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    Entries in homemade is best (62)

    Friday
    May272011

    Pancakes with Homemade Blueberry Syrup - No Mayhem?

    That’s right, pancakes.  I know, it seems like something so basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve seen thin, rubbery discs served with maple flavored corn syrup.  Pancakes should be soft and fluffy, and nothing beats homemade fruit syrup. 

    Let’s start with the syrup.  I like to make it the night before so that it has plenty of time to cool.  It is so simple to make your own syrup, I don’t know why no one does it.  It takes only three ingredients and probably 20 minutes or less. 

     

    So, here’s what you need. 

    1 heaping cup blueberries
    ¾ cup sugar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon butter (optional)

    Yes, I know I said three ingredients, and there are four listed, but the butter is not strictly necessary.  Its only purpose is to prevent foam.  Either fresh or frozen blueberries will work just fine for this.  I had a big bag of frozen ones, so that’s what I used.  If you use frozen, you’ll need time for them to thaw before making the syrup.  Once you have a heaping cup of thawed blueberries, throw them into the blender with 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Blend until smooth. 

    Pour the puree into a sauce pan and add the sugar. 

    You’ll notice my sugar always looks a bit off white.  That’s because I always use organic sugar, and it’s less refined.  Anyway, stir in the sugar and add the butter. 

    Turn the burner to medium heat and stir constantly until it comes to a boil.  Allow it to boil for about 2 minutes.  The bubbles will start to kind of stack up on top of each other like this:

    That’s it.  You’ve successfully made blueberry syrup!  Just pour it into a glass container and allow it to cool.  Be careful, though, mixtures like this are VERY hot. 

    Now onto the pancakes. 

     

     

    Ingredients:

    2 large eggs
    1 ¼ cups buttermilk
    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 ½ cups flour
    ¾ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 tablespoons sugar

     

     

     

     

    I know your first question will be do I have to use buttermilk?  Yes, you do.  Regular milk will not produce the same results.  You can apparently add vinegar to regular milk to simulate buttermilk, but the idea squicks me out a bit, so if you want to do that, you’ll have to google it yourself. 

    Ok, pancakes.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl (or measuring cup) whisk together the wet ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk briefly.  You just want to get everything thoroughly combined.  A few remaining lumps will be fine. 

    I like to use a griddle so that I can make several pancakes at once, but a pan will work just fine.  Using a paper towel, butter the griddle. 

    Wipe most of the butter off so you can just barely see it on the surface. 

    When the griddle reaches 350° you’re ready to cook.  If you're using a pan, you can test the temperature with a drop of water.  It should start to sizzle as soon as it touches the pan.  If it just sits there, the pan isn’t hot enough.  If it skips right off the surface, it’s too hot.  Pour your batter for whatever size pancakes you want. 

    I think I used about ⅓ cup of batter for each one.

    Allow them to cook until you see bubbles on top and the edges start to look dry. 

    Now’s the time to flip.  Cook them for a couple more minutes.  They should be golden brown on both sides and should spring back if you press lightly on the surface. 

    Stack them up and drizzle them with your fabulous blueberry syrup. 

    Fluffy, tender, delicious.  
     
           

    Thursday
    Mar032011

    PITA - and I don't mean Pain In The Ass.

     

    I’ve been having a serious craving for a pita sandwich, and well, I don’t really have a place to get good pita bread.  On top of that, Seeley’s last post made me really want to try my hand at hummus, and what’s my favorite accompaniment to hummus?  You guessed it… pita bread.  Well, as I’ve learned with a lot of other things, when you can’t buy what you want, make it.  So I did. 

     

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    1 ½ - 2 cups all purpose flour

    1 cup whole wheat flour

    1 packet active dry yeast*

    1 ¼ warm water

    2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar

    ½ teaspoon salt

     

    I really like to use my stand mixer for making bread, but if you don’t have one, feel free to pull out the ol’ wooden spoon and elbow grease.  Either way, in your mixing bowl, put a teaspoon of sugar and about ½ cup of the warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  *(if you’re using instant yeast you can skip this step and just throw everything into the bowl together)

     

    Stir it in and give it a good five minutes or so.  If you’re yeast is healthy, you should start to see bubbles.  This means your yeast is working.

     

    Add the rest of the water and the remaining ingredients to the bowl, minus ½ cup of the all purpose flour.  (so just 1 cup of each flour at this point)

     

    Mix on medium low speed until it comes together into a messy dough. 

     

    Switch to your dough hook and sprinkle the reserved ½ cup of flour over the top. 

    Knead on medium speed for 5 – 7 minutes (if you’re kneading by hand, it’ll be about 10 minutes).  If, after a minute or two, the dough is still really sticky and hasn’t cleaned the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough cleans itself off the sides of the bowl. 

     

    While it’s kneading, butter the sides and bottom of a bowl or container at least twice the size of the dough.  With floured hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and shape it into a ball-ish shape.  Place it into the bowl and turn it to get butter on the bottom side, then flip it over. 

     

    This helps to keep it from drying out while it rises.  Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and leave it for about an hour.  When you come back, it should have nearly doubled in size.  Flour your surface, dump out the dough, and sprinkle it with more flour.  Deflate it with your knuckles. 

     

    Flatten the dough and fold it into a packet/envelope like shape.  This makes it easy to divide the dough into mostly equal pieces without having to weigh them. 

     

    My dough cutting tool of choice is a pizza wheel, but you could use a knife.  Cut the dough in half.

    Cut the halves in half.  Cut the quarters in half. 

     

    Take a piece of dough and flatten into a disk.

    Fold the sides together, turn it a quarter turn and fold the opposite sides together.                                                                                                                     

    Turn and fold.  Turn and fold. 

     

    When they’re all pinched together, put your hand over the ball of dough like a loose cage and move it in little circles.  This will tighten everything up. 

     

    Set the finished balls of dough aside and keep them covered with a damp towel. 

    I doubled the recipe so that I would have leftovers, because they freeze beautifully, and this is where you would do that.  Any you don’t want to bake immediately, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place them in the freezer.  When they’re frozen (like 3 hours) drop them into freezer bags and freeze them until you want to use them.  When you’re ready, just thaw, and continue on from here. 

     

    First we need to prep the oven.  Place a sheet pan upside down on the bottom rack, and remove any other racks.  Then heat your oven to 450°.

     

    On a well floured surface, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your palm.  Then roll it with a rolling pin, turning a quarter turn between each pass to keep it from sticking.  It should be no more than ¼ inch thick.  Cover, once again with a damp towel until you’re ready to put them into the oven.

     

    When the oven is hot, throw the disks of dough onto the sheet pan. 

     

    Within a minute or two, something magical will happen and they’ll do this:

     

    After about 5 minutes they should start to brown slightly.  Using a metal spatula, carefully remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack or plate. 

     

    ***Be very careful!  They are filled with extremely hot steam!

     

    As they cool they’ll start to deflate.  You might have to help them along once they’ve cooled down if they’re still a little puffy.  Wrap in a kitchen towel to keep them soft, or serve them while they’re still warm.  Cut them into wedges and serve with hummus or as a side to chili or soup.  Or open them up and fill them with your favorite sandwich ingredients.  I like smoked turkey, shredded sharp cheddar, avocado and tons of sprouts. 

     

    What’s your favorite thing to do with a pita?            

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