Welcome Pancakes

Nothing says “vacation” or “weekend” like pancakes. I knew I should have gone for a run this morning, but instead, I decided to make my killer pancake recipe for Abby. She had a long day yesterday- Train from Lille to Paris, flight from Paris to Venice, a 50 minute-late bus from Venice to Ljubljana. Her train left Lille at 6:15 am. Abby arrived in Ljubljana a little after 9:00 pm. The woman deserved pancakes this morning.

The first thing I did was take Abby to eat a sirov (cheese) burek. Nothing says Balkans like burek! Not that Slovenia is part of the Balkans, no no no. I would never imply such a thing. But fact of the matter is, you can’t get burek in Austria, Italy, Germany, and so on. It’s a regional specialty of the, um, Balkans, and will cure any hunger pangs you may have. After you’ve eaten a burek, you know you’ve eaten. Plus, its delicious.

After dropping off Abby’s things at my place, we wandered out my front door to join the throngs drinking hot mulled wine and to enjoy the lights. Photos to come. We left our cameras at home, since it it was raining, and it will be just as beautiful tonight without the rain.

This morning we slept in, and I made my killer pancakes for breakfast. Thankfully my parents sent me American baking powder and baking soda in my Christmas package. You can buy some baking powder and soda like substances here, but I don’t trust them. They’re not exactly the same, its hard to put my finger on why…Anyway, these were the first pancakes I’ve eaten in three months. And they were amazing. You should try them. Wait, you can!

This is the best buttermilk pancake recipe ever. No kidding. You may think you have the best, but that’s only because you haven’t had the chance to eat these yet:

Betteā€™s Diner Buttermilk Pancakes
About 24 4-inch pancakes; serves 4

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, buttermilk, milk and butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just to blend. The batter should be slightly lumpy and quite thick. Let the batter rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat (375F on an electric griddle). Portion 1/4 cup measures of batter onto the hot griddle, spacing them apart. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles cover the surface of the pancakes, and their undersides are lightly browned. Gently turn the over and cook for about two minutes more, until the other sides are browned.

We ate our pancakes with some the Speculoos cream spread that Abby brought us from France. It-get this-is BETTER THAN NUTELLA. Its amazing! Fantastic! I will bring home a million containers with me when I go back to the States, and make you all into Speculoos cream converts.

If you lack Speculoos cream, you can also serve your American pancakes with maple syrup. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can do as I do frequently, and make your pancakes with plain yogurt. Shhh- nobody will know.

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Study Break Recipe Time

I have a final tomorrow on the comparative politics of the Nordic countries. For my study break, I will give you the recipe for Peter’s mother’s Tennessee sweet potato casserole. It’s very delicious, and one of those things that is so American that liking it might be required for citizenship. For some reason it tastes like Thanksgiving and Christmas mushed together, I think because of all the brown sugar and vanilla. Its a fantastic example of taking something really healthy and good for you, like a sweet potato, and turning it into something that should be consumed in moderation or risk a sugar coma.

First, my comments: This dish currently straddles the line between food and dessert. Frankly, once looking at the ingredients, I think you’ll agree it should be a dessert, but that never stopped anybody in the ‘ol US of A. Even so, I think that when I make it I will try to bring it a little closer in line with something that could be served on a dinner plate. You could easily halve the sugar in the sweet potato mash, or take it out completely. I’d advise not to touch the sugar in the topping, though, because the caramelized nuts are key part of its charm. Lastly, the marshmallows. Normally I am very snooty about marshmallows, but in this case, I’d make an exception. They add a special something-something. Peter covered half with marshmallows, and half without. I tried both, and I hate to say it, but the marshmallows win. For the doubters among you who can’t overcome your reasonable prejudice, the non-marshmallow side was still excellent. Lastly, put in salt.

I love it. I love how nobody but Americans would think this up. I love how anti-gourmand it is, and I think it will be a new holiday tradition in my one-woman home, both abroad and stateside. Try it sometime. I assure you, something with this much butter, sugar, and nuts cannot help be anything but good. Or so American.

Peter’s Mother’s Tennessee Sweet Potato Casserole

-3 cups mashed sweet potatoes ( or yams)

-1 cup brown sugar [Definitely could half this amount, and still maintain over-the-topness]

-2 eggs, lightly beaten

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-1/2 cup milk

-1/2 cup melted butter

[- 1/2 teaspoon salt, approx., if using unsalted butter]

Topping:

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/3 cup flour

-1/3 cup melted butter

-1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

-Marshmallows [Optional for the Marshmallow adverse, but please do try to go outside of your boundaries]

Boil peeled sweet potatoes in water until tender and then mash them into as smooth a consistency as possible or use canned seet potatoes or yams. [NOOOooo don’t use canned! Please no.] Combine first 6 ingredients with the mashed potatoes. Pour mixture into a buttered 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix the remaining ingredients sprinkle over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until it is hot and browned on top. This will serve 6-8 people. Put the marshmallows on top of the topping. [And put back in the oven, ideally under the broiler, Peter forgets to say] Watch the marshmallows so that they don’t burn.

Cheers,
~Peter [and me]

P.S. By the way, did you know that the standard Danish work week is only 37 hours, they get six weeks of vacation, AND they have virtually no youth unemployment? This last point is accomplished by forcing all young people who have not found work after six months to either accept half their unemployment benefits, or undergo job training. See, I’m learning things!