I’m often pleasantly surprised when I stumble upon food and drink tips and recipes in fiction. As a rule, writers seem to take it seriously and they don’t season their books with just about any spice.
I’ve never developed taste for Crème de menthe, no matter how much I adore Hercules Poirot, but I do recall that I became a serious tea drinker around the time I was reading Alexander McCall Smith’s “The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series. My beloved Precious Ramotswe prefers bush tea; I’m more in favour of black tea infused with cardamom. She, however, made me understand the deep spiritual connection between a person and her cup of tea. After reading JP Mclean’s “Gift Legacy”, I now always Kentucky-fry my eggs; Susan Toy’s great mystery novel, “One Woman’s Island” contains quite a few recipes, all of them worth trying. And so on…
Food references ended up in my writing as well – people who live in my stories need to eat and drink, too. Only twice I sneaked in full recipes, though — for fluffy pancakes, and for one of my signature dishes, Pasta Carbonara (which I wrote about earlier.). The rest are just mentions, here and there: cardamom black tea, espresso coffee, white (Canadian, unoaked) wine, Remi Martin … tuna fish, beef steak, pasta dishes, fine cakes such as Mont Blanc (I’ll make a post about it as well), East Indian dishes, beef barley and chicken soups… food and drinks that I like. No pizza, however. Unless I’m in Europe, I couldn’t care less for pizza, so I don’t think I ever brought it up in my novels, even though it appears to be among the most common nutrition instances in–at least–romance fiction.
In “Guardian of the Realm”, I mentioned ebelskiver, which this post is about.
Years ago, my friend Sonya, who’s mother was Danish, gifted me with an ebelskiver pan — to the utter delight of my then small sons and their frequent sleep-over buddies. To me, nothing smells, tastes and feels more like a Sunday morning than a plate full of ebelskiver filled with hazelnut spread or apricot jam and sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar, and a bunch of small, barefoot boys in super-hero pajamas, gathered around the kitchen table, waiting to devour them.
A classic treat in Denmark, ebelskiver are light, small and round pancakes. The filling can be sweet or savory (above mentioned Nutella, jam, curd, peanut butter, chocolate ganache … cheese, minced and sautéed mushrooms, etc.) They can be served plain, only sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, or rolled into the mixture of ground walnut and vanilla sugar, or doused with maple syrup, or topped with cream, or… the only limit is your imagination.
Providing you have the pan, they’re easy and fun to make. You need 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 Tbs. sugar, 4 eggs, separated, 2 cups milk, 4 Tbs. unsalted butter (or canola oil) and filling(s) of your choice.
Now, in a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, add milk and melted butter. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until well combined. The batter will be lumpy, but don’t worry; it’s how is supposed to be. Do not overmix it.
In another bowl (lots of bowls are needed for this!), beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions.
Grease lightly each well of the pan with canola oil and set over medium heat until hot. Pour 1 Tbs. batter in each well, add 1 tsp of the filling in the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. of batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, then, using two wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over (it’s easier than it sounds!) and cook until those sides are golden and crispy as well. Transfer to a plate and repeat the whole process with the remaining batter. I use the same recipe/method of mixing for ordinary pancakes I mentioned above – it makes them airy and puffy, a completely different experience from heavy and often rubbery regular cousins. Although, I have to admit, I prefer crapes to pancakes at any given time.
As I said, making ebelskiver is a no-brainer — only very messy and not quick. The whole operation leaves a ton of dirty dishes and cutlery around.
And lots of happy grins, so it’s worth it.
Have you ever tried a recipe that you found in fiction?