Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tuesday fried chicken

fryers fig. a: mmm, fried chicken

Sometime late last year we came to the decision that it was about time we rolled up our sleeves and learned to fry some dang chicken. Having the tangy fried chicken at Ange & Ricky one day, fresh out of the fryer, was the turning point--especially because for some strange reason every bite kept reminding me of my Slovak grandmother's fried chicken. I felt like I owed it to her. I felt like I owed it to the two of us. Anyway, early 2007 saw us dabbling with recipes, trying to find our sure-fire method, but still a bit hesitant to dive in and officially become regular chicken fryers. Then the Lee Bros. stepped into our life. Their no-nonsense approach to fried chicken freed us right up. Grease? Ventilation issues?

We hear people say they don't fry chicken at home because they don't want to live with the grease, and our answer to that is this: we've fried in galley-sized kitchens with no ventilation whatsoever, and it's rarely been a problem. If you were running a fried-chicken restaurant from such a kitchen, there might be cause for concern, but you're not. So just open your windows wide and fry away. You'll be glad you did.

The other thing the Lee Bros. helped us out with was our frying temperature. It's kind of hard to believe, but even among fried chicken experts, there's a fair bit of debate about that most essential of chicken-frying factors. We'd tried a few of these other methods with mixed results, then we heeded the Lee Bros.' advice, keeping the temperature pegged at 325º F, as much as humanly possible, and our results were, well, golden. We've never looked back.

We've yet to make the Lee Bros.' Sunday Fried Chicken recipe, which involves a good 4 hours of brining, but we've been using a slightly modified version of their Tuesday Fried Chicken--a simplified version perfect as a "pick-me-up at the end of a long, bluesy workday"--for the last couple of months.

Tuesday Fried Chicken

3 cups peanut oil
1 recipe AEB Spicy Fry Dredge
3 pounds chicken legs and thighs

essential equipment: candy thermometer

Preheat the oven to 250º F.

Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 325º F on a candy thermometer. [Note: if you use a different size skillet, make sure you've got 1/3" of oil in order to ensure proper frying.]

Place the fry dredge in a medium bowl or in a large, sturdy plastic bag. Dredge the chicken thoroughly by rolling it in the bowl or shaking it in the bag. Shake off any excess dredge. Using tongs, transfer 3 legs and 3 thighs to the skillet, skin side down, and cover. Fry the chicken, maintaining a constant temperature of 325º F or higher, until the chicken is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Uncover the skillet, turn the chicken pieces with the tongs, and fry 6 minutes more, until the chicken is golden brown all over. Turn it and fry for another 3 minutes, then turn again and fry for 3 more minutes. The chicken should be an even dark golden-brown all over.

With the tongs, transfer the chicken to a paper-towel-lined plate and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat above steps with the remaining chicken.

When all the chicken is done, serve immediately, and pass a cruet of Pepper Vinegar at the table so you can spritz your chicken.

Serves 4 hungry people.

AEB Spicy Fry Dredge

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp stone-ground cornmeal
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 rounded tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper twice. Use as directed.

Makes 3/4 cup.

pepper vinegar fig. b: yes! pepper vinegar

Pepper Vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar
2 Thai, serrano, or bird's eye chiles, fresh or dried

With a funnel, pour the vinegar into a cruet or mason jar. Add the chiles and use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to submerge them, if necessary. Cap the cruet or place the lid on the jar and refrigerate. The vinegar will be well infused in 24 hours and will keep for months in the refrigerator.

It's Tuesday. Start frying.


[Thanks again to the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ramps 'R' Us

ramps fig. a: Nino's ramps

It hasn't been the most prolific year for ramps in this area in large part because the government of Quebec decided to crack down on the sale of ramps again (for more on this phenomenon, see last year's ramps post). We went by Chez Nino (at Jean-Talon Market) early in the season and he had the first of the ramps on offer, but they weren't the nicest we'd seen, so we held off, thinking we'd come back in a week to see what the next batch looked like. When we did, we found out that Nino had been raided, their sale of ramps brought to a halt. Surely their ramps weren't from Quebec and surely they had the paperwork to show that they'd actually come from Ontario or upstate New York or someplace else--whatever the case, they sure didn't have any ramps and they weren't sure if they were going to be able to have any before season's end. That's when Michelle decided to take things into her own hands. She got on the horn and and left a message with "Raoul". She knew that if anyone in town had ramps for sale, it'd be Raoul, a contact from her days at Les Chèvres, and she was positive they'd be beautiful. The very next day we came home to find a message waiting for us from Raoul in his inimitable gravelly voice--our very own Deepthroat. He was going to be getting ramps later in the week, the message said; he'd give us a call when he did. Three days later, not only had Raoul managed to score his Ontario ramps, but he was delivering them to our door. He didn't bother ringing the doorbell, he just called from the street on his cell phone and Michelle dashed out to exchange unmarked bills for her precious bundles of ramps. I looked out the window to see if I could get a glimpse of the shadowy Raoul, but the windows on his truck were tinted and, anyway, at over 200 paces, the distance was too great to get a good view. When Michelle reemerged, she looked like this:

