About a month ago, we got a kitten from the local rescue. She was mouthy, hyper and small for her age. But from the second I saw her, I knew this was it. Despite her terrible name (Frankie) and her doomed-singleton-kitty status (just google it), we took her home. The last month has been a blur, filled with scratches and cuddle sessions.
Getting a kitten has reminded me that life is not all about deadlines, productivity and to do lists. There is joy between the work hours. Best not let work expand to the point that it takes up your whole life. Better to stop and smell the lilacs. Better to take a Sunday morning, and spend it making a double batch of tricky but delicious pancakes.
These pancakes require extra steps - cooking milk and butter, beating egg whites, folding folding folding. So I tend to make them on special occasions, when good friends come over for brunch.
The last time I made them was for the inaugural audiobook book club I’ve started with a few fabulous ladies. Everyone pitched in with the stirring, mixing, grating, sifting. And the batter came together in about 20 minutes - much faster than my previous two experiments.
Much like the kitten, the audiobook book club is a reminder that there are cracks in our days where creativity can find a space. Listening to a novel at the gym, while cleaning or out gardening, is a simple way to remember what it was like to while away an afternoon reading poetry or prose.
So I'm sending you this recipe - as a reminder to take time to smell the lemons, eat the fluffy pancakes, spend time with good friends and good reads, and maybe, just maybe, get yourself a kitten.
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
This recipe was inspired by Sarabeth's famous lemon ricotta pancakes, but adapted more directly from this recipe on Chow. If you feel like embracing the slow-Sunday in all it's glory, you could also go overboard and make your own ricotta, per Smitten Kitchen's excellent guidelines. Store bought ricotta will more than suffice, and if you ask me, beating the egg whites is enough work. I'd save that homemade ricotta for another day, where it's nuanced flavors can be appreciated on a piece of warm toast.
Given how delicious these are, I recommend you double the recipe. If you have leftovers, freeze them to heat up on a work day morning when you need a little bit of sunshine on your plate, per my instructions on freezing pear buckwheat pancakes.
4 tablespoons butter (if salted, just cut the salt below) + more for pan
1 cup of milk
1 1/4 cups of flour
1+1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt (less if using salter butter)
3 eggs separated (if doubling, could do 5 or 6)
1-2 tablespoons of sugar based on your preference for sweetness
Zest from 2-3 lemons
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean pod seeded and scraped
3/4 cup of ricotta
Can serve with: butter (my favorite), honey, peach jam, other jam, maple syrup, powdered sugar - use your imagination!
1. Put butter and milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter has melted; remove from heat and let cool slightly.
2. Sift flour and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
3. Whisk eggs yolks in a large bowl with lemon zest, vanilla and sugar.
4. Add the warmed but not hot milk-butter mixture to the egg yolks. First put in a little to temper it, then add all of it and whisk continuously while you pour. Helpful to have a friend here.
5. Add the flour from the medium bowl to the large egg yolk / milk-butter bowl to combine.
6. Whisk the egg whites. If you want to be fancy, add half the sugar here, the other half with the yolks, but I always forget and it doesn't matter. You can also add the salt here if you're using unsalted butter -- just put salt and sugar when egg white are foamy (halfway to soft peaks). When they "bend like soft serve" you're in soft peak territory.
7. Folk in the egg whites to the big bowl mixture. Then fold in the ricotta. Do the ricotta a little at a time and it will be easier to distribute without over-stirring. Just focus on the folding.
8. Cook in a medium-hot pan, greased with butter like you do for normal pancakes. Watch the pancakes disappear before your very eyes and enjoy the lemon-delicious-fluffiness while it lasts.