Culinary Corner: Nothing kicks off a day like fresh pancakes |
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The flavors and colors of autumn — and believe it or not, it is still autumn —are abundant in this breakfast favorite. The fluffy pancakes are topped with a sweet apple-cider syrup. The syrup will take a little bit of time to cook and stand, so plan accordingly.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Apple Cider Syrup

(makes about 15 pancakes)

For the hot cider syrup

3/4cup apple cider or juice

1/2cup packed brown sugar

1/2cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2teaspoon lemon juice

1/8teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons bakingpowder

1/2teaspoon salt

1/2teaspoon groundcinnamon

2 eggs, separated

1 cup milk

1/2cup cooked or canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the syrup: In a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

For the pancakes: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. In another, whisk the egg yolks, milk, pumpkin and oil. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the batter.

Prepare a griddle by greasing it and warming it over a medium-hot heat source. Pour the batter by 14 cupfuls onto the hot griddle. Turn the pancakes with a spatula when bubbles form on the top of them. Cook until the second side is golden brown. Serve with the cider syrup.

• • •

Americans consume more than 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. Popcorn is a perennial favorite for snacking while watching television, reading, playing board games with friends or, just having fun with the family.

Compared to many snack foods, popcorn is relatively low in calories. One cup of air-popped has only 33 calories. When oil popped it contains about 55 calories. Even when drizzled with butter, it has only 90 to 120 calories per cup. I don’t want to sound like Dr. Chef, but popcorn is high in fiber and healthy to eat. It’s easy to cook and a great one for the junior chefs to make.

A very economical snack, two tablespoons of popcorn will produce a quart of popped corn for about a dime or less. Here are a few ideas that will be a change of pace from plain or buttered popcorn.

Chili Popcorn

(about three quarts)

3 quarts popped popcorn

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4teaspoon salt

1/4teaspoon ground cumin

Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients, drizzle over the popcorn and toss until well coated.

Cheese Popcorn

(makes about four quarts)

4 quarts plain, popped popcorn

1/4cup butter or margarine melted

1/2teaspoon garlic salt

1/2teaspoon onion salt

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Place the popcorn in two 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking pans.

Drizzle with melted butter. Combine garlic salt and onion salt; sprinkle over the popcorn. Top with the cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn

(makes about six cups)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4teaspoon salt

dash of cayenne pepper

6 cups plain popped popcorn

Place sugar, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper in a zip-type plastic bag or a 2-quart airtight container and mix well. Add the popcorn.

Spray the popcorn with nonstick cooking spray. Close the bag and shake. Repeat one or two times until the popcorn is coated. Serve to the fans. Beverages will be very popular with this snack.

David Kelly is a freelance columnist for Trib Total Media. He has been sharing recipes and cooking tips in Culinary Corner for 22 years.

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