Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beach Plum Syrup

Shlepping a cooler, a baby, sandpails and wet towels, we are finally ready to leave Lambert's Cove Beach. My little guys and I embark on the long trek down the beach, up a dune and through the woods to our car.

We've overstayed. And bedtimes are dangerously approaching.

In our defense, that thing that happens happened tonight: Lamberts Cove just gets nicer and nicer as the afternoon flows into evening. As the summer winds down, this only happens more intensely.

A perfect August scene: warm, wind-less and dry makes us feel like there is nowhere else on earth we'd rather be.

And, then oblivious to the bedtime rituals that await, O starts picking beach plums. Still clutching the heavy bags and wiggly baby, as the clock nears 7pm, I feel the powdery sand under my feet and let him lead me into dunes to pick from the low bushes.

Without a word, we both know where our precious blue, purple and rosy plums are going . . .

Right into our Sunday morning.

Usually featured in jams, meat sauces or liquors, we dropped these antioxidant & vitamin c-rich plums into a sweet breakfast sauce.

Beach Plum Syrup
serves 4
1 T local honey
1 big handful of beach plums, pitted & halved
1 T+ water
1 t orange zest

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat ingredients for about ten minutes. 

Serve over your favorite breakfast carbs with a kiss of maple syrup. The lively flavor, vivid color and memories of plum-picking are sure to give your morning a boost.

PS Our pancake ritual was featured in Simplicity Parenting's newsletter this month. We are so pleased and honored!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August Corncakes with Warm Cherry Sauce

 I have fond memories of buying corn from roadside stands on Long Island for 10 cents each. Sadly, corn has gotten some well-deserved bad press in recent years. (I've learned why it only cost 10 cents!)

We now only buy it from nearby Morning Glory Farm. Their corn is famously flavorful, sweet and free of GMO's. For weeks and weeks, we eat it ear after ear-  usually grilled at barbecues and again in the next day's salads.

We are also dazzled by juicy summer cherries. Especially since O has discovered 
the delight of cherry-pit-pitting at the beach! Today's recipe combines these two summer stars in a worthy pancake recipe.

August Corncakes with Warm Cherry Sauce 

serves 4
slightly adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck
1 c organic cornmeal
1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 T olive oil
optional 1/2 c of leftover corn from last night's BBQ

cherry sauce
2 c sweet pitted cherries
(10 ounces; do not thaw if using frozen)
1/4 c plus 1 T water
1/4 c honey
2 t orange zest
3 whole cloves
2 t cornstarch

For pancakes: whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and olive oil. Pour buttermilk mixture over dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix- some small lumps should remain. Let rest for 10 minutes. (It's fine to let it sit overnight, too.)

For cherry sauce: Combine cherries, 1/4 c water and honey, orange zest and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, cover partially and let flavors meld for at least 10 minutes. Combine cornstarch and remaining 1 T water in a small bowl. Add to saucepan with cherries and bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring gently. Cook until mixture thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve. Or prepare up to 3 days ahead and warm before serving.

To make pancakes, heat greased griddle over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzles and briskly evaporates on surface, add 1/4 c batter per pancake. Cook until edges look dry and bottoms turn golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden, about 1 minute.
Continue . . .

Enjoy your final week of August! We're hoping to make a Menemsha sunset this week and just hang on to our final days together-- chowing corn and spitting cherry pits.

[Caution- Soapbox moment . . . I think if we want kiddos to eat well- a way to start is trying simple twists on everyday favorites. Some different flavors, textures, colors. These pancakes might be a good start. Then a chickpea-kale-feta-farro dish may seem way less scary!]

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wild Berry Millet Pancakes topped with Frozen Yogurt

Our family is all abuzz about the upcoming fair, which is celebrating its 153rd anniversary. It is exciting-- watching rides arrive and wondering if O will be tall enough to ride the Ferris wheel this year. There's been a lot of talk about entering our paintings, nature crafts, muffins and more.

Yesterday, when we matted my raspberry photograph (above) for fairy entry, we learned from the cashier at  Educomp Art Supply Store that these were actually wineberries. A relative of the raspberry.

Whatever they are, these thimble-shaped berries with a pleasingly tart taste make us grin each day we pick and eat them.

Who knows if my photos or O's nature mobile will be blue ribbon-worthy? We'll find out in a few days at the Fair. We only wish the Fair had a pancake category- these wild berry millet pancakes are sure winners. On second thought, they could easily pass for dessert  . . .

Wild Berry Millet Pancakes topped with Frozen Yogurt
slightly adapted from Simply Organic
serves 4
1/3 c millet
2 eggs
1 1/3 c buttermilk
1/4 maple syrup
2 T neutral oil (we chose organic coconut oil- you could use olive oil)
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c whole grain pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t sea salt
1 pint raspberries, wineberries, any berries!
1 pint frozen vanilla yogurt (we used coconut milk ice cream 'cause that what we had on hand)
Hello, Ancient Millet!
We love you for your mild, nutty flavor and wealth of protein, nutrients and fiber.

Toast millet in a medium saucepan over medium heat, shaking often for 3 minutes. Add 1 c water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce head to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, but do no remove cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Combine eggs, buttermilk, syrup, oil and vanilla.

In a large bowl, combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Form a well in center and pour in buttermilk mixture. Stir to incorporate but do not overmix. Add millet and stir gently.

Lightly oil and heat griddle. Drop batter by scant 1/4 c. and cook for 3 minutes (or until uncooked side begins to bubble). Flip over and cook for 2 minutes or until browned.

Serve with frozen yogurt, berries, maple syrup and butter.

It was silence at first bite with these, like they cast a spell over our breakfast table.

