Around the table: Pancakes for dinner

Have you ever had breakfast as your evening meal? Bacon and eggs, toast or cereal are not uncommon as last-minute meals when you come home to an entrée-starved refrigerator after a long, tiring day. Pancakes might not seem like a wise choice, since they offer mostly carbs and little protein. Then again, comfort carbs are no stranger on my dinner plate now and then; these “meals” usually end with me asleep in front of the TV with the remote still in hand. Since tomorrow is National Pancake Day, I decided to search for dinner-worthy pancakes that deserve center-of-the-plate status. Here’s what I found.

Onion Pancakes with Greens and Bacon

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This is a “stacked” entrée of savory pancakes, wilted greens and bacon, drizzled with warm parsley butter. Simple, homey, drool-worthy fare from “Potager” by Georgeanne Brennan; makes 4 servings.

1 cup all-purpose flour

2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1-1/4 cups milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

Vegetable oil

1 bunch spinach or dandelion greens, stems removed

16 slices bacon

6 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Juice of half a lemon

Sift flour into a bowl; return flour to the sifter and add baking powder and salt to sifter; resift into the bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat eggs and milk until well mixed. Stir in butter; add flour mixture. Beat batter until smooth and free of lumps. Stir in green onions. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a frying pan or griddle until medium-hot; great lightly with vegetable oil. For each pancake, ladle about 1/4 cup batter into pan or griddle. Cook pancakes until bubbles form on tops and bottoms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn; cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove pancakes to a heated dish and place in oven. Repeat with remaining batter; you should have 12 thin pancakes total. Arrange greens on a steamer rack placed over gently boiling water. Cover; steam until tender, 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from steamer and cut lengthwise into strips; keep warm in oven. Cook bacon in frying pan over medium-high heat until crisp; drain on paper towels and keep warm in oven. Melt butter in a small pan. Stir in parsley and lemon juice; keep warm over very low heat.

To serve: place a pancake on a dinner plate. Top with layer of greens and 2 strips of bacon. Top with a second pancake, then greens and bacon. Place a third pancake on top. Repeat layers on 3 remaining dinner plates. When all stacks are made, pour some warm parsley butter over each stack and serve.

Huffy Puffy

Also known as Swedish Oven Pancake or Dutch Babies, this eggy pancake can be modified to use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Recipe from “Great Food Without Fuss” by award-winning authors, Frances McCullough and Barbara Witt; makes one serving that you can scale up as needed.

Variations to the basic recipe:

Add minced herbs, grated cheese, sautéed onion, ham or turkey slivers to the batter before baking. Or fill the finished puff with creamed chicken, sautéed mushrooms, or other savory favorites.

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup flour

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place butter in a small iron skillet or gratin pan and set it in the oven to melt; watch to make sure it does not burn. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat egg with a whisk; gradually whisk in the milk and then the flour; stir until batter is smooth. Add any ingredients you may desire (see above.) When butter is melted, add batter to the pan; return pan to oven for about 15 minutes, until risen and golden. Pancake will rise on the sides and collapse in the middle. Remove from oven and transfer to serving plate; fill with ingredients of choice.

Sweet Potato-Onion Pancakes

We already know how good sweet potatoes are, nutritionally. These pancakes contain eggs for protein, but would also be delicious served with whatever additional bit of protein you have on hand: lunch meat, that last chicken leg, or a hunk of cheese. Recipe from “Big Flavors of the Hot Sun” by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby; makes about 20 small pancakes.

2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)

1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and grated using large holes of a kitchen grater (about 4-1/2 cups)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

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3/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine onions and sweet potatoes; add olive oil, flour and eggs. Mix well, then add milk and parsley; mix again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; about 1/4 inch deep. Heat over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Drop about 1/4 cup pancake mixture into hot oil; press into a pancake shape with a spatula or wooden spoon. Repeat until pan is full but not crowded. Fry pancakes 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels and serve warm.