Welcome to Our Pancake Blog

Welcome to Our Pancake Blog!

So, what does a married couple with no children and free time do? Why think of creative ways to eat of course. So begins the Around the World in Pancake Sundays project.

One day while eating pancakes made from sprouted wheat and chocolate chips, we started talking about how fun it would be to eat a different type of pancake each Sunday. I know, you must be stuck on the whole sprouted wheat pancakes. I'm sure many are thinking eeeeewwww, sounds yucky right now. However, they are actually quite tasty. We were given our first taste of them by a friend last New Year's Eve (well, technically the morning after New Year's Eve). We were so enamored of them that we went searching for our own sprouted wheat to make some for ourselves a couple of months later.

O.K., enough digressing. While eating the above mentioned pancakes, the conversation started about eating a different type of pancake each Sunday. We began to wonder if we could find a different type of pancake for each Sunday for a whole year. So we set ourselves the challenge of finding a unique pancake recipe to try out each Sunday.

We continued to talk about this idea for the next couple of weeks. We started thinking about how most cultures actually have their own versions of pancakes. This led us to try to find a pancake from each country in the world. We finally began our project last Sunday, and decided to chronicle it here in this blog.

So welcome to our pancake blog, we hope you enjoy it as much as we are sure to enjoy making and eating them! Heck, we hope you make some and enjoy them too!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mmmmm, mmmmmm, good - Bolivia

We found ourselves visiting the country of Bolivia last Sunday, and on our visit, we had at last arrived in a country where it was relatively easy to find a pancake recipe.  Initially Sam found one that called for flour and eggs, but the proportions seem to be off on this recipe for a pancake, as it looked more like a quiche in the picture that we saw.   We opted for making the Bolivian rice pancake called a torreja.  We found two separate websites that described how they got these recipes either from visiting Bolivia or from someone who was from Bolivia, so we felt pretty confident that torrejas were an actual Bolivian pancake.  As we looked at the pictures of torrejas, they reminded us A LOT of latkes; however, the taste and texture were much different once we bit into them.

So here we go with our Bolivian pancake journey.  To make torrejas you'll need:

1 cup rice (make sure it's freshly cooked rice and not rice leftover from dinner the night before)
1 large carrot, shredded
5 or 6 green onions
1/2 cup shredded cheese (any good melting cheese. We use cheddar)
1 egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-1 1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
2/3 cup of water
Flour, as needed

The first thing you'll need to to is cook the rice in the usual manner.   You should end up with 2 cups total once the rice has been cooked.  We used Basmati rice because that's what he happened to have in the house; however, I'm sure you can use whatever rice you have available to make these.

While the rice is cooking, shred the cheese, and peel and shred the carrot.  We used the fine side on a box shredder to do this.

For some reason we decided to take several pictures of the pile of shredded carrots.  I couldn't decide which one I liked the best to include in the blog, so I decided to just put them all in.  Now you get to see all of them!  (Yeah, we're sometimes weird like that and take lots of random pictures of silly things).

The rice should be finished cooking by now, so turn off the heat and set it aside as you finish preparing the other ingredients.  Chop the onion.  I accidentally threw out the green onions we bought especially for this recipe because I thought they were old onions when I cleaned out the refrigerator.  So we ended up using a yellow onion instead.  Mix the cheese, onion, and carrot in a large bowl and set aside.

 Now beat the egg in a bowl with 2/3 cup of water. 

Add flour to this egg/water mixture until you get a thick waffle like batter.  We added a little bit more than 3/4 of a cup, but not quite a full cup of flour.

At this point in time you can add the salt, pepper, and oregano to you flour/egg/water mixture.  Now you're ready to mix everything together.  Put the rice in the large bowl that has your carrots, onions, and cheese.  Then add the flour/water/egg mixture and stir until you have a sticky mixture.

Now you're ready to fry up your torrejas.  Heat your favorite oil in a frying pan.  Once it is hot, spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil and flatten to a pancake shape.

Fry them until they are golden brown on both sides.

When they're golden brown on both sides, remove from the oil and allow the excess oil to drain off.  We used a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to do this.

Finish cooking until all of the "batter" is used up.  We tried one of these after we let it cool for just a couple of minutes, and then we ate another one after it had cooled for about 7 minutes.  I will say that these had much more flavor after they had been allowed to cool.  We had some leftover shredded cheese, so I decided to top mine with the leftover cheese.  I added some additional black pepper as well, since I'm a bit of a pepper freak.

