Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love

I would actually say that I had made breakfast on Sunday morning for the ones I love, but Jeremy didn't eat breakfast ... he never wakes up hungry, even on weekend mornings when I have both the time and the inclination to make something special. So instead, I made breakfast for Tom and me -- something just a tad different from his usual routine of oatmeal and rye toast with peanut butter.

Eggs make a nice light summer dinner -- and we've been taking advantage of that during our recent heat wave -- so I didn't want to see them in the morning, too. I don't own a waffle iron, though I know I could have some fun with that! There was no bacon, no sausage, and I didn't want anything too heavy anyway. Quite frankly, I was just in the mood for pancakes.

And I had a quart of tart cherries at my disposal, freshly pitted after being purchased at the Farmers' Market. Michigan, of course, is rightfully famous for its tart cherries; and I am infamous for being their #1 fan.

Every year, I buy flats of cherries and then spend the rest of the afternoon getting sunburnt as I pit them, 'cause it's a bit of a sticky job which is better done outside; and if I'm going to be outside, I need a little burst of Vitamin D from the sun to remind myself that I don't only live at my desk and in my kitchen and in front of my computer.

Now, there are two kinds of cherries to tell you about:

The cherries on top (ha!) are Montmorency cherries, the traditional tart cherry we all know and love from pies and other baked goods; they're bright red with clear juice, and they are very sour. The ones below are Balaton cherries, a variety which originated in Hungary and which is fast replacing the Montmorencies 'round here because they're hardier; their skin is not quite as dark as that of a sweet cherry, and the juice runs clear. They're still tart, but are not excessively so.

Ideally I use both types of cherry, because each lends its own particular "je ne sais quoi" to the product. But on Sunday morning I only had Balatons available to me, and so that's what I used to make a lovely sauce for the pancakes.

I had grand, romantic visions of serving this charming breakfast to my sweetie, and set to work in the kitchen. Pancake batter -- oats, flour, eggs, yup. Sauce -- cherries, sugar, water, yup. Place everything needed for the sauce into a small saucepan to start boiling, get ready to stir in some cornstarch to thicken it a bit and ....

Don't I have a box of cornstarch in here somewhere?

Oh, no, that's right -- I used it up. Okay, where'd the potato starch (left over from Passover) go ...?

C'mon -- behind the flour?

Behind the cupcake liners and sprinkles??

Behind anything in this cupboard???

Oh, my God, I'm right in the middle of making this breakfast I'd promised and I can't find any cornstarch and I can't find any potato starch and I've got cherries bubbling in some liquid that isn't going to turn into a sauce and I'm going to be peeved and ticked off and upset and I'm going to have to apologize for this sorry excuse for a breakfast when I have a reputation to uphold as some sort of a cook?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Deep breath, now ....

I tossed in some confectioners' sugar, which contains cornstarch. Good, nowhere near sufficient. Now what? NOW WHAT??? Tapioca. I have some instant tapioca floating around here somewhere, though God only knows what kind of condition it's in since I've never used it and I think it's been sitting here for a coupla years. Oh, yeah, got rid of that, too, when I cleaned out the pantry shelves. This is why it's good to not do that sort of work -- you might be overly zealous and get rid of something that might prove useful once every 5 years or so.

So, finally I tossed in a bit of flour, hoping and praying that it wouldn't clump up and that it would serve as a thickener for my sauce as it does if it's used in a pie filling. And it worked ... oh, thank God! My reputation remains intact, at least for the moment ... until this post is read, anyway.

The pancakes turned out beautifully, rising nicely because I used a lot of baking powder to compensate for the heaviness of the whole grains. The sauce was sweet and loaded with cherries, and it turned out to be just the right consistency to pour over everything. Sigh ....

Whole Grain Pancakes with Fresh Cherry Sauce

Cherry Sauce:

2 cups Balaton cherries, pitted (substitute frozen or canned tart cherries, if necessary)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water


2 packets instant oatmeal (I used maple and brown sugar flavor)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups skim milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice of half lemon

Make the sauce: Place the cherries, sugar, 1/3 cup water and extract into a small saucepan; bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the cherries, stir, and lower heat to simmer; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, as you cook the pancakes. (Note: this is how I would have made the sauce if I'd had cornstarch. I actually used 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and a tablespoon of flour, if you want to replicate the results of the stressful scenario described above.)

