In my quest to determine which of our gadgets and small kitchen electrics will win a permanent spot in our soon-to-be-new kitchen, I am cycling through some recipes I haven’t made in a while, just to have a reason to pull those gadgets from storage and give them a run.
For these fluffy, buttermilk-rich blueberry pancakes, I turned to a favorite King Arthur Baking Company recipe, and I added a twist to give them extra loft. The ingredient list isn’t changed, but the technique is slightly different in that I separate the eggs before mixing, whipping the whites by themselves and then folding them into the batter just before griddling. It’s a simple kitchen trick that elevates any favorite pancake recipe—figuratively and literally.
Rather than cooking the pancakes on my beloved middle griddle that lives permanently on our gas range top, I asked my husband, Les, to get the stepladder for fetching my reversible, non-stick griddle from its unlikely storage spot in the kitchen. The griddle is enormous, and for lack of a better stowing spot, we have kept it wrapped in a large kitchen trash bag, stored way up there on top of the cabinets, where Taz is sitting!
I’m reluctant to let go of this griddle because it is easy to clean, reversible to a grill side and the temperature dial ensures consistent cooking. Needless to say, its large cooking surface helps me get breakfast ready all at once. Unfortunately, the out-of-reach storage makes it inconvenient for regular use.
When the big reveal happens on our remodel, Les and I will be re-evaluating where everything goes, and the full-height pantry cabinet should have plenty of room for this convenient, though bulky, appliance (fingers crossed)!
Eggs separate more easily when they are cold, so take care of that first and set each part aside until they are room temperature.
It’s best for the buttermilk to be near room temperature, also.
Heat an electric griddle to 350°F, or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Mix the wet ingredients with the flour ingredients, stirring just until blended.
In yet another bowl, whip the egg white with an electric hand mixer (or with a whisk and some elbow grease, if you’re feeling sassy). When properly whipped, the egg white should increase a great deal in volume and will form stiff peaks when you remove the whisk.
Fold the whipped white into the bowl with the rest of the batter, taking care not to stir down and deflate the batter. Allow it to rest about 15 minutes.
Pour or ladle batter onto griddle in smallish rounds, about 4 inches across. Do not swirl or otherwise flatten the batter—we want them fluffy, remember? 😊 Cook the first side about a minute, then carefully arrange blueberries onto the cakes. Continue to cook until the pancakes are set on the edges and bubbly all over the top.
Turn gently and cook the other side. Serve warm with butter and real maple syrup.
You didn’t know it when you opened this post, but you are about to witness something that doesn’t happen all that often in my kitchen—a simple, two-ingredient twist that will transform a basic fruit bowl into a mouthwatering side dish that is almost as sumptuous as dessert. Unlike some of my other “make-the-whole-thing-from-scratch” ideas, this one really is ridiculously simple. You can apply this easy twist to virtually any kind of fruit, including pre-cut if you are short on time, and the fruit itself does not have to be fancy. Look at my salad again—it’s only pineapple, grapes and berries. What elevates this simple fruit combo into an elegant and special treat is the dressing.
It may be that you have never considered “dressing” a fruit salad, but why? We don’t often see a vegetable salad served dry, and fruit is just as worthy of dressing up a bit. Dressing a fruit salad is not only tasty; it also helps the fruit retain moisture and color. Try this once and you’ll be craving fresh fruit salad every day.
The dressing for this salad depends on two special ingredients that can only be purchased in a boutique olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop, and they are worth every penny. You have probably seen one of these stores, with all their shiny stainless steel containers lined up on a high table. Those containers, called “fustis,” hold exquisitely flavored extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, ingredients which have uncanny power to change the way you cook. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I used to work in one of those shops here in my city, and it was one of my most fun jobs ever—a true foodie fantasy, come true!
These days, nobody is paying me to share about these products, but I feel compelled to do so because of the one question we received over and again at the shop, from customers who enjoyed the flavors but asked, “what would I ever do with it?” Part of my job as a sales associate was taking home various products and coming back with inspiration for the home cooks who shopped our store. I guess you could say I took my job seriously, because I’m still doing it. 🙂
The combination I’ve used for this fruit salad is blood orange-fused extra virgin olive oil and honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar. The vinegar has a slight tartness to it, but it is mostly sweet with the warmth of honey, and the ginger is subtle but present. The olive oil is rich with the flavor of blood orange, because the oranges and olives are pressed together during production. The result is so good, it makes itself at home in sweet and savory dishes alike.
At the end of the post, I’ll share some other ideas for using up these two ingredients.
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks, cut into bite-sized bits
1 heaping cup fresh strawberries, sliced into quarters
1 cup fresh large blueberries
1 cup fresh white seedless grapes
3 Tbsp. honey-ginger white balsamic vinegar* (see notes)
3 Tbsp. blood orange whole fruit-fused extra virgin olive oil*
Lime zest or fresh chopped mint or basil, optional for garnish
I wish I could offer up a universal brand name for the olive oil and balsamics that I use, but they are bottled under various franchised shop names. Here’s a tip—if you have this type of store in your community, ask for the name of the supplier. If it is Veronica Foods, you’re in the right place. 😊
Wash your fruit just before assembling the salad, and it’s best to add berries just before serving or they tend to get mushy. Combine all the fruit in a bowl large enough for easy tossing in the dressing.
Pour the honey-ginger white balsamic into a small bowl, or a glass measuring cup for easier pouring. Slowly pour the olive oil into the balsamic, whisking quickly and constantly, until the mixture is thick and syrupy.
Immediately pour the dressing over the fruit and toss gently to coat the fruit. Serve right away or refrigerate up to one hour before serving.
If you would like to put a little extra pizzazz onto the salad, sprinkle with fresh lime zest or thin strips of fresh mint or basil.
