You know how I urged you to bookmark the previous two Cook the Book recipes for winter? This one you're going to want to bookmark for spring. Sure, it's not strawberry time, but we wanted to highlight produce-aisle citizens from across the spectrum this week.
Anyway, this hotcake recipe is from How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons, a book that's all about where the foods in the produce aisle come from, when they're at their best, and how to pick a prime example of whatever it is you're in the market for. The recipe follows after the jump, but first a couple of tips from Parsons.
- How to choose: There are a lot of little indicators of strawberry quality, but the most important is probably the simplest: smell. Great strawberries have a distinctive candied aroma that you can't miss. Beyond that, the berries should be completely red (the exact shade of red will depend on the variety); avoid any with white tips. The green hull should look fresh, not dried out. The berries should be glossy, without any matte spots where the flesh has started to break down. Always look at the underside of the berry basket—that's where crushed berries may be hiding and where spoilage will start. It's not at all uncommon to pick up a basket of berries that are beautiful on top but are as gray and fuzzy as a freshman dorm refrigerator underneath.
- How to store: This is a tough one, because refrigerating damages the flavor of strawberries, but the fruit is so tender that not chilling will lead to rapid spoilage. The best solution is to buy berries from a local farmer and eat them the same day without putting them in the refrigerator. Failing that, transfer the berries to a plastic bag (to prevent excessive drying) lined with a paper towel (to absorb excessive moisture) and refrigerate them.
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 3 large eggs, separated
- Quick Strawberry Compote
- 1/2 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water skitter across the surface. Slowly pour 1/2 cup of the batter in the center of the skillet, forming as much of a circle as you can. (Using a ladle or measuring cup with a lip makes this easier.)
Cook until the bottom of the pancake is lightly browned and the top begins to look slightly dry, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until it feels somewhat firm when pressed lightly in the center, about 2 minutes more.
Remove from the pan and keep warm in a 200-degree oven as you continue with the rest of the batter. Serve 2 pancakes per person, with a generous portion of compote.
Quick Strawberry Compote
- makes about 1 cup -
Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times just to chop the berries small. Do not purée.
Transfer the mixture to a small nonstick skillet and cook over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use. Serve warm or at room temperature.