Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cornmeal pancakes

I'm beginning to realize that the majority of recipes I have blogged about heavily feature carbohydrates. What can I say - I love bready foods! As such, my recipe seeking eyes are constantly in tune to new recipes that deliver carbs in a healthy fashion. I knew I'd hit the jackpot in Mark Bittman's January 14th blog post in The Minimalist called "For Whole-Grain Pancakes, Try a Little Tenderness" I saved all of the recipes in the collection and this morning, after waking up to grey skies and cool temps, I decided it was time to experiment with the Cornmeal Pancakes with Vanilla and Pinenuts.

Here is the recipe that Bittman suggests, with my notes in italics:

Cornmeal Pancakes With Vanilla and Pine Nuts

Time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups fine or medium cornmeal (I used fine organic cornmeal and it worked well)

1 teaspoon salt (The one complaint I had was that the cakes came out really salty - I'd cut the salt in half next time)

1/2 cup milk, or more as needed (I accomplished my butter-making adventure yesterday, which I will blog about later, so I used the leftover buttermilk in this recipe, and it worked great. I did end up using more than the recipe called for, because I wanted flatter cakes. In all, I probably used between 3/4 and 1 cup)

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for frying (I choose to use extra virgin olive oil, figuring that it would give them somewhat bland sounding cakes an extra level of complexion)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I love vanilla so I dumped in more than a teaspoon - probably closer to 2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup pine nuts (I used about 1/4 a cup and it added the perfect amount of crunch)

Honey, for serving. (Because my honey is a crystalized mass now, I used maple syrup instead, which was of course delicious)

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Combine the cornmeal, salt and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a bowl and let it sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water and softens, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the milk, a little at a time, until the batter is spreadable but still thick. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil, the vanilla and the pine nuts.

3. Put a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. When a few drops of water dance on its surface, add a thin film of oil and let it become hot. Spoon out the batter, making any size pancakes you like. Cook until bubbles form on the top and burst and the underside is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes; turn and cook on the other side until golden. You may have to rotate the cakes to cook them evenly, depending on the heat source and pan. As they finish, transfer them to a plate in the oven while you cook the remaining batter. Serve with honey.

Overall, I'd say this was a yummy and really easy recipe. The flavor reminded me a little of arapas, and the cornmeal added a beautiful golden color and chewy texture. I'd definitely make these again and I think the recipe is stable enough to handle a variety of additions and alterations. I can imagine a savory one with herbs and cheese, and a sweeter one with blueberries and crushed almonds. If you end up making them, let me know how they come out!

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