Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breakfast of champions

Watching the Olympics now and then (waiting patiently for the triathalon..) and this morning it was diving: the Men's 3m springboard event.

I love to watch the Chinese divers, true technicians of their sport, in their quest to achieve medals for their country. The Russian (a 30-something) veteran, having competed in a total of 5 Olympic Games, is a sentimental favourite. The Australian father of two who has come out of retirement (and deferred medical studies) to compete and the young but accomplished (silver medalist in Athens) Canadian from Montréal.. both with an eye on the podium.
So what's for a gold medal hopeful breakfast?

Buttermilk pancakes with quick sticky apples.

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Pancakes (makes 6):

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 1/2 c buttermilk (or sub whole milk with 1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar in the measure)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter

Blend dry ingredients. Beat eggs in bowl, add buttermilk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir briefly. Swirl in melted butter. Combine mixture until just blended. Don't overmix. It will start to raise slightly in the bowl. Ladle out about 1/2 c mixture onto lightly greased frypan and spread out slightly to make a 12cm-15cm pancake or leave as thick as you like. When uncooked surface is dotted with bubbles and edges look dry but not too brown, flip and resist the urge to flatten. The leavening action of the baking powder is still at work and any squashing at this point will deflate any and all hopes of pancake fluffiness.

This batter can also hold approximately half a cup or so of mashed banana, a few tablespoons of ricotta or the substitution of 1/4 c of the flour for 1/4 c whole grain flour. Other nice additions, depending on your choice of fruit for the sauce, are a bit of zest (orange or lemon) and a pinch of cinnamon. They are also wonderful with a variety of fresh fruit and a dusting of icing sugar.

But for more autumnal/wintery pancakes.. quick sticky apples.

Have ready about 1 apple per person. Peel if desired. Apples can either be cut in half and sliced lengthwise or widthwise into rings. Rings are pretty but I like the thin slices best. You can cut thick slices if you prep and cook the sauce in advance.

Over med high heat, melt ~2 tablespoons of butter in sauté pan and sprinkle in 2-3 tablespoons of brown or demerrera sugar (or any combination of maple sirup, apple cider and brown sugar) over the melting butter. Add sliced apples and turn to coat. This amount of butter and sugar is good for about 2 large-medium or 3 small apples. Apple cider or cloudy apple juice can also be added to to up the apple ante. I like a few tablespoons (a splash or so) along with the sirup to lend a bit more fruity sweetness.

Cook over medium heat until all is bubbly and starting to thicken slightly. Use a spatula to gently help coax all the glorious sticky apple sauce over the pancakes.

When in season, Central peaches (my favourite), nectarines or plums all work really well. Sugar can be adjusted accordingly (if used at all) as these fruits are softer and sweeter than your average apple. I slice 2-3 peaches fairly thinly, half a centimeter or so, add to the butter with only a tablespoon of brown sugar (just enough to boost the level of caramelisation) and finish with a squeeze of half a peach just for a little added juice. Summer in a sauté pan.



Still, for the purist, nothing but maple sirup will do. For me, these used to merely serve as vehicle for the ingestion of as much sirup as is possible by an 8-year old.. Even though that wasn't yesterday and I have less of a sweet tooth nowadays, I remember it well.

I also remember the Olympics in Moscow.. I begged for a trampoline (years before they became standard issue) and cartwheeled around the back section for hours on end after watching the gymnastic events. Golden grass-stained days.

2 comments:

Barbara said...

delicious Mary. Pancakes are the HHDD theme this month.

Do you still have the same email? I just forwarded you an interesting article written by a women doing her thesis on cheese.

Mary said...

Thank you Barbara,

These were a favourite of mine growing up (although they were originally a blueberry pancake, I leave them out since wild bog berries are rare and cultivated aren't the same) and are still a staple.

Also a fav when living in Oz.. *sigh* with banana in the mix, mango in the sauce and a bit of shredded fresh coconut(sometimes toasted). So easy and in Bowen, the home of the big mango, what else? I've probably been spoiled on this combo forever. Simply the best.

Email is the same tks.. I'll keep an eye for the article.