ramps! fig. b: "Raoul's" ramps

Might not look like much, but that's something in the neighborhood of $70 worth of this highly coveted commodity. Plus, not all of them were for us. Michelle had gotten the word out to some of her ramps-loving friends, so a few bunches were already accounted for. In any case, having already succeeded in making the world's most expensive marmalade earlier this year, Michelle decided it was time that she proceeded to make the world's most expensive pickles too. The double whammy. We trimmed the tentacles from the bottoms of the ramps, but otherwise nothing went to waste. The white parts of the ramps mostly went into Michelle's terribly exclusive pickled ramps; the greens we ate raw, as-is, we added them to salads, we sauteed them,

n.y. strip, mushrooms, fiddleheads, ramps fig. c: NY strip steak, mushrooms, fiddleheads and ramps greens sauté

and I even made a couple of risottos with them. They've got a whole lot of flavor, so a little goes a long way.

Want to make your own jar (or two) of the world's most expensive pickles?** Michelle made two recipes this year, including this one. [Note: this recipe doubles as a Pickled Scallions recipe for those who can't get their hands on ramps or who'd like to make something a little less exclusive]

Lee Bros.' Pickled Scallions

2 pounds ramps or scallions
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp kosher salt
1 quart plus 1 cup water, room temperature
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 dried hot chiles, such as Thai or Arbol
2 cups distilled vinegar
2 tsp sugar

2 pint-sized mason jars, with rims and lids

With a small paring knife, trim the roots from the ramps (or scallions) plus any outer leaves that look tired or wilted. Cut them crosswise 4 inches from the root end and reserve the greens for another use.

In a 2-quart bowl, dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water. Add the ramps (or scallions), garlic, and chiles, and weigh them down with a small, clean plate to keep them submerged, if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Fill a 3-quart pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Using tongs or a jar lifter, carefull set the jars on their sides, along with their lids, in the boiling water to sterilize. Boil for 15 minutes, then remove the jars from the water with tongs or a jar lifter and set aside.

Pour the vinegar and 1 cup water into a 1-quart saucepan. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt and the sugar and bring to a boil.

Drain the ramps (or scallions), garlic, and chiles. Dip the tongs into the boiling vinegar brine for a few minutes, then use them to transfer the ramps or scallions, garlic, and chiles to your sterilized mason jars. If the bulb ends of the ramps (or scallions) are stout, pack half of them into each jar with their root ends facing down, and the remaining half with their root ends facing up, to maximize the space in each jar. Pour the brine into the jars and tap them to release any air bubbles. Place the lids on the jars, seal, and set aside to cool. Allow the ramps (or scallions) to steep in the refrigerator for 2 days before serving. Pickled scallions will keep for about 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

[recipe from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook]

Anyway, had we only managed to get our hands on Raoul's backdoor ramps, I think we would have refrained from posting about it. But just this week we stopped by Nino again, and, out of the blue, ramps were back. Act fast, because just like fiddleheads,

fiddleheads fig. d: fiddleheads

this is in all certainty the last week they're going to be available. Sure they're a little pricey, but isn't that the case with everything that's similarly rare, similarly fleeting, similarly singular?


*This name has been changed to protect "Raoul's" identity.

**Of course, if you foraged your ramps, like you're supposed to, they'd cost next to nothing and wouldn't be very exclusive at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Short Hop to Michigans and Back

No, that's not yet another egregious typo up there in the title. We only had about 4-5 hours to play with, so making it to Michigan and back was completely out of the question. Plus, for the kind of Michigan we were looking for, it's not clear crossing the Peace Bridge from Windsor into Detroit would have done us much good. We were in search of Michigans, the legendary hot dog concoctions, not Michigan, the state, so we headed to the town which, if it isn't the official Michigans capital of the world, most definitely is the Michigans capital of New York's North Country: Plattsburgh.