Make the pancakes: In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a measuring cup, combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, place 4 blobs of pancake batter into a 10"-12" non-stick skillet. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or so until the tops of the pancakes start to bubble, then carefully flip and cook for another 2 minutes.

Makes enough pancakes for 4 people.

Oh, by the way, I'm not someone who collects a lot of knicky-knacky cherry-related tzotchkes. I took all the photos of the kitsch at a local thrift store; I'm guessing that someone cleared out a grandmother's attic and dumped all those cutesy little things after they didn't sell at a garage sale, perhaps ....


Rose said...

pancakes sound good. i tend to do the cheat as use pancake mixthat only call for water boy!that sounds terrible may have to try your recipe.

Erin Wallace said...

My husband would LOVE this! He is cherry crazy, while I lean toward peaches. But I'll have to give this a try for my guy.

xo Erin

Rachel (Diary of a Recovering Chocoholic) said...

Mmm. I love pancakes and cherry topped ones sound delicious.

Christina said...

I love pan cakes and this one looks deadlicious. You are always fun to read...

Abby said...

I wish I had those for breakfast right now! They look amazing.

Ruth said...

oh yum, I think my girls would love this. I think I am going to try next Pancake Sunday!!

Michelle said...

Oh! I'm not the only one who enters a crowded thrift shop with the ambition to take pictures?

Pancakes with cherries sound lovely. I've been wanting to try a golden variety of cherry called Rainier cherries -- I've never tried them before, but seeing them in the store makes my mouth water.

Marissa said...

HILARIOUS...totally know the feelign of being right in the middle of cooking and then BAM, you realize you do NOT have what you thought you had. Ha! They turned out lookin' pretty yummy...we love whole grain pancakes around here too. I add flaxseed meal to ours to give them an extra kick of fiber and omega-3's! YUM!!

Cranberry Morning said...

Looks delicious! Quick thinking on your part saved the day! :-)

Wish I'd been with you at that thrift store. I would have come away with those darling cherry canisters!!

Unknown said...

I do love me some pancakes!! YUM! Very nice recovery on the cherry sauce. You are like a marine, you adapt and conquer!! lol

Yenta Mary said...

Oooh, peaches are sounding like a good topping now! And the flax seeds would have been a perfect addition ... I even have some, too, but wasn't thinking. I'm still wishing I'd bought the 2 cherry canisters, but I had nowhere to put them ... they still should've come home with me, though!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

I miss Michigan cherries!! They are so good!! Nice save on the sauce. I really hate running out of an ingredient in the middle of a recipe. That reminds me I need to check my own cornstarch supply... :)

Steph @ Professors_Wife said...

WOW is all i can say. And i love that the recipe you shared is for whole grain pancakes! DELICIOUS. you are so good at blogging about food. I am drooling!

Keri said...

Hey Ms. 313 Followers! I'll have to look into getting me some of that there "je ne sais quoi" you speak of. HUNY that breakfast looks like a slice of heaven to me. You're amazingly adept at this stuff. But then, you already know that. LOVE LIBBY H. to death. Having a blast up here in your world today. Say, let me add that those sunglasses you're sporting are a fetching addition to an already beautiful Yenta, Mary. Love talking to you. Keri

Meg O. said...

THAT LOOKS AMAAAAAAZING! Totally going to wake up and try that one day for the hubs!

Sheena said...

Those look amazing! Something I will have to try soon!

Beth Zimmerman said...

I'm the only one in my family that LOVES pancakes so we rarely eat them. That did sound yummy though!

Team Chastain said...

Note to self: Have breakfast at Mary's house someday! LOL

mae said...

oh my gosh you are a bitty little ball of cuteness!! :: hugs :: adding you back! share cupcake coalition with the world!!


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