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Posts Tagged ‘figs’

fig, walnut and oatmeal pancakes

In breakfast, sweets, year-round on 17 January, 2012 at 8:15 am

Just a quick little post today – I was trying to write this last night but my heavy eyelids claimed victory and I sunk into bed before 11 for the first time in 2012 (hooray!). And now it’s morning and I’m battling the clock to get to work on time. And I have plenty more pancakes to write about (!!) so I thought I’d better get on with this one. So, without further ado, I present Pancake #2.

If you recall, I started the year off with a little pancake project. On the first day, I made these crispy-edged little cornmeal griddlecakes, inspired by a Mark Bittman recipe in the New York Times. I didn’t really plan on making pancakes the next day, but I was intrigued by the idea of making pancakes with all kinds of different (non-flour) ingredients. So on the second day, I went back to that New York Times article and found this recipe for oatmeal pancakes. So began the Pancake Project – because if I’m eating the same thing (more or less) two or more days in a row and experimenting with ingredients and methods it’s more than just laziness or falling into a routine, right? It’s a project.

I’ve based these pancakes on Mark Bittman’s method of first cooking the oats before using them to make the pancake batter. The result is wholly different from the kind of oatmeal pancakes I’m used to – normal flour pancakes with some oats mixed in – and results in a pancake that’s far more dense and moist than you’d normally expect. They’re pretty much the opposite of the pretty stack of golden pancakes I’d made the day before, and the antithesis of anything you’d find in, say, an American diner.

I almost never order pancakes in restaurants because I often find myself underwhelmed – they’re so often too big, too floury or stodgy, or just plain boring. But these I could get used to. And okay, I’m not saying these don’t have a bit of stodge to them, but it’s good stodge – good, hearty, (dare I say it?) healthy stodge: plenty of fibre and protein (the more nuts, the better) and interesting texture and so much more flavour than the big, flabby flour-fests* that so often leave me disappointed.

So. I really encourage you to make these pancakes. They’re nowhere near fluffy, but they’re awesome. Also, because they’ve got cooked oats in them, they’re a bit porridgelike in consistency – but in a good, fried-in-a-skillet way. Perhaps it’d be a good way for porridge haters to get their oats? Let me know if you give it a try.

*er, okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. There are plenty of really delicious traditional flour pancakes out there. But I have had my share of decidedly average ones. Don’t tell me you haven’t.

FIG, WALNUT & OATMEAL PANCAKES
(adapted from this recipe by Mark Bittman in the New York Times) 

1/2 cup rye flour*
1/4 rolled oats
(here, I used the “quick cook” type – the smaller flakes)
1  tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cooked whole rolled oats
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 cup chopped dried figs

First, cook some oats – just in water is fine – I used about a cup of oats to get more or less two cups of cooked oatmeal. Let it cool a bit.

Meanwhile, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, salt) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and milk, then stir in the cooked oatmeal and the honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. The mixture will be thicker than you might be used to for pancake batter, but you should be able to get thick, gloopy ladlefuls of it pretty easily – if it seems too thick, just add more water; if it seems too thin, add more flour. Fold in the walnuts and the fig pieces.

Cook in an oiled skillet (cast-iron is great) over medium heat, making sure the skillet’s nice and hot before you add the batter. Flip when they’re golden-brown on the underside and little bubbles appear on top (this may be less noticeable than with normal pancakes because of all the stuff that’s in the batter, so if in doubt, check the underside). I found 3-4 minutes on one side and then about 2-3 on the other worked well.

Serve with butter and honey.

*(or any flour, really, I just had rye and wanted to give them a bit more depth. I imagine buckwheat’d also be great)

A new (fig) leaf, and the first of late summer’s fruit

In late summer, salads on 7 February, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Hi.

I’m Millie from Gusty Gourmet, a blog I co-write about (mostly) eating out in my adopted hometown, Wellington, New Zealand.

I started this blog because I realised I like cooking and eating at home just as much as I like eating out. Maybe even more. And also maybe because I’m turning 25 this year and it’s probably a good idea to start being a bit more financially responsible (I’m not talking major penny-pinching here, but getting out of my overdraft might be a good start).  And I’ve probably been annoying lots of my friends on Facebook by uploading photos and blurbs of recently-cooked meals. And I’d been pondering the idea for a while and then, yesterday, the lovely Kate of Lovelorn Unicorn offhandedly suggested it on Twitter. So I took it as a sign, and here I am.

Yeah, so everyone has a cooking blog these days. It’s OK. Here is mine!

On Saturday I carried a single fig home from Moore Wilson’s. And by ‘carried’ I mean gingerly, between thumb and forefinger, or cupped in the palm of my hand, while all the other groceries jostled about in a bag, but apparently not gently enough to avoid marring the delicate skin of the oozing-ripe fruit. That’s OK. Scars are stories, after all.

I’d been eyeing the figs up ever since they started popping up at Moore Wilson’s, next to the berries, a little nudge to the shoulder that, hey, late summer, it’s here. And on Saturday, I finally caved (at nearly $30/kg right now they’re not something to be taken lightly, at least on my budget) and picked the closest-to-burstingly-ripe fruit I could find.

It was an interesting day. While Wellington heaved with costumed locals and visitors in various stages of public drunkenness and revelry I trudged home in the muggy mist and, home alone, sliced up the most flawless fig (aside from a newly-inflicted scrape, but you know, that’s character).

I’m one of those people who gets way too excited about the first produce of each season. Perhaps annoyingly so: recently a (probably now rather bewildered) friend emailed me with a simple question about what fruits are coming into season now and I replied with a breathlessly rambling discourse filled with cliche phrases like “in full swing” and “at their peak” and “picking up speed” and I’m pretty sure I used the word “exciting” one too many times and not enough full stops. Kind of like that last sentence, but about three times as long and with about a third of the content.

Anyway, I never know quite what to do with the first fruit (or vegetable) I buy after months, sometimes almost a year, of not tasting whatever it is. Do I eat it plain, savour it for what it is, save the adulteration for later on when there’s plenty around and the price has come down? Or do I dig up the stockpiled recipes I’ve been waiting all year to make?

And this fig – it’s been at least a year since I’ve had one. Maybe even longer; I was overseas most of this time last year. So there was a lot of trepidation over what to do with this: the first fig of 2011.

In the end, it was dinnertime, I was hungry, I had some goat cheese in the fridge and some pine nuts waiting to be used. So I snuck a couple cheeky slices of fig while I assembled this salad.

Innovative and different? Perhaps not. But it was simple, and the perfect showcase for the first fig of the season.

FIG, GOAT CHEESE & PINE NUT SALAD (for 1):

Cut up the juiciest, ripest fig you can bring home without destroying in your shopping bag (ideally you’ll have more foresight than me, and bring one home to ripen). Tear up some goat cheese (I used bûche de chèvre), combine this with some salad greens – peppery rocket would be ideal, but I just used mesclun mix – and a scant handful of toasted pine nuts*. Drizzle with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar** and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper. Eat. If you get all the components in one forkful you may melt with delight.

*If I had time or inclination to do more dishes I’d toast these in a little skillet but this time I just popped them in the microwave until they started to smell fragrant and, well, nutty. I’d say it took me about 30 seconds in my microwave, but yours may be different.

**If, like me, you don’t have that beautifully syrupy aged stuff on hand, fret not. It’s not exactly the same, but I found that reducing the regular stuff in a little frying pan (there goes that dish I’d saved by toasting the nuts in the microwave) until it was nice and thick worked just fine for these purposes.