Prior to September of last year, we were pretty ignorant of Plattsburgh. We knew it sat on Lake Champlain and that it was a college town. We knew it had a pretty nice downtown core visible from Amtrak's Montreal-New York Adirondack Express, but, aside from that, our attitude towards Plattsburgh was one typical of a lot of Montrealers: we couldn't see past the strip malls, gas stations, and fast food chains on the edge of town. Then we received our October 2006 issue of Gourmet, read Jane and Michael Stern's "Roadfood" piece on Plattsburgh and its Michigans specialists, and suddenly we were seeing the town with new eyes. We started talking about Michigans with some frequency and Plattsburgh suddenly got vaulted towards the top of our road trip wish-list. Plattsburgh's Michigans became such an obsession, in fact, that in February, on our way down to New York City, I had to physically restrain Michelle when our train pulled into Plattsburgh because of her desperate attempts to disembark and blindly score "just one Michigan, just one lousy Michigan" before the train pulled out again (without her parka, I should add).

The strange thing about all this is that neither of us had ever met a chili dog (for that, in essence, is what a Michigan is) we really liked--it had never occurred to either of us that a chili dog could actually be a good thing. Then, suddenly, after reading the Sterns' account of this "small, porky frank bedded in a cream-soft bun and topped with mustard, onions, and a sauce made from a little tomato, a lot of spice, and finely ground beef" it all made sense. "Of course," we thought. "What's the problem?" Okay, the mustard seemed a little bizarre, and then there was that whole business with the nomenclature (why this hot dog + "Texas Red" became known as a Michigan in Plattsburgh is anybody's guess, although the Sterns' mention one credible story involving a transplanted Michigander who introduced the chili dog to Plattsburgh when sales on her mustard and sauerkraut-topped dogs went flat). But aside from that...

Anyway, after all that "talk, talk, talk" we finally made it down to Plattsburgh in search of Michigans yesterday, inspired by a Montreal-style Michigan we sampled earlier in the week, and intrigued by the vast differences between Michigans on opposite sides of the border (Montreal's are made with a meaty spaghetti sauce). Plus, it was nice out and we were in the mood for a drive along Lake Champlain, so we fired up our car and headed for the border.

Chazy Orchards fig. a: Chazy Orchards, Chazy, NY

Shortly after crossing into New York we came across the famous Chazy Orchards, the ones we'd heard about last year from Mr. Safian. If you look closely you'll notice three things: 1) that's our car there in the parking lot, 2) that's Michelle sitting in the passenger seat of our car, 3) and that sign for Chazy Orchards reads "Largest McIntosh Orchard..." What you can't see is that the bottom reads "In the World." The image, oddly, shows a map of North America on the face of a huge McIntosh. Stranger still, the map of North America is missing Canada. Very interesting...

Boylan's root beer fig. b: Boylan's root beer

A little further down the road we came across Conroy's Organics. We were hoping we might find some ramps that we could try to smuggle back into Quebec, but all we came across was some gorgeous, but pricey, asparagus. As a consolation prize I bought myself a Boylan's root beer, the first of three soft drinks I'd guzzle (completely uncharacteristically) during the course of our short hop, and easily the best.

Clare & Carl's fig. c: Clare & Carl's, Plattsburgh, NY

The Sterns mention three Michigans stands in their article: Gus's, McSweeney's, and Clare & Carl's. We had an unbelievably easy time finding the first two--they were within a 1/4 mile of each other--but locating Clare & Carl's was another matter. The article doesn't provide much in the way of directions, but we're usually pretty good at sussing these things out regardless. What added to the confusion this time around was that although Gus's is listed as being at 3 Cumberland Head Road, McSweeney's is listed at 535 N. Margaret Street, and Clare & Carl's is listed at 4729 U.S. Route 9, all three establishments are essentially on the very same stretch of road, U.S. Route 9. Two virtually side-by-side on the north end of town (Gus's and McSweeney's), and the other (Clare & Carl's) two miles to the south of downtown Plattsburgh. Anyway, although McSweeney's seemed to get the best rating when it came to their chili, the Sterns' description of Clare & Carl's was the one that had us the most intrigued, so that's where we went first and we were glad we did.

