I've learned to enjoy the Food Network. I used to not like watching it. At all. I mean, what's the point? The chefs/cooks or whatever-you-call-them would run through the recipe so blazing fast that I often wondered how could anyone remember what they cooked or how they cooked it or whatever. But, when I started nursing Evan I'd flip on the TV and there was nothing on worth watching except shows on the Food Network. And I became a great fan.
I've learned SO MUCH about cooking, shortcuts, and gadgets that have helped me improve my cooking. I've always enjoyed cooking and now I enjoy it SO MUCH MORE with all the helpful tips and tricks I've learned. I wish I kept better documentation on what I've learned from these pros, but now the tricks have become second nature to me in the kitchen. Things that I do remember learning are:
1. You need to have a good, sharp knife. And you do. Really.
2. You need to have a good zester. I had a poor one and when I got a good one, I was hooked.
3. Onions are like underwear...you should have them on all of your dinner dishes!!! (and they are in practically all of mine...)
Wow, that's all I remember right now...
Anyway, I was watching a program the other night called "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" where chef Bobby Flay (based in NYC) finds the masters in different kinds of cooking and then try to out-cook them. Well, in the first episode I saw, he challenged a master pancake maker to a throwdown in making blueberry pancakes. In their discussions, they rattled off how to make these and what their secrets are. I was blown away that I was using the EXACT same ingredients as the Clinton Street Baking Company in NYC (except for their secret ingredient, whatever that was...), but I was just missing out on certain steps to make these pancakes fabulous. And after trying out their tricks, I have learned that I can also make finger-lickin' fabulous-o pancakes. The secret is separating the egg, beating the egg whites to a nice fluff and then folding it into the batter at the end before spooning the batter onto the griddle.
So, I here now impart my pancake wisdom. Don't buy Jiffy or Bisquick EVER AGAIN!!! Do it this way...you should have all the ingredients in your cupboard. And if you don't, go out and put these ingredients in your cupboard. And I challenge you to make them, additional steps and all. You will be pleased.
Pancakes (makes 16-18 pancakes)
2 cups of All-Purpose Flour (for healthier pancakes, substitute some or all of the flour with Whole Wheat Flour)
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 c. White or Brown Sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Eggs, seperated
1 1/2 c Milk (if you want, add 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar for a buttermilk taste)
1 Tbsp Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 tsp vanilla or maple extract
1. Heat your griddle on medium high heat. Start heating it before making your batter so it will be nice an hot when you're ready to pour your batter.
2. In one bowl, whisk together dry ingredients
3. In another bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients and egg yolks (do not add the egg whites yet!)
4. Add your wet ingredients (minus egg whites) to your dry ingredients and stir (by hand, people) until just blended *Note: I made a mistake here. I used to beat with a hand mixer and I over-mixed the ingredients. There will be lumps when hand-stirring, but that's OK. Just don't mix it until it's smooth!!!
5. Rinse out the bowl for the wet ingredients and dry it out (or just use another bowl...). Add the egg whites to the clean bowl. Beat the egg whites (with a mixer this time or if you want to use a whisk, more power to ya!) until nice a fluffy, about 2 minutes.
6. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter until just mixed.
Now, your batter is ready. Spoon it onto your griddle and make some AWESOME pancakes!
Here are some extra tips I've tried and work deliciously:
1. If you want some REALLY good pancakes, butter the griddle. I'm trying to cut back on the fat, though, and this is a step that I'm willing to let go of, especially since I use a Teflon pan and don't have a problem with my pancakes sticking.
2. If you want to add something to your pancakes, like blueberries or chocolate chips, don't add them until you spoon the batter onto the griddle. Adding them to the batter weighs the batter down and also inhibits an even distribution of pancake accouterments.
3. I find that if you heat the griddle before making the batter, there is NO SUCH THING as a "throw-away" first batch. I've never had that problem when my griddle is really hot. Now, don't heat your griddle on high heat; the outside of the pancake will burn when the inside has not yet set.
4. After you've flipped your pancake and while you're waiting impatiently for the second side to cook, resist the impulse to press down the pancake with your spatula!!! You will undo all the effort you've made to achieve the most fabulously fluffy pancakes.
5. Buy the $6 bottle maple syrup. The HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) version is gross. Maple is the only way to go. And when you make THESE pancakes, you should top it with the best.
OK, I've challenged you. Please report back and let me know how you have fared!