Hope you don’t mind, but I want to throw another breakfast recipe your way. Don’t worry, I’m not sneaking in kale or tofu this time, just a scoop of cottage cheese. Which isn’t too odd if you think about it. Many of you will have had, or heard of, ricotta pancakes. This is just a kind of “poor man’s” version.
And none the worse for the lowering of circumstance. Both the pancakes and the rhubarb are a bit sweet, but not overly so. And the pancakes are quite substantial because of the protein content of the cottage cheese: I wasn’t hungry for ages after having some for breakfast. And no, I didn’t eat the whole batch. Just three modest cakes and a large spoon of juicy pink rhubarb.
Actually, when I was working on this recipe I was thinking of this combo as more of a dessert, but I figure most folk would see this as firmly in breakfast territory. Perhaps I should have waited awhile with this, but as the rhubarb season is so short for many of you – and the roasted rhubarb goes so well with these little brown-butter cottage cheese pancakes – I thought you wouldn’t mind. I know you are kind that way. Very indulgent of me.
Another reason for posting now is to exorcise a bad breakfast experience from my mind – and mouth. Miss R is on study leave, beavering away through piles of files and papers in preparation for some important exams. As a wee treat yesterday we decided to head up the road and into the nearby countryside to have breakfast at a farmshop of excellent repute. Driving up you are usually greeted by a hen or two, the sound of lambs bleating in the distance, or you’ll at least spot a farm cat rubbing against a gatepost. I sometimes come for fresh vegetables, a loaf of bread, or even a small keg of local beer, but it’s usually too busy, or I’m too in a hurry, to sit, eat and enjoy the panoramic view.
Well, to cut a long story short, we had just about the worst breakfast we have ever had. We both ordered pancakes. Pancakes that declared themselves to be homemade. Well, they may have been homemade a few months ago, but freshly made they were not. I suspect they were either fished out of the freezer and (inexpertly) microwaved, or made-up leftovers from the previous day. Either way they were dry, dry, dry. And the bacon accompanying them was as hard as shoe leather. I of course have never eaten shoe leather but I can’t think it would have been substantially tougher or less flavoursome than the two shrunken shards on my plate. Couldn’t finish either. A real shame as it is a wonderful place otherwise, with lots of family activities, PYO veg and fruit, proper butchers’ counter, blah, blah. Hopefully we just caught them on a bad morning, but I think it was a sign to keep breakfast on home territory. After all, we have hens who greet us and cats who rub on gateposts. If only we had some little lambs. Hmm, fluffy little lambs. Off to make a few phone calls…
Brown Butter Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Roasted Rhubarb
A couple things first: I’ve given directions for thicker, fluffier cakes but the photos show thinner ones. This is due to too much almond milk and only one egg (all I was given first thing by my hens!). They tasted great but I know looks are important too so I’ve adjusted accordingly. If you like thinner cakes then by all means up the liquid to 175ml and use one egg. And, the unrefined coconut blossom (palm) sugar. Yes, I said on the About page I wouldn’t go in for specialist ingredients unless necessary, but I had a sample to finish off and it is really amazing stuff. Low GI, low in fructose, and with good green credentials too. This caramel-like natural sugar is the bees knees. Coconut palm sugar isn’t cheap though, so use unrefined caster/superfine sugar otherwise.
140g white spelt flour OR all-purpose flour
1 heaped tbsp oat bran or wheatgerm
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp fine salt
1/8 tsp vanilla powder OR ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tbsp unrefined coconut blossom sugar OR unrefined caster/superfine sugar
2 eggs, divided
175g cottage cheese (full or lower fat), pressed though a sieve or well-mashed
120ml almond, rice or dairy milk (I used almond)
1 ½ tbsp butter (optional but lovely)
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the egg yolks, sieved cottage cheese and milk.
In another bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside
For the brown butter, put the butter in your smallest pan and heat to medium until the butter melts. Keep it on the heat, whisking as the butter foams and rises. It will soon smell nutty and change colour. Remove from the heat when dark bits form at the bottom. Let this cool a minute before whisking it into the wet mixture. Now fold in the dry mix, mixing until most of the flour ‘disappears’. Finally, completely fold in the egg white with a large metal spoon.
Spray and heat a large non-stick sauté pan/skillet. When hot enough (it hisses when a water drop is added), slowly pour on a few good dollops. Flip the cakes when the surface is flecked with bubbles – about 2 ½ minutes – then continue on the other side. Sometimes I cover the pan to hurry them along and then uncover the last minute. Pile them on a baking try and keep in a warm oven until you are ready to eat. They also keep well in fridge or freezer (interleave with baking paper). I get 9-10 pancakes, about 5 inches in diameter.
Serve topped with a spoonful of rhubarb and some of the juice.
Low-fibre: use plain flour; skip the oat bran/wheatgerm
This versatile recipe may be suitable for some people on low fibre diets if kept to a large tablespoon serving. Everyone else, tuck in with abandon.
400g young slender rhubarb (I use the older, thicker kind in chutneys)
75g sugar – any kind
3 tbsp water
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped or just scored (latter is what I did)
Optional: 1 mild dried chilli such as a ancho (dried poblano) – this doesn’t make it hot, it just adds background interest that works well with rhubarb.
Clean and cut the rhubarb to suitable lengths – I like mine about 3-4 inches –and pop into a roasting tin along with the remaining ingredients and toss together.
Cover the roasting tin loosely with foil and place into a 200C/400F oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting for a further five minutes. It’s done when the rhubarb is tender to the point of a knife, but still intact. Roasted rhubarb is delicious warm or cold; on the pancakes or mixed into yogurt, on ice cream, with a sponge cake. I could go on and on, but it is hugely versatile.