Dutch, Finnish or German? (My Pancake Has an Identity Crisis)

 

(…or maybe it is just a cultural mutt, like so many of us?)

I like to make connections in food preparation. It is the anthropologist in me. I am not satisfied just eating a deliciously prepared recipe. If it is unique, even if it is a common staple, I want to understand its origins, how it evolved and what makes it shine and how to make it gluten free! Every food has its own history, its own story of conception and origin. That is why I love historic recipes. I like to think about the first person who paired certain available ingredients and created what today remains a staple classic.

Learning about where a food comes from, tells you a lot about that place – what resources were common and available, how people prepared meals and in what vessels, what kind of crops or foods were in their environment? This is the kind of thing that endlessly fascinates me and takes me on my own culinary journey. This is why I am always saying you can learn so much about your ancestry by the foods of that culture – they are just a window to the rest of it.

By now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know about my love for pancakes and how they are a Sunday morning tradition on the homestead. You know the whole history, how I never liked them growing up, fell in love with crepes and other thin pancakes, struggled with gluten free pancake making etc. So although I have many pancake recipes that I love to make every week, I am always looking for other pancake recipes. I just can’t help myself!

I have come across a wonderful type of pancake recently – like a cake that you make in a cast iron pan (imagine that! Pan Cake) yet I have heard them referred to in several different ways: Dutch, Finnish and German. But as far as I can see, they all have the same basic recipe, flour milk and lots of eggs. So which is it? How did they get these very specific place names?

Wikipedia says the Dutch Baby and German Pancake are one in the same, and similar to a Yorkshire Pudding. The recipe derived from the German Apfelpfannkuchen – a type of apple pancake. It then goes on to say that the moniker Dutch Baby comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, German-American immigrants, where “Dutch” is a corruption of the German Deutsch.

The Finnish Pancake, called Pannukakku in Finnish, has considerably less information about its origin. One blog post claims that what makes it Finnish is “that they are pancaked in the oven rather than the stove top”. Yet, we know that the Dutch/German version is also baked in the oven. So not really accurate, nor enough of an origin story for me. So I searched and searched and could not find any clarifying information and there is not much history between the two countries before the Second World War that I can discover in a quick search – any Finnish readers of my blog know more?

Regardless, these pancakes are really delicious – I especially liked its almost custard-like texture. When I made one for us a few Sundays ago, I topped it with sautéed apples and dusted it with powdered maple sugar, as a nod to the Apfelpfannkuchen. In Finland they are typically topped with berries and whipped cream and served around the summer solstice. So you still have some time to play with recipes and toppings before then!

(puffy right out of the oven)

As a basic recipe, I recommend Kelly’s from The Spunky Coconut, it is the one I used and it works perfectly, even though it isn’t totally traditional, it is gluten, grain and dairy free and the result looks just like all the other ones out there. If you would rather use milk instead of coconut milk, it should work just as well. The only thing I changed from Kelly’s recipe is that I used honey instead of stevia (I think I used about 2 TBS). This pancake puffs up in the oven, and then falls. If this happens, don’t worry, it is supposed to! Enjoy some this weekend!

Pork Belly with Onion-Apple Marmalade

 

We have been getting flurries off and on all morning and I just finished an essay on why it is ethical to eat meat for a contest sponsored by The New York Times. I will likely be sharing that essay on the blog in a few weeks after they have chosen the winning essay(s). If you believe eating meat is ethical, you should weigh in as well. You can read some of my thoughts on this topic, here, on my homesteading blog Got Goats?

So in light of that and this cold weather we are having, I thought posting a comforting and warming recipe for pork belly would be good. This pork belly comes from another local producer, as we used the pork belly from our pig share this fall to make bacon!

I adore caramelized onions; I think they make everything taste better, however I decided to make them even better by adding apples, maple sugar and spices to them to make it more of a marmalade. The result was absolutely mouth-watering. Of course the pork belly itself is sweet and tender, melting in your mouth but covered in the spicy and aromatic spice blend and then smothered in the onion marmalade it was lip smacking good. A perfect transitional from winter to spring recipe.

This recipe is very easy, most of the labor in the caramelizing of the onions and making the marmalade, everything else is pretty hands off – just let your oven do the work.

INGREDIENTS:
1 pork belly

Pork Belly Rub:
2 TBS maple sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin and hot paprika
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ground all spice berry
Pinch of ground star anise
Pinch of ground nutmeg

For the Marmalade:
2 TBS olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small apple, sliced
Salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup maple sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar

METHOD:
Rub the pork belly with all the spices and let it marinate overnight or at least for 4 hours.

When you are ready to cook the pork belly, preheat the oven to 350 F. When the oven is preheated, place the pork belly in an oven safe roasting pan, Dutch oven or oven vessel with a lid. I used my tagine. Cook for about 45 minutes with the lid on. Then remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes until nice and browned.

