Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes with Maple Creme Fraiche and Strawberries

I’ve been making pancakes on weekends lately. I’m a bit obsessed with buckwheat right now, and these buckwheat pancakes are a result of that. For the pancakes, I used yet another recipe from 101 Cookbooks – Heidi’s white whole wheat pancakes – I just substituted buckwheat flour in for the white whole wheat flour. Plus, I had fresh strawberries and creme fraiche on hand, so it all sounded like a perfect three-way marriage.


Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 cups buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together. Then add the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Mix together – Heidi says the mixture can be a bit lumpy, and indeed, mine was. Heat a skillet and melt a bit more butter in the skillet. Glop the batter in the pan. When the batter starts to bubble and you can easily slip a spatula underneath, flip the pancake and cook for another minute or two, until the pancake is cooked through. Due to a leveling problem with my stove, all my pancakes come out in large oval shapes, but hey, they work!

Maple Crème Fraiche

Start with the creme fraiche recipe found here. Take approximately 1 cup of the creme fraiche and mix with 2-3 tablespoons of quality maple syrup to taste. (do not buy that cheap stuff made with high fructose corn syrup – it’s not worth it!). Serve atop the pancakes.

Spelt Berry Salad

Would you believe that I have never done yoga before? I should say, rather, I had never done yoga before – until this week when my friend Tracy dragged me to a hot yoga class. And then I went to the sculpt yoga class – hot, humid yoga with weights. If you know me, and you know my propensity for fainting, then it should not surprise you that I almost passed out. The cool breeze that blew into the studio when the doors opened smacked me in the face and pulled me out of that haze.

Unfortunately, I did not come home to eat this salad – it was eaten up weeks ago. It would have been the perfect post-hot-yoga dinner, though, so maybe next time I’ll be more prepared. If you don’t have spelt berries, any other grain would do – wheat berries, brown rice, barley, etc etc.


Spelt Berry Salad

1 cup spelt berries or wheat berries
1/2 English cucumber, diced
couple handfuls of arugula
juice of 1 lemon
splash or more of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Cook the spelt berries similar to the way you would cook rice. I just tossed mine in the rice cooker with 3 cups of water.

Prepare the dressing by combing the shallots, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. If the dressing is too oily, add more vinegar. Season it with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the spelt berries are cooked, combine with the arugula and cucumbers. Chop some parsley and mint – to taste. I probably used about 1/4 cup of each, but that can be reduced. Mix the herbs with the other components, then stir in the dressing. Serve cold or room temperature.

This would also be great with the addition of kalamata olives, avocado, or a different combination of herbs, so play with it.

Salmon with Dill Crème Fraiche

A few weeks ago, I attended the Family Farmed Expo, where, among other things, Chicago chefs demonstrated recipes using ingredients provided by local farmers. Dale Levitski of Top Chef fame and the Executive Chef at Sprout made a breakfast dish of steel cut oats with crème fraiche and citrus. I had no idea how easy it is to make crème fraiche, but when I realized that you just need to add a little buttermilk to heavy cream, I set off to make my first batch.



I also happened to run into some buddies from run club at the Expo, so when we were rehashing the event over our five miles the following Monday, I told them I needed ideas for what to do with my fresh soured cream. Juliana told me about this great and easy recipe – salmon smothered in crème fraiche with dill. Eric and I gobbled it up Saturday afternoon after a long run on a perfect spring day in Chicago. The lakefront was packed with runners, the water was an incredible turquoise blue, and I snapped these photos on my iPhone before making my way back home:



Salmon with Dill Crème Fraiche

1 -2 fillets of wild-caught Alaskan salmon
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon buttermilk
juice of 1/2 lemon
few sprig fresh dill

To prepare the crème fraiche, combine the heavy cream and buttermilk in a bowl. Cover with plastic, set the bowl on top of the fridge, and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. The longer it sits, the thicker the cream will get, so it just depends on the consistency you want. The good bacteria working to sour the cream will keep it from going bad. When it’s ready, stir in the lemon juice and dill.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then smother it with dill crème fraiche. Broil or bake it for 15 minutes at 350, or until the salmon is opaque in the center.

Giardiniera, aka Pickled Vegetables, Chicago Style

Eric and I have our ups and downs when it comes to lunch. Most days, we bring turkey and cheese sandwiches slapped between some standard whole wheat bread with mustard and spinach. Then there are the days when I’ve had turkey and cheese for far too many days in a row, and I switch it up by making tuna, bringing in leftovers, or buying my lunch. Last week, faced with another mundane turkey sandwich, I decided to go to Subway to get a few extra toppings. I won’t eat the bread or the meat from Subway – both contain way too many weird things – but their giardiniera and pickles? Yes please. So I ordered a veggie sub with all my toppings, paid $3.18, moved the toppings from the Subway sandwich to my turkey and cheese sandwich, and then realized I basically paid $3.18 for pickles and giardiniera. Not good.


And that is the story of how I came to make pickles and giardiniera over the weekend. I’m not sure I knew what giardiniera was before I moved to Chicago, which is unfortunate because it is now one of my favorite pickly, vinegary foods. It is essentially an Italian mix of pickled vegetables, though like everything else, Chicago has personalized it to include hot peppers. I’ll share my pickle recipe at a later date – I’m still perfecting it – but the giardiniera turned out just perfect on my first try. I’ve been eating it by the spoonful in addition to putting it on my sandwiches. So far, I’m not bored.


Giardiniera aka Pickle Vegetables, Chicago Style

1 head cauliflower, chopped
15 serrano peppers (trust me on this – the vinegar mellows the heat), sliced into thin rounds
1 head garlic, minced
3-4 red peppers, chopped into 1-inch or smaller strips
4 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
1 5-ounce jar manzanilla olives with pimentos
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup salt
fresh black peppers
2:1 ratio of vinegar to oil

Start by chopping all your veggies. I essentially sliced my cauliflower – I wanted flat pieces so they would lay easily on my sandwich. Mix them all together in a large container along with the salt, oregano, peppers, and olives (including the olive juice). I did not include actual measurements for the vinegar and oil because I didn’t actually measure it, but keep pouring them in using a ratio of 2:1 until all the veggies are covered. I used mostly white distilled vinegar, but I used a cup of apple cider vinegar as well. For oil, olive oil would work nicely, but I used a milder grapeseed oil.

Refrigerate this mixture for at least 24 hours. I let mine sit for 2 days, and after those two days were up, the giardiniera was perfect.