It's been a week since I left Los Angeles and I still wish I was there. Oh sure, it's been nice to be home with Ben and we did have a great weekend at a wedding in Maine (where I also discovered that there is such a thing as eating Too Much Lobster, but that's a story for another time). But something about L.A. sunk its claws into me and I can't wait to go back.
I had flown over for a whirlwind weekend with friends to swim for hours in a backyard pool, wander among downtown streets to see the faded glory of Gotham-style buildings layered with a thick veneer of commercial grit, and noodle along on the boulevards that led from Hollywood to Silverlake to Los Feliz, the hot and dry sun beating down on us.
It was meant to be a few days with friends, not a culinary pilgrimage, so I've got ample reason to return (Lucques! La Brea Bakery! In N Out Burger! Shall I go on?). And still, we ate well (have I mentioned that I may have finally found a reason to love Mexican food?). But one of the best meals I had was a plate of pancakes made after an unfortunate hypoglycemic episode and a subsequent migraine medicated by Excedrin, which left me pain-free, but completely wracked with caffeine jitters.
Sitting on the sun-warmed living room floor with my friends as we ate our homemade pancakes covered in syrup and rolled into nibbleable cylinders while the hummingbirds buzzed outside and an old movie played along on the television and my circulation slowly returned to a manageable state, I would have been content to remain right there for quite a long time to come.
In homage to those life-sustaining pancakes, I made a batch of malted corn pancakes that Barbara Hansen wrote about in an article about the various incarnations of corn pancakes in Los Angeles. The recipe comes from Frank Waldman's Doughboys. The pancakes are crammed with cornmeal and corn kernels (I used frozen) and cook up quite quickly (in fact, a few of mine burned) on the griddle.
Instead of serving them with the prescribed blueberry-orange syrup, Ben and I ate them for sustenance on the bus up north this weekend. They're corny and tender and somewhat forgettable. A generous ladle of fruit-spiked syrup could have helped to perk them up. To me, the malt flavor was unrecognizable, so you could easily substitute golden syrup or even honey (so you, unlike me, are spared from having an enormous jar of malt syrup to figure out how to use up).
But it doesn't really matter. I've got my Bisquick memories and an ever-growing list of things to do and eat on my next trip to Southern California. I can't wait to go back.
Malted Cornmeal Pancakes
Makes 18 4 1/2 inch pancakes
1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup pastry flour (or mix 1/3 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons malt syrup
1 tablespoon oil
1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to mix. Add the corn to dry ingredients, and mix.
2. Combine 3 tablespoons melted butter, the eggs, buttermilk and malt syrup. Stir into the corn mixture.
3. Heat the griddle. Combine the remaining tablespoon of butter with the oil and brush lightly over the griddle. Pour on about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook each pancake 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottom turns golden brown, then flip, cook the other side, about 3 minutes total. Serve hot with Orange-Blueberry Syrup.
Peel of 2 to 3 oranges
2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
2 cups blueberries
1. Peel the oranges with a vegetable peeler, eliminating any white pith. Combine the peel and sugar in a food processor and process 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Pour the juice into a non-aluminum saucepan. Add the peel-sugar mixture and bring just to a boil, skimming off any foam. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Mix in blueberries and cook 1 minute. Serve warm.