While the pork belly is cooking work on caramelizing the onions: place the olive oil, onions, apple and garlic in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Stir often and allow the onions to sweat by adding some salt. Turn the heat down to low and add about ½ of the water. Put a lid on the skillet and let simmer over low heat for about 30-40 minutes. Stir periodically and add more water if it starts to dry out. You want to be sure that your onions don’t brown, but get soft and gooey. Once they are looking good, add the maple sugar and apple cider vinegar. Stir until well incorporated and the sugar has melted. Then remove from the heat and serve on top of the pork belly. We served this with roasted potatoes and a nice green salad. Serves 4.

Scotch Eggs for Spring Equinox (Ostara)

 

The Spring Equinox is tomorrow and there is no better symbol of this day than the egg. Long held across many cultures as the utmost symbol of fertility, birth and new beginnings the egg, humble yet a perfect food should be featured on your menus tomorrow. If you happen to have chickens this is a good day to thank them for all the hard work they have done keeping you well fed with nutrient dense fuel – as the days have been getting longer since the Winter Solstice, our chickens have been producing more and more of nature’s perfect food.

Ēostre is the name of an Anglo Saxon Goddess of the Dawn who was celebrated during the month of April and so her name has been given to the festival of Easter. This connection with the Spring Equinox and Ēostre is why the Christian celebration of Easter includes decorating colorful eggs, egg hunts and the like.

Scotch eggs are a beautiful culinary tribute to the equinox. A hard-boiled egg, covered in a shell of sausage, cracked open and devoured- now there is a great way to celebrate! We made our Scotch eggs using eggs from our own hens and homemade sausage we made from our pigshare this fall.

While we are talking about history, the origin of Scotch eggs is not known. The earliest printed recipe is from 1809, although the London department store Fortnum and Mason claims they invented in in the mid 1700’s. What we know for sure is that Scotch eggs are a popular picnic food in the UK. They are usually served cold, although in the US and other places they are served in gastropubs hot and usually with some kind of accompanying sauce.

Scotch eggs are simple to make (see the step by step instructions with photos below in the recipe). Just boil some eggs and mold a nice layer of sausage around them. I coated mine in a little bit of cornmeal, and then browned them in a hot skillet with olive oil. Then I transferred them to a hot oven to cook evenly for about 10 minutes. They are a delicious breakfast or a nice snack, definitely perfect for a spring equinox picnic.

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs
1 tsp salt
Glug of vinegar
¾ lbs sausage
½ cup cornmeal or 1/2 cup almond meal to make it paleo
Olive oil

METHOD:

Boil the eggs. To make perfect boiled eggs, place eggs in a pot of cold water (use enough water to cover the eggs), to the water add a tsp of sea salt and a glug of vinegar. Put a lid on the pot and put on a burner over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat off and set a timer for 12 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs from the water and run them under cold water or place them in a bowl of cold water. After about 5 minutes they will be cool enough to touch. At this point peel the eggs and set them aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 F and start heating up a cast iron skillet over low heat. Next take ¼ of the sausage and make a flat pancake out of it and place one egg in the center and carefully wrap the egg entirely in the sausage, then roll the whole thing in corn or almond meal. Do the same procedure using the rest of the eggs, sausage and corn or almond meal.

Add some olive oil to the cast iron skillet – enough to cover the bottom about ¼ of an inch. Place the Scotch eggs in the skillet and brown on all sides. Then place in the oven on a cookie sheet and cook for about 10 minutes. Can be served immediately, or cooled and refrigerated for picnic food!

Eat Like a Dinosaur Book Review (and giveaway!)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur for free in exchange for a review of the book. This in no way influenced my review, which is true and honest.

CONGRATS to Kelly, the winner of the book giveaway!

I was very excited a few weeks ago to be contacted by the Paleo Parents asking if I would be interested in reviewing their new book, Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids. This is a cookbook geared towards gluten-free kids and their families. The recipes in this book are all free of grains, dairy and legumes. But it is so much more than that – it is a guide to helping parents navigate the murky waters of raising children with multiple food allergies, learning how to overhaul the SAD (Standard American Diet) as a family and having a great time preparing and eating good food at the same time!

I don’t often agree to do cookbook reviews because frankly, most cookbooks don’t cater to my dietary needs and the needs of many who read this blog. I don’t mind doing extra leg work to translate standard recipes into gluten-free, allergen-friendly, WAPF eating but I don’t expect that everyone who reads this blog has the time or inclination for that. So it was really fun for me to read through this book and realize that I could eat everything in it – and so can many of you! Not only that, but the recipes are interesting, simple, fresh and delicious looking. Although I do eat dairy, legumes and some grains, it is refreshing to have a cookbook where I don’t have to think; I can just make it, worry free.

