A Multi-Purpose Meal~
It’s nice to find things that serve more than one purpose. Dryer sheets, for instance, are perfect for softening laundry, freshening stinky shoes and gently scenting the clothes in a packed suitcase. Coffee grounds…not only for your daily cup, but also for flavoring meat rubs and desserts, boosting your potting soil and an excellent exfoliator. I can’t even begin to list the endless uses for Sharpie markers or pickling salt!
Generally, I’d call myself a focus-on-one-thing-at-a-time type. I would much rather take on a single project and do my very best, than to have various activities going on at the same time. I like to fancy that I multitask fairly well when I put forth some effort–It’s just not my natural inclination! I suppose it now sounds a bit smarmy to say, I expect superior multitasking skills out of a good dish! Why can’t breakfast also be dessert? Or an entree be an appetizer? We all know, there are times a person (or dish) has to wear many hats in order to be considered worth while! That’s life…I never said it was fair.
Several years ago, I discovered dutch babies (AKA German pancakes). My husband described childhood memories of massive balloon-like pancakes, served in a piping hot skillet, that deflated the moment you touch them with your fork. I started playing with dutch baby recipes and found they all are very similar, with just a slight variance in measurements determining whether a stiff, stand-up dutch baby or an instantly deflating, tender dutch baby. After numerous test-runs, I lean towards the pancake that puffs up in the oven, but flattens out once it’s removed. The texture is sublime–almost indescribable! Sumptuous and solid on the bottom with sheer wrinkled pockets where the bubbles once were. The ratio of eggs help deliver the lift, but does not create a rubbery consistency. The flavor is delicate, rich and just slightly eggy, like a custard or souffle.
Traditionally dutch babies are baked in a preheated iron skillet, then cut into wedges, drizzled with lemon and sprinkled with sugar. They are mildly sweet and addictively scrumptious! We eat them this way, more than I should admit. But this week we still had a horde of mulberries leftover from our last berry-picking excursion, so we decided to serve the dutch babies with a mulberry and rhubarb compote. The floral and tart essence of the compote is wildly accented by the supple platform the dutch babies provide. We also tried making them in muffins tins for teeny-tiny dutch babies. They were so cute–the kids instantly went nuts over them! Please note, I have both silicone muffin pans and metal muffin pans. The dutch babies popped right out of the silicon pans, but needed a little encouragement from my spatula in the metal pans.
I’m proud to present a true multi-purpose meal! Dutch babies with mulberry-rhubarb compote makes a perfect breakfast, brunch item, or dessert (add whipped cream). The compote also works well as a fruit spread, or as a accompaniment to a lavish cheese board!
*I always have vanilla sugar on-hand, for such an occasion as this! I simply place a vanilla bean in a jar and fill it with sugar. After a few days the sugar is heavily scented with vanilla…and hard to beat! The bean can stay in the jar for quite a while before it loses it magical powers–just keep filling it with more sugar and screw the lid on tight.
Preheat the oven to 375*F. In the blender, add the flour, sugar, salt, milk and eggs. Process for 10 seconds, then add 2 Tb. of melted butter and process again.
Brush the remaining 4 Tb. of butter into 24 muffin tins—thoroughly coating. Slowly pour the batter into the muffins tins.
Bake for 12-14 minutes—until edges are golden brown and the center is puffed.
Immediately remove the Dutch babies from the muffins tins and top with mulberry-rhubarb compote!
*If making the traditional way, this is enough batter for two cast-iron skillets.
Pulse the rhubarb in the food processor 5-6 times to a diced consistency. Then pulse the mulberries 3-4 times to chop.
Add rhubarb, mulberries, orange juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch to a sauce pan and simmer over medium for 10-15 minutes—stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in the fresh mint leaves. Makes approximately 2 cups.
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