Whether you call them flapjacks, griddlecakes or hot cakes, pancakes are one of the oldest forms of bread known to (wo)mankind. Extremely popular around the globe, they aren’t without their controversy. Buttermilk, no milk, carbonated water, eggs or no eggs, buckwheat, whole wheat, white flour are just a few debatable items in pancake world. Regardless of your personal tastes and traditions, there are hundreds of variations of ingredients and cooking methods. They are very versatile and can be served as appetizers, entrees or desserts. In some form, they make an appearance across many cultures. Many countries have specialty pancakes such as the French Crepe, Russian Blini, Swedish Pancake or Hungarian Palacsinta. Whether you choose a sweet or savory direction, this humble food serves as a blank canvas just waiting for your creativity and personal touch.
If your thoughts immediately jump to “gut bomb” when you think of pancakes, you are not alone. Certainly, this is a common experience. I never want to finish a meal feeling heavy and ready for a nap. In addition, they can quickly become a meal that is not that great for our health as we douse them in maple syrup, butter and a variety of sugary toppings. Motivated to find a way to make them lighter and more healthy, I began to research recipes. This is what led me to the idea of using cottage cheese and cooked whole grain cereal in place of flour. If your reaction to “curds and whey” is anything close to this baby’s, I promise, they disappear in the batter and you will quickly forget their presence. This holds true for the cooked cereal as well.
This batter is thin and produces a very light and delicate bite. The addition of the vanilla and cinnamon adds sweetness and, for me, eliminated the need for extra condiments. If it is savory you are looking for, eliminate both of these and add herbs, scallions, bacon, mushrooms, Parmesan or whatever else feeds your fancy.
This is how it went down in my kitchen.
FLOURLESS PANCAKE BITES Serves 4-6
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis, adapted from Weelicious
1c cottage cheese
¾ c whole grain cereal, cooked (or oatmeal for gluten-free)
2 large eggs
1t pure vanilla extract (or flavoring of your choice)
1t baking powder
¼ t cinnamon (more if desired)
¼ t salt
Butter and/or neutral cooking oil, as needed for cooking
Toppings of choice such as, maple syrup, honey, fruit preserves, berries
- Using a blender or food processor, mix the cottage cheese and cereal together until almost smooth. Do not over process.
- Add eggs one at a time and pulse to incorporate.
- Transfer batter to a bowl and stir in the vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Use enough butter and/or oil to provide a non-stick surface. I think a combination of butter and oil is best as the oil will prevent the butter from burning yet you get the benefit of butter’s flavor.
- Using a ladle or scoop, place batter on hot pan or griddle. I like these bites to be about silver dollar size.
- Allow the cakes to cook undisturbed until little bubbles form on the top and bottoms are golden brown. Gently flip and cook on that side for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
- Serve plain or with your choice of toppings.
Thin and light and made silver dollar size, these could easily be adapted for any meal or as an appetizer. With their pliability similar to a crepe, I think they would be perfect for stuffing. Perhaps mascarpone and honey for sweet or ricotta or goat cheese for savory. Apply a thin layer and roll for a perfect bite. I would be delighted to see these, with or without filling, on any brunch or party table.
My mother always made pancakes with a popular ‘baking mix’ but why? These are so light and easy and so much more flavorful. They are also much healthier and can be easily adapted to gluten-free diets by using oatmeal in place of the whole grain cereal. No more “gut bombs” in my kitchen.
I hope this has served as inspiration for you to try a new twist on an old favorite. Regardless of what you choose to prepare this week, remember to put your own spin on it and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Big storm predicted for this week in our area of the world which translates to low and slow comfort food. Better get to the store so I have the necessary supplies. Until next time, be safe and stay warm. Sending love from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne