Ricotta Pancakes

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The recipe for these ricotta pancakes comes from an adorable little restaurant called Zazie that’s a few miles from my apartment. But I have to confess, I made the pancakes before I ever went to eat there. I just had half a tub of ricotta and was looking around for a way to use it up. And that’s pretty much how I decided to make them again when I had ricotta left over from making that mushroom onion casserole.

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It was several months after first making these at home that I made it to the restaurant to try them in person. The cute French décor and delicious varieties of eggs benedict are a wonderful way to celebrate and it’s tucked in a cute corner of the city that’s cheerful even when it’s gray and foggy. But, another confession: I like the version of these pancakes that I make at home better than what they serve in the restaurant.

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Let’s take a second to talk about separating eggs. When I set about making this I used a small bowl to crack the eggs into and then transferred the yolks into one bowl and the whites into another, for beating later. My original intention was to use it as a model of how you should crack eggs to make sure you don’t get any yolk into the white since the fat in the yolk makes it really hard to beat the whites. Not that I would need it, you see, it was just to be helpful. Then three eggs in I got a yolk that fell apart and spilled a few drops into the white. And I dropped in some eggshell. Well, that humble pie tasted just great.
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But seriously, don’t separate your eggs into the same bowl all at once and don’t do it in the bowl you want to beat the whites in. To make it even easier on yourself, make sure the whites are warm before you beat them – they’ll be able to take in more air and will be easier and quicker to beat.

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Ricotta pancakes, unlike the traditional kind, are light but not really fluffy. They don’t have the nice chew of a buttermilk pancake but in exchange they have a delicate softness in the middle that means you just want to keep eating more of them. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I definitely am. Unlike regular pancakes, these are so much better with something fruity – like jam or lemon curd – than they are with regular syrup. Or plain; plain is good too.

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Ricotta Pancakes
Barely adapted from Tea and Cookies, who got the recipe from Savoring San Francisco: Recipes from the City’s Neighborhood Restaurants

Makes about 12 pancakes

4 eggs, separated, with the whites in a medium bowl, big enough to whip them in
1 cup ricotta
5 tbs melted butter
1 tbs lemon zest (one lemon’s worth)*
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
Oil/butter to grease the pan

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with the ricotta, vanilla, melted butter, and lemon zest. In a smaller bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt.

Beat the egg whites, either by hand or with an electric beater, until they form medium peaks. Set those aside and add the dry goods to the large bowl with the ricotta mixture. Stir well to combine. Then fold in the beaten whites gently – no more than 10-15 stirs or you’ll deflate all that air.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add some oil or butter. When the pan seems hot enough, fry one pancake – it the pan is hot enough then add more. Cook the pancakes for about 5 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another three minutes on the second side. Unlike buttermilk pancakes, they won’t bubble in the middle when they’re ready to flip. You just have to wait until they’re brown on bottom.

Keep the pancakes warm in a low oven (about 170F or as low as your oven goes) so that they’ll all be warm when the last one is done. Enjoy hot with a thick layer or jam or eat the leftovers cold from the fridge – if you have any.

*This is one of the many times when I use dried roasted lemon zest – peel the zest off a lemon (avoid the white pith), let it dry on a towel for a few days, toast for a few minutes in the toaster oven, grind in a spice grinder, store, use, enjoy.

**I try to make the first batch only one pancake because the first one is often a dud or the pan isn’t hot enough and if you have to throw it away then at least you only wasted one.

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