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Fat Tuesday: A stack of pancakes is what you need

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Lent begins tomorrow, the 40 days of prayer and fasting that leads up to Easter, which will be April 16.

You hear about the wild times in Brazil at Carnival, seen the wildly costumed dancers and heard the music.

Or maybe you’ve been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras,  trying to collect beads, partying into the night, watching the fantastic floats in the parade.

You could be familiar with  Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday — that would be today — and is traditionally celebrated with a pancake dinner.

The idea of pancakes comes from the old tradition of using up your butter and sugar before Lent, so that you can fast and think about things other than food.

If you have to fast (eat only one full-size meal per day) for Lent, you might as well live it up today.

Then you get a pass for St. Patrick’s Day — it’s a feast day. And by the time Easter finally gets here, that ham and beans and mashed potatoes and cake and deviled (dyed) eggs will taste all the better.

Don’t just serve a plain batch of instant pancakes. Make your own and make them something special with different toppings.

Basic Pancake Batter

1 1/2 cups all ppurpose flour

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/14 cup milk

1 egg

3 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a will in the center and add milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter. Do not overmix.

Butter a frying pan or griddle well and heat at medium high. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Variations

• Add 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg for a light spice flavor.

• Stir in blueberries after the wet ingredients.

• Add mini chocolate chips to batter.

• As one side cooks, sprinkle the other side with finely chopped pecans or nuts of your choice just before turning.

Serve with plenty of butter and warm maple syrup.

Toppings can completely change the flavor and tone of pancakes.

If you don’t want to use syrup, try some of these:

Warm Apple Topping

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. apple cider, divided

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tsp. corn starch

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine 1 cup cider and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Set over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Add apples and simmer, stirring until tender, 10-12 minutes. Combine 2 Tbsp. cider and corn starch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Add to apples and stir, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

— Fine Cooking

Enhance the flavor of your blueberry pancakes with this quick blueberry sauce.

You can use fresh or frozen blueberries in this recipe.

Blueberry Sauce

3 cups blueberries

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch

3 Tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place 1 1/2 cups blueberries in a saucepan. Add water and sugar and bring to a low boil over medium-high heart. Cook just until berries begin to break down.

Mix corn starch and water in a small blow. While stirring constantly, add the mixture to the cooking blueberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and summer over low heat 2-3 minutes, or until sauce is thick. If needed, add a little water to thin.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and remaining berries.

This would also be good on ice cream, pound cake, etc.

Cream Cheese and Apricot Sauce

1/2 cup milk

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 10-oz. jar apricot preserves

1 Tbsp. water

Combine cream cheese and milk in a saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and zest.

In another saucepan or microwave safe-bowl, combine preserves and water. Heat through and stir well.

Top pancakes with cream cheese mixture, then warm preserves.

And you must serve a hefty helping of bacon or sausage with your pancakes.

Here’s a candied bacon recipe with a twist:

Candied Bacon

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

8 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the brown sugar and cumin. Dredge each bacon slice on both sides through the sugar mixture.

Place the bacon on a baking pan with sides and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. Place on a paper towel to drain the excess fat.

— Food.com

Spicy Candied Bacon

1 pound thick sliced bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix light brown sugar with chili powder and cayenne paper.

Prepare a baking tray with aluminum foil and set a rack on top. Spray rack with cooking spray.

Remove largest chunks of fat. Cut strips in half, if desired. Dip bacon in brown sugar mixture to coat.

Spread over the prepared rack and dust lightly with remaining sugar/spice mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes until done. Do not leave in the oven too long, or the sugar will burn.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

— 101 Cooking for Two

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