A Different Kind of Slow Food

Like everyone else on Spring Break, I dream of drinking lime-laced Corona in the sun.  What I’ve got instead are temperatures hovering in the 20s and over 10” of snow.  Outside, chickadees, juncos and one rare ringed-necked turtle dove are frantic at the feeder as the sky fills and refills with thick white flakes:  Welcome to spring in the mountains.

It’s true my spring break won’t be celebrated with the kind of fun you get with beaches and beers, but still I’m hoping to decompress from the duel pressure cookers of teaching and my mother’s illness and take a long, much-needed inhale.  So I put on Vivaldi and dream of seeds slumbering in the earth, and think of recipes that require me to cultivate the same kind of stillness and patience.  I land on something lighter than traditional pancakes that will wake up my food sensibility to spring and still make me feel cozy during the storm. 

Lemon Soufflé Pancakes are delicate and fluffy, but like their namesake, can be fiddly.  The trick is to make and served them quickly to keep them from losing their lift.  But, they’re perfect when you want to slow down and treat yourself or someone you love. 

I begin by separating two eggs into separate bowls.  Into the yolk bowl goes ricotta cheese, lemon zest and a bit of juice, a pinch of salt and baking powder, and a couple of table spoons of flour and sugar (Lemon souffle pancakes).  This mixture, when combined, is thick and deeply lemon in color and taste. Frankly, I could eat it by the finger-full.  Next, I whip the whites with a bit more sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar before folding the whites into the lemon ricotta bowl.  The result is a pillowy concoction that looks exactly like a pre-cooked soufflé. 

Drop this mixture about a 1/3 cup at a time into a heated fry pan.  The pan should be hot; you want the cakes to cook fast so they retain their fluff, but not so fast they over-brown or blacken.  Too slow, and the pancakes lose their frothiness.  I let the cakes one by one, using a thin metal spatula to carefully turn each and then place them in a warm oven.

Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Blueberries
When they’re done, I sprinkle the pancakes with powdered sugar and fresh blueberries, and sit down with a streaming cup of coffee, watching as the snow continues to thicken the trees.  The first bite is pure pleasure: a weightless combination of sweet lemon and delicate ricotta.  My mouth fills and empties as each bite melts away into sheer taste. Outside, the world is quiet, and for one moment, so am I.
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