First stop: Clare & Carl's

Clare & Carl's is a wonderfully decrepit hot dog stand that dates back to 1942. It's so weather-beaten, in fact, that it looks like it's sinking back into the ground on which it was erected (a fact that the cartoon on the back of the Clare & Carl's t-shirts worn by the servers accentuates to hilarious effect). The interior is tiny: just a gorgeous vintage U-shaped counter and a small kitchen out back. There are also picnic tables for those who want to dine al fresco and you always have the option of getting carhop service, too. That's right: carhop service. In the 21st century.

graffiti, Clare & Carl's fig. d: graffiti, Clare & Carl's, Plattsburgh, NY

The whole place is very photogenic.

old-school, Clare & Carl's fig. e: conveniences, Clare & Carl's, Plattsburgh, NY

Right down to their washrooms.

More importantly, though, their Michigans are outrageously good. Their chili is made with finely ground beef and it's rich and flavorful, with no sweet to it and just a little bit of heat. Onions are a must, and you have the option of having them as a topping or "buried" under the dog and the sauce. Mustard is provided on the side. I didn't dare add mustard--I was having too good a time already--but Michelle cleverly applied mustard to half of hers so she could run her very own taste test. Afterwards she swore the mustard had added "a little something" that actually took the combo to new heights.

Suffice to say, we left Clare & Carl's completely enamored. We promised each other then and there that Clare & Carl's would become a regular part of our travels between Montreal and points south.

McSweeney's Michigan w/ onions fig. f: McSweeney's Michigan w/ onions, Plattsburgh, NY

Next stop: McSweeney's.

We thought we might find a cluster of lit-heads--online lit-heads, to be precise--archly nibbling their Michigans and slurping back their "sauceburgers" then irritating the staff by repeatedly asking, "Uh, is Timothy working today?" and then chortling, but instead we found ourselves in the presence of a car club. A Smart car club. A Canadian Smart car club. Who knew? We certainly didn't, and we were horrified to find out such things exist. This was certainly not the band of lovable eccentrics that take part in that London - Brighton antique car rally you see in Genevieve (1953). Here, instead, was a group of people who hadn't banded together out of a love of restoring cars, but simply because they'd happened to buy the same brand of car right off the showroom floor. Now that's kinship. Plus, they'd each taken their supposedly eco-friendly cars on a road trip--a group road trip. We couldn't help but think that maybe renting a van might have been friendlier on the environment. Anyway, the spectacle of this, er, Smart car club wasn't particularly easy on the stomach, but we had serious research to complete so we took a deep breath and soldiered on.

At only 16 years of age, McSweeney's is the youngest of Plattsburgh's red-hots stands. It's bright and spanky-looking on the outside and has all the charm of a Long John Silvers on the inside. We ordered our two Michigans and opted to sit outside at a picnic table even if the Smart car club was busy revving their engines. McSweeney's Michigans sauce was the most authentically chili-like of the Michigans we sampled. The ground beef was coarser than Clare & Carl's and the sauce was much spicier, more complex. Their Michigans came with mustard as a standard feature, and when I tasted the entire ensemble together I suddenly understood Michelle's preference. The mustard added yet another layer of spice, of warmth, and somehow it still worked. All in all, I was pretty impressed by my McSweeney's Michigan--and I couldn't get over the fact that they too offered carhop service (just check out that tray!)--but Michelle felt pretty strongly that Clare & Carl's had not been unseated. There was no question who was #1 on the ambiance front, that's for sure.

Final stop: Gus's.

Gus's was the place that intrigued us the least even if its history does date back to 1951. Reading over the Sterns' section on Gus's again, I'm not sure why. Our intuition turned out to be correct, though. Gus's Michigan (Michelle had bowed out by this time, leaving me with daunting challenge of completing the Plattsburgh Michigans trifecta solo) was very good, but it was sweeter than either of the previous two and somehow not quite as distinctive. Plus, nothing about Gus's indicated that it had been in business for 56 years. The interior was pure "family dining" at its most banal. But I didn't let any of that get to me--I polished off that Gus's red hot in seconds flat.

Final results:
Win: Clare & Carl's
Place: McSweeney's
Show: Gus's

Would we do it again? Absolutely. Do we need to go to all three ever again? Nah. You'll find us at Clare & Carl's with our Michigans, coleslaw, a Coke, and a smile.


Friday, May 18, 2007

the things you can do

ravioli and sugar snap peas

Make your own stuffed pasta, and unless you've got a family of eight to feed, you're probably going to have quite a bit left over. The fillings tend to go a long way, and once you've committed yourself to making pasta dough, there's no point in making a half or a quarter batch. You might as well go the whole way. If you're making linguine or spaghetti or some other unstuffed pasta, you can let the extra noodles dry for later use. If you're making stuffed pasta, make as many as your filling or your pasta dough will allow, place the extras in ziploc plastic bags, and freeze them for later.

