Sunday, January 12, 2014

Here You Come Again, Ottolenghi: Green Pancakes with Chili Lime Butter

Maybe you were there too; gliding on roller skates across a shiny wooden floor, eyeing that guy with the white comb sticking out of his Wranglers' back pocket, swooning over Dolly Parton's sublime voice and ridiculously catchy song.

I am talking about this song. "Here You Come Again." Betcha can't listen just once. I can't.

It entered my bloodstream when I was ten and it circulates there still. Approximately every seven years I get re-obsessed with it and I have to hear it, over and over and over again.

During one "Here You Come Again" mania, way pre-Spotify or anything remotely like it, back when a song could be hard to come by, I couldn't seem to find a copy of it anywhere. It was driving me crazy. But I got lucky: my friend Jon, a DJ, took pity and found the song in his radio station's stacks of vinyl. He endeared himself to me forever and always by making a cassette with only "Here You Come Again" on both side A and B. I listened and flipped, listened and flipped, until I could finally move on with my life.

I guess I'm kind of a freak. I do tend to get very, very fixated on things.

If you knew me in 1978, you may remember how many times I saw Grease. I am not going to publish the number. Let's just say fibs were told to certain parents. Lunch money was squandered. Several days of sixth grade were lost forever.

If you knew me in 1988, you might remember the lengths to which I went to get my underage self into the Rathskeller in Boston to see my favorite band, The Volcano Suns. There was a purchased driver's license and a black wig. There was a lot of makeup involved--eyeliner, especially. I got in. And it was worth it, it was so so worth it.

It's been a long time since I donned a wig for any band, but last year I fell in love with the recipes of chef Ottolenghi, my very first chef-crush. I betrayed my adoration of Ottolenghi here on this blog, making his ratatouille, his shakshuka, his garlic tart, his ravioli. I thought I was moving on with my life, after all that.

Then I made these, and I think it's fair to say he waltzed right in the door, just like he'd done before, and wrapped my heart around his little green pancakes with chili lime butter.

Surrender has its benefits. Just listen to Dolly's outro, "...and here I GO." And then listen to it about twenty more times. While eating these pancakes. And you'll understand.

Green Pancakes with Chili Lime Butter
Adapted from a recipe in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 3

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Grated zest of one lime
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
8 or 9 ounces spinach, washed and dried
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup milk or unsweetened soy milk
6 green onions, finely sliced
1-2 green chiles, thinly sliced
1 egg white
Olive oil or coconut oil, for frying

Put stick of room-temperature butter in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy. Stir in the zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic and chili. Once it's all blended together, you can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap, or press it into a ramekin.

Cook the spinach with a tablespoon or so of water for 1-2 minutes, until wilted. Drain well, squeeze out water, and chop. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, whole egg, melted butter or coconut oil, salt, cumin, and milk. Whisk until smooth. Add green onions, chillies, and spinach and mix well.

Whisk the egg white in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold into batter.

Heat a little olive oil or coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Ladle in 2 tablespoons of batter and press down gently. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden-green. Repeat until batter is used up.

Serve with chili lime butter on top. Ottolenghi says that leftover butter is good on a baked sweet potato. I haven't tried it, but he is absolutely certain to be right. He's always right.