Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes

Is it just me or haven’t the berries this season been phenomenal? Plump, sweet blueberries. Juicy, tangy raspberries. Ruby red strawberries. It’s no wonder that the baby has been devouring berries, smacking her lips and savoring the textures and juiciness of each berry as she squishes them before popping them in her mouth. I fear for us when berry season is over.

But for now, it seems like that end is nowhere in sight. Last week we received a flat of strawberries (our first bulk share shipment) plus an additional pint as part of our regular share. All of the strawberries were perfectly ripe. We sailed through two pints in a single day, but couldn’t keep up that rate of consumption without some variation to keep things interesting. So as I stood in front of an open refrigerator on Saturday morning staring at the remaining 6 pints of strawberries, I spied a container of ricotta cheese and instantly knew what I needed to do. Pancakes sandwiching a sweetened ricotta filling and layered with macerated strawberries.

I lightened the ricotta by folding in some whipped cream then brightened the flavors with some lemon zest and a touch of almond extract. The strawberries, although sweet on their own, turned glistening thanks to the juices released from tossing them with a little bit of light brown sugar. I stacked my pancakes with layers of ricotta and strawberries in between. I even made a little baby sized one for the baby! John, who usually takes care of feeding her solids since I take care of the… er… liquids, took a look at the beautiful miniature pancake sandwich and rather alarmed, asked, “How is she supposed to eat this???” Well, like we ate it. It’s beautiful to look at but even better when you demolish it. Each bite cut from the stack, squishes out some of the ricotta filling, mixing it with the berry juices into a delightful sludge that ends up mimicking syrup. Smashy smashy!

Pancakes

  • 8 oz all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz of milk, plus a splash more
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered for larger berries)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Ricotta filling

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

To make pancakes, preheat a griddle over medium heat and preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl, combine butter, 8 oz milk, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined. There should still be lumps. Add a splash more milk to thin out the batter if you wish. Reduce the heat under the griddle to medium low then lightly butter with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Pour out pancakes to about 4 inches in diameter (about 1/3 cup). Cook until the edges have solidified and bubbles in the center of the pancake pop and make little holes. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Continue cooking pancakes in batches, placing finished pancakes in the low heat oven. I got six 4-inch pancakes and two 3-inch pancakes.

While pancakes cook, combine strawberries and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

To make the ricotta filling, add the heavy cram to a chilled metal bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Place ricotta in a medium bowl and add the sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest, mixing until combined. Add the whipped cream and gently fold it in.

To serve– plate a pancake, top it with 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling, a heaping spoonful of strawberries, then repeat two more times.

Yields 2 servings and 1 baby sized one.

CSA Count: 1

Strawberries

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Cinnamon Apple Pomegranate Pancakes

Yesterday was my birthday. I feel lucky to have Feb. 17 as my birthday both because I share it with my older brother (as in born on the same day, just 7 years apart, not twin) and because it always falls around a three-day weekend, thanks to Presidents Lincoln and Washington. Three-day weekend folks– there’s no excuse but to have a long, indulgent breakfast.

When I say long, indulgent breakfast, I of course mean a warming and delicious breakfast that you can linger over eating and hanging out with friends and family, not one that takes forever cooking. These apples, spiked with cinnamon and pomegranate seeds topping chai spiced pancakes make for that perfect, mid-winter break breakfast/brunch meal.

Those apples caramelize in some butter and brown sugar and the pomegranate seeds add color as well as bursts of sweet-tart juice with each bite of a tender, spicy cake. Drizzle some syrup and add some crispy bacon on the side, what’s not to love?

Note: I find the best way to remove pomegranate seeds is to submerge each half of a split pomegranate in a big bowl of water then use your fingers to pry out the seeds. The white pith floats to the top while the heavier seeds sink to the bottom. You can then skim off the pith before draining the seeds in a colander. To boost up the pomegranate flavor, if you have pomegranate juice on hand, try reducing a cup or so in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it thickens into a syrup and drizzle that on your pancakes instead of plain old maple.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium honey crisp apples, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus an additional 2 teaspoons for the pancakes
  • canola oil
  • 8-12 ounces milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces flour (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • maple syrup

In a medium skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the apples and stir to coat. Cook until softened slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle in brown sugar and pomegranate seeds before stirring in 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until apples are golden brown, about another 6-7 minutes.

While apples cook, mix together 8 ounces of milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cardamom in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until combined with a few small lumps. Add more milk if you want looser pancakes. Cook pancakes on a lightly greased griddle or large skillet over medium low heat. Serve pancakes, topped with apples and pomegranate seeds with warmed maple syrup.

Makes 6-8 4-inch pancakes.

Banana Pecan Marscarpone Pancakes

I could try to sell this to you as an idea for a Mother’s Day breakfast, but I’m not going to because of my proprietary nature. I’m keeping this one filed away for when I open my own bed and breakfast some day.

