Uttapam – Fermented Whole Grain Pancakes from South India

IMG_4971I’m fast becoming a fan of fermentation, friends.  There’s something magical about mixing ingredients together and letting it independently bubble to life.  I’m also a huge fan of eating whole grains, although it’s hard to find ways to easily slip some of them into everyday meals – the Ninja still won’t come around to brown rice, the fool!  So when I ran across the concept of Uttapam on Cake Maker to the Stars – savoury pancakes made from fermented urad dal and rice – I was on board immediately.  Especially these ones from Kathy Hester‘s The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot, which are made entirely from a blend of four whole grains & legumes.  Holy gosh, my millet and mung beans* finally get to jump out of their jars and play? Continue reading

Ricotta Pancakes & Blueberry Compote

img_9981Hello lovely Love Day readers, I come with breakfast for the hungry heart, and while I’ll admit these aren’t these aren’t the fastest pancakes you’ll ever try, they may very well be the most special.  Make a stack of these for a loved one and they will know that they are precious to you and worth dirtying a few extra bowls for.  They’re light as air, delicate, crisp on the edges and elevated by a hint of lemon zest, so you can eat a bunch and not feel so heavy you couldn’t later do some *ahem* athletics, should you so desire.  Which is important.  *chases after 11-month-old* Continue reading

Sour Cream Pancakes <3 Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Black is the color of my true love’s hair
His face so soft and wondrous fair
The purest eyes
and the strongest hands
I love the ground on where he stands
Oh I love my lover
and where he goes
yes, I love the ground on where he goes
And still I hope
that the time will come
when he and I will be as one
So black is the color of my true love’s hair
Black is the color of my true love’s hair
Black is the color of my true love’s hair

My boyfriend isn’t a natural cook, although he is one by trade.  When I met him, he made mostly just sausages and the occasional frozen chicken pie, and although he does have a riotously killer recipe for a spaghetti dinner that will take your house down and warm your heart doing it, it’s been a slow and fascinating process to open his eyes to concept of food as something that can be good for the soul.  Not just a waste of time or a way to stay alive, but something that can be an expression of yourself, a colourful diversion, a movie night improver by spades, and a way to make yourself feel pampered.

I’ll miss this crazy oven.

It was his idea to make me pancakes, and I could never say no to a treat like that.  Plus, I make admittedly terrible pancakes most of the time, so I had a hunch that his attempt would be like that of angels next to mine, owing to the law of life-scale humour.  It didn’t hurt that I handpicked a recipe that consisted mostly of sour cream with very little flour in the mix, one that I’d always wanted to try.  And since he’s very good at frying things and flipping things in pans, it was only too few sun-soaked moments in our kitchen (that really does look like a boat’s galley and is home to one of the most character-filled ovens I’ve ever had the pleasure of communicating with) before we had fluffy-puff pancakes on the table and ready to share.

I took full opportunity to crack into the fresh bottle of Rogers golden syrup that my mom had packed with her from B.C. – the thick, sweet buttery taste of my griddle-cooked youth and totally unavailable in this part of the world – and opened a jar of some spring-preserved strawberry rhubarb compote I’d made for a cake (to be blogged about later, for sure!).  They met in the middle as a rose-pink swirl and each bite tasted of creamy fields and ethereality, and our wizard friend / night-breakfast diner was silently agog with the taste as well.  Christian made this?  Hells yes pancakes for dinner!  Whenever wherever!

100% boyfriend-made. Well, the pancakes were, anyway!

I share this recipe in full confidence that at least one person out there will brave the concept of a bowl full of dairy hardly whispered with flour and enjoy these perfect puff-cakes as we did.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes

From The Pioneer Woman Cooks 

  • 7 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Butter
  • Maple syrup (or, if you can get your hands on it – golden syrup)

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium-low heat; you want it to slowly get nice and hot.

Stir the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in the bottom of a medium bowl. Dump the sour cream in on top and stir it together very gently; it’s okay to leave the texture a bit uneven. Whisk the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir them into the sour cream mixture, once again, being careful not to overmix.

Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your skillet or griddle and pour the batter in, a scant 1/4 cup at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes on the first side, or until bubbles appear all over the surface, flipping them carefully and cooking for about a minute on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve in a stack, topped with a pat of butter and a cascade of syrup, and if you like……

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon

* Liz’s note: this compote preserves very well if properly canned – it loses some of it’s pink hue, but the flavour stays vibrant and springlike and very convenient for rhubarb cravings year-round.

  • 1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Select about 4 ounces of the smallest strawberries and cut lengthwise into quarters. These will be added raw to the cooked compote; set aside.

Cut the remaining larger berries in halves or quarters so that the pieces are about the same size. (You should have about 2 1/2 cups.) Place them in a medium saucepan.

With a paring knife, pull away and discard the strings that run the length of the rhubarb stalks. Cut the stalks into 3/4-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups) and add to the saucepan.

Use a fine grater or a Microplane to zest the lemon. Add 1 teaspoon of the zest to the pan. Squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice and add it to the pan. Add the sugar and stir to coat the fruit.

Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. By the time the sugar has dissolved, the fruit will have released a lot of juice. Boil for about 4 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Don’t worry if some of the rhubarb falls apart.

Take pan off the stove and stir in reserved strawberries. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold. (This makes about 4 cups of compote, but the extra will keep for a couple of weeks and is delicious for breakfast, especially with crème fraîche.)

Café le Souvenir brightens a Sunday morning….

