Sourdough Blueberry Pancakes

For many years, I used the buttermilk pancake recipe from Cook's Illustrated's The New Best Recipe (a must-have cookbook). If you don't have a sourdough starter, I highly recommend the CI version with the addition of a scant 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract. That being said, my recent bread baking obsession inspired me to develop a pancake recipe that incorporated sourdough starter (aka levain).

Turns out sourdough pancakes are really excellent. They have an airy and tender center, slightly crisped exterior, and the flavor is much more cohesive than their ordinary cousins. I explain how to make and manage a levain in this post. In terms of preparing the pancakes ahead of time, freezing works beautifully and I've included those notes below. Now you can have delicious pancakes everyday, the way nature intended.

Cranberry Sauce

When Rob and I were dating, I didn't know much about cooking which was definitely to his benefit. I recall being quite impressed that he knew how to make cranberry sauce and even added orange juice to the dish. How creative! I thought. He could read a package and boil water and I thought this was cooking excellence. Flash-forward a handful of years and, yeah, that was the extent of his culinary mastery. The man is lucky to have all of his fingers intact with that knife technique.

As everyone but my 20-something self knows, cranberry sauce is easy. The key is to find the right balance of sweet and tart to suit your palate. The challenge I've had over the years is that sweetening cranberry sauce exclusively with sugar leaves a flavor gap - the sauce is either distinctly tart or too sweet without anything in the middle to round things out. After several experiments, I've come up with a recipe that compliments the turkey without clubbing you over the head with a sugar cube. I consider this "base level" sweetness that can be adjusted up to suit your needs.

How to Buy, Cook, and Reduce the Bitterness of Brussels Sprouts

I prefer the flavor of roasted or fried Brussels sprouts over braised since the former is firm, caramelized, and nutty rather than bitter. I decided to ask The Google if there was some food science behind my preference. As it turns out, human genetics, crop breeding, and cooking technique all play a role in our palate's response to Brussels sprouts. I pulled together some interesting useless facts for this post along with a simple roasting recipe.

Brussels sprouts are part of the Thanksgiving timeline as noted at the bottom of this post.

How to Roast Chestnuts

Over the weekend I decided to cook a full turkey dinner with all the fixings. I called it "Thanksgiving planning" as a thinly veiled excuse to eat copious amounts of carbohydrates and butter. That being said, it definitely helps to assess and organize the turkey day timeline. In the interest of being a mise en place rockstar, I'm going to try and document my make-ahead recipes and day-by-day breakdown here on the blog. My cooking schedule will be at the bottom of the next few posts to maintain continuity and updates (several older recipes are linked below).

First up, chestnuts. Step away from the jarred stuff.

Chestnuts from Root's Country Market - Lancaster, PA