A couple weeks ago my friend and I made what some deem as the “World’s Best Pancake Recipe.” Who considers this the best pancake recipe? Who really knows. Never-the-less we made them anyway. Our pancakes turned out fluffy and golden brown, crispy on the outside and light and airy on the inside. Everything a pancake should be. Real buttermilk is absolutely key in this recipe and makes a big difference.
So is this really the best pancake recipe out there? Probably not. But these pancakes were pretty darn good!
The following are two dishes that make me feel more French than I’ll ever be (both recipes are from the brilliant Julie Child):
First and foremost, Ratatouille.
Other than a delightful Pixar movie (“Rat and patootie…RATPATOOTIE!!”), ratatouille is a traditional french vegetable dish. Typically roasted, ratatouille has strong flavors and a butt load of variations. This dish makes a great accompaniment to roasts or chicken or any dish really.
In the words of Julia Child, “A ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated.” Cool with me.
Peel and cut the eggplant into 3 inch long slices. Cut the zucchini into slices and peel. Place those vegetables in a bowl, cover with water and let rest for 30 minutes. Drain.
Saute the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and a little salt in a skillet. One minute on each side until browned. Set aside.
Cook the onions with the olive oil in the same skillet for 10 minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the garlic and add salt and pepper.
Peel the tomatoes and boil for 30 seconds. Cut into slices. Lay them over the onions in the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover. Pour the juice from the skillet over the tomatoes. Raise heat and boil for several minutes until the juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Put a third of the tomatoes mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of parsley. Then put half of the eggplant and zucchini on top. Then the second third of the tomatoes and so on until you have three layers of vegetables and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for 15 minutes more, basting several times, until the juices have evaporated. Be careful to not let your vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Set aside uncovered and add a tablespoon of olive oil for flavor. Serve hot, reheat slowly at serving time, or serve cold.
Crepes are essentially very thin pancakes. You can eat them how with a little syrup or fruit. This is the way I usually eat them. There are versions that wrap a crepe around sweet fruit filling or savory fillings like meats, cheese and vegetables too.
It takes some time to perfect the art of the French crepe. Don’t get discouraged. Practice makes perfect, right? Keep on trying. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. I’ve killed many crepes to get to the point I am at today.
Put the liquids, eggs and salt into a blender. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of the jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time.
Brush the skillet lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke. Immediately remove from heat and pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl. You want your crepes to be about 1/16 inch thick.
Return the pan to the heat for 60 to 80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula. If the underside is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.
Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas; or grasp the edges nearest you in your fingers and sweep it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle; or toss it over by a flip of the pan (some day, I will master this skill!!)
Brown lightly for 30 seconds on the other side. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate. Crepes may be kept warm by covering them with a dish and setting them over simmering water or in an over set to low heat.
Grease the skillet again, heat to just smoking, and repeat with the rest of the batter.
SERVE with practically anything - Butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar, or berries and fresh whipped cream, or make it a savory feast with spinach and cheese, or nutella and bananas and chocolate drizzle.