Sweet or savory · Pancakes a treat anytime

Diving into a stack of fluffy, hot, golden-brown pancakes with butter melting into the warm layers and pure maple syrup dripping down the sides, is a delicious comfort food on a cold winter morning. Pancakes come in all shapes and sizes and are called by many names, whether they are sweet or savory.

Sweet versions for breakfast
Buckwheat, wholegrain, flour or buttermilk, the sweet breakfast pancake is often made with in variety of ways using blueberries, bananas or chocolate chips. In the U.S., pancakes have been called flapjacks, hotcakes, brown dollars and griddle cakes. Colonial settlers learned how to make johnnycakes and hoecakes from corn by local Native Americans. These look like pancakes, but are really flatbreads.

The French are known for their crepes, while Eastern Europeans make blinis or blintzes that are generally stuffed with cheese or fruit, topped with sour cream. The Scots make their pancakes with oats. The Dutch Baby, thought to originate from the Pennsylvania Dutch and Germans, are baked in a cast-iron pan in the oven and are similar to a popover. This is a particular favorite in my family. Once pulled from the oven, after puffing up, we squeeze lemon juice over the pancake and serve it with berry jam.

Whichever version flips your fancy, there are many ways to enjoy the versatile pancake.

Savory pancakes for anytime
Pancakes aren’t just for breakfast. Savory pancakes are excellent for lunch and dinner. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made with a cabbage, flour and egg base with vegetables and pork or seafood added and often topped with a seasoned mayonnaise sauce. I am an absolute fan of this meal. While traveling in Japan a few years back, I found myself in a small restaurant that served Okonomiyaki. Surrounded by rice paper lanterns and shoji screens, I was seated on the floor around a griddle the size of a dining table. I mixed up the batter, added the desired ingredients and fried the cakes on the griddle. It was an epicurean experience.

In China, scallion pancakes are made from dough, instead of a batter. In Korea, jeon is prepared with eggs and vegetables and fermented kimchi. Crispy banh xeo is a Vietnamese rice flour pancake made with turmeric and, in certain regions, coconut milk is added to the batter. It is pan-fried with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts and is served with fresh lettuce and herbs.

Tortillas are the pancakes of Mexico, and the equivalent in Columbia and Venezuela is the arepa. Ethiopian cuisine offers the injera, a spongy pancake made with teff flour, which is nutty and somewhat sweet. The slightly sour flavor comes from a fermentation period of several days.

India offers many styles of pancakes: appam is made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk, uttapam is prepared with urad dal and rice and the dosa is a crepe-like pancake stuffed with curried potatoes and peas, vegetables or paneer cheese. It is served with coriander chutney and sambar. This Indian meal is hard to resist.

Potato latkes are a Jewish staple. My grandmother would hand grate the potatoes and onion in a bowl and add egg, a dash of flour, salt and pepper and fry them on the stove in hot oil. She served them with sour cream. They rarely got to rest on the paper towel before being snatched and eaten while still scorching hot.

Other variations of pancakes include sweet potato pancakes and vegetable pancakes prepared with shredded carrots, zucchini and onion and just about any vegetable you can shred, topped with a mayonnaise and soy sauce or homemade cashew cheese. They are a perfect winter meal.

Pancakes prepared with lentil or mung bean are made by soaking the legumes with basmati rice and blending them into a batter. These are delicious, healthy and excellent served with homemade cashew cheese. I add mint and garlic to my cashew cheese recipe. Another healthy savory pancake that is packed with protein is a quinoa and vegetable pancake, baked in the oven. They are delicious for any time of day.

Whichever version flips your fancy, there are many ways to enjoy the versatile pancake.

Okonomiyaki
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Half of a head green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 6 scallions, shredded
  • ½ C shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ C all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t sesame seeds
  • 1 t futomaki or bonito flakes

Add cabbage, carrots, scallions and sliced mushrooms into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour and spices. Add eggs and water, mixing well. Add to the large bowl of vegetables.

Heat a cast-iron frying pan or griddle. Spray with nonstick spray or coat with vegetable oil. Ladle the batter into pan and brown on both sides. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Top with sauces.

Okonomiyaki sauce

  • 3 T ketchup,
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sugar or honey

Tamari mayonnaise sauce

  • ½ C mayonnaise
  • 1 t tamari or soy sauce
  • Water to blend and thin

Yogurt sriracha sauce

  • ½ C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T sriracha sauce

Priya Hutner is a writer, health and wellness consultant, and natural foods chef. Her business, The Seasoned Sage, focuses on wellness, conscious eating and healthy living. She offers healthy organic meals for her clients. She may be reached at pria78@gmail.com or visit theseasonedsage.com. Visit TheTahoeWeekly.com to read more.

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Priya Hutner

Priya Hutner is a writer, personal chef and meditation teacher. She writes feature articles about music, art, food and recreation. Priya loves to immerse in story. Whether jumping from a plane, eating obscure foods or hitting the Tahoe-Reno music scene, she is always up for adventure and experience.
Having moved to the mountains from Sebastian, Fla., she embraces the Tahoe lifestyle and loves to ski, hike, paddle and swim. Priya is the owner of the Seasoned Sage, a business that prepares organic meals and facilitates workshops that promote a health-conscious lifestyle.
She is currently writing a memoir about her experience living on an ashram and working on a series of cookbooks.
| priya@tahoethisweek.com