When they were young, my children Joseph and Tanya loved these ricotta pancakes. But that didn’t stop them from asking, “Mom, why can’t we have normal pancakes like all of our friends.” They didn’t appreciate the ethnic flavors of our home kitchen at that age. Only after they were grown up did they tell me how they would skip their lunch because Nonna Erminia, my mother who still lives with us, gave them fried eggplant or prosciutto sandwiches, or another such alien food. No other friend would bring anything like that for lunch at school! They have certainly come around, though, especially Joe, who helps to run–and gets involved in the kitchens of all three of our restaurants.
- 1 cup milk
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 pinches salt
- Grated zest (yellow part only without underlying white pith) of 2 lemons
- 2 cups ricotta, preferably fresh
- 1 pint ripe strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced 1/4-inch-thick
- 1/4 cup acacia or other flavorful honey
- Whipped cream
- Confectioners’ sugar
Place the strawberries in a medium size bowl and drizzle them with honey. Toss gently and let them stand, tossing them once or twice. In a large bowl, beat the milk, egg yolks, flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest until well blended. Add ricotta and blend gently, leaving some of the curds whole. In a medium-size bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted from them. Add about one fourth of the whites to the ricotta mixture and with a rubber spatula gently fold them in, scraping the ricotta mixture from the bottom of the bowl over the whites. Fold in the remaining whites in the same way. Grease a griddle and heat it over medium-high heat until a drop of water dances quickly across the surface. Pour the batter by quarter cupfuls onto the griddle and cook until the underside is a lacy golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook the second side until light brown, about 1 minute. Stack the pancakes on a plate and keep them warm, covered with a kitchen towel, while cooking the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes warm, topping each serving with some of the strawberries and their juices, a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Note: There are many options available if, like most kitchens, your kitchen doesn’t have a built in griddle. Many house wares stores stock oval cast-iron griddles long enough to fit over two stovetop burners. In addition to cooking pancakes like these, they come in very handy for other things, like the Griddle-Crisped Spring Chicken. If you cannot find this type of griddle, try the square, non-stick type and cook the pancakes in smaller batches.