Off the Griddle with Ihopapotamus at…Crepes & Things!

Fancakes, the never-ending quest to find new pancakes, waffles, crepes and other breakfast treats has brought me to Hoboken.  Birthplace of baseball and Frank Sinatra.  Neither of which is really relevant to this story, but interesting bits of trivia to be sure.  Try breaking them out next time you’re at a fancy cocktail party.  You could talk about how Old Blue Eyes always enjoyed going to baseball games, but that of course only made sense since he was a Hoboken kid at heart.  People will think you’re really clever, but not in an obnoxious or intimidating way.

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(Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio! Picture from the NY Daily News 1949…also they’re at Yankee Stadium but you get the idea)

And then, you can really razzle dazzle folks by recommending a restaurant in Hoboken where they can get a great breakfast.  Specifically Crepes & Things, located at 123 Washington Street just a few minutes from the PATH train.

crepes and things map

(from Google Maps)

Crepes & Things has a small, cozy indoor space and when the weather’s nice outdoor seating.  The people watching on Washington Street is usually a fun way to pass sometime on a lazy weekend morning.  I was there around eleven on a Saturday morning, so I had the place to myself and sat inside.

The inside does boast two amusing murals detailing the birth of both the crepe and the waffle.  The owner, a friendly Frenchman, swears the murals depict the true origins of each of these dishes.  I was willing to accept his word for it.  It felt very European of him to swear to the veracity of these somewhat legendary origins.  I also feel very much like an American tourist in Europe with my skeptical belief.  The truth of these stories does not mean enough to me to warrant my own investigation.  I’ll take the amusing story when it comes my way.  Incidentally, this is also the approach I take with every story I hear about Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

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(birth of the waffle!)

By now you must be wondering what the crepes tasted like.  I couldn’t tell you; I got the waffle (see the rest of the menu here).  Specifically, the French Affair (le French Affair), a Belgian liege waffle topped with banana, strawberry, Nutella and a mountain of whipped cream.

Faithful readers, this thing is decadent.  I ordered it at eleven in the morning, but maybe I should have had it as dessert instead.  I think I had one bite of the waffle that was not covered with some or all of the toppings.  And it was a fairly large waffle I may add.  Mind you, the waffle being smothered in the toppings is no cause for complaint.  The whipped cream is light and fluffy, while still being quite rich.  The strawberries and banana were all quite fresh.  They had a robust flavor that I also associate with fresh fruit and how it’s supposed to taste.  Every bite of the French Affair (le French Affair) was a culinary pleasure.  My only regret is that I ate it too fast, in that I then couldn’t eat it anymore.

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The presentation is outstanding.  I watch enough Food Network to know that some chefs are artists not only in the cooking but also in the way they present it.  Chefs who can make food look like art.  In my quest for the Holy Pancake I have yet to come across a place that has done as much as Crepes & Things that has made their food look this good.  Readers, your friend Becky (because face it, this friend is always named Becky) would definitely post a picture of this to Instagram.  If the hashtag was yum, Becky would have the gist of things.

The only thing missing was a brunch drink special.  No mimosas here, which seems criminal at a French restaurant.   That and the admittedly small space are probably the only main detriments at this restaurant.

Four and a half Paul Bunyans:Untitled1Untitled1Untitled1Untitled1.5

Hey Ho, Pistachio!

Hi Fancakes!

So I was home celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday this week – he’s a HUGE pistachio fan so I whipped up some pistachio cream filled pistachio cupcakes (that’s right, when we go pistachio, we go all the way). Anyway, I had a whole bunch of leftover pistachio pastry cream that was just too good to toss so I came up with a pancake version of the cupcakes.

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I was going for a Middle Eastern inspired pancake so I brought in some orange blossom water and cinnamon to go along with the pistachio pastry cream. Overall, I think it worked pretty well, although I’m not too proud to admit that I totally oversalted the pancakes…woops. Don’t worry, I fixed it in the recipe (below), but I will say, erring on the side of slightly salty is good for these pancakes because it really brings out the pistachio-ness.

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I also decided to go with silver dollar pancakes because (1) small things are awesome and (2) since I made a “pancake tower,” I decided smaller pancakes would be easier to work with.

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Oh, and if you’re interested in my cupcake recipe, just let me know! They were pistachio cupcakes, filled with pistachio cream, topped with a sourcream honey buttercream (pics are in my instagram feed).

3.75 out of 5 stackies:stackiestackiestackie.75

Ingredients:

(makes about 20 silver dollars)

1/2 C milk

3/4 C flour

1 egg

1/4 C butter, melted

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbs orange blossom water

1/2 recipe pistachio pastry cream

Directions:

Whisk together the milk, flour, and egg. Add in the melted butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Whisk in the cinnamon and orange blossom water.

