Buried deep within Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain Cookbook, which I highly recommend to include in your collection as it encourages the use of alternative grains, I discovered a recipe for pancakes using quinoa flour and beets. As someone whose stomach once upon a time tumbled at the smell of cooked beets, my palette has seriously matured to even consider pancakes with beets as a main ingredient. Sounding strange enough to give it a whirl, I set about gathering my ingredients direct from the source as in Tomie dePaola's Pancakes for Breakfast. It is a wordless children's book about the humorous troubles a plump old lady encounters trying to make pancakes from scratch.
1)I ground heirloom red quinoa and whole wheat into flour using my grain mill, 2)gathered eggs, 3)purchased raw unpasteurized nonhomogenized milk and cream from a local farmer, 4)made sour cream to use for making cultured butter, 5)whirled the sour cream in my mini food processor until the butterfat separated from the liquid and turned into butter, 6)made homemade yogurt, and 7)purchased Grade B syrup (darker color with a bit stronger flavor) tapped from local maple trees. (If you've been wanting to learn how to harvest your own maple syrup, my daughter Heather created free printables detailing how her family collects maple sap on their homestead and makes it into syrup. The charts make lovely fall, winter, or spring wall art, too.)
If you see absolutely no point in reinacting the Pancakes for Breakfast story, here are some shortcuts. Bob's Red Mill produces quinoa flour. The remaining ingredients are available at any grocery store. What's left is to roast, peel, and purée beets that will make the most beautiful magenta pancake batter ever to be seen...
and pancakes in a hue unlike any you have ever seen on your plate. If one is oblivious to the pancakes's ingredients, you'd be hard pressed to detect the beets.
Quinoa Beet Pancakes
Makes 16 pancakes.
3 medium-small red beets (Hmmm… orange beets might be fun,
½ cup quinoa flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour I use 1 ½ cups w.w. pastry
flour or a mix of flours-millet, buckwheat, amaranth, barley, oat, teff, etc .
3 tbsp dark brown sugar I use 2 tbsp rapadura. Raw
cane sugar is fine, too.
1 tbsp baking powder I use 1 tsp baking powder + ½
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cups whole milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg *See note.
½ cup beet purée (See roasting directions.)
"Roasting beets is the preferred method for cooking beets. It not only preserves the flavor, it also enhances color and provides the best texture." (Clean Eating Magazine Nov/Dec 2009) To roast beets, remove the leaves keeping about 1 inch of the stem to prevent the beet from losing its juices and drying out during roasting. Wash the beets in cold water being careful not to tear the skin. Arrange beets in the center of a large piece of foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then wrap the foil around the beets folding the edges closed. (I used a covered casserole dish instead of aluminum foil.) Roast at 400°F until the beets are very tender, about 45 minutes. Time will vary depending on the size of the beets. To prevent staining, coat your fingers in olive oil. Gently remove the skins from the beets with a sharp knife; the skins should slip off easily. Cut off the stems and bottoms. Purée with a little water in a food processor or blender until smooth. In a large bowl,
combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, melted butter, egg, and beet purée until smooth. (*Note: I learned a mixing trick from Molly Wizenberg via her delightful cookbook, A Homemade Life. Rather than adding the melted butter directly to the wet ingredients, separate the egg and mix the yolk with the melted butter in a Pyrex custard cup then add it to the wet ingredients along with the egg white. It helps the butter to better incorporate into the batter, making for a more even-textured pancake.) Using a spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine. Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Working quickly, dollop ¼ cup mounds of batter onto the pan. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top of the pancake, flip it over and cook until the bottom is golden brown.