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September 2002 Issue
Pancakes and More
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Welcome to the first installment of the Kitchen Focus column. You can visit this spot each month for a look at everything from using seasonal ingredients to building elegant menus on a budget -- and everything in between! If you ever want to see something specific covered, send email to and I'll see what I can do. As the months go by, different topics will become our focus, but I'll always strive to touch on timely topics that can be useful to home chefs everywhere.

We begin as we should all begin every day: with a good breakfast! For me, that means anything from a poached egg on toast to fresh fruit topped with granola and yogurt. But, when I want a really special start, I opt for pancakes. And these aren't just any pancakes ... they're made from my own whole wheat pancake mix.

I start with a basic mix that forms the base of all my pancake adventures. Then I add one or two other dry ingredients to the mix and a carefully chosen mix of wet ingredients to make a batter that can range from wonderfully sweet to rich and savory.

I always make my pancakes the same way. I preheat an electric griddle to 400 degrees. (I think using the stovetop makes temperature maintenance too difficult.) Then I lightly spray the griddle and add the batter in 1/4 cup increments to make consistently-sized pancakes. I wait for the bubbles to form on the top and then I flip and cook until set. It's a method that's always worked for me and I'm sticking to it!

As for toppings, they are as varied as the people who make the pancakes! For sweet pancakes, I often prefer fruit toppings or real maple syrup or both! For savory pancakes, I like slightly creamy toppings with other ingredients swirled in. For example, simmering a can of evaporated skim milk with garlic, salt, pepper and a touch of parmesan and then tossing in some freshly chopped spinach can make a delightful addition to savory pancakes like the Cheddar Chive Pancakes below or even ones that have a few tablespoons of crumbled bacon added to the batter. It's really all up to you.

Before I leave you to explore the recipes, I want to say for the record that, while pancakes make a fantastic breakfast dish, they are by no means meant to be served only in the morning. Some of the simplest and most enjoyable dinners I've had have been built on a foundation of pancakes. Plus, they are among the most freezable food items I know. Simply make a big batch (which should always happen when making pancakes!) and place a square of waxed paper between the pancakes before popping them first into a resealable plastic freezer bag and then into a chilly freezer. Then when the mood strikes you, simply remove as many of the pancakes as you want and either microwave them for a moist end product or pop them in the toaster oven to get something a little crisper. Yum!

I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Keep those creative juices flowing!

 

Basic Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

This simple mix can be multiplied and stored in your pantry for up to 3 months. You can add some extra simple ingredients at cooking time to make either sweet or savory pancakes.
  • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. thick rolled oats
  • 2 T. toasted wheat germ

  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until it's well blended. Transfer the mix to a container with a tightly-fitting lid and store it in your pantry.
  • Yields: 3 cups mix
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
 

 

Cheddar Chive Pancakes

These pancakes are extra-quick when you use the mix recipe above. Serve these with country gravy or chunky chicken a la king.
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1/2 c. nonfat sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pancake mix (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 T. freshly chopped chives
  • Cooking spray
Combine the milk, sour cream and egg in a small bowl; whisk quickly to blend the mixture.

Place the pancake mix into a large bowl and add the garlic powder; whisk lightly to incorporate the powder.

Add the egg mixture to the mix. Stir until a batter forms -- there may be lumps remaining. Fold in the cheese and chives.

Heat an electric griddle to 400 degrees and spray it with cooking spray. Measure 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake and pour it onto the hot griddle. When bubbles appear on the top of the pancakes, turn them over using a spatula and cook them on the other side until they are golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to a heated platter and serve warm with the toppings of your choice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 

 

Cinnamon-Vanilla Pancakes

These simple pancakes are absolutely wonderful with baked apples or fresh applesauce.
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1/2 c. nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 T. double strength vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pancake mix (see above)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
Combine the milk, yogurt, vanilla and egg in a small bowl; whisk quickly to blend the mixture.

Place the pancake mix into a large bowl and add the brown sugar and cinnamon; whisk lightly to incorporate them into the mix.

Add the egg mixture to the mix. Stir until a batter forms -- there may be lumps remaining.

Heat an electric griddle to 400 degrees and spray it with cooking spray. Measure 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake and pour it onto the hot griddle. When bubbles appear on the top of the pancakes, turn them over using a spatula and cook them on the other side until they are golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to a heated platter and serve warm with the toppings of your choice.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 



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