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Cornmeal Pancakes

10 Dec

For a less traditional savory breakfast, I enjoy the polenta-like, 100%-cornmeal, ‘Johnnycakes’ style of pancake with greens and eggs.

But for eating with maple syrup or a special occasion, I like a fluffy cornmeal-and-wheat-flour mix:

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From a little bit of experimentation, my current favorite recipe goes heavier on the cornmeal (50/50 mix with flour) for flavor and texture, and includes either buttermilk or some yogurt. For a small batch of about 7 pancakes (2 people):

Mix together dry:

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup white flour (or 1/4 cup whole wheat + 1/4 cup white)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder (or 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda**)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Then add and lightly whisk in:

  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 T melted butter
  • 2/3 to 1 cup* buttermilk depending on the desired texture
    • I’ve also had success substituting a 50/50 mix of milk and greek yogurt (without buttermilk you need something acidic to activate baking soda)

Pre-heat a skillet on medium-low (especially if it’s large compared to the burner, to ensure more uniform edge-to-center heat), cook batter until bubbles start to pop through on the top and the bottom’s browned, flip, cook a few more minutes.

For extra credit and a really fresh corn taste, use fresh-ground dried flour corn you grew in your garden:

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And then cook over a wood stove in an off-the-grid cabin:

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* Side note: Varying the amount of liquid really changed the pancakes. 2/3 cup buttermilk made a thick, almost cornbread-like batter (shown on the wood stove above), which resulted in a delicious, thicker, slower-cooking pancake. We actually preferred the texture of this one that’s a step toward cornbread. On the other hand, 1/2 cup yogurt + a bit over 1/2 cup milk led to the pancakes at the top of this post– light, spongey, and fluffy (and faster-cooking).

** Side note: Some day I’ll read and experiment more to get to the bottom of the baking powder vs. baking soda question— it’s not clear to me why some recipes combine both baking powder and baking soda– if the recipe includes acidic liquid like buttermilk or yogurt, I’d think that baking soda should suffice, whereas if you’re using double-acting baking powder with any liquid, I don’t see why you’d also need baking soda…

New Year’s Day chilaquiles and carnitas

2 Jan

The best part of having leftover pulled pork and salsa from New Year’s Eve dinner?

New Year’s Day carnitas chilaquiles (tortilla chips soaked in tomatillo salsa, topped with fatty pulled pork that’s been crisped under the broiler and mixed with a little orange juice, and a fried egg):

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Smoked Trout, Homemade Bagels

8 Aug

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I threw a little brunch for friends, with homemade bagels, salmon and trout I smoked over alder wood, gravlax cured by H, dry farmed early girl tomatoes (so good…), salted cucumbers, and other accoutrements.

For the bagels, I mostly used the tried and true recipe, though I tried retarding the dough (letting it rise slowly in a cold place overnight) in both a typical 40°F fridge and a special 55°F fridge I had set up with a temperature controller for fermenting experiments. The 40° dough rose less, but then swelled up when baked (see left bagels below– perhaps I didn’t boil them long enough this time?) They still tasted good, like bagels– but the dough retarded at 55° had an especially nice crackling crust around a chewy bagel. I’ll keep playing around with rising times and temperatures…

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For the trout and salmon I followed a four day “hot smoke” process based on the Russell Smallwood / Naked Whiz recipe. This produces savory, rich, cooked salmon and trout with a bit of a chewy crust– not a smoked cold/raw salmon like lox.

Wednesday evening I made a plain salt brine (I wanted to start with the basics this time before getting into spices, herbs, or sugar) and immersed a thick 2lb block of salmon and 2lbs of cleaned trout fillets (both skin-on) in it under weights overnight.

Thursday morning before work I rinsed the brine off both and set them out uncovered in a fridge to air dry for 36 hours, in the hope of developing more of a skin/pellicle when smoked.

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Friday night I fired up the kamado-style ceramic grill/smoker with lump charcoal and a few chunks of alder wood and stabilized it at the low temperature of 180°F (this took some effort and required sealing every spare crack of inlet space with foil to control the airflow). After one false start when I closed down the vents so much that I snuffed the fire, I got a steady slow burn going and popped in the salmon and trout. I let them smoke until 2AM (about 6 hours), which led to a heavily cured toothy smoked trout with a great skin, and a moderately cured salmon that was fully cooked but still moist in the middle (the salmon was much thicker to start– but I didn’t want to be getting up all night to check on it– maybe next time I’ll try a 12-hour smoke).

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I chilled the fish overnight, and Saturday morning they were ready to go for brunch. Mmm.

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There were plenty of smoked fish leftovers (though not as many as I expected making 5 lbs of fish for 9 people), and mixing it in to scrambled eggs with feta is my favorite leftover use so far…

I think the trout turned out amazingly good and have been snacking on it for days– I wouldn’t change anything. The salmon was also very good, but next time I want to try some more herbs and spices in the brine and perhaps a little sugar– and try smoking a part of it even longer to see if I can get a bit more of a dry “salmon jerky” crust outside the moist interior.

Quick Breakfast Tacos

26 Mar

Fried and braised a chorizo sausage to crumble, then scrambled some eggs w/ milk in the drippings. With homemade tortillas (Maseca, salt, water), quick-pickled carrots (cut thin, 20 minutes in vinegar) as a nice counterpoint to the fat, cheddar, and avocado.

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Poached Eggs, Nettles, First Spring Peas, Pepper, …

23 Mar

A nice breakfast at home after a long week:

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Poached eggs, spinach, nettles (good!), bacon, first peas of the season, and a dressing of olive oil, black pepper, poppy seeds, fresh horseradish, and orange juice.

First Poached Eggs

2 Feb

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The first time I’d poached an egg? Or at least the first time in a decade.

Tried the vinegar and whirlpool tricks: 3″ of water, a few tsp white vinegar, brought to a light simmer, stirred into a whirlpool, egg eased from a cup (pre-cracked) into the center of the vortex (seemed to help keep the white in the middle with it), then left alone for 3-4 minutes.

With great rye bread, chives/thyme/parsley from the window box, blood oranges, bacon.

Now back to work.

Edit: Poached another the next morning, on spinach, chick peas, sun-dried tomatoes, with olive oil / lemon juice /
cumin dressing. Excellent:

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Brunch: Beets, Potato Pancakes, Adult Salad

16 Dec

A vaguely Eastern European-inspired brunch. At the shopping level:

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Brunch is served (everyone sits in the living room):

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  • Mashed potato pancakes (just regular mashed potatoes made the night before with plenty of butter and milk, warmed in the oven morning-of, with fresh minced green onions mixed in before frying the patties)
  • Smoked fish (trout, mackerel) on dark rye and black sesame crackers
  • Pickled beets
  • Bloody Mary bar a.k.a. “Adult Salad” (tomato, vodka, fresh grated horseradish root (key!), cholula, pickled beans, olives, worcestershire, and oven-baked crispy bacon sticks for dunking)

And from friends, many things, including:

  • Deviled eggs (with mustard, yogurt instead of mayo, pickles, smoked paprika)
  • Fresh raisin scones

Good food and better company!

(I gave my usual food-prep obsession a break– I bought all the pickles instead of making them, made mashed potato pancakes instead of latkes to cut down on the morning-of labor so I could socialize more, and didn’t track down real farm-fresh eggs… I’ll have to assuage my guilt next time with some homemade bagels and trout I grab out of a fresh mountain stream with my bare hands, Gollum-style… or something)