Okay, yes, I’ve made pancakes for dinner before. On a Monday night, even. But these are DIFFERENT pancakes. So there. To be more specific: buttermilk pancakes with pine nuts and citrus, topped with ricotta sweetened with candied pineapple and ginger, with a raspberry-orange coulis to cut the richness. Yeah, I know, it sounds kinda like dessert. It tasted kinda like dessert too, and I am not complaining about that. Who complains about dessert for dinner? I mean, I’m certifiably insane and even I’m happy with dinner pancakes.

Aside: I just downloaded the new Decemberists album. I have several thoughts about the Decemberists: (1) I like them, even though by all rights the lead singer’s high pitched nasal vocalizations should annoy the shit out of me but don’t; (2) their more-literate-than-thou brand of outdated hipsterism should annoy the shit out of me but doesn’t, although if pressed I would disavow them three times before the cock crows to avoid being branded an overly literate hipster; and (3) this album is “basically the story of Margaret, her shape-shifting lover William, an evil queen and an even more evil knave.” Which means: It better be really fricking good or else my patience is going to be seriously tested.

Aside to the aside: Once, 7 or 8 years ago, Brian went to a concert to see, among others, a band called “Goatwhore.” After the show, he was talking to the guys from the band – Goatwhore doesn’t tend to make it into your larger, more impersonal venues – and they invited him back to their van to hang out. (This is not a moralistic tale about not getting into strangers’ vans, don’t worry.) While talking, the lead singer revealed that the band’s next album was a concept album, set in a crumbling medieval castle, with all the songs being sung from the point of view of a DISCARDED ROCK ON THE FLOOR OF THE CASTLE. So I guess it is a moralistic tale, but it’s more about not doing drugs because man that rock shit is fucked up in a really pathetic way.

Anyway, above: Raspberries. “Coulis” is the chef way of saying “raspberries put in a blender.” To my credit, I did add a splash of orange juice and some simple syrup and then poured the resulting puree through a fine sieve to get a smooth sauce. But still: berries in a blender.

*I also just typed “downlowded” but that’s neither here nor there. Which I just typed as “here now there.” It’s going to be a long night.

While I made the pancake accouterments Brian pulled the pancakes together. He has several well-defined cooking roles around here, including Maker Of The Best Roasted Chicken Ever and Senior Executive Griller, and we’ve now added Pancake Master to the list.

Okay, I’m sorry, but the album just got REALLY REALLY LOUD for exactly 29 seconds. Apparently it’s an interlude called “The Queen’s Approach” which I assume is meant to startle awake those listeners who may have started to zone out. Also, when I went to iTunes to see what had just happened, I saw the band’s picture and the first dude over from the right totally looks like an evil German CPA. Seriously, dude’s forehead is huge. No good can come from a fivehead like that.

Aaaand we’re back to normal volume.

Just before Brian mixed the wet ingredients into the dry I added some lime zest and pignoli to the dry and a little splish of pure orange oil to the wet (I wanted delicate floral-y citrus, not just LIME).

As the pancakes cooked, I scooped some whole-milk ricotta into a bowl and worked on trying to get the candied pineapple and ginger chopped before Brian ate them all. I can’t tell a lie: not easy.

I added a little lime oil to echo the flavor in the pancakes, a little vanilla because vanilla makes things better, and a splash of simple syrup to help loosen things up. The whole-milk ricotta, she is delicious but denser than a stoned bassist trying to write a song about a rock.

Sorry, a stoned “basset.” Apparently we don’t have bassists here in WordPress. Although the metaphor still works; judging from the intelligence level of Tucker and Floyd, the bassets I know in real life (i.e., extremely stupid), a stoned basset would, in fact, be very dense.

The cheese mixture and coulis, along with some garnishes for whatever half-assed attempt at plating I would make, awaited the pancakes that would complete them.

(For those who care about such things: The album, so far, is good, although I do feel like I should be high and laying in the middle of a field and then I would be all, like, “whoa, William the shapeshifter is TOTALLY BLOWING MY MIND.” And also “oh shit, I can’t get up,” because that’s what happens to me when I get high and lay in a field, although should anyone from my workplace or with a law enforcement background be reading this, please note that I have not done that since 2004 and that I have learned my lesson; I was stuck in the hot sun in that field for five fucking hours.)

We see here that the Pancake Master title is not one that is unearned; I do not grade on a curve when it comes to my pancakes. The batter probably could have stood to be thinned out a little with some more milk, but ended up making some well-aerated but dense pancakes. I dubbed this slightly heavier-than-normal pancake a “dinner pancake” because of its substance. (I’m an expert rationalizer.)

The citrus sent up a lovely scent while the pancakes cooked, as did the pignoli as they gently warmed through and released their oils.

Okay, before I tell you how it was (if you must know immediately: frigging good), let me tell you what you’re looking at here. The dish at the very top of the post was my dish. This was Brian’s dish. Usually he doesn’t bother much with plating, as it does nothing but increase the time between “cooking” and “eating” for no good reason, so when I turned around and saw this I was both confused and intrigued. This is a highly conceptualized dish, consisting of the following components:

  • A whale (raspberry coulis whale with lime zest eye)
  • A boat (pancakes) containing 2 terrified sailors, the captain and first mate (the whole raspberries)
  • The unfortunate mariners who have already gone to their watery graves (the two coulis smudges to the left of the boat)

The best part of this is that he did not plate and then say, “Hey, that kinda looks like a whale.” HE DID THE WHOLE THING ON PURPOSE, including the two dead sailors. As he sat down to eat and was explaining the whole thing to me he remarked, “That sounds like a song The Decemberists would write.”

BAM! Post synergy complete! Also, he is correct, and I look forward to the coming Decemberists concept album about the ill-fated final voyage of the S.S. Euripides, the Merchant Marine pancake boat.

Then, incidentally, it all tasted really good. The pignoli added a little crunch and chew to the pancake. The tang of the lime and raspberry and gentle heat of the ginger were offset by the sweet pineapple and tempered by the rich cheese. It was filling and satisfying and not at all what I’d been planning on making for dinner yet somehow exactly what I wanted.

It was also cheap, because we had pretty much everything in the pantry, and I bet you could make some permutation of this with things you have in your pantry. Some kind of nut, flavorings or your choice, some fruit (fresh or frozen). Buy a little tub of ricotta and some dried fruit and you’re good to go.

Pignoli-Citrus Pancakes with Tropical Fruit Ricotta and Raspberry-Orange Coulis
The basic pancake recipe, as always, came from Bittman, which has been totally worth the money for the sheer number of times we’ve needed to look up the pancake recipe alone. Everything else was totally made up to taste, and I’m not just saying that because I didn’t measure anything (although I didn’t) and am too lazy to try and guesstimate and write out a recipe (although I am).