When I was a little girl, I used to love sitting on my mom’s lap and hearing her tell stories about what it was like when she was growing up in Fergus Falls, MN. When she was young, one of her favorite memories was visiting her grandma (my Great-Grandma Mark) with her 4 siblings on Sunday mornings after church. They would all sit around her small kitchen table, excitedly waiting on homemade Dutch pancakes or Pigs in a Blanket, their hungry mouths watering from the delicious smells that permeated the room. My great-grandma Mark was one of eight children to Dutch immigrants who brought with them the tastes and flavors of the old country. Drop (black licorice), haring (herring) and rookworst (smoked sausage similar to kielbasa) were a few favorites that continued to make an appearance at family gatherings, even years later.
One of my favorite family dishes was and always has been Dutch pancakes or pannekoeken, which can be made to be thin – similar to a French crepe, or to be baked up to a golden, puffy delight. These eggy, delicious treats are commonly eaten by the Dutch throughout the day, rather than just for breakfast, and to treated similar to a pizza, filled or topped with anything from fruit to jam to cheese to ham.
For this recipe, I chose the puffy, baked version of the pannekoeken and I decided to go savory, with the addition of Herbs de Provence in the batter. This herb blend is basically a just a mixture of basil, thyme, savory, marjoram, rosemary and fennel seed. You can find it in most local markets, but if it’s not easily accessible, a sprinkling of your favorite herbs will also work just fine. If I were to do a sweet version of this recipe, I would use the same batter recipe and simply omit the herbs and add in vanilla or almond extract instead. There was a recent sale on salmon at my local grocer, so I decided to fill my pannekoeken with garlic sauteed spinach, peas and sauteed salmon. And because I love a good creamy sauce (let’s face it, most food is just a vehicle for sauce, in my opinion), I served the pannekoeken with a lemony bearnaise sauce. YUM! Oh, also, I should say that this version of bearnaise sauce is a very “lazy girl’s” version. A traditional bearnaise does not contain half and half, is typically made with a lot more butter and would include white wine and vinegar. But I’m calling it bearnaise anyway because I’m a rebel, baby. 🙂
The simple practice of putting together these ingredients takes me instantly back to a time when snuggling on a lap and listening to a familiar voice recount stories from years passed was the perfect thing to do on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. Hope you enjoy!
Savory Spinach and Salmon Pannekoeken with Lemon Bearnaise Sauce
For the Pannekoeken
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. flour
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried herbs of choice (I used Herbs De Provence)
2 tbs. butter
In the oven, melt butter in a large skillet at 400 degrees. Combine eggs, milk, flour, herbs, sugar and salt in a blender and blend until well mixed. Pour batter into heated skillet. Batter should sizzle when it hits the butter. Bake pannekoeken for 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden brown and center is fully set (not wet).
For the Filling
1 salmon filet (1/2 pound)
3 large handfuls fresh spinach
3/4 c. frozen peas
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
Dice salmon filet into bite sized chunks, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add spinach and garlic and a sprinkle of salt and saute until slightly wilted. Add peas and continue sauteing until spinach is fully wilted and peas are bright green in color. Place veggie mixture in a bowl and set aside. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon and saute until pieces are fully cooked and some sides are a little golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Bearnaise
1/4 c. butter
1 tbs. flour
1 c. half and half
2 egg yolks
1 tsp dried herbs (I used Herbs de Provence)
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and add flour to make a roux. Add half and half and dried herbs and heat until lightly bubbling. In a blender add egg yolks, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a few turns of cracked pepper and pulse 2-3 times until blended. While blender is turned on, slowly add hot butter mixture. It’s important to do this slowly and in small amounts at a time in order to slowly heat the eggs and not scramble them. Pulse with the blender a few more times until the sauce is at the desired consistency. If it is not thick enough, return the sauce to the pan and gently heat (stirring constantly). Immediately remove from heat once it reaches the desired thickness. Adjust for seasoning.
Fill the bottom of the pannekoeken with the veggies and salmon. Slice the pannekoeken into desired slices. Spoon a dollop (or four) of sauce on the bottom of serving plate and place a cut piece of pannekoeken on top of the sauce. Serve warm and enjoy!