Today is National Pancake Day!

In honor of National Pancake Day, which happens to be today, we’re offering an encore feature of our Homemade Bacon Pancakes column and recipe from last summer. We shot these photos on a  beautifully bright and sunny July day, which seems almost like another lifetime ago after this long and particularly harsh winter. I think it’s time to break up with Old Man Winter, but until that happens – Enjoy!

“These might be the best pancakes I’ve ever had.” This was the first comment from our Forum photographer, Logan, as he tasted the featured subject of our recent photo shoot for today’s column. With praise like that, we knew we were on the right course with our recipe for a breakfast specialty we call Homemade Bacon Pancakes.

As a “restaurant family,” breakfast is our special time to sit and eat a meal together.   Tony is usually the master of the breakfast menu, and Gio and I have been only too happy to sit back and enjoy the meal. A family favorite has always been pancakes, and up until recently Tony has been a big fan of Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix.

However, our twenty-year-old griddle quit working several months ago and I finally found a good replacement for it just before Father’s Day. Gio and I wanted to make a special breakfast for Tony, and decided that we would depart from our usual box mix pancakes and attempt to make our own from scratch.

Homemade pancakes are surprisingly easy to make, and the result is a pancake that is superior to anything made from a box. What makes these pancakes even more special is a tip I learned from my cousin, Zack Berger, when he was visiting our family last summer.

Zack made Bisquick pancakes for us each morning, which took on a new identity after he cooked them in a bit of bacon grease. Quite simply, they tasted amazing, better and different than any other pancakes I’ve had. I knew I had to make these one day for Tony.

According to Tony, bacon and pancakes were made for each other, and after enjoying his Father’s Day treat he says he will never use box pancakes again. Bacon fat can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three months, but  if you cook the bacon just before the pancakes you’ll have a proper breakfast waiting for you when you finish.

Our recipe makes about ten medium-sized pancakes, and consists of just seven ingredients, all of which are common pantry staples. I often use sea salt when I bake or make sweet foods, and it’s a perfect fit for this recipe. A touch of vanilla added to the mix adds flavor and depth to the pancakes, and enhances the made-from-scratch experience.

We recently started using Dakota Maid all-purpose flour, which seems to be lighter and better-sifted than other brands, and we truly believe it improved the overall quality of our pancakes.

These pancakes are slightly sweet with a texture that is light, fluffy, airy and soft. To achieve this perfect texture, mix the batter until it is just a little bit lumpy – the lumps should be small but still present.

Bubbly little holes will begin to appear as the pancakes start cooking, but wait about two minutes after they surface before flipping the cake.

Cooking the pancakes in bacon grease doesn’t make them taste like bacon, but it does ensure that each cake has a wonderful, golden-brown crust which doesn’t happen when butter, oil or cooking spray is used.

We’re in Delaware this week, celebrating a family reunion dubbed Schmeckfest by my extended Anstett family (of German-from-Russia heritage), and we can’t wait to make our version of Bacon Pancakes for Zack and the gang. We serve our Bacon Pancakes with a pat of butter, pure maple syrup (Tony is Canadian, after all), a simple fresh fruit salad and, of course, bacon.

Homemade Bacon Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ¼ cup milk or buttermilk (start with 1 cup and add more as needed, up to 1 ¼ cup)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, 1 cup of milk and vanilla together, then lightly incorporate 1 cup of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once the ingredients have just come together, stir in the melted butter until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix, and gently stir just until the mixture is somewhat smooth, but still has small lumps. If too thick, add the remaining ¼ cup of milk.

Heat the griddle or pan to medium-high (approx. 350 degrees). Once the surface is hot, lightly grease with bacon fat. Use a ladle or 1/4 measuring cup to pour the batter onto the hot surface, leaving space between each cake.

As the pancakes cook, bubbly little holes will start to appear, but continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer before flipping. Cook for about 2 to 3 more minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with pure maple syrup and enjoy!

Easy Fresh Fruit Salad Recipe

 

Breakfast with Tony, via Lisa Lee

This morning on North Dakota Today, Tony shared one of our favorite breakfast recipes: the easy-to-make but oh, so delicious, One-Pan Fried Egg Sandwich.

