Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wild Rice Buttermilk Pancakes

Maybe you're looking at me like I'm crazy right now, and I don't necessarily blame you.
Wild rice? In pancakes?

That is what I said, and I fully intend to win you over on this.

If we already had a smell-o-vision feature on TV or the internet, my job would be a whole lot easier, because then you would already be drifting unbidden toward my kitchen asking me to pass the butter. Pancakes have that effect on people, I find.
Well, okay, pancakes have that effect on ME. And I am people.

The real star here, though, is the texture. When you fold the wild rice into your fluffy pancake batter, what you end up with is a fluffy-yet-chewy, tender-yet-toothsome, heavenly, hearty ... thing! The rice also brings this nuttiness to the party, which I adore. It makes a regular pancake something extra special in a way I find difficult to describe. Really, you'll just have to try them for yourself.


Okay, then. Deal.

Wild Rice Buttermilk Pancakes

1 3/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
3 Tbsp. oil (I use canola)
3/4 c. cooked wild rice (can be cooked well ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen until needed, just make sure you use rice that has been cooked in plain water, not some sort of broth or stock)

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. In another bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring only until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy, and that's a good thing. Fold in wild rice, stirring only until just incorporated. Set this aside for a few minutes while your griddle heats over medium  heat.

Once griddle is nice and hot, pour batter on in 1/4 c. mounds (I like to use my muffin scoop for this) and cook on first side until edges begin to dry and bubbles burst on the top of the pancake. Flip and c
ook on the other side 1 or 2 minutes more, or until golden. Remove from griddle and place on a warm plate covered loosely with foil (I make a little tent with my foil; crease it down the middle and overturn it on top of the plate). Serve warm with butter and syrup -- gratuitous amounts of syrup.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

This dish is pretty much diametrically opposite to the dish I shared with you on Monday. It's a little time-consuming with just the tiniest kiss of fussy, but it turned out so well, and I was so proud of myself for thinking it up -- I had to share it here. It's worth the effort in every way!

At least half of what I love about this is the roastiness of the veggies. I cooked them in a hot oven until they began to toast a bit on the edges, lending great depth of flavor. Smother it all in some melty cheese, and -- well, I don't think I need to say much more.

As with my slow cooker version of ratatouille, I have substituted yellow summer squash for eggplant. If you love eggplant, I imagine you could use that here in the same manner as I've used the yellow squash to make it a true ratatouille. It's a fun dish to make with the whole family. Kids will love stuffing the shells and sprinkling the cheese.

Ratatouille Stuffed Shells

1 1/2 c. tomato puree (I use Pomi brand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp. chopped thyme or summer savory
2 medium zucchini, split in half lengthwise and sliced in 1/2' pieces
1 medium yellow squash, diced in 1/2' pieces
1 bell pepper -- red or orange -- seeded and diced
salt and pepper
12 jumbo pasta shells
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg
parsley (fresh chopped or dried -- I use dried)
1 c. + 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 400ยบ. In a greased 9x13" pan, combine garlic, onion, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Lay out diced zucchini, yellow squash, and pepper on top of the tomato mixture, but do not combine. Drizzle with a little oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about an hour, or until veggies are softened and beginning to brown slightly.
Meanwhile, boil some water and cook the shells for about 9 minutes, or until not quite done through (you want them to finish cooking in the oven -- that way they won't be too floppy and overcooked). Drain and drizzle with a little oil to keep them from sticking.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsely, 1/4 c. mozarella, and 1 Tbsp. parmesan. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scoop a tablespoon or so of ricotta filling into each pasta shell.
When vegetables are ready, stir to combine veggies with tomato sauce on the bottom. Nestle filled shells into the vegetable mixture, scooping veggies and sauce over the shells as needed to make space. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake again for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.