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Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook 1 Tbs of batter at a time.

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Cook for about 2 minutes, until the tops are bubbly and the edges are dry. Flip and cook for another minute.

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Finish cooking the rest of the pancakes! Take one pancake at a time, and dollop some pastry cream on it. Spread it evenly over the pancake and then top it with another pancake.

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I stacked 5 pancakes at a time but feel free to go as high or low as you want!

 

 

Oh Boy, Almond Joy!

Hi Fancaking Friends,

Have you ever done that thing where you accidentally buy the wrong thing from the super market and then just throw whatever you got into the back of the fridge and forget about it for too long? Yeah…to my credit, we’ve been ordering from FreshDirect (online grocery delivery…it’s pretty awesome) and I feel like I’m more prone to making mistakes when I don’t actually see the product I”m buying. Oh well. This is the story of how my mistake in buying slivered blanched almonds turned into almond meal pancakes. (You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the diary of…no? No one else compulsively says that anytime someone says “this is the story of…”?)

almond pancake

 

Anyway, I was cleaning out my fridge, and lo and behold, I find this container of slivered almonds, no idea when or why I bought them except that I faintly remember wanting whole blanched almonds and getting these delivered instead. So, of course, in this household, extraneous ingredients = pancake inventions. I figured since both almond butter and almond flour are used in pancakes, that some homemade almond meal would work as well.

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And, I was sort of right. The flavor of the pancakes is really good! You get that light sweet almond taste and you know it’s authentic because the only flavorings used are straight up almonds and sugar (that’s right, no extract!). The rub comes in the texture. Because the almond meal is…well, mealy, the pancakes have a sort of sandy almost coarse shortbread flavor (crumbly, but soft). As I was eating the pancakes, I realized that these perhaps aren’t the best breakfast pancake. They’re very hearty from all the almonds and each bite really fills your mouth since the pancake sort of transitions into almond butter in your mouth…delicious but a little overwhelming. I think the trick is to make them into silver dollars, and then have them with tea. Almost like little pancake-tea-shortbread-teacakes. I can already see them piled onto one of those fancy tiered stands while Jeeves pours me a hot cuppa…have I gone too deep into this storyline? Probably.

(the Queen knows what I’m talking about – photo from here via google images.)

Okay, so with all that in mind, I’m going to give these almond meal pancakes…

3.5 out of 5 stackies!:stackiestackiestackie.5

Ingredients (makes 4 pancakes):

1 C slivered, blanched almonds pulsed into a coarse meal (I used a food processor)

1/4 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 C powdered sugar

1 C milk

1 egg

butter for cooking

Directions:

Pour your almonds into your food processor and pulse until they get to the texture of a coarse meal, almost like wet sand, but much coarser.

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Transfer the almond meal into a mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Whisk well. The batter will seem a little gloopy/slimy.

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Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium low heat. Melt a little bit of butter, just enough to grease the bottom of the pan. Cook 2 Tbs of batter at a time (these pics were taken when I cooked 1/3 C but like I mentioned, I think smaller is better.

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Flip after 2-3 minutes, the top should be bubbly, the edges should look dry, and the pancake should flip easily.

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Top with powdered sugar and enjoy! (I think these would also be delicious with honey, chocolate syrup, or fresh fruit.)

 

 

Say hello to my little friend…

Happy Sunday Fancakes!

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m getting a little pancaked-out…not that I don’t love trying and making new recipes, but I’ve just been feeling a little uninspired. Anyway, instead of trying to force myself to try a new recipe that I wasn’t sure about loving, I decided to go back to an old favorite, the Dutch baby. These pancakes are basically always delicious (unless I mess up and do something weird – don’t blame the pancakes!) and I decided to go mini because who doesn’t like things mini?

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And, just to keep things a little bit interesting and because I had frozen berries in the freezer (I said “a little uninspired…not crazy!) I whipped up some quick (vegan) jam (following this recipe from Oh She Glows). The results were pretty delicious. Ok, back to pancakes, I thought the original pancake recipe (from Emily Bites) was pretty good, but I changed it up just a little bit (less butter, add powdered sugar) to suit my taste.

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These little poppers came out hot, buttery, and delicious. And the fresh jam really pumped up the flavor. A quick note on the jam, feel free to use any jam/fruit you have, but if you have leftover berries and access to chia seeds, you’re basically all set to go. Chia seeds naturally thicken things up (it’s basically cooking magic) and a regular sized bag goes a long way. I got some a month or so ago and I’m about halfway through it (I also like to throw some in my oatmeal in the mornings!)

