Saturday, December 13, 2008

Buy The Book #4: Cook's Illustrated 2003 Annual

Whenever I can knock out a killer breakfast, I am a happy camper. One of the things I do love for breakfast is cornmeal pancakes. Many a day I opened a box of Jiffy for pancakes and not cornbread. That is until I discovered lemon-cornmeal blueberry pancakes in 2003.
This was the year I bought my first CI Annual. If you haven't figured it out, I believe the folks at Cook's Illustrated author the best recipes. Perhaps a third or more of my cookbook collection is from CI. I think this recipe is the one I use most from the 2003 volume. It truly is a breakfast favorite.
Let's get started. This is all you need to make these wonderful pancakes. I would've preferred fresh blueberries, but it's winter. I'll make do with frozen. And yes, the use of prep bowls really does help.
Start by stirring your lemon zest and lemon juice into the milk. Yep. You're making buttermilk. Let it sit for a while to thicken. You can easily use buttermilk and just add the zest. I feel Sunday biscuits coming on, so I'm saving the real buttermilk for that.
Mix the egg and melted butter.
Now, mix all of your dry ingredients. I do this in two stages, cornmeal and flour and then the baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt into the cornmeal and flour.
Dump the egg mixture into the milk and give it a whisk. Next, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in the milk mixture. I start with a whisk and then switch to a spatula. Please don't overmix. Lumps are okay. Completely smooth batter means tough pancakes and who wants that?
I used a large scoop to portion the batter. I don't care about perfectly round pancakes. This is a good thing because I can't make them! I do have some egg rings that I could use if I needed to impress somebody. After the batter is in the pan, sprinkle the blueberries across each pancake.
I am pining for a Le Crueset double-burner reversible grill and griddle. Until then, a large skillet will have to do. I added a little more oil than I should have and the heat was up a touch higher than it needed to be. Therefore, the first batch fried a little. Once you see the edges of the pancakes start to dry out (you'll see the bubbles), give the pancakes a flip. On my stove, liquids tend to pool on one side, so one pancake got a lot of hot oil. Can you tell which one?
When the bottom side has set, remove the pancakes to a plate and work it out with some syrup and butter. I also had some maple glazed turkey bacon going on the side. Add some rich coffee made from freshly-ground beans and you'd think you're at a fancy restaurant.
A couple of things would've made this better -- breakfast in bed and breakfast before noon! No matter. All was right with the world after the first bite.
These also freeze well. I stack them between parchment paper. I intentionally undercook each batch after the first, so that the frozen ones will be a little more forgiving when reheated.
Tools of the trade:

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