We'll crave these again soon- the sprinkling of millet gave them tender chewy bite. And the cool, creamy, melting frozen yogurt over sweet and sour wineberries, outshown maple syrup for once!

This, too, will happen to you!

Whatever turns up in your pint container, this flapjack recipe is a winning complement.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We'll Never Tell Blackberry Pancakes

What a bonus to our usual neighborhood strolls! We were all elated upon discovering this fruitful bush!

While O and I braved the prickers and poison ivy surrounding these gems, my baby boy waited in the stroller patiently (for once!), plied with blackberries.

Something about grasping a berry at its peak, before the birds, feels triumphant. A return to the way our ancestors lived. The pride of discovery. The thrill of thriftiness.

We picked and tasted. Tasted and picked. Nostalgia and euphoria buzzed through the air. For a few minutes, we were living the pages of a Robert McCloskey book.

My boys and I continued walking once our blackberry high subsided. We playfully schemed about how we'd avoid telling any passersby about the location of this magical bush, if they happened to notice our bounty or our seedy grins and stained fingers.

We agreed we'd never tell.

At least not for 10 seconds anyway. We soon ran into the nicest neighbor-friend and offered her a berry and . . . and the truth just tumbled out! Well, now that the secret's out, we might as well throw in a super recipe, too.

We'll Never Tell Blackberry Pancakes
adapted from Amy’s Cooking Adventures Original Recipe
Serves 4
1 ¼ c whole wheat flour
2/3 c unbleached all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t sea salt
1 1/2 heaping T brown sugar
1 1/2+ cup buttermilk (we got sick of buying buttermilk and used this site to make our own)
1 1/2 T olive or softened organic coconut oil
1-2 eggs
1 c blackberries, mashed
3/4 T orange zest

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, and egg.

In a third bowl, mash the blackberries with a fork. Stir in the orange zest.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (batter will still be very lumpy). Fold in the blackberry mixture. Thin mix with extra buttermilk, if desired.

Drop 2-3 tablespoons full of batter onto a hot skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned on one side. Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side.

Tell us you don't love their spongy texture and citrus notes!

O enjoyed photoshop this morning . . .

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Here's a bonus recipe . . .
O's Auntie Trish, who just berry picked on Long Island, recommends an awesome smoothie, which we've been loving, too. Blend: coconut milk, frozen banana, blackberries. Like a dessert.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Starstruck Zucchini Pancakes

If our library gave out miles, we'd have a free trip to Tahiti. We love our library. And, I'll shamelessly admit that we often check out cookboks (and . . . bend page corners. eek! dirty little secret!).

One hot-off-the-press cookbook (Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes & Stories by professional chef turned farmer Susie Middleton) recently screamed, "Buy me!" as we started folding so many page corners, it was beyond rude.

Although the stories and photographs are first-rate, it's her recipes, complete with useful tips, that won us over. Gourmet adult food that is still kid-friendly. Just what we love. O, my baby boy and I have made her addictive 'road house dipping sauce' for veggies and 'molasses crinkle cookies,' together, as a team. And some days, while my little guys have napped, I've prepped her 'swiss chard quesadillas' and 'quick & spicy sunbutter (our sub for peanut butter) noodles with tat soi'. Each was notably delicious and I am no notable cook.

When it came time to make Susie's zucchini pancakes, we decided to visit her at her very own Green Island Farm Stand to buy her squash (O grew the herbs). I was shocked to see her in the flesh- the magician of a cookbook writer- arranging flowers in a purposeful, but relaxed manner. I've never had the experience of being starstruck, but there I was, wishing I could think of something brilliant to say. (you'd think I'd be used to celebrity sightings given where we live!)

I realize that brilliance isn't always about having a big mouth. So instead, we gave her a smile and an introduced ourselves as 'the pancake bloggers,' for the first time in our lives, and began chatting easily about how crazy the Island is in the summer.

Here's our take on her awesome zucchini pancakes, reminiscent of ones we've had the Artcliff Diner. For her original recipe, you'll have to hit your library, or better yet, your local bookstore . . .

Starstruck Zucchini Pancakes
serves 4
3T unsalted butter, plus more for frying
1 T olive oil, plus more for frying
1 1/2 c shredded zucchini (we had way more than this)
sea salt
1 1/4 c. fresh, organic corn kernals (from 2-3 ears, can be made without corn, too)
1/2 c. sliced fresh scallions (white & light green parts)
1/2 to 1 t minced fresh serrano peppers (we skipped this re. kiddos!)
freshly ground black pepper
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T sliced fresh chives
1/4 c millet flour (use all millet for gluten-free)
1/4 c + 1 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c organic cornmeal
2 t sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 c whole milk
2 T plain thick Greek yogurt, plus more for serving
local honey for serving

In a medium heavy saucepan, heat 1/2 T oil and butter or medium heat. Add zucchini and a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is shrunken a bit and starting to brown lightly, about 3 minutes.

Add another 1/2 T butter, the corn, scallions, serranos and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until kernels are glistening and some slightly shrunken, about 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let cool. Stir in parsley & chives. 

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 t salt. Make a well in the center.

Melt remaining 2 T butter and let cool. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg, milk, yogurt and melted butter. Add mixture to dry ingredients, whisking until just combined. Stir in zucchini/corn mixture. Let batter sit for 5 minutes. We let ours sit for a few hours.

In a large skillet, heat 1/2 T butter and 1 T olive oil over medium heat. When butter has melted and is bubbling, pour 1/4 c batter into pan. Cook for about 2 minutes (edges should be golden brown with lots of bubbles on top). Flip and cook for another minute. Repeat.

I think they tasted like cornbread- sweet and fluffy!
Reid asked, "why not serve them for breakfast with maple syrup and butter?"
O didn't need any toppings.
The entire batch was quickly devoured. Requests are already in to make these again.