buckwheat crepes, strawberries, chocolate

buckwheat crepes with olive oil marinated strawberries and chocolate sauce

I was planning to experiment with more Marcella Hazan recipes this week – she’s become like my fairy godmother for cooking inspiration lately.

At some point I will continue with my original thought, which was to make Marcella’s crespelle, the Italian version of crepes. They’re usually served as a savory meal, layered and stacked into cakes along with cheese, vegetables, meat and other delicious things.

But…I was temporarily distracted after seeing the chocolate pound cake that Laura recently posted on her lovely dessert blog Tutti Dolci. I decided to join the April Chocolate Party hosted by Roxana instead.

strawberries in olive oil

So here’s what happened to those crespelle – they turned into buttermilk buckwheat crepes with warm chocolate sauce (this month’s Party theme is chocolate and buttermilk).

Now that strawberries are popping up, I had to include them in what I hope is a long, sweet and “fruitful” season.

Does it seem strange to marinate berries in olive oil? I was inspired while in San Francisco recently, where I had a strawberry brushetta drizzled with it.  I think really good oil tastes just right drizzled on ripe fruit, and now look forward to trying all kinds of combinations.

buckwheat crepes, olive oil marinated strawberries, chocolate sauce

buckwheat crepes with strawberries and chocolate sauce

Yield: makes about 8 crepes

Ingredients

Chocolate Sauce:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 ounces chopped dark or semisweet chocolate

Crepes

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup water

½ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup all purpose flour

3 eggs

2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for pan

1 teaspoon sugar

¾ teaspoon salt

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 tablespoons raw, turbinado or granulated sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil – from your best bottle

Instructions

  1. To make the chocolate sauce, whisk sugar and water together in a small saucepan until dissolved. Bring to a simmer; add the cocoa and salt, whisking to blend. Remove from the heat; add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature until thickened slightly, or refrigerate until cold (reheat before serving).
  2. Combine the buttermilk, water, flours, eggs, butter, sugar and salt in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the container to incorporate any flour sticking to the side and blend for a few more seconds to mix. Cover the container (or transfer to a bowl) and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Combine the strawberries, sugar and olive oil and let stand 10 minutes or so while making the crepes.
  4. Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles instantly on the surface.
  5. Brush the pan with some butter and add enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan - 2 or 3 tablespoons; I use a small ladle - immediately tilting and swirling pan to make an even circle of batter.
  6. Cook the crepe until the bottom is set and light golden – you can shake the pan a little to see if it slides; if it does, it’s about ready to flip. Turn the crepe over gently with your fingers or small spatula and cook the other side for another minute or two.
  7. The first crepe is usually a practice one, but congratulations if yours comes out perfectly! Repeat the process with the rest of the batter, stacking crepes and layering with wax or parchment paper as you go.
  8. Serve crepes topped with strawberries and warm chocolate sauce.

Notes

Crepe recipe adapted from 1997 Joy of Cooking

http://familystylefood.com/2013/04/buckwheat-crepes-strawberries-chocolate/

Buttermilk Almond Muffins & Meyer Lemon Curd

Buttermilk almond muffinsOver the last few years, Meyer lemons seem to be creeping into the mainstream. A cross between lemon and orange, Meyer lemons are smaller, have less acid and more sweet juiciness than common Eureka or Lisbon lemons.

I heard Alice Waters sing their praises about 10 years ago when I lived in Minneapolis, while giving a talk at a food event I attended. Because she’s Alice Waters and she could, she’d brought along a crate full of fresh, boutique-farmed California produce to display for show-and-tell.

In the middle of the big, beautiful pile of vegetables and fruits I figured I’d never, ever find in any Midwestern grocery store or produce stand was a little basket of lemons, colored an intense shade of egg-yolk orange.

Their skin was silky smooth and they had a sweet perfume I could smell from 3 feet away. One sniff of those lemons and I immediately longed to be transported to a climate where they grew.

That was a decade ago; I don’t think there was much commercial distribution of Meyer lemons; pretty much the only way you could find them was in someone’s backyard in California.

The season for Meyer lemons is relatively brief – unlike common lemons you can find any old day of the week, they appear in the market roughly between early winter and early spring.

Because they seem so scarce and rare, whenever I see them I usually buy more than I can use before they start to rot. Their skins are much more tender than the usual lemon, so they don’t last as long in the crisper drawer.

One way to preserve them is to make a buttery curd using the zest and juice.

meyer lemon curd

And a nice way to use up lemon curd (rather than tucking into it with a spoon), is baked into a topping for these tangy buttermilk muffins.

Buttermilk almond muffins

Buttermilk Almond Muffins & Meyer Lemon Curd

Yield: 1 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Freshly grated zest of 2 Meyer or regular lemons

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

3/4 cup Meyer lemon curd -recipe follows (yes, you can use prepared lemon curd instead)

3/4 cup sliced, toasted almonds

For Meyer lemon curd:

3 Meyer lemons

3/4 cup sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a muffin tin or line with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs, buttermilk, butter, zest and almond extract; pour over the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
  3. Divide the batter into the muffin pan cups. Top each cup with 1 teaspoon each of the lemon curd and the almonds.
  4. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until tops are just turning golden and are firm to the touch.Cool the muffins for 10 minutes before turning out and serving.
  5. To make the lemon curd, zest the lemons with a grater, then cut them in half and squeeze the juice into a small, heavy saucepan. Add the zest and stir in the sugar to dissolve.
  6. Add the eggs and butter and place the pan over medium heat. Use a small heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to constantly stir the mixture until it begins to thicken around the edges of the pan.
  7. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan and lower the heat a bit as you continue to stir. At this point it should form a curd pretty quickly, within a minute or two. Once it reaches a pourable pudding-like consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Strain the curd into a bowl, cover and chill at least 2 hours before using.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/03/buttermilk-almond-muffins-meyer-lemon-curd/

Best Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Fluffy stack for Sunday morning


This recipe is without a doubt my tried-and-true favorite. I’ve made dozens of other pancakes over the years but they just don’t measure up to these big, puffed and tender cakes.

The only thing I’ve added to this perfect tangy ratio of butter, eggs, flour and buttermilk is a bit of wheat germ. It must be the mom in me, but somehow the extra fiber makes them seem more wholesome and less like a pile of carbs. Who am I kidding?

This time I made use of an overload of strawberries I had on hand to make a sweet sauce to pour over the stack instead of the usual maple syrup, which instantly transforms a favorite comfort food into a fresh and summery treat.

My kids ask me to make pancakes for breakfast every weekend, and I’ve been trained to mix them up in my sleep – which is what I’d rather be doing on most weekend mornings anyway.

Best Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons wheat germ, raw or toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. Melt the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl on high power for 30 seconds. Stir in the buttermilk, eggs and extract until smooth.

3. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just until the flour is incorporated.

4. Pour 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto a greased, heated griddle set over medium heat. Flip the pancakes when bubbles start to appear on top, after about 3 minutes. Cook the other side until golden brown.

5. Serve right away with warm, buttered maple syrup or strawberry sauce.

Strawberry Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Cool slightly; puree in a blender or food processor and serve over pancakes, yogurt or ice cream.

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