I Can Cook! Who Knew?

In the past, I have stuck to three or four dishes that I managed to make repeatedly without somehow turning them into gastronomic catastrophes. I did attempt to branch out on several occasions, but for someone who has a hard time not burning toast, it came as no surprise that my eggplant turned into pudding and my vegetarian casserole had such a bizarre flavour that it met its end in the sewer system before the end of the night. Thanks to my much more culinarily talented spouse, the Palinode, my eyes have been opened to a previously hidden ability.

He brought Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food into our home, and I am smitten with it. I have the old standby Joy of Cooking, but that cookbook has not made cooking as simple and enjoyable an experience as How to Cook Everything. Armed with this book, it turns out that I can not only cook but also that the food I create is actually edible and, on top of that, GOOD.

My successes with the recipes from How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food have me feeling so confident in the kitchen that I have even begun to play around with recipes sometimes, and although that is not always an advisable course of action, it can have happy results, such as my personal take on Bittman's "Basic Pancakes". He already has a yogurt version of his pancakes listed, but I was out of both milk and baking soda, so I had to stick to his basic recipe, make a couple of substitutions, and hope for the best.

The pancakes I made turned out wonderfully, and so I decided to share my discovery with you.


Schmutzie's Yogurt Pancakes
(serves 4 to 6)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups plain yogurt
1 to 1½ cups cold water
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
butter or oil for cooking if you are not using a non-stick pan

Heat your pan over medium heat while making the batter.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Beat the eggs together until they appear more or less homogeneous.
Stir the melted and cooled butter into the yogurt, and then stir the mixture into the beaten eggs.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. This will create what looks like dough. Don't worry.
Add one cup of water and stir gently with a whisk until the dough becomes a liquid batter. If the batter looks too thick, add water a little at a time while stirring until it has the thickness you want. If you are not sure about the batter's thickness, fry one pancake to see if the batter spreads out in the pan the way you want it to. It is best that the batter be a little too thick than too runny.
Use a ladle to pour small amounts of batter onto the pan. Let the pancakes brown for between two and four minutes on one side. When the edges of the pancakes have become dull, flip them and allow the other side to brown.

These pancakes have a subtle sourdough flavour due to the yogurt, so they offer an excellent flavour contrast to sweet toppings like syrup and unsalted butter.

Throw some blueberries, shaved almonds, or whatever strikes your fancy into the batter before cooking to dress them up.

If you use pancake mix, get rid of it, because this recipe takes just five minutes longer to make than the instant, and it tastes so much better. Also, you can't beat knowing what all the ingredients are in your food.

Embrace your carbs!

November NaBloPoMo 2008

Intrepid Tuesday: Edition #7