This breakfast sandwich was first featured in a post I wrote last December, inspired by the goodies I’d brought home from a recent trip to the (now-closed) Green Market. Tony fell in love with this sandwich, not only for its taste, but also for its simplicity. All of the components for this sandwich can be prepared with one pan and a toaster. What’s not to like?

Originally, this sandwich was made with fennel bread from the Green Market, but we haven’t been able to find any bread close to that since they closed last spring. So we turned to our friend, Lisa Lee Sawyer, for her recommendation.

Lisa Lee is a marvelous cook and baker. When she’s not busy with her other passion as a a Doctor of Music at Concordia College, Lisa Lee bakes all of her own bread, each loaf a treat of its own. We knew she would be able to tell us where to get a good loaf of bread for Tony’s appearance on North Dakota Today..

Turns out, she did us one better. She decided to experiment with fennel, and ended up making us several loaves of her very own fennel bread. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe this bread – to say that we could taste the love in every bite would be an understatement.

This is what we love about living in the world of food: It’s a world that encourages sharing, and an open-mindedness to try new foods and recipes. Food is a universal language, one that every person speaks in her own way.We feel blessed to have a friend like Lisa Lee in our lives, and thank her for sharing her culinary talent and passion for good food with us.

When we don’t have Lisa Lee’s artisanal breads at home we will usually pay a visit to Breadsmith to see what they have in their daily selection, but any good toasting bread will work.

Everything but the toast is made in one pan, but if you use a large pan or griddle you could cook everything together, including the bread. This sandwich is healthy, delicious, and loaded with the vitamins, protein and nutrients you need to start your day off right. Enjoy!

For just the recipe, CLICK HERE: One-Pan Fried Egg Sandwich

CLICK HERE to watch Tony make our One-Pan Fried Egg Sandwich

The Lost Italian’s One-Pan Fried Egg Sandwich

Ingredients:
2 pieces of good bread, toasted or griddled and buttered (we love to use artisanal fennel, sourdough, rye or whole wheat English muffins)
1 slice Canadian bacon
1 heaping cup fresh spinach leaves, washed
1 slice American cheese (any cheese with good melting properties will work)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat the oil in  medium sauté pan over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Crack the egg and tilt the pan to keep the egg from spreading around. Use a rubber spatula to push the edges back toward the center if necessary.

Cook for about a minute and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for three to four minutes, until the whites are opaque and the yolk is slightly firm. Flip the egg over and add the spinach and Canadian bacon to the pan.

Pop the sliced bread into the toaster at this time, and butter each piece as soon as it is done. Set aside until ready to use.

Continue to cook for two to three minutes, until the yolk has reached your desired consistency (longer for over-hard, shorter for over-medium), keeping an eye on the spinach and Canadian bacon.

Flip the egg right-side up again and season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the Canadian bacon over and cook for another minute. Place the slice of cheese on top of the egg, turn the Canadian bacon over and allow everything to cook for another minute or two, until the cheese has melted, the spinach has wilted, and both sides of the Canadian bacaon are lightly browned.

Place the fried egg on a piece of buttered toast, add the Canadian bacon, then the spinach, and sit back to enjoy this quick, easy and delicious breakfast sandwich!

You can find Tony online at www.thelostitalian.com, on Twitter at @thelostitalian, on Facebook at Sarello’s & The Lost Italian page, and always at Sarello’s Restaurant in downtown Moorhead!

Sarello’s Restaurant & Wine Lounge
28 Center Mall Avenue
Moorhead, MN 56560
218.287.0238
www.sarellos.com
Just north of the Center Mall Parking Ramp

Amazing Homemade Bacon Pancakes & Easy Fruit Salad

“These might be the best pancakes I’ve ever had.” This was the first comment from our Forum photographer, Logan, as he tasted the featured subject of our recent photo shoot for today’s column. With praise like that, we knew we were on the right course with our recipe for a breakfast specialty we call Homemade Bacon Pancakes.