These things were really good!  They were nice and crispy and had and interesting texture to them.  I had to make myself stop eating them or else I probably would have eaten 10 at one sitting.  We stored the leftovers in a container in the refrigerator, and they have reheated nicely in a toaster oven set to 375 degrees.  They aren't quite as crispy as they were originally, but they still crisped up enough and had the same great flavor.  I imagine you could probably freeze them and get the same result as well.  Tonight for dinner I topped a couple of them with some fried eggs, and they were fantastic at catching the runny yolk as I cut into it!  If you like latkes, you'll definitely like these; so give them a try!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bhutan & Buckwheat

We find ourselves now traveling on to southeast Asia as we arrive in Bhutan.  This was another tough country to find a pancake recipe for.  We found information on what they use to make their pancakes, buckwheat, but it was a challenge finding out much more than that.

We did learn that Bhutan is a landlocked country that has arid areas where rice can't be grown.  It is in these areas that buckwheat is grown.  We also found many yummy sounding recipes from the country, but none of them were for pancakes.  We did learn the name for Bhutan pancakes, they are called khuli.  However, like with our last country, having the name of the pancake didn't help us find a recipe for it.

Most of what we learned about buckwheat agriculture and use in Bhutan came from an article published by the Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture.  If you want to read up on it, check it out here.  If you don't want to read up on it, I'll copy and paste the part we used to try to make khuli.  It literally says to make khuli this way:

After adding water into flour a batter is made. The batter is then poured onto the griddle toasted with butter. Batter for khuli is usually prepared at least an hour in advance mainly to give the pancakes a spongy consistence.

So armed with this knowledge, we headed off to find some buckwheat.  Of course, none of the grocery stores nearby had it so we ended up all the way across town at Whole Foods once again.  There we found a package of buckwheat.  We had to grind the buckwheat into a flour using our blender.  Yay Blendtec!  Originally, the buckwheat looked like this:

 Once we finished grinding it, it looked like this:

We didn't grind the whole package of buckwheat, we only ground about 3 cups.  We ended up with a little bit more than 2 1/2 cups of ground buckwheat once it was all said and done.  After grinding the buckwheat, we added a little bit of water to make the batter.  We also added a small amount of salt.  Since we wanted a slightly thicker, spongy pancake we didn't add too much water.  This is what the consistency of the batter looked like:

We let the batter sit for an hour as suggested by the agriculture ministry.  After an hour, we're ready to cook the khuli.  As stated in the quote from the agriculture ministry, we cooked the pancakes in butter.

This is what they looked like when all cooked:

They looked tasty, but they weren't very tasty.  There was something off in the texture, as these definitely weren't spongy as described in the Bhutan publication.  So we decided to thin out the batter and make them more crepe like.  After adding more water to thin the batter, we pulled out the crepe pan and began cooking them in the usual crepe way. 

These tasted quite a bit better, but they were lacking substance.  So we decided to scramble up some eggs to put inside and sprinkled the eggs with some Mexican blend cheese we had in the refrigerator.  

While I'm sure these aren't a completely Bhutanese version of pancakes, they did taste decent after we stuffed them with eggs and cheese.

 Anyone know of a better Bhutan khuli recipe? 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Black Eyed Peas Please - Benin

Our pancake travels now take us all the way from the Caribbean to northwest Africa.  I will say that our journey to discover pancakes in Africa has been a big challenge thus far.  We were unable to find a recipe for the last African country we visited.  We feared the same might be true for Benin, but we eventually stumbled upon (no, not my new addiction stumble upon, we literally stumbled upon it through old fashioned web searching) a website called Food and Cooking in Benin from the University of Pennsylvania.  Here we discovered that they eat a food for breakfast called akara in Benin.  Next we searched for akara recipes, and we discovered they are a bean type of pancake (because black eyed peas are really a type of bean and not a pea).  Alright!  Now we have a name to search for a recipe.  Well, the only akara recipes we were able to find were for Nigeria.  We decided to go ahead and make the Nigerian akara recipe since they border each other.  We figured it was probably the same type of preparation in both countries.  If anyone from Benin happens to read this post and wants to email me their version of the bean pancake, let me know and we'd love to make your version!

So here we go with the akara recipe I found.  This is what you'll need to make akara:

1 bag of black eyed peas (I don't remember what size bag we used, but it was just the normal size bag you find in the grocery store)
1 large pinch of salt

First you need to bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place the beans in the water and boil for 1-2 minutes.  This is so that you can loosen up the skin on the outside of the beans.  After boiling, strain the water out of the beans.

