Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hotcakes

If there's a category for the cookbook present that goes from under the tree to recipe on the table in the shortest amount of time, the David Tanis book I received for Christmas, Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys, would probably be the undisputed winner.

We'd been planning a post-present-opening breakfast featuring a coho salmon fillet that Dave had smoked the day before and a bottle of Gruet pink champagne. The only catch was, we hadn't quite decided what would accompany the smoked salmon. Eggs? Toast? Hash browns?

That's when David Tanis saved the day -- or at least the meal. I'd unwrapped the book and was thumbing through the first couple of pages. There, on page 8, Kitchen Ritual 1, was a recipe for jalapeño pancakes. Tanis said the pancakes were excellent with smoked salmon and a dab of sour cream. I shot off the couch, book in hand. Could we possibly have the ingredients?

While we didn't have jalapeños, there were Thai bird chilies in the freezer. No sour cream, but there was an unopened tub of crème fraîche from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery. We had the scallions called for in the recipe -- plus some chives and capers that I knew would add the perfect flavor accent to the crème fraîche.

Best of all, our freezer also contained a bag of sweet corn kernels from  
last summer's crop. It was there, along with some of the corn cobs, ready for us to make a corn chowder this winter. I knew I could spare a cup or so, even though the recipe didn't call for it, plus I loved the idea of having a way to enjoy the summery taste of corn on Christmas morning.

The recipe is simple as could be -- only two steps, three if you add corn and saute the onions like I did.

In fact, it took me longer to concoct the crème fraîche topping.

The pancakes themselves are truly delicious -- with the heat from the chilies providing a pleasant, if unusual zip. Paired with Dave's salmon, it was the perfect savory treat. And the timing? From under the tree to on the table in less than an hour!

Jalapeño Pancakes
From Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis

Ingredients1 cup all -purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (I used powdered buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion or scallion (I used a combination of scallions and finely minced shallots)
1 or 2 jalapeno chilies, sliced thin (I used Thai bird chilies, because I had them on hand. I think using chilies is key -- because it's the heat in the pancakes that makes them so unusual.)
1/2 tsp toasted coarsely ground cumin
NOTE: I added 1 cup of frozen sweet corn. Fresh would probably work as well.

1. Mix up the batter, and stir in the onion, jalapenos, and cumin. (I sauteed the shallots and scallions with the corn.)
2. Heat up the griddle, and make your pancakes.

Lynn's Crème Fraîche Topping
1 cup crème fraîche
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1-2 tablespoons of capers, drained (depends on how much you like capers)
1 tablespoon snipped chives

Mix together and serve with smoked salmon and corncakes.

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