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Video: ‘Crabby’ cook’s killer pancakes

TODAY recipes
updated 1/21/2011 10:19:25 AM ET 2011-01-21T15:19:25

Recipe: Killer pumpkin pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for cooking
  • Maple syrup, for serving

In the tradition established by my mother, I have always (even in my crabbiest phases) liked to make a big, leisurely breakfast on Sunday mornings.

Up until recently, however, this presented the kind of challenge I grappled with in Mr. Steele’s 7th-grade math class. You’ve got four people, two of whom will not eat pancakes, three of whom refuse to eat oatmeal, and two of whom do not like scrambled eggs. Only two will eat French toast but one prefers white bread and the other whole wheat. What (the hell) do you feed them for breakfast? Is there a common denominator here? My answer was often Special K, which three members of my family will eat (okay, not four, but close—I’d get a B from Mr. Steele), although one uses skim milk, another prefers 2 percent, and a third likes soy with a little flurry of wheat germ. Because I’m math-challenged, it took me years to solve this problem definitively with the discovery of these pumpkin pancakes. All four of us love them, which makes them a Miracle Food (and pumps my grade up to an A).

For pancakes:
Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the milk, pumpkin puree, honey, and egg together until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the melted butter. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until all the ingredients are combined.

Melt about 1/2 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4-cupfuls of batter into the skillet and cook until the pancakes are bubbly and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip them over and cook until they are golden brown on the bottom and springy to the touch, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the pancakes to a plate and keep them warm while you repeat, adding more butter when it’s needed, until you’ve used all your batter. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

Serving Size

Makes 16 pancakes

Recipe: Bacon rolls

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 hot dog buns
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 250°F

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning it once or twice, until it’s very crisp, about 10 minutes. Place the bacon on paper towels to absorb the excess drippings. (Keep it out of the dog’s reach.)

Open a hot dog bun and smear one side with jam and the other with butter.

Place the buns on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Place 2 slices of bacon inside each bun. Wrap the bacon rolls in aluminum foil and put them back in the warm oven until the kids are ready for the mad dash to school. Variations: Seedless raspberry jam or currant jelly is an excellent substitute if you don’t like strawberry jam.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Bloody Lucy

  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 dashes Tabasco sauce (or more if you’re a spicy type)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Celery sticks, for garnish
  • Bottles of whiskey, lemon-flavored vodka, aquavit, gin, and sake

I know this drink is supposed to be called Bloody Mary, but we renamed it because of an episode at our house involving Aunt Lucy, who guzzled down a few too many and had to surrender her car keys.

Given the picky universe we live in, I like to offer the basic mix and let my guests select which alcoholic beverage they will add. If they’re in a Japanese mood, they can dump in a little sake, or aquavit if they’re feeling Danish. (I, for one, seldom feel Danish.) So put the tomatoey stuff in a pitcher, leave the bottles of booze on the side, and see what happens. Hopefully your guests will be mature enough to exercise restraint, or you’ll end up with a lot of car keys.

For Bloody Lucy:
Combine the tomato juice, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper in a large pitcher. Stir well.

Have bottles of booze at the ready. Per the request of each guest, pour 1 1/2 ounces or so of their preferred spirit over ice cubes in a cocktail glass. Add about 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture and a celery stick to stir with. (If you are serving Lucy, go light on the spirits.)

Variations: If it’s a cool day, and/or you want to make sure nobody passes out in your living room and stays ’til Tuesday, simmer the tomato mixture in a pan with 1 1/2 cups vodka for about 10 minutes and serve it warm, like soup, in a mug. All the alcohol will burn off but the flavor will be excellent.

Serving Size

Makes 8 servings

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