Alternatively, you can also soak the beans for an hour or so.  Now, if you take a look at this video, they say it is easy to take the outer skin off of the peas once it's been boiled.  However, we didn't find it so easy to take them off.  We watched almost an entire football game (which was pure torture for me as I loathe football) while we tried peeling the skins off.  It was a terrible, time consuming process.   Here are some pictures we took during this process:

The first picture was after about 15 minutes.  This next picture is after a little over an hour.

Despite the fact that it looked like we had made good progress, we hadn't.  We still had a lot of beans to take the skin off.  We were tired of this process and felt like we had enough beans to make a few bean pancakes, so we stopped peeling the skin off of the rest.  When you are finished peeling the skin off, you'll end up with an entirely white bean left.  Place the beans in a blender and add enough water to make a thick paste.  I can't give you exact measurements for this since we didn't use the entire bag of beans.  I will show you some pictures though!

Once you have a thick paste, you're ready to scoop tablespoonfuls of the paste into a preheated pan of oil.  I believe we used vegetable oil this time instead of olive oil.  As always, use whatever type of oil you prefer.  Gently flatten the mixture with the back of the spatula until you have a pancake shape.

Cook 3-4 at a time until golden brown on both sides.

While we didn't get as many as I'd hoped (because we were tired of peeling off the skin), we did get quite a few considering we only used about 1/4 of the bag of beans to make them.

If I could find an easier way to take the skin off of these, I would definitely make these again!  These were fantastic!  Besides being tasty, they also give you a large amount of protein per serving (1/2 cup of blacked eyed beans contains about 19 grams of protein).  So despite the fact that they are fried in oil, at least you're getting a nice amount of protein as well.  If you have the time to spend and are brave enough to peel them, go ahead and give these a try.  Enjoy!

Can we say cassava? Now that's one big cassava! - Belize

Our next country is Belize.  Knowing that Belize is a Caribbean country, we expected to have a more exotic country as we left Western Europe and traveled to the warmer Caribbean climate.  We weren't disappointed.  The main ingredient for the Belizean pancake is cassava.  Other common names for the cassava here in the U.S.A. are yuca and tapioca.  Finding a recipe for the Belizean pancake was not difficult; however, finding the cassava was.  Armed with the knowledge of the various names for this root vegetable, we began our hunt for the elusive root.  First we searched the web.  We went to various grocery store websites to see if they might have them, but we didn't have much luck finding it.  Sam decided we should start calling him, so we began calling, starting with Ralphs, the grocery store closest to us (yes, we were feeling lazy and didn't want to drive any further than we had to).  First phone call, no luck.  Next we tried Trader Joe's, again, no luck.  On to Vons, they didn't have it either.  The next one on our list was Sprouts.  We were hopeful they might have it, but when we called, they said they didn't (we later found out on another shopping trip that they do carry it, they must have just been out that day).  We were beginning to think we were going to have to skip Belize and make their pancakes on another day.  The last grocery store on our list was Whole Foods.  Luck at last!  Of course, now we had to drive to the other side of town to buy it since we live on the far northwest side of town and Whole foods is the southwest side of town.  I guess I should just be happy that it wasn't on the southeast side of town.  So off we went to Whole Foods to buy our cassava root.  This is what it looked like:

A whopping 17 inches long.  Now they did offer to cut it down for us so we wouldn't have to buy so much, but we decided to just buy the whole thing.

So in Belize, they call their pancake a bammy (yes, we know they are called bammies in Jamaica too).  The ingredients and recipe for making the bammies are quite simple once you have your cassava root.  Here is what you'll need:

1 lb cassava grated
salt to taste
coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk, use the full fat type)

Easy ingredient, easy to make, right?  Well, the rest of the recipe is pretty easy, it just takes some time to prepare the ingredients.  First you have to cut all of the hard outer edge off of the cassava root.  We found it easiest to cut the cassava root in half, and then use a chef's knife to cut the outer part off.

You can throw out the hard outer part, and when you're done peeling the root, you'll have something that looks like this:

After peeling the root, you'll need to shred it.  We finely shredded it with a box shredder. 

The cassava root is VERY moist, so be careful while shredding it.  After you're finished shredding, it will look something like this:

You can see the water draining out from the root.  Well, we need to get all of that excess water out before frying up our bammies.  The best way to do this would be to tie it up in a cheese cloth and let all of the excess water drain out for about 5-10 minutes.  However, we couldn't find our cheesecloth, so we repeatedly pressed it between dry paper towels until it looked like this:

Now it's time to add the salt and mix it in well.  (Sorry, no picture of this, but I'm sure you'll be able to manage without it. )  Set the mixture aside for a few moments and prepare your coconut milk.  Here's Sam's product placement photo for the week:

We found that the water had separated from the milk so we had to mix it all up again in a large container (yes we shook the can before opening it, but that didn't help much).  You can see how much it separated.  If you use a whisk, you should have a homogenous mixture in no time.

Now it's time to fry up the bammies!  Take a large heaping tablespoon of the shredded cassava root and press it flat.  Then place the flattened cake into a preheated pan of oil.  As usual, we used olive oil, but use whatever you'd like or have on hand. 

Fry 3-4 at a time until golden brown.

After they are fried golden brown, soak them in the coconut milk for 5-10 minutes (while the next batch fries).  After 5-10 minutes have passed, remove them from the coconut oil and return them to the heated oil and fry once more until they are light brown.

Once they've all been double fried, your bammies are ready to eat.  We went a little bit nontraditional and ate them with some fried eggs.

There is no need to add anything to these on top, as they have a nice salty finish from the salt that was added, and the cassava root is naturally quite sweet.  These were really tasty little pancakes that reminded me of a sweeter version of a latke.

Time for some Belgian Waffles, Ummmm . . . I mean Pancakes

Once again I find myself behind in blogging about pancakes.  This time I can't blame my hubby though, he's been very good about getting moving the pictures from the SD card to our computer's hard drive.  I think this time it is because school started back up, and I had to go back to work full time for the first time in 4 years.  It's tough getting used to working full time!

Anyway, we find ourselves back in Western Europe as we make a stop in Belgium.  I will say that it was tough finding a recipe for Belgian pancakes.  All of the recipes I kept pulling up were for Belgian waffles.  I did discover a few things about Belgian waffles in my research though.  I discovered that Belgians don't eat Belgian waffles for breakfast as we do here in the States.  Instead they eat them as a snack or dessert.  Also, what we Americans call a Belgian waffle is actually unknown in Belgium.  In Belgium there are three types of waffles that are eaten, the Brussels waffle, the Liege waffle, and the stroopwafel.  You can learn more about the first two waffles at belgianwaffle.org .  The stroopwafel is originally from The Netherlands, so I'm sure I'll talk about it in more detail when we get to the Netherlands as a country.  The Belgian waffle we Americans eat is a variation on the Brussels waffle.

O.K., now back to the Belgian pancake.  After much searching, I finally found something that the Belgians might have once eaten as a pancake.  It comes from Alison's Happy Domesticity blog.  In this particular blog, Alison talks about many of her older recipes and how she ran across this particular recipe at vintagerecipes.com.  While I tried going directly to the vintagerecipes.com website, I wasn't very successful in getting there, so I used the recipe from Alison's blog directly.  Thanks Alison for posting it!

So, here we go.  Ingredients:

2 cups of unsweetened thin applesauce
1 well-beaten egg
3 tablespoon syrup (the recipe just says syrup, we used maple syrup)
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon shortening
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

First we beat the egg in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Next we added the apple sauce and syrup.  Here is what it looked like:

In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.

The photo is obviously pre-whisking.  After whisking together the dry ingredients, mix in the wet ingredients until completely combined.

I love that you can actually see the last bits dripping out in that last picture!  Once it's all mixed up, you will end up with a very thick batter.  It almost looks like a pound cake type of batter.

Because of how thick this batter is, and the fact that the recipe as posted by Alison says to bake in the usual manner (remember, this is a vintage recipe), I almost suspect it was supposed to be baked more like a pound cake.  However, we went ahead and fried them up as we would any other pancake.  We warmed a bit of olive oil in a pan, poured 1/3 of a cup of batter in for each pancake, and then fried them up. 

Oops!  I messed up the flip!

When finished cooking, you'll end up with a rather large pile of pancakes since these things puffed up a lot!

The recipes says serve with butter and syrup.  Sam opted for butter and berries.

I have to say, I was hoping for something a little bit more spectacular since Belgian waffles are soooo yummy (both the American version and the actual Belgian versions); however, they didn't live up to my expectations.  They tasted just fine, but not as yummy as I had hoped.  Maybe they needed to be made larger (ours were about 5-6" in diameter).  If you make them, try to make them larger and let me know how they taste!