It was a pretty freaking disgusting Sunday that just past.  From the fog of my bathroom window, pre-glasses and weary, I almost even thought that the mottled wet pavement pattern on the street was a thin sheet of newfallen snow.

Thank Jack Frost it wasn’t that – I might have seriously just figured out how to knit myself feety pajamas right then and there, and not left the comfort of my own bed until I’d cocooned myself into a nice tea + geeky sci-fi oblivion for the whole day.  It was CLOSE to that bad, but it turned into a good excuse to break out the basic black woollens and trudge with an empty belly and a caffeine addiction towards Cafe le Souvenir, in the hopes that it would be what every brunch should be : relaxed, slightly oily, filled with eggy savourishness, bottomless coffee, and copious amounts of fruit.

We arrived and came upon: the Line!  Yes, indeed this place is popular, and I feel terrible for the table right next to the door.  Not only at the mercy of jostling unfed types, but the draft was a bit chilly.  They seemed obliviously happy with their stringy benedicty dish and warm potatoes, however, which distracted me from thoughts of sympathy and turned my head to selfish wants of bbbbrrrreakfast!!!! and now.  Luckily it only took 15 minutes, plus 5 to actually get a seat at a table (and not the bar).

We were offered espresso and turned them to allongées.  (transformo!).  We ordered 2 mimosas (11$) and received a vial of fresh squeezed OJ and a sparkling German dry white, and turned ThoSE into happy bubbly morning drinks.  (TRANSFORMO AGAIN!).  The menu was long and nothing was breaking the proverbial envelope, but it all sounded pretty good and I’d heard good things, so I ordered a benedict florentine on rye bread (13$) with smoked salmon (+3$), and Cloudy got 2 slices of french toast with fruit and whipped cream and cheddar (11$).  The food came fast, and the eggs were hot, and they did a little clever thing by baking the eggs in the hollondaise and laying a blanket of melted nondescript white cheddar-type cheese on top, so they stayed hot while I wondered where on earth my smoked salmon was!  Our server was super nice about that oversight, though, and while it took a while in coming, it was a big ol’ bowl of it, and we discovered our new favourite combo.    smoked salmon + FRENCH TOAST YOU GUYS.  omg.  omg.  a salty sweet buttery confection duo written in the stars.  Add drizzles of real maple syrup for extra points (Le Souvenir gives you a bottle at the table!).  I guess I have to admit I wanted my first eggs benedict experience to be those silly little perky orbs with the yellow sauce blanket, but it was a tradeoff for a perfect poach, I suppose.  It turned into a dunking dish for toast!  I liked that.  The french toast was eggy and fluffy and cooked to custardy perfection, and the fruit alongside was fresh and plentiful and even included mango, yay.  Nomming ensued.

Filled up and chatted up, we left to pay and noticed an awesome – they didn’t charge us for the salmon and one of the coffees.  Good show, that’s a perfect move.  They were also really friendly and we didn’t feel rushed despite the lines.  I think I subconsciously felt rushed in the lively setting, but it wasn’t at their cue, and a bloke sitting beside us sat alone at a table nursing a graphic novel and a coffee for our breakfast’s duration undisturbed.

I will be honest.  If you’re the type that questions the value of paying someone else to make eggs and toast for you, le Souvenir won’t change your mind based on the food.  But the atmosphere is something to be experienced and a great way to spend a rainy Sunday!  It’s an essential local hang, and a cheery place and it definitely, definitely, beat the rainy blues away. :)

Cafe Souvenir (Le) on Urbanspoon

Sautéed Apple & Cheddar Crepes for a stormy Sunday


Hurricane Irene passed through Quebec this weekend, demoted along it’s way to a “tropical storm”, but still chilling and blustery enough to make brunch the only sensible option for a bunch of skids on a cozy Sunday morning.  Cloudscapes came over early to make crepes, and after braving the icy rains for some apples and cream, we headed on to the kitchen to get the butter-sugar-flour-eggs-vanilla from the cupboard to find….. butter-sugar-flour-eggs-vanilla already laid out and toasty morning-pan smells coming from our rickety stove and wafting back through the hall.  Room-mates/great minds thinking so alike!  They were making sparkle-cakes, though.  Ie; pancakes doused liberally with good cheer and party sprinkles.

It wasn’t much work to throw together a reliable crepe batter – Alton Brown’s does the trick – cook some fruit up with maple syrup and whip up a bit of fresh cream, and soon breakfast was served.  Eeeeek!  Finally.  Starved by then, and happy to see that the sangria could be enjoyed alongside straight white wine, since it was after 3 PM by the time we sat down!  Aha!

A little Balderson cheddar goes a long way…..

Basic Crepes

Recipe by Alton Brown

makes 17-22 crepes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons liqueur (optional)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • butter, for coating the pan

In a blender combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce (2-3 tablespoons) of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.

Sauteed Apples

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large cooking apples (Granny Smith or Yellow Delicious are nice)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or golden syrup
  • generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • zest of half a lemon

Cook butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown.  Add apples and sauté until tender, about 9 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients; stir to blend. Cool. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

Putting it All Together…

  • grated sharp white cheddar
  • syrup
  • icing sugar
  • whipped cream and chocolate (if you feel like going over the top… we did this but I don’t think it was necessary)

Preheat your oven to broil.

Take a crepe and spoon some of the hot apples into the center.  Top with a small handful of cheese and broil until the cheese is just melted through, then fold up any way you like and top with your favourite things.