Because let’s face it, we all need a respite from CNN, daily press conferences, and ever-growing statistics on this pandemic that’s remade the world as we knew it.
What we need is pancakes. Because pancakes have had the uncanny power to put a smile on our faces as far back as, well, the invention of pancakes. When you start the day with pancakes, you know it’s going to be a good day. And we can all surely use more of those kind of days right now.
This time of year cries out for gingerbread pancakes.
When it comes to Austin, I can’t help but think barbecue, Tex-Mex and food trucks galore.
Now, it’s become synonymous with gingerbread pancakes, too.
That’s because in “The Austin Cookbook” (Abrams), of which I received a review copy, there is a wonderful recipe for just that from Magnolia Cafe, a beloved institution that’s not only open 24/7, but serves breakfast anytime.
The book, by food writer Paula Forbes, features more than 80 recipes that give a delicious overview of the city’s culinary traditions, from “Green Chile Queso” to “Mustard and Brown Sugar-Crusted Ribeye” to Bootsie’s Buttermilk Pie.”
Being the ginger fanatic that I am, it’s no wonder that “Gingerbread Pancakes” called out to me.
Zest, juice and slices of Meyer lemon flavor this irresistible Meyer lemon coffee cake.
April showers bring May flowers. But last winter’s deluge of rain nearly drowned my poor little Meyer lemon tree.
Usually flush with deep green leaves and bountiful with sunny yellow lemons, it looks more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree right now. In fact, I managed to pick all of about four decent-sized ripe lemons this year — not nearly enough to make this spectacular “Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake” by Martha Stewart.
But lo and behold, my friend Kiki to the rescue. With her tree overflowing with lemons, she gifted me a big bag of them — plenty to make this cake that requires a load of Meyers.
Thin slices of lemon are layered and baked right into the cake, which has a batter laden with lemon zest, too. Then, a mountain of crunchy streusel goes on top — an amount nearly as deep as the cake, itself. Finally, a Meyer lemon citrus glaze is drizzled over the top.
As he writes in the intro of the book: “I cook food in its most authentic form. I cook to break preconceived notions of what food should be — no overcrowded plates, no recipes with too many disparate ingredients, no out-of-season ingredients, no need for a lot of equipment. I make no-fuss food for my guests and myself that nourishes both hearts and our stomachs.”
You might think, what does a grilled cheese sandwich maker know about biscuits and muffins? Plenty, it turns out. After all, in addition to those ooey-gooey sandwiches, the restaurant also sells fresh-baked muffins, biscuits and other baked goods.
Muffins and biscuits are among the easiest things to make. The trick is to use a gentle hand. You don’t want to overmix or overwork either of them, lest they will wind up tough.