We thought the radicchio-stuffed beauties that we made back in March were long gone, but early last week Michelle's freezer foraging turned up one last ziploc bag full tucked away in the back. As it happened, we had some sugar snap peas in the fridge that we hadn't yet decided what to do with. Then those proverbial lightbulbs turned on. We blanched the peas until they were just tender and set them aside. Meanwhile, we cooked our pasta in boiling salted water until it was just al dente and set them aside. We sautéed some minced garlic in a splash of olive oil for a minute, added a pinch of ground saffron, and stirred again. We added the ravioli and sautéed them gently in the olive oil/garlic mixture, being careful to flip them over as gingerly as possible so that they didn't bust open on us. When they'd cooked a little longer and gotten nicely coated with the saffron-garlic oil, we added the sugar snap peas, salted the combination to taste and ground some black pepper over top, stirring everything gently for another 30 seconds or so. Lastly, we grated some Parmesan on top and divided the ravioli and peas into shallow bowls. In minutes flat we had a couple of lovely little pasta dishes sitting before us. Problem is, it was so damn good that everything disappeared just as quickly. I barely managed to take the photo above before Michelle polished off her plate. My plate was already empty.

Making your own pasta might seem like a lot of work, but it sure does pay dividends.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mile End Milestone

wilensky's celebrates

Yes, you guessed it, Wilensky's Light Lunch celebrated its 75th anniversary yesterday with champagne and plenty of fanfare and even some balloons. Loyal readers of "...an endless banquet" know full well of our affection for Wilensky's. Unfortunately, we weren't in attendance for any of the festivities yesterday, but we did get a chance to celebrate their 75th anniversary two weeks earlier with a couple of photographers from a travel magazine. The shoot was more or less the final, crowning step in the completion of a story we penned for said magazine [more on this later when the issue is closer to hitting newsstands--eds.], and when asked where we'd like it to be staged we didn't even have to think about it: our hands-down #1 choice was Wilensky's. Not only is Wilensky's ridiculously photogenic, not only is it literally three minutes from our apartment, but ever since I took Michelle there for her very first Wilensky Special two and half years ago, it's been our top lunch-date spot. Thing is, anyone who knows anything about Wilensky's knows that loitering or even lingering is not exactly encouraged, in fact it's actively discouraged, and that that's just part of the unmistakable, irresistible charm of the place. So you can imagine how the staff at Wilensky's took to an extended photo shoot, especially one that was focused on a couple of upstarts like ourselves. Ruth Wilensky, in particular, was in fine form. About 40 minutes into the shoot she suddenly announced, "You know, we close at 4:00." I looked down at my watch, thinking, "Jeez, is it almost 4:00 already?", and saw that it was only 3:10. The photographer, a bit rattled, responded, "Isn't it only ten after 3:00?" Ruth, in turn, gave her a look that only an 87-year-old could deliver, one that spoke loud and clear, "Yeah, but at the rate you're going..." As it turns out, by the time we wrapped things up it actually was pushing 4:00--clearly, Ruth had seen it all before. We thanked Ruth and Sharon Wilensky profusely, apologized for any inconvenience*, grabbed what remained of our Wilensky Specials (sadly, cold by then), and congratulated them once again on having reached their diamond anniversary.


* Contrary to what one might think, the Wilenskys seem to remember the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz shoot, back in 1973, more as an unfortunate disruption of business than an event which did much to immortalize Wilensky's in the wake of its 40th anniversary. When we asked Ruth how long the film crew had occupied their luncheonette for that shoot, Ruth told us "one week." She then paused a beat and shot out, "Why, are you thinking of staying a week?" Boston Red Sox fans are fond of the platitude "that's just Manny being Manny." Round here we're more likely to say "that's just Ruth being Ruth," and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

blast from the past, rev. ed.

david eyre pancake 2 fig. a: David Eyre's pancake

I didn't grow up in the presence of madeleines. And like most of you out there, I suspect, there wasn't much about my childhood that one might label "Proustian." But that's not to say that my childhood had an absence of those food moments powerful enough to unleash streams of memories years later. None of them have triggered a multi-volume rumination in dense prose (yet), but it's not uncommon for me to wax poetic for minutes on end about the doughnuts my Baba used to make for us on Day 1 of each of her visits, or some other analogous food-related memory.