So I am obviously not a kid, nor do I have young children living at home with me (yet!) but when it comes to food, there is a kid in all of us! We all enjoy comfort and nostalgic foods, so many of which come from our past and are not allergen or traditional food friendly. I think some of these recipes will hit that childlike sweet spot in all of us: spaghetti with meatballs (using spaghetti squash), shepherd’s pie, sweet potato fries, chocolate chip cookies, milkshakes, puddings and cupcakes as well as recipes for ketchup, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. There is also something in each section for more mature tastes: lemon dill salmon, curried mussels (not muscles), black olive tapenade and several recipes for making jerky at home (how cool is that?).

For families that have children with allergies beyond grains, gluten and dairy, Eat Like a Dinosaur is super handy, there is a key for the top 8 allergens: fish, shellfish, tree nuts and eggs and although there is no dairy, wheat, peanuts or soy in any of the recipes, their icons have also been included on the side of each recipe just for reassurance! So you can see at a glance the recipes that are perfect for you and your family! There is also a helpful guide to ingredients at the front of the book explaining what various ingredients are and resources for getting them. Honestly, even if your kids don’t have allergies but you are a busy parent looking for healthy foods that your kids will eat, you should really consider this book as well. The farther away we can get from the SAD and start cooking more at home, the better off we will all be! This book takes the guesswork out for you.

Some other great features geared specifically towards the kids are a section in each recipe showing steps that kids can participate in to help create the meal, making mealtimes a true family event. There is also a very cute illustrated story about food allergies and health just for the kids – to help them understand in a fun way why eating like a dinosaur is super healthy!

I really like this book, not only do the recipes look great but you can tell that the Paleo Parents really care, not just about their own family but about yours as well. They know first-hand how difficult a transition from the SAD to a whole foods diet can be and they have made themselves a resource to you every step of the way, from how to talk to your kids about it, to ways to deal with family and friends that just don’t understand your new eating habits or maybe don’t understand how serious defaulting on that diet can be.

I thought about giving away my copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur to one lucky reader, but you can probably understand now why I want to keep it! But I do want to get this book out to more people and support the Paleo Parents and all their hard work in preparing this great resource for all of us. So I am going to give away a copy of this book to one of my readers. Please let me know why you need this book and I will pick a random winner!

How to Enter The Eat Like a Dinosaur Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. US entries only for this one, due to shipping restrictions, and all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make and make sure to include your email address in the spot provided when you fill out the comment form so I can get in touch with you if you win.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): In the comments, tell me why you need this cookbook.

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the book, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)
3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS feed. (1 extra entry)
4) Enter your email address (on right hand sidebar) to Subscribe to Email Updates. (1 extra entry)
5) Subscribe to my newsletter (see box on top right of my blog). (1 extra entry)
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8) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen and @PaleoParents with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free
2) This cookbook is awesome
3) To support bloggers!

The winner will be announced on this post Friday, March 16, 2012. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on March 16th. The winner has until Monday, March 19, 2012 by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle

 

(Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle)

Normally, when I cook I just take stock of what I have around to concoct something and rarely use recipes. But like any foodie I have a ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks for me are a bit like inspiration, it gives me general ideas, but I find I usually need to augment the recipes – either to make them gluten-free or to our tastes.

That is the story of this buckwheat spätzle, a dish I made some time back in the height of winter. One of my favorite cookbooks is Black Forest Cuisine by Walter Staib the executive chef at the historic and famed City Tavern in Philadelphia. I have always liked German cuisine, but never made it at home. With this cookbook that all changed. The recipes range from simple home cooked meals, to comforting gastropub fare and fancier hotel restaurant fare with more international influences. I got this cookbook as a way to explore another ancestral cuisine, although my ancestors hail from Bavaria, there is a lot of crossover, including spätzle which is considered a classic Bavarian dish.

(Buckwheat Spätzle – in Italian we would call my spätzle, Spätzle-one, or giant spätzle )

The flavors of the Black Forest are homey and delicious, the ingredients, simple and flavorful.  The chef in the introduction talks a lot about traditional German fare, about abundant family gardens, food preservation skills and my favorite story of all – that it is common for German families to take a walk through the woods on the weekend to get to a specific restaurant, pub or café serving some specialty – maybe a confection or cake or perhaps a home-style hearty meal to enjoy. I just love the idea of that. We did something similar in Italy, taking the Via Francigena to San Gimignano and enjoying a lovely meal of gnocchi with truffle sauce and stewed wild boar. One of the best meals of my life. Food tastes so amazing when it is well deserved.

It was this romantic thought that inspired this meal. I imagined myself taking an invigorating walk through the black forest, coming out of the forest, with a scent of something savory cooking in the air and following my nose to a cozy warm gastropub to enjoy a hearty meal.

