SATURDAYS

Growing up, my brothers and I routinely confronted a hurdle before going to school: a warm bowl of oatmeal with raisins that dad had set out for us before going to work. By the time we got to it, a filmy layer would inevitably form on top of the oatmeal, out of which a few raisins poked like Mastadons stuck in tar pits. Of course, we were ungrateful. I’d poke at it, swallow a few bites as quickly as possible, and off we went. As terrible as it sounds, I faintly recall that we occasionally tried to bury leftover oatmeal in the trash, though I’ve also buried this transgression deeply enough in my memory that even I question its truth.

After a week of accumulated oatmeal, Saturday Morning Breakfasts were a gleeful occasion for us. Mom and Dad would make fried eggs, crisp bacon, English muffins with jam, and fresh fruit. Sometimes we’d have fresh bagels from Goldstein’s or pancakes or fancy omelettes or even my grandma’s fried Daikon radish cake (luo bo gao) studded with Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. Whatever it was, we always looked forward to Saturday Morning Breakfasts with great anticipation, and I know that my parents delighted in making them.

It’s curious how these rhythms are internalized into adulthood. Nobody’s forcing me, but my weekday mornings always begin with (instant) oatmeal and raisins, and my Saturdays always bring welcome change. This morning I used the season’s last Meyer lemons to make these ethereal ricotta pancakes.

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MEYER LEMON & RICOTTA PANCAKES with FIGS

based on a recipe for 4 by Anne Burrell:
1 cup of fresh figs, halved
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 heaping tsp baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 heaping cup of fresh ricotta cheese
3/4 cup whole milk
2 Meyer lemons, zested & juiced
butter for cooking pancakes
pure maple syrup

Combine the figs, sugar, and orange juice and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well. In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, milk, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Whisk the dry and wet ingredients until combined. Now whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to get stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan on medium heat. Melt a bit of butter in the pan. Ladle one portion of batter into the pan to according to desired pancake size. When little bubbles begin to form on the top, flip it over and cook until the bottom is golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used. Stack the pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup. Serve with the macerated figs.

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