A number of months ago, though, I started searching for a lost taste. For some reason I started thinking about a "Danish pancake" recipe that became a household Sunday brunch staple for my family sometime in the early '80s. What made it unique was the fact that it was oversized and that it was baked in the oven. It had entered our repertoire through one of those compilation cookbooks that are created to raise funds--this one was intended to support my sister's under-10 soccer team. The recipes were hit or miss, as I'm sure you can imagine, but a number of them went into high-rotation in our family kitchen, and our absolute favorite was that "Danish pancake." We loved the fact that it was big enough to feed four (although we usually made two, by popular demand) and that the batter would generally form massive bubbles as it cooked, giving it some of the characteristics of a soufflé (a simple, unsophisticated, but nonetheless tasty one). We loved its egginess and butteriness, too, and after a while my Mom devised a variation that included freshly cooked pieces of bacon and that was reserved for special occasions. Anyway, after being a fairly important part of our family's weekend ritual for the better part of a decade, the "Danish pancake" got lost in the shuffle. Moves, kids off to college, changing tastes--you know how it goes.

I'd more or less completely forgotten about that "Danish pancake" recipe until sometime late last year when it quite suddenly popped into mind as I was reminiscing about our family life in the '80s. I knew that soccer cookbook was inaccessible--lost in storage somewhere--so going straight to the source was out of the question. I made a few lame attempts to search for the recipe using that miracle we call the Internet, but what I suspected but didn't know for sure was that that adjective "Danish" was throwing me off.

Then in late March, a friend of ours sent me an email to tell me about a New York Times Magazine column by Amanda Hesser that I'd missed. The featured recipe was an oven-baked pancake and our friend claimed that it worked like a charm. I hurriedly made my way to Hesser's column and there it was, the "Danish pancake." As it turns out, the "Danish pancake" was about as Danish as I am (i.e. about as Danish as a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen with Slovak and Québecois roots who has mild Danish pretensions in the form of an appreciation for Danish Modern furniture and artifacts and a prized Oskar Davidsen menu).

oskar davidsen special fig. b: detail, 7" x 55" Oskar Davidsen menu

It had made its way into the American collective consciousness via a New York Times article by Craig Claiborne back in 1966, and he had discovered the recipe in Hawaii of all places, "at an informal brunch in the handsome, Japanese-style home" of David Eyre, the editor of Honolulu Magazine. It's no wonder the recipe caught on, Claiborne's description of the setting was positively rapturous: "With Diamond Head in the distance, a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below and this delicately flavored pancake before us, we seemed to have achieved paradise.”

What fascinated me about Hesser's article was that it gave me some idea of how the recipe had traveled. Like a game of Telephone, where a simple message whispered from one person into the ear of the next around a circle gradually becomes noise as it makes its journey, David Eyre's simple classic, one of the most popular recipes ever featured by Claiborne, had not only made its way into soccer cookbooks, it had also become "Dutch." Yes, "Dutch." The "Danish" part was apparently my memory playing tricks on me.* Telephone Solitaire.**

Whatever. I was just happy that it had made its way back to me.

David Eyre's Pancake

2 eggs
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)
juice of half a lemon (optional)
fig or blackberry jam, pear butter, any kind of marmalade, or brandied cherries (optional)
maple syrup (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425º F. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and nutmeg and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle over medium-high heat. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the pancake is billowing on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

3. Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and, using a fine-meshed sieve, sprinkle with the sugar. Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice, if you like, and serve with jam, pear butter, marmalade, maple syrup and/or brandied cherries. Serves 2 to 4.

[recipe from "1966: David Eyre’s Pancake" by Amanda Hesser]

We've already made David Eyre's Pancake several times since late March, including once as a Sunday brunch surprise for my parents. We've got an oversized cast-iron skillet that's our preferred pancake pan so we've taken to bumping up the ingredients by 150% so that the batter will properly fill this larger surface. We tend to have our oven-baked pancake with Quebec maple syrup, just as we have 95% of our other pancakes, but on the occasion documented above we used a lethal combination of powdered sugar, brandied cherries, and just a touch of maple syrup. We've yet to make the variation with bacon, but it's only a matter of time.


*As far as I know, I don't have any Dutch pretensions, mild or otherwise.

**There's just something about that recipe: in Josh "The Food Section" Friedland's family the dish was known as "John Eyre's pancake."