Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fear of Falling and the Great Cooking Magazine Backlog

I am embarrassed to admit that I have fallen woefully behind in reading my cooking magazines, and it's even more embarrassing to admit why that is. You see, one of my favorite things to do is to crawl into a nice, hot tub with a couple of issues of Gourmet and/or Bon Appetit and simply luxuriate. You might think that the summer's heat has been keeping me from taking hot baths, but given this year's "summer" temperatures or lack thereof (it was 45 degrees the other night when I went to bed--in AUGUST!), that's not the problem. Instead, it is the sorry state of the plumbing in the bathroom. During the spring floods, we had sewer issues in the basement that I don't even want to talk about in polite company (especially distasteful on a food blog!), and on the heels of that nasty crisis, the wood around the bathroom window has become so rotten, that when I shower, water leaks down, inside the walls, through the dining room ceiling below, and into a big bucket that I place in just the right spot so that the wood floors aren't ruined. This has actually been going on for years (yeah, my landlady rocks!), but only recently has the floor underneath the bathtub started to sound squeaky and feel a little spongey. So I became terrified that I was going to fall from the bathroom through the living room floor, all the way to the basement, and the paramedics would find me, still in the bathtub, naked and paralyzed, clutching a soggy issue of Gourmet. (Though I might prefer death to this humiliation!) Eventually, the landlady did come over and brought a plumber to check things out (nine years later--thanks!), and though the wall and the window will have to be replaced, he assured me that the bathtub is sound. You can hardly blame me for being distrustful, though, so I try to shower quickly and run away to avert disaster of the watery, plummeting variety. I have not yet been brave enough to fill the tub with the extra weight of water; consequently, my leisure reading has suffered.

Now that summer school is finally over, one of my (albeit minor) goals is to get caught up in reading my cooking mags, which will be no small feat, as there's a substantive stack of them! But I started with the March issue of Gourmet, and I was immediately inspired to make two excellent recipes found therein. For two weekends in a row now, I have treated myself to a yummy batch of something the fictitious Fannie Farmer named "Bridge Creek Heavenly Hots." They are these practically flourless, ethereally light silver dollar-sized pancakes. And they are very quick, too. The sour cream-based batter can be whipped up in a minute or two, and even though you have to prepare the little pancakes in multiple batches, they cook so quickly, that it goes very fast. (Also, as I was making them just for me, I only made a half batch.) If you love crepes or Swedish pancakes or Dutch babies, this is the recipe for you! The Heavenly Hots cook up very puffy from the eggs and sour cream, but as they have so little flour, they deflate like those other types of eggy pancakes do. In fact, when I made them a second time for brunch yesterday, I decided to double the flour, and I think I liked them even better, as they maintained a little more structure as they cooled. I served mine with browned butter and powdered sugar, which are my favorite crepe/Dutch baby toppings. But I believe blueberry jam, or a fresh blueberry sauce now that the fruit is ripe for the picking, would be IDEAL to serve with these little sour cream pancakes, especially if you were to grate a little lemon zest in the batter!

Bridge Creek Heavenly Hots
(Source: originally from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book via the
March 2009 issue of Gourmet)

4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cake flour (yes, this recipe is correct as written!)
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
*I added a teaspoon of vanilla, too.

Put the eggs in a mixing bowl and stir until well blended. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, sour cream, and sugar (and vanilla, if using), and mix well. All of this can be done in a blender, if you prefer.

Heat a griddle or frying pan until it is good and hot, film with butter, and drop small spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle—just enough to spread to an approximately 2 1/2-inch round (=a tablespoon of batter). When a few bubbles appear on top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook briefly.

*While you are cooking successive batches of pancakes, keep the finished ones on large oven-proof platter or cookie sheet in a warm oven.

So that's what's for breakfast. Now, what shall we have for lunch? Though I may take issue with a simple grilled sandwich as the cover of GOURMET magazine, I could not deny its tempting allure. The dish that was March's cover girl was the Monte Cubano, a cross between a Cubano (the Cuban sandwich that usually has roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard) and a Monte Cristo (which has ham and turkey and cheese and is then battered and fried). How GOOD does that sound? And it's SO simple! I was even thinking that this would be a terrific recipe for your panini grill (shout out to my friend, June, who just got a new one!).

Monte Cubano
Gourmet, March 2009)

2 slices firm bread
1 to 2 teaspoons mustard
4 or 5 dill pickle rounds
2 slices boiled or baked ham
2 slices smoked turkey
3 thin slices Swiss cheese
1/2 garlic clove
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Spread one slice of bread with mustard and top with pickles, meats, and cheese. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then mix with mayonnaise. Spread on remaining slice of bread and assemble sandwich. Beat together egg, milk, and 1/8 tsp each of salt and pepper, then soak sandwich in egg mixture.

Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook sandwich, uncovered, until underside is well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook remaining side, covered, until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, one minute.

As both of the above recipes call for eggs, I thought I might end this post by sharing a picture of the weird eggs that one of my hens has been laying for me lately. Often, when pullets first start to lay, they'll give you tiny eggs, but even the youngest of my girls are almost three! Very peculiar...


Debbie said...

I am constantly behind on my reading but it's because of my addiction to food blogs. Once I get started on the computer it's hard to stop!!!!

J S Grant said...

I have used Marion Cunningham's the Breakfast Book for pancake recipes for - oh - way too many years to confess to! And the Bridge Creek pancakes are VERY VERY yummy! I also think she has the platonic ideal of buttermilk pancake batter recipe in there. I love pancakes on Sunday mornings in the garden with the NYTimes and (turkey) bacon - I think maple syrup and bacon are the American version of sweet and sour! Also, the dogs like pancakes.

Anonymous said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.