We’re halfway through National Ice Cream Month, and though I’ll be sad when it ends, I’m reminded that we can enjoy ice cream anytime we like. Don’t fret, fellow frozen treat lovers, because I have plenty more where all this came from—tried-and-true ice cream flavors as well as some new ones brewing in my culinary mind.
But this one, Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Blueberry-Whiskey Ribbon, is in my bowl today. I’ve confessed already that I seldom make the same recipe twice, but this will be the third time in two years I’ve made this one, so it’s clearly won a special place in my life. It’s creamy and sweet, unmistakably “corn-y,” inspired by the pure sweetness of summer and ever-so-slightly boozy, thanks to the brilliant blueberry-infused small batch whiskey produced by one of our local distilleries.
This recipe makes 1 1/2 quarts ice cream. There are two equally important components: the custard and the compote. The custard needs plenty of time to chill before freezing, so we’ll begin here.
Ingredients – the custard
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup organic cane sugar, divided
Pinch of sea salt
4 good-sized ears fresh sweet corn, husk and silk removed*
3 free range egg yolks
1 Tbsp. vodka* (optional, for improved texture)
Blueberry-whiskey compote (recipe and instructions follow)
Corn—choose the deepest yellow color corn you can find, for a richer appearance of ice cream. It also helps to have corn picked at its peak level of sweetness. If you have a local farmer’s market, that’s the first place I’d recommend!
Vodka—the alcohol is completely optional in this ice cream. It does not affect the flavor, but can be helpful for the final texture, making the ice cream easier to scoop straight from the freezer. For this batch, I used Tito’s handcrafted vodka, which is made from 100% corn. It seemed appropriate here.
Instructions for the custard
Trim the ends of the corn ears. This will make it easier to cut the kernels off each piece. Standing an ear on end, use your knife to carefully strip the kernels completely off the ear. They will not come off the ear perfectly – some will get smashed or split, and that’s OK. Repeat with all pieces of corn and keep the cobs. Cut the cobs in half crosswise, into chunks about 3 inches long.
Add milk, heavy cream and half of the sugar to a heavy bottomed pot and warm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Add all of the corn kernels and the cob chunks to the pot. Stir to submerge the cobs, reduce the heat and simmer on low until mixture is just barely bubbling at the edges. Remove cobs from the mixture and allow them to cool enough to handle, then squeeze each cob with your clean hands to extract the flavorful goodness. Discard the cobs, and remove the corn-cream mixture from the heat.
Use the immersion blender* to process the corn-cream mixture, but only for about 15 to 20 seconds. You don’t want to puree the whole batch; we’re just trying to extract another hit of flavor before we strain and discard the corn.
(*Alternatively, use a ladle to scoop about 2 cups of the corn-cream into a regular blender or smoothie blender, and let it cool just enough to blend for a few seconds, then pick up with the recipe from this point.)
Set a large double-mesh strainer over a large glass bowl, and pour the pureed mixture through it to separate the corn solids from the cream. Gently press down on the corn to extract as much liquid as you can; you might even want to do this in batches. Either discard the corn solids, or save it for another use.
Return the strained cream to the heavy-bottomed pot. Gently stir over low heat just until it begins to steam.
In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar on a medium low speed (or by hand) until the mixture is smooth, light-colored and slightly thickened.
Ladle out 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into a measuring cup with a pour spout. While whisking the yolks, pour a slow and steady stream of the cream mixture into them. This is called “tempering.” Do not rush this step, which is essentially emulsifying the mixture so that the egg yolks are incorporated but not scrambled. Do it again with another 1/2 cup of the cream mixture.
Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream, stirring constantly over low heat. Frequently check the back of your spoon – when you can make a visible line on it with your finger, the custard is done.
Remove from heat, pour into a large glass bowl resting in an ice bath, and stir gently until mixture cools. Lay a sheet of heavy plastic wrap directly on the surface, sealing out any air bubbles. Cover the entire bowl with a lid or another layer of plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
Next up, make the blueberry-whiskey compote for your ribbon!
Ingredients – the compote
1 cup frozen blueberries (I especially love to use “wild” blueberries)
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup blueberry juice (optional; substitute ¼ cup water)
3 oz. Smashing Violet blueberry-infused whiskey*
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
*This stuff is pretty incredible, but only available in North Carolina, either at the Broad Branch Distillery in Winston-Salem or select North Carolina ABC stores. Substitute a craft bourbon of your choice for similar results, but for sure look for the blueberry juice to make up the difference. While I’m on the subject of Broad Branch, here’s another reason I’m loving them right now.
Instructions for the compote
In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, cane sugar and blueberry juice (or water) over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring and smashing berries occasionally, until mixture is reduced and begins to bubble vigorously. This will take longer if you’re using the blueberry juice, somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes.
Stir in Smashing Violet whiskey (or your whiskey/bourbon substitute). It may seem like 3 oz. is a lot of booze—and, well, you’re damn right it is. No apologies here (but c’mon, it’s only 60 proof anyway). Simmer another 5 to 8 minutes, to burn off some of the sharpness of the alcohol while reducing the compote again.
Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then place plastic wrap directly on top of the compote and chill in refrigerator at least an hour, but preferably overnight. This mixture will thicken up significantly as it cools.
I scream, you scream…
In the morning, set up the ice cream machine and freeze the sweet corn custard according to manufacturer’s instructions. The blueberry ribbon is added later, so only do the custard at this stage.
Add a layer of custard into insulated container, then alternate layers of blueberry whiskey compote and custard (ending with custard on top) and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours, but overnight is better.
Call a couple friends to come over and hang out in the backyard, and thank God for the sweet blessings of summer.