The Iron Cupcake

Food, design, fun stuff.


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THIS is what Summer tastes like.

My lovely wife Jess has been SERIOUSLY rocking the garden this year. I can take no credit— she is the Goddess of the Garden. But I eat it. 🙂 I had been wanting to make something that would really show it off, so I decided upon gazpacho, the cold Spanish soup that’s essentially a liquid salad. I found this recipe from Ina Garten, which I was able to make entirely from the garden, save for the garlic, oil & vinegar, and salt & pepper. It calls for a tomato juice base, but I didn’t have any. Someone in the comments mentioned that you can substitute more tomatoes and a cup of water, so that’s what I did.

First, Jess’s Godly Garden, for reference:

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Now, start with some lovely veggies like these. (I actually used a couple more tomatoes than this.)

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Start chopping them up into chunks and buzz ’em in the food processor.

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Put ’em all in a large bowl or pot,

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…and mix it all together with the aforementioned salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. I also added some fresh basil and parsley from the garden.

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Chill for a few hours, and you have lovely soup! It’s cool and fresh and just tastes like summer!

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Unless summer tastes like BBQ pulled pork on the charcoal smoker, which I also made. But when I’m feeling virtuous, summer tastes like garden gazpacho. 🙂


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The Great Buckwheat Experiment

I’m still getting used to this blogging thing, but my friend Channing is cheering me on.  She knows a thing or two about the subject, as she runs the super-fun food and lifestyle blog Channingosity. This week, she posted about these really awesome-looking Chunky Monkey Buckwheat Pancakes.  I was totally into it.  But she mentioned to me that she thought the recipe could use some tweaking.  So, having always been interested in trying buckwheat, I made it my mission to give it a go, adapting it with some of my go-to pancake techniques.  (I may have over-tweaked, but for me, cooking is all about experimentation.)

Here’s Channing’s original ingredients list:

1 cup buckwheat flour (I used organic Arrowhead Mills)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp organic cane sugar (or white or sugar in the raw)
1/2 tsp salt
cinnamon, couple dashes
nutmeg, couple dashes
1 egg, beaten
1 cup almond milk (or any preferred milk)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana sliced very thin, almost shredded
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped or broken into small bits
Sliced cold butter, for cooking (or olive oil or cooking spray)

Channing thought the main thing that needed tweaking was that her recipe was 100% buckwheat, which may have led to them being a little flat.  I know from experience with baking that going 100% whole grain is attractive from a health standpoint, but usually going 50/50 with whole grain and all-purpose flours make for a lighter end result.  So here’s my version of her recipe with tweaks marked in red:

1/2 cup buckweat flour (mine was from Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (more on this below)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
cinnamon, couple dashes
nutmeg, couple dashes
1 egg, beaten
1 & 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana sliced very thin, almost shredded
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped or broken into small bits
Sliced cold butter, for cooking (or olive oil or cooking spray)

As you can see, in addition to splitting the flour into 50% buckwheat and 50% AP, I made a few other adjustments.  First, this was for my lovely wife Jess’s birthday breakfast.  So I left out the cinnamon and nutmeg, as is her preference. (She has a very, ahem, *sensitive* pallet.)  I also made them regular chocolate chip pancakes for her, forgoing the bananas and walnuts that made Channing’s version “chunky monkey”.  But this should have little effect on the base recipe.  Then, rather than using almond milk, I used buttermilk for a little twang.  Since buttermilk is naturally acidic, I adjusted the leaveners by reducing the baking powder (which contains its own acid) to a 1/2 tsp and added 1/2 tsp of baking soda (with no acid) to make up for it.  I switched the olive oil for butter, because, well, BUTTER!  When I mixed everything together, the batter was quite thick, so I upped the amount of liquid.  (In fact, though I didn’t mention it in the ingredients, I added a splash of regular white milk in addition to all the buttermilk, because the buttermilk was extremely thick as well.)  The only other thing I did was something I discovered in another pancake recipe somewhere along the line: I beat the egg white to soft peaks before adding it to the rest of the recipe to force some little air bubbles into the batter and hopefully cause the ‘cakes to puff up a little extra.

Here we go…

First, I grabbed an egg from the chicken coop.  Thanks girls!

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Then put together the dry ingredients.

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Beat the egg white to soft peaks:

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Getting a little help stirring is always nice:

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Add delicious Ghiradelli chocolate chips:

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Star Wars and circus animal pancake molds optional. If it were up to Jess, she’d have a different pancake mold for every day of the year.  (I however, prefer classic circles.)

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Rising up nicely:

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Add some syrup, butter, and a fried egg over-easy for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a meal.  (Mmm, bacon would’ve been good too.  I’ve already made clear my feelings about bacon. Next time…)

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Verdict?  These things were GOOD.  Really good.  They were WAY lighter than I expected from the buckwheat, which I expected to weigh them down quite a bit.  Not so.  I intend to keep experimenting with this.  Knowing how light these were, I’m thinking you could probably up the buckwheat to AP ratio more than I thought.  Maybe more like 75/25.  Or I bet 100% buckwheat would work just fine with some further experimenting.  Afterall, Channing’s 100% buckwheat ‘cakes looked pretty damn good.  🙂