As soon as the server elbows through the kitchen door and begins to wend her way through the pancake-house rush, you can't take your eyes off what she is ferrying. It is an eggy crater the size of a dinner plate, with tender, fat-tire curves and an aroma the Pied Piper only wishes he could deploy.
It's called a Dutch baby on the menu, and the reason is far from apparent. No matter; it demands immediate, before-it-deflates eating, topped with a compote or a shower of confectioners' sugar at least.
Who could make such a thing? You can, in short order. The batter ingredients are few and come together in a blender. Pour smooth, into a hot buttered pan, and the batter will shimmer and bubble in the oven until the moment of liftoff. Then, the pancake curls at the edges that rise above the rim, accompanied by an occasional mogul at the center.
It is an old recipe, and its history skews sweet. Pancakes in the Dutch Manner as presented in the 1998 cookbook The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World resembled spiced (flat) crepes, while the topography gets much closer to Dutch baby territory in recipes for German puffed apple pancakes made hundreds of years ago. The origin of Dutch could be "Deutsch," and the dish's popularity in America is due in part to Sunset magazine articles from more than 50 years ago.
But the Dutch baby is versatile enough to step toward savory. In other words, have your way with it. Spice up the batter. Use the pancake as a vessel for fresh vegetables and greens. Melt thin rafts of cheese on it and cut it into snack wedges. Old World becomes modern.
This is a delightfully eggy way to upgrade a salad or vegetable bowl. Feel free to use olive oil instead of butter.
Cauliflower Jalapeno Dutch Baby
2 tablespoons butter OR olive oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons harissa OR other red chile paste or hot sauce, to taste
1/2 cup milk
Pinch kosher salt
2 cups white or green cauliflower florets, blanched (see note)
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Fresh, crunchy sprouts, such as a store-bought mix of lentils, green peas, adzuki beans
Handful cilantro leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Place the butter in an 8-inch cast-iron or oven-safe skillet; transfer to the oven. Watch closely as the butter melts, but do not let it brown or burn.
Beat the eggs in a blender on medium-high speed until frothy, then add the flour, harissa, milk and salt. Blend on low speed to incorporate, then blend on medium-high for 5 seconds to form a smooth batter.
Remove the hot pan from the oven and swirl the melted butter so it coats the sides. Immediately pour in the batter; bake (middle rack) for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown at the edges, which should curve and rise above the rim. Turn off the oven, and let sit for 5 minutes. This will help the pancake keep its structure.
Meanwhile, toss together the blanched cauliflower florets, jalapeno, sprouts and cilantro in a bowl.
As soon as you remove the Dutch baby from the oven, top with cauliflower mixture, then drizzle with the oil, if desired. Use a thin spatula to dislodge the pancake; it should slide right out. Serve right away.
Makes 2 generous servings.
Note: To blanch the cauliflower, prepare a bowl of water and ice cubes. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower florets and cook/blanch for about 30 seconds, then immediately drain and transfer to the water bath to cool. Pat dry before using.
Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with butter and low-fat milk) contains approximately 435 calories, 18 g protein, 23 g fat, 44 g carbohydrates (6 g sugar), 225 mg cholesterol, 375 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 3.
Food on 04/04/2018