Like most families, we have a few recipes that we use often and think are pretty good. Here are a few (well, three, but more to follow) that friends have asked for in the past. Please note that we do not claim these as our original recipes, although we have tweaked most of them.

Pancakes, Thick with Thinness

Giles cares about pancakes, and does not like them big and fluffy.   This recipe yields thin, toothsome pancakes with some real flavor.  The hard part is the basic pancake mix, which is a pain in the neck if you have to make it up each time you cook pancakes.  We make the mix up ahead of time, and store it in a large airtight container, where it keeps for months (at least theoretically, not that we've ever tried).  Once the mix is made, making a batch of pancakes is no harder than using Bisquick.

The Mix:

  • 4 cups white flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (King Arthur works nicely)
  • 1 cup corn flour (This is hard to find. Normal corn meal is too coarse. Try the Spanish section of the grocery store, and look for masa harina.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 2.5 Tbl baking powder

The Pancakes:

Proportions: For each cup of mix, add 1 egg, 1 Tbl veg oil, and 1 cup milk.  You may need to add extra milk if the pancakes are coming out too thick.  It is worth the effort to try to spread the batter around a bit with your spoon/ladle.  The same recipe, with rather more oil, and rather less milk, also makes decent waffles.

Yield: The 4 of us (2 big eaters, 2 medium eaters) find that a 3 cup batch is too much, and 2 cups is too little.  So we use 2.5 cups of mix and 3 eggs.

Tracey's Bran Muffins

These are truly amazingly edible bran muffins. No twigs anywhere. And the recipe is kinda cool--some very interesting chemistry happens. From Tracey Meares, who is incidentally a pretty good lawyer.

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
1 quart buttermilk
1 cup shortening -- (I use tub margarine)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4   eggs -- beaten
5 cups flour
3 cups All Bran
2 cups Bran Flakes
5 teaspoons baking soda -- dissolved in water
2 cups water -- boiling
1 cup raisins

Mix flour, sugar, & salt; cut in shortening. Mix eggs and soda/water combo; add buttermilk. Mix liquids into dry ingredients, stir in cereals. Mix only to moisten. Stir in raisins.

Bake at 450 for 10 mins.

This makes a lot of mix, and probably more muffins than you want in one go. But the unused mix will keep in the refrigerator for a remarkably long time--at least 3 or 4 weeks, really.

Hot Fudge Sauce

Arguably the best thing we make. We hand out pots of this to friends and neighbors at Christmas time, and somehow never seem to end up with extra. The following recipe is for a relatively small amount, but it scales nicely.

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
3 tbsp butter, cut in quarters
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup good cocoa powder, pref dutch processed, Ghirardelli is great
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Simmer until sugar is melted and sauce is smooth, stirring often. What you are looking for here is partial caramelization. If you have a candy thermometer, this occurs at about 223-225 degrees. Alternatively, drip some on an ice cube; if it congeals and sticks, it's ready.

Nantucket Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is our standard family birthday cake. Yes, it contains a vegetable (rather a lot of vegetable, actually), but you can't really call it healthy.... We don't know the source for the cake recipe. It's from Judy Birch (Giles' mum), and probably from a magazine article she found. Our version uses more carrot than the original. The cream cheese frosting recipe came from Beth Floor. Although normally cooked in a loaf pan, this cake also works well in a bundt pan--if you are doing this, however, double the cake recipe (but not the frosting). Leftover cake keeps well in the refrigerator, and unfrosted loaves freeze well.

The Cake
Amount Measure Ingredient
1 cup flour (you can use a mix of wheat and white if you like)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 - 2 1/2 cups shredded carrots
The Frosting
Amount Measure Ingredient
1 stick margarine
8 oz. cream cheese
1 lb confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla

The cake: Preheat oven to 325. Grease loaf pan thoroughly. Combine dry ingredients. In separate bowl, beat eggs and add remainder of wet ingredients. Add dry mix to wet, stir until smooth, and then add carrots. Bake for something on the order of 50 minutes. Let cool, frost.

The frosting: Blend ingredients together until smooth (food processor works great). This is actually enough frosting for two cakes. Any extra frosting keeps for about a month in the refrigerator.

Scalloped Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Gratin Dauphinois)

Sam's favorite holiday dish, these potatoes have some real flavor. The recipe is adapted from the Julia Child recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and is remarkably easy if you have access to a Cuisinart to slice the potatoes for you. The following recipe feeds 4-6, and scales up nicely so long as you have a large enough baking dish so that the pile of potatoes does not get too thick (Julia says 2" max).

  • 2 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and (reasonably) thinly sliced.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4-6 Tb butter
  • 1 cup grated swiss cheese
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • salt (1 tsp) and pepper (1/8 tsp), or to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F. Peel and slice the spuds. Mince the garlic into the beef broth and bring it to a boil in a saucepan. Rub a baking dish with a fair amount of the butter, and lay out 1/2 of the spuds. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the salt, pepper and cheese, and dot with 1/2 of the butter. Lay out the remaining spuds, sprinkle with the remaining salt, pepper and cheese. Dot with remaining butter. Pour the hot beef broth over the spuds and place whole shebang in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until spuds are soft and cheese is browned. When cooked, the dish can sit for quite a while before serving. If making for a later date, undercook, and dot with a bit more butter when you put it back in the oven to finish. For the curious, the orginal recipe calls for milk instead of beef broth (and the garlic is rubbed around the baking dish).