or soggy, or to taste like too much baking soda (ie IHOP pancakes). With those requirements alone you would think I would have put some thought into what makes a pancake just right, right?

Well, I didn't have to. I opened up my latest issue of Cook's Illustrated and a test cook basically experimented and went back and forth trying to make the "Perfect Pancake". After reading the "experiment" I realized I had no idea the intricate dance each ingredient plays in making a pancake.

Buttermilk gives a unique taste that makes regular pancakes boring (and tasting like too much baking soda). But the acid in the buttermilk causes the baking soda to rise too rapidly which leads to deflated pancakes that are dense and soggy. Too much butter milk and you basically have two crusts mashed together with no light and fluffy insides. Lower the baking soda content and your pancakes are bland and pale. Lower the buttermilk and you don't have enough of that good flavor. So after a few tests the experimenting found a secret ingredient- sour cream!

Then I learned that the more you stir the more gluten forms in the batter and gluten makes baked goods tough. So to make the ultimately light and fluffy pancakes, whisk briefly (yep, its okay to have a few lumps) and then let the batter sit for 10 minutes so the gluten can relax.

After making these pancakes. I must agree, they are perfect. Now my next step is to work on making my pancakes "Look" perfect. My burners heat a little uneven and I am not good at pouring perfect circles. Oh well, my toddler and my husband eat em right up before they can even notice those details.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Marcus Walser

This recipe was tested using a lower protein flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If using a higher protein flour like Kin Arthur, use an extra two Tbsp of buttermilk.

On an electric griddle, cook at 350 degrees.

Recipe says it makes 16 four inch pancakes. But mine must have been a little bit bigger since I only had about 10 and my toddler ate about 6 of them. So double up!

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Gently stir until just combined and do not worry about lumps. Let sit for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, add 1 Tbsp oil to the griddle or skillet and heat over medium heat. After a few minutes, wipe the oil out with a paper towel so just a thin film remains. Repeat after you have used half the batter for pancakes.

Test one very small pancake on your griddle to get an idea of how long a side needs to cook and if the temperature needs to be turned up or down.

Then, pour batter from a measuring cup into 4 inch circles on the griddle and cook about 2 minutes or until the sides begin to look cooked the bubbles about the size of a pencil eraser in the middle of each pancake are just beginning to break.

Serve with cut fruit, pureed berries, syrup, preserves, whipped cream, chopped pecans or caramelized apples Yum!