Sunday, January 30, 2011


It will come as no surprise to regular readers of the blog that Mark Bittman is one of my favourite culinary pin up boys men. If I had to nominate a top three there’d also be delicious Nigel and our own lovely Tony. But let’s not be heterosexist, my soft spot for Annabel also deserves a mention.

What all four of these cooking heroes have in common is a laid back attitude to home cooking. There's also a shared joy of homegrown produce and a relaxed approach to following recipes. All of which tick my boxes.

But back to Mr Bittman. I enjoyed his recent New York Times piece on whole-grain pancakes. The accompanying video showed him incorporating some cooked oatmeal (porridge) with a scant amount of flour, herbs, nuts and dried fruit. I took notes as I watched! I made guesses as to quantities. Why? Because at the time I couldn’t actually find the recipe.

As fate would have it, last weekend came around and I awoke to an unexpected dose of mild food poisoning (sadly from an oldish favourite on Brunswick Street). My partner suffered likewise, sealing the deal as to the source of the infection. Once my digestion calmed down all I wanted to eat was porridge. Which meant the next day, when I was fully functioning again, a cup or so of rolled oats slowly cooked with rice milk and a little banana sat waiting to be used in my fridge.

My version varies somewhat from the original but they look and I suspect taste pretty authentic. The notes in italics explain the variations. The quantities were more than adequate for two very hungry adults.

Super healthy pancakes with oats and cardamom

Combine the following dry ingredients:

2 tabs ground almonds
2 tabs raw rolled oats
I chopped the almonds roughly in the food processor then threw in the raw whole oats for a couple of whizzes. The texture in the finished product was lovely – but I really wonder if it needed the raw oats at all.
1/2 tsp salt
Seeds of about 4 pods cardamom
I pounded salt and herbs together in a mortar and pestle. The aroma was quite strong, so I used this as a guide to the amount of cardamom seeds I used. The cardamom was very subtle in the first pancake I cooked but was more noticeable in later ones.
1/2 cup unbleached flour
This was perfect, in both texture and binding of the batter.
1 tsp baking powder

Wet ingredients

Whisk together:
1 egg
1/2 c rice (or other) milk
I added a further 1/3 cup when mixing the final batter. to get to the right consistency.
1 tsp vanilla extract
As there was a trace of banana already in my porridge and I knew I’d be using the perfect runny apricot jam on top, no need for the addition of dried apricots. Even without that, I think they’d be over kill. The vanilla, though not in the original recipe, was a subtle flavour enhancer that I’d use again.

Stir into the combined wet ingredients:
1+ cups porridge
I had a bit over a cup of left over porridge cooked with a little banana and rice milk from the day before. As leftover porridge tends to congeal, using clean hands to break up the lumps through the wet ingredients was the most effective method.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently.
Despite my initial scepticism, it really does create a “batter consistency”, even with so little flour. They needed to be loosened a little more with milk. I decided to let the batter sit for half an hour. That’s the general rule for flour based pancake batters, the flour swells a little but more than that the cardamom has a chance to infuse.

Cook in rice bran oil in a hot pan. They needed at least 4 minutes a side. And like most pancakes I find it better to do a small one first, then the pan seems to get into its groove and the following ones cook more smoothly – or is that just me?

Served with a spoonful of the most heavenly, runny organic apricot jam a client had given me but maple syrup or a little honey would do the trick.

Verdict: When I first read the recipe I must admit my first thought was "crispy fried porridge". But my second thought was "crispy fried porridge could taste really good"! The oatmeal did make the pancakes a little damp in the middle, rather than the more cakey nature I'm familiar with. The ground nuts added a lovely texture that complemented the oats.

Overall - a delightful, very filling and healthy breakfast!

Though next time I might soak rolled oats over night, rather than cooking them to see how that works.

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Anonymous carbon copy pro said...

Thank you for an interesting recipe!

8:38 pm  
Blogger Johanna GGG said...

love pancakes - these ones reminds me of these alison holst pancakes which have many more oats than Mark Bittmans but they are wonderful - I love the addition of nuts and dried fruit. Btw is there a difference between hotcakes and pancakes

8:45 pm  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

This recipe sounds really good .. I'll give it a try!

6:04 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Johanna - as to a flat batter based "bread" cooked on a griddle, pancakes and hotcakes are interchangeable. But then again, Tony, Mark, Nigel and Annabel are definitely hotcakes not pancakes!

I grew up with Alison Holst but her cooking's still well and truly set in the 70's (bless her), imho I reckon oats need more soaking to release the phytates that bind the nutrients. I like Molly's version but would replace the dairy and add something like cinnamon for a flavour hit

Note "Suzanne's" link is to a commercial site selling sh*t in the USA, but I'm glad you liked the recipe :)

2:47 pm  
Blogger Marshall Stacks said...

yes yes "the pan seems to get in it's groove" and that is very significant to the result.
My one cooky quirk is my crepe pan I tote around from place to place, never ever washing it, just a paper-towel wiping after use.
... and I always put a vanilla essence drop in porridge and cinnamon too.
bon appetit

7:06 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

MS I love freshly grated nutmeg in my winter porridge. Oats just love a little spice.

Now Ms Stacks, I'd love to see a post about your crepe pan and any other culinary gear you tote around with you in your itinerant life :)

8:40 am  
Anonymous Susan Bennett said...

I have to confess to having a bit of a thing for Rick Stein. He's my absolute favourite to watch, which is interesting, because I'm allergic to shellfish and can't eat a lot of fish either, so I can't cook most of what he cooks. But I just find his lust for life and passion infectious and genuine, unlike a lot of celebrity chefs who seem to be affecting it.

4:44 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

I liked Rick's recent Asian cooking series, though I'm not over enamoured with aging men who ditch their wife for a younger model.

4:59 pm  

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