Sunday, March 5, 2017

Blueberry Sauce and Swedish Pancakes

What's the difference between a Swedish pancake and a crepe? Not much, in my kitchen. Some quick online research yielded a comment that they are pancakes that "come in different languages". Hmmmmm, funny but not definitive. Both items are flat-not-puffy ultra thin pancakes, frequently rolled or folded around a filling. I typically make Swedish pancakes for breakfast or dessert with a sweet filling or sauce. Crepes have been a bit more versatile as tasty wrappers for either savory or sweet fillings. Not much of a difference, other than the addition or omission of sugar in the batter. No matter, we enjoy them both no matter what the label.

RL has a serious sweet tooth and relishes the sauce or filling more than the thin pancakes. He loves this tasty homemade blueberry sauce as a topping for pancakes, waffles, crepes, ice cream or just straight off the spoon. While huckleberries and lingonberries are flavorful alternatives, those berries aren't readily available even in season, so blueberries are my berry of choice. Seattle groceries stock 3-pound packages of frozen blueberries year around, so the home freezer always holds bags of berries when local berries are out of season. During late-summer cruising in SE Alaska we head for berry patches accessible from dinghy or kayak, or stay on high alert to avoid sharing the site with hungry bears. 


Blueberry Sauce aka Blueberry Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
Generous pinch of cinnamon
1-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of half a lemon (optional)

Grate a small lemon and set the zest aside. Juice the lemon (you will have extra), straining out the seeds.

Combine sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add the berries and stir to mix.

Add the water and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring occasionally. Avoid a hard boil or it may bubble up over the edge of the pan. Keep the sauce warm until ready to use, or reheat gently. Again, keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over. Add the lemon zest, if using, just before serving.

Swedish Pancakes
yield: 8-10 pancakes

2 eggs, beaten
1-1/8 cups milk
1 generous cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
grated zest of half a lemon

Use a medium bowl and combine eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt. Beat by hand (or use a blender or mixer) until smooth and lump free. Add the melted butter and whisk or blend to incorporate. 

Heat a skillet (cast iron or non-stick) over medium-high heat. Use a ladle and pour 1/4-cup (2 oz) batter into the middle of the pan while tilting the pan to swirl the batter so it spreads out to coat the bottom (similar to making crepes). Cook until bubbles form and the bottom surface browns. Flip and cook to brown slightly on the second side. Add a line of blueberry syrup down the middle, plus any optional fillings, and keep warm in a very low heat oven Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve 2 or 3 pancakes per plate on warmed plates and offer additional warmed Blueberry Syrup, jam or powdered sugar.

Other Swedish pancake or crepe recipes:
Apple Pie Swedish Pancakes 
Cinnamon Apple Crepes 
Crepes Milanese 
Herbed Sourdough Crepes (for Cannelloni or Enchiladas)
Mushroom-Filled Crepe Purses
Stacked Crepes (with Ginger Chicken Filling & Coconut Sauce) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chicken with Fennel and Oranges

The classic Spanish/Moroccan/Sicilian combination of oranges and fennel contributes mightily to brightening up the monotone gray days of winter. No, it can't add blue skies and sunshine, but oranges add color and a bright citrusy flavor, while aromatic fennel provides texture and a mild licoricey note. Add some sweet, anise-flavored Pernod and oh my! there's something special happening here.  

Fennel and citrus play nicely together, but while we enjoy them both separately, I don't often think to pair them. I have served oranges and fennel together in an Orange, Fennel and Olive Salad

or occasionally afloat as a stovetop preparation for freshly-caught Halibut Sicilian Style. 

Then a colorful Pinterest photo brought me to a recipe for this chicken dish. Lucky me! it's a winner straight from the oven, then later in the week shredded in a rice bowl and finally diced in a stovetop hash.  
Spring seems ever so far over the horizon, some big page flips of the calendar away, but meanwhile this entree will brighten up Seattle's occasional gray wintery days.  

Oven-Roasted Orange Chicken with Fennel
inspired by a Pinterest link from Foolproof Living, who adapted a recipe from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.

1/3 cup Pernod
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons orange juice (I used an orange mango mix)
3 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard (I used smooth Dijon)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2 1/2 lb. chicken thighs
2 fennel bulbs; washed, cored and cut into fat wedges
3 oranges or 6 clementines, sliced into thin rounds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
bouquet of fennel fronds for garnish

For the Marinade:
Mix Pernod, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a large ziplok bag.
Dry the chicken thighs with paper towel. Place chicken thighs, fennel wedges, orange slices, thyme, and fennel seeds into the bag of marinade; toss to coat. Refrigerate and let it marinade at least for 2 hours or overnight.

To Cook:
Pre-heat the oven to 475 F Degrees. 

Place the chicken thighs, presentation side up, in a single layer, into a large ovenproof glass pan. Arrange the fennel wedges and orange slices over and around the chicken thighs. Pour the marinade over all. Cook, uncovered, in the preheated 475 F oven until juices run clear, about 45 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon and move the chicken thighs, fennel wedges, and orange slices onto a warmed serving plate. Cover and keep warm; set aside.
Pour the juices into a small wide skillet or pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer until somewhat thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup.

To Serve:
Place a serving of rice on each serving plate, top with chicken and drizzle some sauce over the top. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve.


Or... serve on the warmed platter with a pitcher of sauce on the side. Wild rice pilaf makes a tasty accompaniment.

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