It’s a simple enough concept. One day a couple of years ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning and started to put together our usual Bisquick pancake and bacon breakfast. Although Bisquick results in a perfectly good pancake, I was a little bored with just plain pancakes and wanted to dress them up a little. A couple of soon to be overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and a couple of tablespoons of leftover marscarpone cheese in the fridge and I knew what I had to do. I caramelized the bananas in some butter and brown sugar with a handful of pecans toasting in there as well. The bananas tasted slightly like butterscotch and were just slightly browned and gooey, a perfect contrast to a single dollop of cold, creamy, tangy marscarpone cheese.

With this breakfast, I kept the topping but swapped out the Bisquick pancakes for ones made from scratch, enlivened with a bit of yellow cornmeal. The result was a fluffy pancake with a slightly nutty chew. Okay, so I’m not really all that possessive of this recipe– I believe recipes are for sharing and tweaking. So go ahead, and make this for your mother’s day breakfast. After all, it wouldn’t be right to make Mom wait for me to pull the funds together for that B&B.

Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pecan pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 2-4 tablespoons of marscarpone cheese
  • maple syrup

Heat a griddle or large skillet, lightly brushed with oil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk through vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. This will result in a thick batter that will produce cakey pancakes– if you like yours on thinner side, add a splash of milk to thin out the batter.

Using a ladle or a 1/4 cup measure, spoon the batter onto the griddle. Flip them when you see light browning around the edges and bubbles in the center pop and craters remain in the pancakes, about 3-4 minutes, then continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes until lightly browned on the second side. Keep pancakes warm in a low heated oven until ready to serve.

While pancakes cook, make the topping. In a medium skillet, melt butter in over medium heat. Sprinkle in the pecans and brown sugar. Toast the pecans for 3-4 minutes before adding in the banana slices. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes or until bananas are lightly caramelized around the edges. Mix in the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Spoon topping over pancakes and top with a dollop of marscarpone. Drizzle syrup on top.

Ricotta Pancakes

Even though my breakfast cravings tend toward the savory, pancakes are a regular part of our weekend breakfast menu rotation. They cook up quickly, are versatile in toppings, and are as sweet as you want them to be.

In the past I’ve made pancakes using a mix and our pantry was quite the warehouse o’ mixes. You got your Bisquick for more relaxed weekends when you can take the time to add more than just water; you’ve got the whole grain local brand, purchased when John recognized that it was produced by a hotel near where his grandparents lived; and you’ve got the Krusteaz, the giant 25 lb bag of it leftover from camping trips. Of course, when the Krusteaz is used, we have to eat the pancakes in the camping style of “pancake tacos”: fold your pancake like a taco shell around the bacon in order to minimize the number of dishes and utensils that will have to be laboriously washed at the campsite later. The need for less dirty dishes isn’t as great when dining at home, but this means we can also play the accompanying game of arguing over the history of how pancake tacos were invented. It’s disputed whether Aristotle or Pancho Villa invented them during the Peloponnesian War, fought against Napoleon and Genghis Kahn over the where to mark the southern border of Missouri. Hmmm… perhaps some inside jokes should stay inside.

But lately, the mixes have gone untouched in our pantry since I learned how easy it is to make pancakes from scratch. I recently read Ratio by Michael Ruhlman and have been playing around with the concepts he teaches for making a variety of food items (everything from bread to custards) when you know the ratio of basic ingredients. I threw together these pancakes using the ratio method since I had leftover ricotta in the fridge and figured that the cheese could be used in lieu of some of the basic liquid portion.

I’ve had ricotta pancakes before using a recipe from the Moosewood cookbook. Those pancakes were more liquid than flour in ingredients so they were light, and thin and lacy. These, however, having more flour in the ingredients, so they cooked up more cake-like; yet there must be something in using the cheese because they puffed up to be super light and fluffy. Also, when I make pancakes, I like to add a little more fat to the pan than just a light brushing in order to have a thin crispy crust on the outside. I like to eat them, slathered in butter with a medium but not obnoxious amount of maple syrup. Perhaps next time I make these, I might put forth the theory that these were created out of necessity by Confucius to survive the Potato Famine in Tunisia…

  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted plus more butter for cooking
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp canola oil.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat and lightly brush the surface with canola oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta through the lemon zest until combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through the salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until the batter is smooth with a few lumps.

Reduce heat to medium low and add a thin pat of butter to the pan, about 1/4 tbsp. Once the butter has melted, make the pancakes using 1/4 cup ladle full of pancake batter. You know the drill from here: let them cook undisturbed until you see the edges are lightly browned and any bubbles that formed in the center of the cake have popped and have retained little craters in their wake. Flip the pancakes over and continue to cook for a minute or two more or until light brown on the other side. You can keep pancakes warm in an oven heated to 185 degrees F until ready to serve.