Listen up you flower children, you hippies, you tree-hugging, peace-loving foodies. It’s time to go water your spider plants, turn up the Bob Dylan vinyl, throw your bras on the burner, and put on your tie-dyed apron.
As you can see, I was inspired this weekend: I pulled out my iconic 1970s cookbook “The Vegetarian Epicure,” a classic gem filled with meatless recipes written at a time when vegetarianism was a radical, bold, borderline taboo social statement. The totally dated preface reflects this – it’s a very entertaining read. Hey, who can deny the charm of the chapter on dinner party ideas, encouraging the host or hostess to “pass the grass” before the first course, to get the gastronomic juices flowing?
OK enough with the macramé potted plants and Carol King albums, the food in this book is really good; the breakfasts and desserts are especially top notch. I felt particularly inspired by the German Apple Pancake recipe, and adapted it to suit my seasonal fondness for peaches. I threw in a few blueberries for color but they aren’t necessary by any means.
This is essentially one huge pancake that gets baked in the oven. Its chewy, buttery texture and flavor reminds me of a humungous popover. It’s fun to have it all ready at the same time too, as opposed to regular pancakes that have to be cooked just a few at a time. The buttery pancake beneath the warm spiced fruit and maple syrup is sure to hit a homerun with hippies and non-hippies alike. Peace, love, and please pass the maple syrup.
PUFFY OVEN PANCAKE WITH WARM PEACHES
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup thinly sliced peaches (optional)
1 pound fresh peaches
¼ cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar or maple syrup (optional)
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 pinches ground cinnamon
Warm maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Whisk or beat eggs, milk, flour, and salt until very smooth. Stir in optional sliced peaches (or a handful of berries) if desired.
3. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium, and melt 1½ tablespoons of butter. When it’s hot & bubbly, pour in the pancake batter. Place the entire skillet in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake another 8-10 minutes, or until the pancake is golden brown.
NOTE: The pancake may puff up quite a bit after 10 minutes or so of baking. If this happens, prick it just once or twice with a fork to release a little air.
4. While the pancake is baking, prepare the filling:
Peel & slice fruit. Melt the butter on medium heat and stir in optional sugar or syrup if desired. Add fruit and sautee briefly, just about 5 minutes, until fruit is just tender (not too soft.)
5. Slide pancake onto a platter. Reserve a couple spoonfuls of fruit filling to the side, and pour the rest down the center of the cake. Fold each side over the other, creating a humongous crepe-type roll. Spoon the reserved fruit over the top and serve immediately. Slice pieces off crosswise and drizzle with warm maple syrup.