Going Dutch

My dad spent a lot of time at Piedmont Hospital in the 80s. He had a kidney transplant in 1988 and between that and the visits before and after the transplant with his doctor’s office being at the hospital, I knew that place like the back of my hand. Across the street was an Original Pancake House. We used to stop in almost every time we went and I always got the same thing: a Dutch Baby and a side of strawberries and cream. I have some incredibly fond memories of those days and times with my dad and a German pancake is comfort food for me. That restaurant is now a CVS. There are other locations scattered about but now I just make them at home.

I use Alton Brown’s Recipe because it’s the best  I have found (duh, it’s Alton Brown) but I have just (not to toot my own horn but I’m totally tooting my own horn) improved upon it.

How, you ask? Well, that’s easy. Chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a cocoa snob, so don’t go making this with Hershey’s, ok? That’s an order. Get thy browser over to King Arthur Flour and order thee a bag of Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa before you start this recipe. Go on, I’ll wait.

Ok, so this is adapted from Alton’s recipe. He lives just a few miles from me so we’re on a first name basis. Well, we would be if he knew who I was (drop me an email, Alton and let’s go to the range and then have a beer!). He gets credit for the base recipe but making it better with chocolate is ALL ME! I mean, look at this, it’s beautiful. And it tastes phenomenal. The smell of the chocolate wafting through the air…mmmmmmmm. Because I added the strawberries and powdered sugar before taking the photo, the pancake had time to fall a bit. These babies don’t stay puffed up for long!


Better Than Alton’s Chocolate Dutch Baby Pancake

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 T  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bensdorp cocoa (even if you don’t use the full-fat Bensdorp, at least don’t use the cheap stuff!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk (whole or 2% is fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar and cut strawberries, for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes, until it reaches cooking temp. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool slightly. Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter, and blend together. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend on high until smooth and frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 19-23 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy. Serve warm topped with strawberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Nutella & Brie Panini

Who doesn’t love Nutella? If you answered, “Me,” then I don’t trust you. There’s got to be something wrong with anyone who doesn’t love Nutella.

The best Nutella I ever had was in Italy. My husband and I were in Venice and stayed at this gorgeous bed and breakfast called Locanda Orseolo right by San Marco. I ordered the Nutella crepes for breakfast each morning because, well, NUTELLA! But the Nutella was different there than it is here in the states. It was a little thinner and creamier and a tiny bit better. Those crepes were incredible and I still think about them, eight years later. I love everything Nutella.

There’s a new panini place where I live, Pressed Panini Bar, and they have this Nutella and brie panini. I tried it awhile back and it was pretty delicious. Brie is great paired with some sweetness and the savory and sweet combination is wonderful. I recently decided to try my hand at my own Nutella and brie panini. It turned out perfect.

Nutella and brie on ciabatta bread.

Nutella and brie on ciabatta bread.













Nutella & Brie Panini

Brie Cheese
Ciabatta Bread
Fleur de Sel (or regular sea salt)

Slice ciabatta bread and spread Nutella on one side. Do not load it down too much, remember it’s going to melt and thin. Avoid spreading all the way into the bread corners. Sprinkle a little fleur de sel or regular seat salt on Nutella and then top with a slice of brie (either remove or retain the rind, as you prefer). Top with the top slice of bread and put it on the panini press until desired toastiness.