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(Chia seeds getting added to the berries!)

The best thing about these pancakes is that you can make a whole bunch all at once! I only made 6, but you could easily double/triple the recipe and make enough for the whole family in one go! I made full-sized Dutch babies for a group once and while they were delicious, there was a bit of lag-time (I also only have 1 castiron, but in NYC, who has room for multiple castiron pans!?!?) and then everyone’s fingers were all up in the pancakes at the same time…with the minis, everyone gets their own and you can cut the wait time by a lot! Also…if you’re eating these by yourself, you can totally fit an entire mini in your mouth at once…

4 out of 5 stackies: stackiestackiestackiestackie

Ingredients (for the jam):

(makes enough for 6 mini pancakes)

1/2 C frozen or fresh berries – any berries you want! (I used frozen because I happened to have some leftover in the freezer)

1 Tbs maple syrup (or honey)

1 Tbs chia seeds

1/8 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Cook the berries and syrup in a small saucepan over low heat until the mixture just starts to boil. Make sure you stir frequently so nothing burns.

cooking

(yes, I”m using a small frying pan because it was already out…)

Add the chia seeds and stir until the mixture starts to thicken (about 1-2 minutes).

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Remove the jam from the stove, stir in the vanilla, and set the jam in a small bowl/jar to settle while you make the pancakes.

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Ingredients (for the pancakes):

(makes 6)

1/2 C skim milk

1/2 C flour

1/4 C powdered sugar

3 eggs

3 Tbs butter, melted

pinch salt

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275 (F). Put everything into a blender and blend until the ingredients are totally incorporated and the batter is smooth.

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Lightly spray a 6-tin muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide the batter evenly between the cups.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pancakes are puffed up and golden brown on top. They will deflate as you take them out of the oven.

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Lift them out of the pan and onto a plate, top with…whatever you want, and enjoy!

 

 

You and Me, We Go Together Like Lemons and Poppy Seeds*

*Hey Fancakes,

I’ve got another SYTYCP original, poppy seed pancakes with homemade lemon curd, coming your way this morning, and if I say so myself, they’re FREAKING AWESOME. I was a little nervous when I was putting this recipe together, not that lemon and poppy seeds are any crazy combination, but I always a little suspicious of lemon poppy seed muffins because a lot of people either use fake lemon flavoring or way too much of it and it makes me feel like I’m eating pine sol…Oh, and I wanted to throw in some almond extract which is also frequently abused.

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With that in mind, I was less than enthusiastic that I would be able to harness the power of lemons and almonds into something balanced…I underestimated myself (that’s right, no humility here). On their own, the pancakes are really good. They’re lightly sweet, soft, and the almond extract comes through really well without being overpowering. I’ve decided that almond extract is to pancakes as bay leaves are to stews. You shouldn’t really be able to tell that there’s almond extract in there, but you should feel like the pancakes are warm and delicious in your tumbly (oh, I went there).

prep

On top of all that, the poppy seeds add just the right texture to an otherwise soft pancake. I could’ve eaten a pretty good stack of pancakes plain, but with the addition of lemon curd, I ate the whole batch…Granted, I usually make scaled down recipes because I rarely need to feed the horde of breakfasters that all other pancake recipes seem geared towards, but still, I usually have 1 pancake at most. Not so with these puppies, I DEVOURED them which I’ve decided is the only appropriate way to consume these.

curd prep

(making of the lemon curd)

Just so you know, these pancakes come out a bit on the softer, thinner, and floppier side – there’s nothing wrong with any of these things, I just didn’t want you to go into this recipe thinking you were getting giant fluffy pillows of pancakes…I got your back.

curd cup

One last note, you don’t have to make your own lemon curd, but I followed the recipe from Amy Lou Who and it’s legitimately the best lemon curd ever and super easy to make. There was lots of spoon licking, I couldn’t let a single drop go to waste…

4.25 out of 5 stackies:stackiestackiestackiestackie.25

Ingredients:

1/2 C milk

1 egg

1/2 Tbs melted butter

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp poppy seeds

2 Tbs lemon curd

Directions:

Whisk together the milk, egg, butter, and almond extract. Dump in the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and poppy seeds. Whisk well.

batter

Butter a large frying pan and cook 1/3 C batter at a time over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the pancake is bubbly on top and then flip.

pre flip

Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the bottom is golden brown in spots.

post flip

Top with lemon curd and demolish!

*I have no idea what I’m trying to do with this title, but I typed it and it felt right…let’s say it’s a tribute to that line from Forrest Gump, “Jenny, you and me go together like peas and carrots.”