Mulberry Pancakes Mike-style

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Mike-style is kind of hard to describe with one word so I’ll give a little illustration. My chosen adjectives carry a somewhat negative connotation (heavy-handed, overdone, excessive) and I’m trying to change my perception. After all, we all have our unique style, right? Aren’t we all, after all, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness??  Aren’t the most unusual of our eccentrics often endearing???  Perhaps you can contribute your ideas for a proper descriptor for Mike-style.
Here’s the illustration:  Okay, so let’s say you prepare a homemade strawberry galette, with homemade dough and using the berries you grow in your back yard. It needs no embellishment because the individual elements are so pure and flavorful.
So you bring it to the table and he takes a bite and says, “Oh my gosh this is SOOOO good! WOW!”
Quietly he gets up from the table and says “I’ll be right back.”
And then he comes back with some sliced strawberries on top and some strawberry jam. It’s Smuckers from a couple years ago, but, well, there it is.
Then shyly he says, “You don’t mind if I run a quick errand, do you . . . I’ll be right back!!!”
And he returns with some strawberry ice cream. Now the galette’s got fresh strawberries on top, some jam, and ice cream. Now his galette is Mike-style.
Since it’s Mike’s Birthday I’m trying to cover all my bases with this pancake creation.  The mulberries are fresh and uber-seasonal.  They are a unique and delicious berry delicious as is.  However, if you add them into the batter, they warm up a bit and “bleed,” along with their flavor, ever so subtly into the pancake.  Then, if you throw a few in a pan with some water & cornstarch, you can create a “quick jam.”  You might even puree a few berries with some softened butter to melt over the pancakes.  See what I mean?
Since you may not wish to venture into Mike-style, I offer only the recipe for the pancakes.  I use a mix of homemade buttermilk (but of course store bought is very good), eggs, baking soda, rye flour, polenta, ricotta and lemon zest.
Here’s the Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese, drained for at least 1/2 hr
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sale
3 Tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
1 cup fresh mulberries
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Instructions:
Mix all ingredients together LIGHTLY, except 1/2 cup mulberries and the lemon zest.  I like to also add a couple of tablespoons of my sourdough starter to the batter, so if you keep a starter, add a little bit into the batter.  Let sit in a bowl overnight.
Bubbling Up Pancake Mix
Bubbling Up Pancake Mix
Adding the Little Mulberries
Adding the Little Mulberries
Heat griddle to 375 degrees.  Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Of course if you don’t have a griddle, just proceed as you normally do with a non-stick or cast iron or other pan when making pancakes.  Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter onto griddle (or pan). Wipe off excess.
Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
Cooking Up
Cooking Up
Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in a 175 degree oven. Serve warm with maple syrup, butter, and fresh mulberries.
Tall Stack, Mike-style
Tall Stack, Mike-style
Bacon Makes a Nice Addition to a Birthday Meal!
Bacon Makes a Nice Addition to a Birthday Meal!
The Pursuit of Happiness -- Complete!
The Pursuit of Happiness — Complete!

Cowberry Yoghurt Muffins Parfait Style

Cowberries are also known as Lingonberries, a small tart fruit which is a staple in Northern Scandinavia, picked in the wild and used to accompany a variety of dishes.  If you’ve been to the IKEA cafeteria you’ve seen them as a sauce for the Swedish meatballs.   They are also grown in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but not seen very often here in California unless in jam or preserves.

Having been an English major in college, I developed a fond relationship with wordplay, so you can imagine my delight at the other common names for the Lingonberry:  csejka berry, quailberry, beaverberry, red whortleberry, cougarberry, mountain bilberry, and even partridgeberry!

My best friend from college moved to Sweden 20 + years ago and one of our very closest family friends, Stig the mad genius carpenter, is a “Sami” (formerly known as a “Lapp”; from Lapland, Sweden), and I visited Sweden once many moons ago.  I love most things Swede, in homage to my friends and for 2 other reasons:  (1) meatballs; and, (2) open faced sandwiches.

This week it’s been cold cold cold, by Southern California standards, so I’ve been feeling downright Nordic.  In addition, last Sunday we had a wonderful pie at our favorite cafe that was made with jam and a layer of yogurt, and I’ve been wanting to re-create those flavors and textures since then.  So for this Fiesta Friday I dreamt up this cowberry muffin, parfait style.  It has a bottom layer of cooked lingonberries (or you can use jam), a layer of drained greek-style yoghurt mixed with an egg yolk and some flour for firmness/bakeability, and a top layer of bacon.  The muffin dough uses a combination of rye flour and coarse polenta mixed with a little more yoghurt.

I experimented with more use of natural light in my photos this week and would love your input on the different shots.  Believe me, the whole production did not bode well for my husband this morning, who during Lent does not eat until after 5 p.m., so as he calmly did his morning reading/meditation, I was scuttling baked cowberry muffins, halved and whole, around the house pulling up blinds, moving chairs, making all kinds of noise and trouble to snap my shots.

Natural Light, from above

Natural Light, from above

From Above, Instagram enhanced

From Above, Instagram enhanced

Side View, Natural Light

Side View, Natural Light

Side View, Instagram enhanced

Side View, Instagram enhanced

Whole Muffins, Natural Light

Whole Muffins, Natural Light

Natural Light

Natural Light

I Made a Mess, Instagram enhanced

I Made a Mess, Instagram enhanced

Here’s the Recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup lingonberries or lingonberry jam

1 Tbps cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp water

1 1/4 cup greek style (full fat) yoghurt

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp rye flour

1 cup coarse polenta

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 cup water

8 slices bacon, cooked to 75% of how crisp you would normally like it

(Makes 4 large muffins)

Instructions:

1.  Gently warm 1/2 cup lingonberries, or lingonberry jam.  Mix 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 1 Tbsp. water and add to lingonberries.  Stir for 2 minutes then let sit for at least 10 minutes, or to cool.

2.  Mix 1 cup greek yoghurt (full fat) with 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbsp flour.  Set aside.

3.  Mix 1 cup rye flour and 1 cup coarse polenta and 1 Tbsp baking powder.  Add 1/4 cup greek yoghurt, 1 egg and mix well, and 1/2 cup water and mix well.

4.  Layer large silpat muffin molds or pour into muffin tin as follows:  2 large spoonfuls of lingonberry, 2 spoonfuls of yoghurt mixture, 2 spoonfuls of flour mixture, repeat layers but with 1 spoonful of each mixture.  Break bacon slices into pieces. Top with bacon.  Cover the tops of the muffins for the first 35 minutes of baking.  Uncover for the last 10 minutes of baking.  Let cool well before unmolding.

Mmmmm!

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A little more history on this delightfully sour berry:

  • In Sweden and Norway, reindeer and elk steak is traditionally served with gravy and lingonberry sauce.

  • A traditional Swedish dessert is lingonpäron (literally lingonberry pears), consisting of fresh pears which are peeled and boiled in lingondricka (lingonberry squash) and then preserved in the pear-infused lingonberry squash and not uncommonly eaten during Christmas. This was very common in old times, because it was an easy and tasty way to preserve pears.

  • In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, the berries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water. This was also a home remedy against scurvy.

  • In Russia this preserve had been known as “lingonberry water” (брусничная вода) and is a traditional soft drink. In Russian folk medicine, lingonberry water was used as a mild laxative.

  • A traditional Finnish dish is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, either cooked or raw with sugar. In Finland, a porridge made from the fruit is also popular.

  • In Poland, the berries are often mixed with pears to create a sauce served with poultry or game.

Porridge Files

I love a bowl of porridge for breakfast or lunch, don’t you?  Here are some recent versions at our household: