Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I will make a pancake out of ANYTHING, I am K-RAZY

Mystery pancake!
Guess.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you, but by way of some food theory first.

Pâte a Choux is a cooked batter, prepared here by Michael Ruhlman, and I am not a food scientist so I can't really explain what the magic of it is other than cooked flour with added eggs makes great pastry. (*)

Making pâte a choux is like making a roux: instead of cooking flour in fat like a roux, the flour is cooked with milk (or water) and butter until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, then you cool it off and stir in eggs until you have a batter that is loose enough to pipe out, bake off then fill.

Pâte a choux is also the batter for funnel cake, cheese puffs, éclaires, cheese straws (awesome, if you are from the US South-east you may have had these) and doughnuts.

One thing is clear, though, that the cooking of the starch seems to allow it to stretch out but also stay wonderfully soft and not too chewy, so that lead me to thinking(**).

While cleaning out my freezer (this is a rare event, and usually coincides with stock making, which we will be doing soon since I plan on roasting a chicken this week), I came across a container of gravy I had made for Thanksgiving 2011. Gravy, like pâte a choux, is a cooked starch sauce - fat globules cook starch, liquid is introduced in the form of dairy and meat stock, the starches swell and thicken the sauce et voila! Gravy.

(* Ruhlman has a similar idea to me at 04:20 in the video.. great minds wallow in the same Cleveland?)

(** Usually a bad idea, me thinking. For instance, DO NOT try to grind popcorn in your coffee grinder to [a] clean it and [b] it is like setting off an IED in your grinder, and it will crack your plastic lid; furthermore, do not grind Almonds, even roasted. It just turns into almond paste. I know there is almond flour and I have no idea how they make it..)

So, I made pancakes with gravy. Pretty good. So I have a recipe? Of course not. Let's just say this recipe is in development. Perhaps one of my Chowbacca! partners in crime will sit me down and make me measure it out. Until then, here's the garnishes:

Guacamole -

  • 1 ripe (should give a little when squeezed, but not too much, and not show signs of mold near the stem end) avocado
  • 1/2 (or to taste) jalapeño minced
  • 2 tablespoons of minced white onion
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • (optional - but not if you asked me) 1 table spoon of chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • (optional) 1 table spoon of chopped green onion
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix and cover. I like to put the avocado pit back in with the guacamole, but I have no idea if there's any magic to it (eg, ethalene gas seeping out or something).

Red Cabbage Saurkraut -

  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 or 1/3rd small red cabbage, chiffonade
  • 1/4 medium white onion, sliced thinly
  • left over brine from a raw saurkraut (I'm using Bubbies in this case)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 ounce of probiotic vinegar (I'm using Lev's)
  • water to cover

Rinse and clean all veg, chop it, stuff it into the original saurkraut jar, top it off with remaining wet ingredients. Let stand at room temperature for up to a week before refrigerating.