This morning as I sipped my freshly pressed cup of coffee and flipped through my collection of breakfast recipes, my thoughts drifted back to the evening before, and the wonderful visit I had with my son. It was Christmas Part Two. My son and I were not able to get together on Christmas Day, he with his beautiful family and I at the family farm. No matter, we had made plans to get together the day after Christmas. When you have grown children, Christmas is often celebrated in stages. And when you think about it, that’s even better because it lets the magic of Christmas gatherings spill over from day to day.
As with most family visits, cute little stories and recalling fun times together somehow have a magical way of tumbling out. Especially between a mother and a child. After all, in addition to loving our children, we are given the special task of holding their childhood memories close to our hearts to share with our children at just the right moment. Jay spoke of what a rascal he was as a little boy. Such a troublemaker, but in a good way. Curious, filled with energy and excitement. Like me, my son has always had a natural flair in the kitchen. It’s in our blood – coming from a long line of excellent home-cooks. A few, including my son, have actually managed to earn a living in the kitchen. Jay gives me credit for teaching him how to cook and inspiring him to be creative in the kitchen. I give the credit to my wonderful parents. Beautiful, well prepared home-cooked meals had always been a part of our lives growing up. And if you were to ask my Dad, he would give credit to his mother. She could make something out of nothing and had a way of making it all seem special. That’s just the way it was – recipes handed down from one generation to the next. Families gathered round the kitchen, laughing, cooking and sitting down together to enjoy the fruits of their culinary labor. Simple times and simple pleasures that warm the heart.
When my son was all of three years old, I was attending Business School in the mornings, working in the afternoons and studying late into the night. With two small children in the house, there wasn’t much time left for little things like sleeping. I had been up until the wee hours of the morning deciphering a particularly difficult shorthand assignment. Finally, the assignment was complete and I was able to crawl into bed to grab a few minutes of sleep before the children woke up. It was Saturday, no school, no work, just fun with my children. (Which meant making a game out of mundane household chores).
No sooner had I drifted off to sleep when Jay came tip-towing into my room. He pressed his cute little face up against mine and whispered in my ear “You sleep, mommy and I’ll make breakfast.”
Half asleep, I whispered back “Okay, sweetie. You do that.” Mind you, I was floating in that fuzzy in-between dream-like state. Not truly awake, but awake enough to respond, although my response was far from thought out. As I drifted deeper into sleep, his words came back to me again and again. “I’ll make breakfast.” Wait – what? Make breakfast? But he’s only three! He can’t be in the kitchen alone. Suddenly, I was wide awake, shooting straight up in bed. I grabbed my robe and rushed into our tiny apartment kitchen. There was my beautiful little boy standing on a kitchen chair at the stove. Flour, milk and shattered raw eggs littered the floor around him. And in the biggest skillet we owned was the biggest pancake I had ever seen, with bits of egg-shell sticking up through the batter.
“Hi mommy.” He said with a smile as he lifted the pancake with a spatula to check its progress in the pan. “Your breakfast is almost ready.”
The exhausted adult in me wanted to scold him for turning on the stove and making such a mess. The mother in me was touched to the point of tears. I ate that pancake and it was delicious, made with the most important ingredient of all – love.
It really doesn’t matter what pancake recipe I use. Anytime I make pancakes, I remember that wonderful morning so long ago. And my heart melts like butter.
This morning I am making Irish Pancakes – in honor of that special little boy and my Irish roots. If you can imagine an Omelette and a Crêpe getting together to create an offspring, then you will have an Irish Pancake. It has the eggy qualities of an Omelette with the light, delicate finish of a Crêpe.
These pancakes can be served with warm Maple Syrup, if desired, but hardly necessary.
Buttery Lemon-Kissed Irish Pancakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 & 1/2 cups milk
1/4 stick butter (2 oz melted)
1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/4 stick melted butter (for frying)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice, about 2 lemons (for finishing)
1/2 cup Fine Sugar (for finishing
Additional Melted Butter for serving
Powdered Sugar for Dusting
Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whip eggs until well blended. Pour eggs over the flour. Add milk and beat by hand for a minute or two, just to incorporate the ingredients.
Melt butter, allow to cool slightly and pour into the batter. Add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice (more if a deeper lemon flavor is desired). Whisk once more.
Heat a 6 or 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Brush the inside of the pan with melted butter. (Butter will give the light pancakes a little extra flavor that you cannot get from oil or sprays).
Pour a little more than 1/4 cup of batter into the warmed pan. (I use 1/4 cup measuring cup and fill it about one and a half times to cover bottom o the pan with a thin layer of batter). Slightly tip and swirl pan to distribute batter evenly.
Cook the pancake for about two minutes, swirling the pan a couple of times as the pancake cooks. The pancake is ready to flip when the upper side appears dry and doesn’t “giggle” when swirled. With a thin flexible spatula, carefully life pancake from the pan, flip and cook underside for another 30 seconds or so.
Turn pancake out onto a warm plate. Set skilled aside (off heat) between pancakes. Brush pancake on plate with a little lemon juice, sprinkle with a little fine sugar. Roll pancake with a cigar to form a long cylinder. Transfer to serving platter and hold in a warm oven.
Repeat the cooking and rolling process until all the batter has been used.
Just before serving, brush pancakes with a little butter (you should have enough left over from the frying butter) and dust with powdered sugar.
These same pancakes can be filled with jams, hazelnut spread, fresh fruits such as sliced bananas or berries or whatever you like. The possibilities are limited to your imagination and the ingredients on-hand.