Exploring history and culture through food is probably the only way I like to consume information — though I love reading, history lessons are so much more fun when food is involved. We all have such unique relationships with what we eat and I’m endlessly fascinated by cookbooks and how they’ve evolved over the decades. I picked up this gem at a thrift store in Chicago: Portal to Good Cooking Volume II.
It was published in 1984 and it’s a compilation of recipes from Women’s American ORT. I’m not really sure what that means, but the recipes are amazingly retro. Frankly, they seem pretty dated for the ‘80s, but it’s so much fun. You can find the method for making edible items like “Frosted Fruit Soup”, “Calorie-Trimmed Mock Sweet Potato Fluff” or “Hot Dog Noodle Casserole” — which I like to imagine as a poor man’s tuna casserole. I’d love to be at the dinner table of the cook that makes these dishes earnestly. The mom serving “Fronch” fare in Better Off Dead comes to mind.
I did find one intriguing and inoffensive recipe that works well for Passover: Matzo Meal Pancakes. It’s the method that I find fascinating. Rather than beating the whole egg into the batter, the eggs are separated, yolks are mixed in first and the egg whites are whipped and folded in just before frying. For my own twist, rather than using orange juice the original recipe calls for, I used clementines, threw in some zest and cut the salt.
- 3 eggs, separated
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup clementine juice, divided
- Zest of 2 clementines
- ¾ cup matzo meal
- Olive oil
Beat yolks. Add salt. Stir in matzo meal. Stir in ½ cup juice followed by the zest.
Using a stand mixer with the whip attachment, beat egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Stir remaining juice into matzo mix until it loosens up. Fold in egg whites.
Place frying pan over medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Spoon batter into pan and let fry on each side for about 30 seconds, making sure to press down on the cake after flipping once to squeeze out batter.
Serve with syrup or cinnamon and sugar. (I made a clementine syrup, but I would imagine cranberry syrup would be a complementary condiment.)
These are fun pancakes — I was hoping the whipped egg whites would make them more fluffy or give them more texture or character, but I doubt leaving out that step would change the cakes that much.