Fuzzy slippers? Not exactly. Cream of Wheat? No… A purring cat? That’s not quite right either. A visit from my dear, old friend Christie is full of comfort to be sure, but more of the ice-cold-cosmos-and-pajamas-in-front-of-a-crackling-fire variety.
Everyone should have at least one such friend. The kind you share a history with, who knows all your references without explanations, with whom you can sit quietly reading for hours, or lay a hardwood floor together without bickering. The sort of friend you’d gladly walk through fire for, should she ask–but who actually only asks for a few more crackers to go with the wedge of cheese you’re plowing through together on the couch.
Last weekend Christie was here for a visit and, as is our habit, we packed as much comfort food into that time as possible. Saturday night we went to Voila Bistrot. Michael and I originally visited Voila Bistrot as a stop on the hamburger trail, but that is a story for another time. On this visit, Christie and I settled into the warm, woody dining room and blissfully shared a sharp, crisp Belgian endive salad, then a mushroom-chestnut cream soup so savory that there was precious little conversation until it was all gone. Then I moved on to a Cassoulet that was all that it should be–hot, fragrant, brothy and rich with meat; remniscent of Hemingway and Hadley and the rest of La Generation Perdue, eating their evening meals on rainy fall nights in Paris at their favorite neighborhood restaurants.
Afterwards, we shivered our way back to the car, then drove home through the chilly gloom of the arboretum to settle down in my living room with an afghan and a shaker full of cosmos.
On Sunday morning, I whipped up a German Pancake for us to share. Simple to make, German Pancakes puff in an impressively souffle-like fashion in the oven, then deflate quickly when removed. Sometimes called Dutch Babies, one of these pancakes will generally feed two, maybe with sausage or bacon and toast on the side for the truly ravenous. The classic presentation is to squeeze lemon juice over the top and dust with powdered sugar, but my preferred topping is blackberry jam. Maple syrup is also an option. Certainly no additional butter is needed when serving.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 drop vanilla (optional)
- dash of nutmeg and cinnamon (0ptional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in a heavy oven safe dish (I use a 10.5 inch cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Whisk together other ingredients in a large bowl, in the order listed above. Tilt skillet to coat sides with butter. Pour batter into skillet and place on middle rack in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. When done, the German pancake will be puffy like a souffle and golden brown. Loosen with spatula if necessary and slide from skillet onto serving plate. If cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron pan, the pancake should slide out easily. This recipe can be doubled and two pancakes can be baked at once, side by side in the oven.