The veal and white bean stew is entirely of my creation. The buckwheat spätzle is based on the original spätzle recipe in the cookbook.  We had originally made the spätzle to accompany a recipe for kielbasa and lentils from the same cookbook, being its traditional accompaniment.

(Kielbasa and lentils with buckwheat Spätzle )

We used some homemade kielbasa and it was good, but not nearly as outstanding as this combination!

Veal and White Bean Stew:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of cannellini beans, cooked (I use dry beans, soaked overnight in warm water and a TBS of apple cider vinegar and then cooked until tender)

1 lb of veal stew meat browned in 1 TBS butter

2 onions, caramelized (cooked down with red wine vinegar and a little water to prevent burning)

2 cups beef stock – homemade is preferable

1 cup of water

Bay leaf

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 TBS tomato paste

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

Season with salt, pepper and thyme

METHOD: The day before, cook the beans, or you can use canned. You might also want to caramelize the onions, brown the veal and make the spätzle. The day of cooking place all the ingredients in a crock pot, except for the spätzle . Cook on the high setting until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 hours). Then add the spätzle and cook on low for another 5-6 hours until everything is heated through. You could put the spätzle in at the start and just cook on low for 10-12 hours, but it might become a little more mushy.

(Making Spätzle  using the “cutting board method”)

Buckwheat Spätzle

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of buckwheat flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 cup cold water

METHOD:  Combine the flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I don’t have an electric mixer and make the dough using my hands). Mix on medium until combined and slowly pour in the water until the batter is smooth, mix for five minutes more until the dough is elastic.

Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Scrape dough into a potato ricer or colander with large holes and press dough into boiling water. Alternately, place dough on a cutting board and scrape dough into the boiling water. Cook until they are tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes, they will rise to the surface when done. Lift the spätzle out of the water with a large slotted spoon, shake off the water and place in a bowl, mix with some butter or olive oil to prevent sticking together. Spätzle is also very good, reheated by sautéing in butter until golden.

*Note, I used the cutting board method, and as this was my first time making spätzle, they were a bit bigger than what is traditional, but I think they were the perfect size for my slow cooked stew, if they had been smaller, I would not have allowed them to cook with the stew, but stirred them in at the end before serving.

Versatile Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is kitty approved!

I have been posting a lot recently on my Facebook Page about my post workout Pumpkin Smoothies and those posts have created quite a buzz! I am a huge pumpkin freak and I enjoy it all year long – seems like a lot of you are too! I don’t know what I enjoy better, my workouts or these smoothies afterwards- the best of both worlds! This smoothie is great way to get in some extra grain-free carbohydrates, fat and protein post workout.

That said, many times when I post a specific recipe, I get a lot of great comments like: “can I substitute Y ingredient for X ingredient?” or “I wish I could make that, but I don’t consume X ingredient” or “I wish I could make this but I don’t know where to get X ingredient” or simply “I don’t like X ingredient”. You get the gist…so although I will post my awesome pumpkin smoothie with options and add ins, I will also give you ideas for entirely different smoothie recipes. This is mix and match folks! :)

This is your smoothie recipe – easy to tailor to your tastes and needs. I give some suggestions, but feel free to improvise. Like chocolate? Add a TBS or two of fair trade cocoa powder (no sugar added). Don’t do sugar? Try stevia, or fruit sweetened smoothies – dried dates are great for this. Want to make it a greenie? Add a handful of spinach or kale. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some of my recent combinations:

raw milk, pumpkin, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little stevia
raw milk, egg, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon and molasses
coconut milk, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple
kefir, soaked almonds, dried dates/figs, frozen berries, vanilla extract

This smoothie recipe is so versatile you can enjoy it for breakfast, a snack, dessert or part of any meal when you need an extra boost.

INGREDIENTS: per smoothie (@ 16 oz)

Base liquid: 1 cup liquid – Kefir, Raw Milk, Coconut Milk are good choices
Thickener: 1 banana – I also like using instead 1/2 avocado
Nuts: 3 TBS almond butter – you can use any other nut butter or a handful of soaked nuts – I usually use almonds – click here to understand about the benefits of soaking nuts
Sweetener: 1 TBS 100% pure maple syrup, honey or molasses or 1/8 – ¼ tsp or one or two dried dates (optional)
Optional add ins: ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 berries, 2 TBS cocoa powder, kale or spinach, dash of cinnamon, 1 shot of espresso or ¼ cup of coffee, 1 TBS coconut oil, raw pastured raised chicken egg (do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store), vanilla extract, powdered ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Ice

METHOD:
Place all the liquids in your blender first. Then add the fruit, butters, oils and nuts and then the cinnamon. Process on medium speed until well mixed, then start adding ice, a handful at a time, gradually, until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. I usually turn up the speed to high during the ice process. Pour and enjoy!