I have felt recently that Meals on Heels, while fun and visually exciting, was missing something. I couldn't quite my finger on it. Only while fist-pumping in my kitchen and clapping my hands at my husband, Puppy, did I realize what that was - my voice. When learning a new skill it is vital to involve the senses. How on earth are you supposed to sense my enthusiasm solely through written words? You can't see my fist pumps, or my clapping. You can't even tell which syllables I am placing emphasis on! I needed to go to the next frontier...video!
Today marks the first day of Meals on Heels EPISODE 1! This recipe of pumpkin pancakes was the perfect place to start. This is an original recipe that I have held tight, like a deck of cards close to my vest. Sharing this recipe must be like the way parents feel when they send their children to college. It's a bittersweet parting. It is silly, but I think, "What else do I have to offer on the food frontier?" As I typed that sentence I just thought of five other original recipes that I have to share, so I guess I'll be alright...for at least five weeks!
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup whole plain yogurt (I like Fage)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
*For a vanilla bonus, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
Making The Masterpiece:
Mix your flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add the applesauce, pumpkin, yogurt, and eggs to the dry mixture. Mix until completely smooth and creamy. Add your vanilla extract (along with the vanilla paste, but only if you want to take this to the next level) and spices. Mix well.
There is a general rule with pancakes. The first one is always a flop. This does not have to be your reality. The trouble is most pans are not hot enough for that initial pancake. Don't be afraid to crank the heat! You don't want to waste precious batter on a flimsy, wimpy flop. I like to spray a little bit of non-stick cooking spray onto my pan so that the pancake does not stick. When you spray your pan you should hear a little sizzle. You're ready. Cook your pancakes as you usually would. Watch for heat bubbles to pop on the surface. Guard and protect your pancake!
A bit of irony and a helping hand in the kitchen never hurt anybody!
Gorgeous! Look at that warm fall color, the perfect density of pancake. This is a triumph. When I make these for guests, their eyes are always bigger than their stomachs and after one they surrender. These are so full of hearty, nutritious ingredients that you will feel completely full after one.
My favorite parts of meals often extend beyond just what the main feature is. I love accoutrements! Just think how much more interesting a biscuit becomes when you have orange bourbon butter to go with that. Similarly, the pancakes go to a new level with proper toppings. Let's start with the pancake's best friend, syrup.
There is so much to love about this recipe, the wonder of seeing baking soda double the syrup's size, the frothy finish, the even and just distribution of sweetness, and extending the life of your prized Canadian maple syrup.
1/2 cup true maple syrup (Puppy bought this for me in Canada and the flavor is so robust! It's called "President's Choice." Whether or not the syrup is actually the President's favorite, it's my favorite.)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon butter
Pinch of baking soda...I'll explain
Making The Masterpiece:
In a glass cereal-sized bowl add the maple syrup, buttermilk and butter. Microwave for about 30 seconds. I can tell you right now this time is going to vary between all of us. Just cook the mixture until it is too hot to consider drinking. Prepare to be amazed with a spoon in hand and a pinch of baking soda in the other. Sprinkle in your baking soda and watch the syrup multiply. If you don't feel like you have enough oomph, add a little more baking soda. What should happen is this: The baking soda will make the hot liquid very frothy, and enlarge quite quickly.
This solves the problem of the all too condensed syrup that is soaked up into a tiny piece of the pancake giving you an overly sweet bite in a pancake of inconsistency. This syrup spreads so easily, and properly distributes sweetness without using a ton of syrup on one pancake.
My Sauteed Banana Nut Pesto is a delight to the senses. You may think that banana and pumpkin might not pair well with one another, but they get on like old school mates. In almost all recipes I like an element of texture. I adore adding crunch to smoothness. It's sort of like a well-rounded relationship; each person brings something unique to the table. Sauteed bananas are amazing. They require no oil to even saute. When you saute a banana you exponentially increase the rich flavor into a rich, deep caramelized state.
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract (Rum or brandy would also work well for this. Remember that vanilla extract is just hard alcohol infused with vanilla bean, so other hard alcohols, rum or brandy, would be interesting)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup whole milk
Making The Masterpiece:
Heat a pan to medium-high heat. Peel one fold of your banana. With a spoon, "cut" half inch pieces off of the banana and into the pan. Be sure that you have enough space for each coin of banana to heat. Liquid will gather around the pan and will soon evaporate. After five minutes, flip the coins onto the other side. Add the milk and turn the heat onto high. Evaporate the milk until the consistency is pudding-esque. Once the mixture has reduced stir in the almonds and vanilla extract, mashing the bananas. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
A good stiff Creme Chantilly is a pancake's crowning glory. I have upped the stakes with the addition of real vanilla bean, and agave nectar which adds a more subtle sweetness. As I mentioned earlier, vanilla extract has a hard alcohol base and in a cream can taste a little strong. By foregoing the extract and adding vanilla bean you get more flavor. Vanilla has a woody, warm floral flavor. Each pod is packed with thousands upon thousands of tiny little black eans the size of pencil dots on paper. This looks fantastic in Creme Chantilly and also has the tiniest bit of texture. If you have never tried using vanilla bean before thinking it wasn't worth the effort - rethink this and surprise yourself.
When Mariah Carey boldly declared in song that she had "a vision of love," I wonder if she meant Creme Chantilly on Pumpkin Pancakes...and she was just afraid to call it what it was?
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 vanilla bean (You can use 1/2 or 1/3 of the pod, I just really like to load it in.)
Making The Masterpiece:
First, we must get those beans out of that vanilla pod! On a cutting board use a small paring knife to slice into the thinner side of the pod. Pull your knife down the length. With a small spoon scrape the interior from top to bottom. Your spoon will be covered in a "paste" of tiny black vanilla beans. In a mixing bowl (I love my Kitchenaid!) add all ingredients and whip into oblivion!
This pancake has it all - perfectly controlled sweetness, a tender relationship with texture and whipped Heaven. I hope you LOVE this recipe and make it for your friends. Anyone can cook. Just take the recipes step by step and pretty soon you will know this by heart, and soul.