Monday, September 8, 2008

It's pannekoeken time

When I smell fall in the air, I think of Amsterdam. This morning, the outside thermostat read 13 degrees and the house was cool and fresh. I felt like we were back in Holland where we spent our week-long honeymoon in October, 2002.

We stayed in a houseboat on a street called Achtergracht, a word that when properly pronounced summons vast amounts of phlegm. We realized once we arrived to the city that we had chosen our ideal honeymoon destination. We recovered from our wedding by spending our days wandering through museums and outdoor markets, recharging ourselves in "coffee shops," and walking along the canals. Fall had already settled on the city, as the trees had lost most of their leaves and the autumn winds gathered intensity with each passing day. The day before we returned to Canada, we were treated to a massive storm that whipped rain and debris around the city and made walking next to impossible. Our little houseboat held fast, though we could feel the canal waters churning beneath.

One of our favourite meals in Amsterdam was at one of the many pannekoeken huis, eating the large crepe-like pancakes they served with fresh fruit. In the photo above, my husband's fork is a blur, proof of how fast we gobbled down these Dutch treats.

I found many recipes for pannekoeken online. This one seems quite basic, and I saw this gluten-free one as well. Since I no longer cook with grain flour, I made my own version using almond flour and maple syrup. I can't remember if they taste like the Dutch version since it's been so long. No matter: They were really tasty.

Serves 1
1/4 c almond flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Combine the almond flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Using a wire whisk or fork, beat in the eggs, vanilla and syrup. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to thicken.

Heat a large skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Brush melted butter onto the heated surface (the butter should sizzle on contact when the pan is hot enough) and spoon out a third of the batter, swirling the pan around to distribute it evenly. Flip the pancake when the batter is no longer liquid and the edges start to brown and curl. Remove to a heated plate.

Serve with chopped fruit, syrup, ice cream, jam, ham and melted cheese, chocolate sauce, cinnamon and sugar, or anything else you can think of.

Makes 3 pannekoeken.

NOTE: If you like pancakes, a crepe pan is both inexpensive and indispensable. I bought mine several months ago and am amazed how pancakes never stick to the surface. Never wash your crepe pan -- only wipe it with a paper towel after use -- and never use it for anything except pancakes. It will be yours for life.

Photos: At top, my husband eating pannekoeken in a cafe in Amsterdam, October, 2002. Above, my well-seasoned deBuyer crepe pan.

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