As a “restaurant family,” breakfast is our special time to sit and eat a meal together.   Tony is usually the master of the breakfast menu, and Gio and I have been only too happy to sit back and enjoy the meal. A family favorite has always been pancakes, and up until recently Tony has been a big fan of Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix.

However, our twenty-year-old griddle quit working several months ago and I finally found a good replacement for it just before Father’s Day. Gio and I wanted to make a special breakfast for Tony, and decided that we would depart from our usual box mix pancakes and attempt to make our own from scratch.

Homemade pancakes are surprisingly easy to make, and the result is a pancake that is superior to anything made from a box. What makes these pancakes even more special is a tip I learned from my cousin, Zack Berger, when he was visiting our family last summer.

Zack made Bisquick pancakes for us each morning, which took on a new identity after he cooked them in a bit of bacon grease. Quite simply, they tasted amazing, better and different than any other pancakes I’ve had. I knew I had to make these one day for Tony.

According to Tony, bacon and pancakes were made for each other, and after enjoying his Father’s Day treat he says he will never use box pancakes again. Bacon fat can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three months, but  if you cook the bacon just before the pancakes you’ll have a proper breakfast waiting for you when you finish.

Our recipe makes about ten medium-sized pancakes, and consists of just seven ingredients, all of which are common pantry staples. I often use sea salt when I bake or make sweet foods, and it’s a perfect fit for this recipe. A touch of vanilla added to the mix adds flavor and depth to the pancakes, and enhances the made-from-scratch experience.

We recently started using Dakota Maid all-purpose flour, which seems to be lighter and better-sifted than other brands, and we truly believe it improved the overall quality of our pancakes.

These pancakes are slightly sweet with a texture that is light, fluffy, airy and soft. To achieve this perfect texture, mix the batter until it is just a little bit lumpy – the lumps should be small but still present.

Bubbly little holes will begin to appear as the pancakes start cooking, but wait about two minutes after they surface before flipping the cake.

Cooking the pancakes in bacon grease doesn’t make them taste like bacon, but it does ensure that each cake has a wonderful, golden-brown crust which doesn’t happen when butter, oil or cooking spray is used.

We’re in Delaware this week, celebrating a family reunion dubbed Schmeckfest by my extended Anstett family (of German-from-Russia heritage), and we can’t wait to make our version of Bacon Pancakes for Zack and the gang. We serve our Bacon Pancakes with a pat of butter, pure maple syrup (Tony is Canadian, after all), a simple fresh fruit salad and, of course, bacon.

Homemade Bacon Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ¼ cup milk or buttermilk (start with 1 cup and add more as needed, up to 1 ¼ cup)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, 1 cup of milk and vanilla together, then lightly incorporate 1 cup of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once the ingredients have just come together, stir in the melted butter until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix, and gently stir just until the mixture is somewhat smooth, but still has small lumps. If too thick, add the remaining ¼ cup of milk.

Heat the griddle or pan to medium-high (approx. 350 degrees). Once the surface is hot, lightly grease with bacon fat. Use a ladle or 1/4 measuring cup to pour the batter onto the hot surface, leaving space between each cake.

As the pancakes cook, bubbly little holes will start to appear, but continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer before flipping. Cook for about 2 to 3 more minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with pure maple syrup and enjoy!

Easy Fresh Fruit Salad

Ingredients:
Watermelon, cubed
Honeydew melon, cubed
Cantaloupe, cubed
Pineapple, cubed
Kiwi, cut into rounds or half-moon slices
Blueberries. whole
Strawberries, sliced
Raspberries, whole
Grapes, whole
Juice from one orange

Directions:
To save a step, I often purchase my melon and pineapple pre-cut from the grocery store. Mix with your favorite fruits (if using banana, add just before serving) and coat with the juice of one orange. Prepare the night before serving, as the juices will marinate and create a wonderful syrup in the salad.

What is your favorite pancake or breakfast food?

Homemade pancakes have become our latest food obsession. As a restaurant-family, mornings are our main time together, so breakfast is a big deal in our house. Summer is here, we have a new griddle, and enjoying the luxury of fresh pancakes has become a regular event for us, even on weekdays. (Weekends are reserved for my cousin Zack’s special, decadent variety which he calls “Bacon Pancakes,” a.k.a., pancakes cooked with bacon grease).

