Sunday, March 20, 2011

Best Pancakes Ever?

I received a recipe via email last Sunday. It was entitled "The Best Pancake Recipe." I thought it sounded promising, and looked easy. I could BAKE the pancake!

Turns out, the thing that came out of my oven was not at all a pancake in the traditional sense. Given the composition (lots of sugar, not much flour, lots of eggs) I should have recognized it for what it would end up being: a custard. Yes, a slightly more meaty custard than something like creme brulee. But certainly a custard. I do think this would have been lovely as a light dessert. It really isn't a breakfast item. So, I'm kind of disappointed.

Pros: This was super easy. And it looks really pretty once its done.
Cons: None, if you wanted a dessert.


1 large or 2 small ripe pears (I used anjou)
1/2 cup sugar (set 1.5 tablespoons aside in a small dish)
1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9" cake round with vegetable oil.
2. Peel, core, and slice the pear into thin wedges. Layer on the bottom of the pan.
3. In a food processor, combine the large portion of the sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, butter, and the pinch of salt. Process until combined, about 30 seconds.
4. Pour the liquid mix over the pears. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is springy.
5. Remove from oven. Turn the broiler on. Combine the remaining sugar and the cinnamon in a small dish, then sprinkle the mixture over the top of the pancake. But in the broiler. Broil in 1 minute increments until the top is a beautiful golden brown color.

Word to the wise: be careful with the broiler. My broiler has two settings, so I put it on low. It was taking forever, and I was getting impatient. So I put it on high AND left it for two minutes without checking. Mistake. Big mistake. Definitely ended up with a little bit too brown top. Oh well.

Another word to the wise: Let this set for a bit before trying to plate it. The custard needs to cool and settle. You can always plate it and reheat it a bit. But if you try to cut it and put it on a plate just a few minutes after it comes out of the oven it will crumble into a pile of mush.

Definitely a dessert. Not a breakfast dish.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stuffed French Toast!

So, this may sound strange, but I had never made french toast until I tried this recipe. Its not like I haven't done elaborate breakfast dishes before. But, for whatever reason, I've just never been inspired to make french toast. And I don't know why I decided to make french toast on this occassion, either! But I spent a week trying to decide what I wanted to do, and I ended up with a delicious decision. I was going to make french toast stuffed with pecan mascarpone filling. I had some mascarpone that was fast approaching (or passing!) its best by date. And I'm really into pecans right now. Its a phase.

This recipe may sound like it might be kind of complicated and fancy-shmancy-pantsy. But it was much easier than I had expected.

Anyways, here's what you'll need to make this recipe: (Serves 4)
Day old bread. I went with challah, but I think brioche would have been a nice choice as well.
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 an orange, juiced
1.5 tsps orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 container (8oz) mascarpone
1 cup pecans, chopped (plus a handful for garnish, if you decide to go that way)
2 tablespoons butter

Whisk together the eggs, cream, orange juice, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a bowl. I actually used a pyrex dish for this.

Combine the mascarpone and chopped pecans. Spread the mixture on the pieces of bread. Make a sandwich with two pieces of bread, and then let them sit in the cream mixture for about 1.5 minutes on each side. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat, and melt half of the butter. Once the butter is melted, cook two of the sandwiches at a time until golden brown on both sides. This may take about 5 minutes per side. Once the first sandwiches are done, set them on a plate, melt the second half of the butter, and cook the rest of the french toast.

I put homemade whipped cream on my french toast and garnished with some pecans and segements of orange. And, of course, maple syrup. Delicious!

Don't get intimidated. This is actually pretty easy, and as long as you've had a cup of coffee before starting, I'm confident you can make delicious french toast at home.

Herb Roasted Shrimp

This is a great little recipe. Requires almost no effort, very little time, and turns out looking elegant and tasting delicious. My kind of recipe!

What you'll need:
6 tablespoons olive oil
6-10 sprigs thyme
3 large sprigs of rosemary, halved
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400. Combine the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and pepper in a 13x9 pan. Bake the oil in the oven until the herbs are aromatic, which should take about 12 minutes. Remove the oil from the oven, and add the shrimp to the mixture. Toss the shrimps with tongs until they are coated with oil. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are just a bit pink.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately mix in the salt and the vinegar. Toss the shrimps again, and then let them stand for about 5 minutes.

And that's it! I served this over some quinoa that I made in a rice cooker. I tossed the quinoa with a little salt and champagne vinegar to give it the same notes, and used some of the excess oil as a sauce. On the side I served sauteed spinach with roasted tomatoes and garlic. Everything was very simple, really tasty, healthy/wholesome, and safe for my guest (she is lactose intolerant and allergic to gluten). As Charlie Sheen would say: Winning.