I’ve figured out the best temps on the griddle and mastered the art of whisking the batter just enough (you actually want some lumps in there or those bubbly little holes won’t appear), so now it’s time to take it to the next level by experimenting with different ingredients: fruits, nuts, and flours.

My mother makes some incredible pancakes using wild rice flour, so I know we’ll be trying those soon. And this weekend I’d like to make a version of banana-pecan pancakes, and will toast the pecans first for better flavor. It’s hard to go wrong with homemade pancakes because they are just so delicious – and cheap – to make.

But we’d love to hear from you and find out what your favorite pancakes are:

  • Do you make your own pancake mix, or use one from a box (and if you do, which brand do you use)?
  • Do you have a favorite fruit, and do you add it to the batter or directly to the pancake?
  • Have you got a favorite syrup or topping?
  • Have you tried different flours?
  • Do you have any special tricks or tips?

Or, if pancakes aren’t your thing, what other breakfast foods light up your mornings? To share your food thoughts please feel free to post a comment below, send us an email to dine@sarellos.com, or click here to post your answers on our Facebook Page.

Our basic pancake batter:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cup milk (I start with 1 cup and add more as needed, up to 1 1/4 cup)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the egg, milk and vanilla together and lightly incorporate into the flour mixture. Once the ingredients have just come together, stir in the melted butter until the mixture is somewhat smooth, but still has small lumps.

Heat griddle or pan to medium-high (I dance around between 325 – 350 degrees). Lightly grease the surface with oil, bacon fat, butter, cooking spray, etc. Use a ladle or 1/4 measuring cup to pour batter onto hot surface, being careful to leave space between each cake.

As the pancakes cook, those bubbly little holes will start to appear, but continue to cook for  1 -2 minutes longer before flipping. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. Serve hot with pure maple syrup and enjoy!

The Very Versatile Norwegian Gravlax

The following is the full copy of our column from the December 19, 2012 edition of The Forum. Our column appears in the SheSays section every Wednesday.

Norwegian Gravlax Recipe
Pickled Red Onions Recipe

Like many people in our region, my grandfather, Don Mathison, was 100% Norwegian and proud of it.  For years, our family’s Christmas Eve buffet has included Norwegian specialties like lefse, pickled herring and sardines. Several years ago, when Tony and I started hosting our family on Christmas Eve, we wanted to add our own dishes to the mix but wished to remain true to the cultural heritage of our two families.

We had no problem deciding which items from Tony’s Italian culture would be featured among the buffet of hearty hors d’oeuvres: marinated olives, a festive pesto pasta, and a beautiful Sicilian Christmas Salad featuring exotic blood oranges. But we also wanted to pay tribute to my Norwegian and Irish heritage, without having to increase our workload too much.

After some reflection, we decided to focus on salmon as our main ingredient, as this fish is popular within both cultures. And once we’d picked salmon, we knew exactly what to make: Gravlax.

Gravlax is a traditional Scandinavian specialty of cured salmon, originally made by fishermen in the Middle Ages. The men would salt the salmon and bury it under the sand near the high-tide line. This process allowed the salmon to cure, or ferment, and also gave the dish its name: grav means grave in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, and lax (or laks) means salmon; hence, buried salmon = gravlax.

In spite of its humble origins, today gravlax is found on fancy party platters and upscale brunch buffets. This dish was the perfect choice for us: it’s easy to make, affordable, and must be prepared several days in advance, which is always helpful this time of year. Furthermore, we could serve it on our Christmas Eve buffet, and with bagels the following morning for our Christmas brunch.

Gravlax is not a smoked salmon, but is similar in flavor and texture to the cold smoked Nova-style salmon, or lox, commonly found in the gourmet section of our local grocery stores.

“Making gravlax is easy,” Tony says, “but the result is always impressive. Recipes can vary depending on their origin, but there are four key ingredients you must have to make gravlax: salmon, fresh dill, sugar and Kosher salt. The hardest part is waiting the two days until it’s ready to serve.”

The dry brine used to cure the fish adds a slight sweetness and a buttery texture which only serve to elevate the natural flavor of the salmon.  Fresh and delicate, Gravlax is the perfect dish for holiday entertaining.

For this recipe, Tony uses brown sugar, as well as small amounts of olive oil, lemon juice and brandy. You can omit the liquor, or use vodka, grappa, or go purely Scandinavian and use Aquavit instead.

For Christmas Eve, we serve our gravlax with pickled red onions and thin slices of good bread – fennel, pumpernickel, dark rye, or any crusty, European style bread will do. On Christmas morning we create a platter of diced red onion, capers and cream cheese, and serve the gravlax with toasted bagels from The Green Market in downtown Fargo (known in our home as the World’s Best Bagels).

We have so enjoyed coming into your homes this holiday season. From our home to yours, we wish you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

Norwegian Gravlax Recipe
Pickled Red Onions Recipe

 

One-Pan Fried Egg Sandwich

Giovanni and I stopped by the Green Market Kitchen in downtown Fargo last Friday to enjoy their featured dessert: Chocolate Souffle Cake with Whipped Cream. They’d posted a picture of it on Facebook the day before, and it looked too good to miss (click HERE to see the photo). For some reason, Giovanni has long wanted to try a dessert souffle, and I thought this would be a fun food adventure for us.

We love the food at the Green Market, and this souffle was no exception. It was served in a  (hot) cup, with a little bowl of whipped cream on the side. GIovanni’s reaction when he tasted his first mouthful was, “Ohhh, this is good.”

Of course, if you’re at the Green Market, you can’t leave without purchasing something to take home, right? Well, I can’t. They have a terrific cheese selection, and the very best breads in town. The bread selection changes daily and is limited to just a few options – I love this gesture, because I tend to buy at least one of each featured bread (I like to stock up because these breads freeze beautifully).

We are big fans of the Saturday bagels and orange rolls, and I usually buy a dozen of each – some for the weekend, and the rest for my freezer.

On Friday, they were featuring Tony’s favorite focaccia loaves as well as a gorgeous round Fennel bread. I bought two of each, and added a block of Gio’s favorite aged cheddar and a dozen of Renee’s Farm Fresh Eggs to our order.

On Saturday morning, I received a text from my dear friend, Jennie, with a recommendation for a healthy breakfast. Lately, we’ve taken to texting to encourage each other to eat well. While not always successful, this time Jennie included a picture of an egg sandwich, and I knew I had the answer to the question that had been on my mind since waking up: “What am I going to eat for breakfast?”

I cut two thin slices of the fennel loaf and set them in the toaster. Then, in one medium pan, I fried an egg in extra virgin olive oil with a hearty handful of spinach, and one piece of Canadian Bacon. I just love the rich yellow color of an organic egg yolk. I’ve actually compared them to the yolks of a “regular” egg before to see if there really was a difference in color, or if it was just my perception. For whatever reason, the organic egg yolks are always more vibrant in color.

When the toast was ready, I spread a thin layer of good butter on each piece and set them aside. Then I shaved a few thin pieces off the brick of aged cheddar and laid it over the nearly-finished fried egg, allowing it to melt before serving (I also added a little salt and freshly ground pepper to the egg before the cheese).
I lightly browned each side of the bacon and placed it in on a piece of toast, topping that with the spinach, then the fried egg. I topped it with the second piece of toast, cut it in half and the result made my mouth water. This sandwich was so pretty! Even Gio, who has recently been known to shun eggs, couldn’t resist taking a bite.

Tony was not at home when I made the first sandwich, which gave me the perfect excuse to do a repeat performance on Sunday morning. After inhaling his sandwich, he looked at me and said, “You need to blog about this.”

So here you have it. What set this fried egg sandwich apart from any other I’ve made is the quality of the ingredients I used. The sweet-savory richness of the fennel bread, the tangy sharpness of the aged cheddar, the luxury of the farm-fresh egg all came together with the spinach and Canadian bacon so well. I can’t wait to make it again.

So stop by the Green Market this holiday season and say hello to our friends Peter, Andrea, Steve and Sara. You won’t be disappointed.