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Pancakes

Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes

By Heidi Sutton

If the way to your loved one’s heart is through the stomach, there’s no better way to start off this Valentine’s Day than with a homemade breakfast prepared with love. 

Whether you’re whipping up a breakfast for a spouse with a sophisticated palate or trying to tempt the taste buds of your littlest loves, explore these ideas to get inspired.

* Red is the color of love, so build your menu around fresh strawberries or raspberries, which pair perfectly with French toast or crepes, and can even dress up a simple cereal.

* For a more sensible menu, opt for a fruity berry smoothie or a parfait layered with fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and granola. Add a hint of loving indulgence by sprinkling dark chocolate shavings on top.

* Show your affection with a plate of these colorful Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes featuring rich 100 percent cocoa, buttermilk and fresh berries. Heart-shaped cookie cutters lend a special touch to these fluffy, flavorful pancakes. Add sweet garnishes like powdered sugar and berries for a sensational way to say “I love you.”

Cocoa-Kissed Red Velvet Pancakes

Recipe courtesy of Nestlè

YIELD: Servings: 10 pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk or low-fat milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon red food coloring

 heart-shaped pancake cutters or cookie cutters (optional)

butter, for garnish (optional)

powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

maple syrup, for garnish (optional)

fresh berries, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir well.

In separate large bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract and food coloring. Add to flour mixture; stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit 5 minutes.

Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with oil or butter. Add about 1/4 cup batter to skillet. Cook about 2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter, powdered sugar, syrup and berries, if desired. 

Tip: If using pancake or cookie cutters, be sure to coat with oil so pancakes don’t stick. Place cutters in skillet and pour batter into cutters. Remove cutters before flipping.

Season 1, Episode 13 of 'The Sopranos'

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Having been exposed to the pleasure of streaming movies on my “smart” television, I now look for good stories and have caught up with “The Sopranos.” I well remember how popular the series was, running from Jan. 10, 1999, to June 10, 2007, winning all kinds of awards and addicting millions with its 86 episodes. Somehow I never caught up with the drama, but now, thanks to HBOMax, I have turned the family room into a nightly theater and watch as Tony Soprano tries to balance his work “family” and his biological family responsibilities, thanks to the help of an Italian-American woman psychiatrist. 

At the end of the latest installment, Tony, his wife Carmela and his daughter and son are driving at night when they are deluged by a wild rainstorm. Unable to see the road ahead, and with all of them feeling in peril, Tony parks and ushers his family into an Italian restaurant nearby. There, despite the loss of electricity, the proprietor cooks a marvelous pasta dinner for them, which they finally calm down and eat by candlelight, huddled together at a table in the warm and dry dining room. As he is appreciating the spaghetti on his fork, Tony looks up and says to his children something like, “When you think back on your childhood, it will be scenes like this that you will remember,” while the camera fades out.

That got me thinking. Can I recall such scenes from my childhood, when being with my family in a safe place was so comforting?

One of the first such memories for me was of an intense rainstorm in the Catskill Mountains. I was perhaps 5 or 6 and with my mother and sister in a dilapidated cabin, whose roof leaked ominously. After my mother put pails under the leaks, she realized I was frightened. “Just wait,” she said with a smile, “This storm has brought us pancakes.” With that, she took out a large frying pan from the cupboard, mixed together flour, eggs and milk, poured Hi-Hat peanut oil (the popular brand then) into the pan, and started cooking the mixture, as thunder cracked overhead. Almost immediately, the irresistible smell of the pancakes started to fill the rustic room. 

My mother dabbed the extra oil from the dollar-sized pancakes at the stove, put them on a platter on the kitchen table, brought out a bottle of maple syrup, and my sister and I started to eat ravenously. Soon, my mother joined us at the table, and despite the frequent bolts of lightning I could see through the windows behind her head, and the dripping water in the buckets, I felt warm and safe.

The only trouble with that memory: every time there is a heavy rain, I get the urge for pancakes.

I asked my middle son if he had such a memory, and he remembered when we were out in the Sound in our 22-foot Pearson Ensign day sailboat, and the wind and seas suddenly picked up. We had been enjoying a sunny, peaceful sail near New Haven harbor, my husband and three sons and I, sprawled out in the big cockpit, when the unexpected shift in weather occurred. 

With the waves towering around us, we pulled down the sail, put the outboard motor at the stern on high speed, and made for the harbor. My husband, at the tiller, gave each of us a task. My sons were to bail out the water that was flooding the cockpit with every crashing wave, and I was to sit on top of the motor to try and keep it in the water every time a wave pushed us up.

Needless to say, it was a harrowing ride until we finally reached shore and tied up at the marina, onlookers clapping. We left the boat and were thrilled to be on the sand. Drenched as we were, we walked the short distance to the harborside restaurant, Chart House and, laughing by then, had one of the best meals of our lives. 

By the way, if you, too, missed “The Sopranos” the first time around, I heartily recommend it.

The community roamed around Benner’s Farm in Setauket in search of sweets on Saturday, Feb. 20, during its annual Maple Sugaring Day. Families learned the history of maple sugaring, how to tap trees, turn sap into syrup and how to make sugar candies. Participants also enjoyed freshly made pancakes with farm-made syrup. Maple syrup, sugar candies and jams were also sold during the event.

In between eating pancakes, learning about maple sugaring and sampling sap from a tree, families roamed the farm to visit the animals and treat some to a leftover pancake. Children played on the Big Swing up in the woods and visited with the resident barn cats, Lightning, Thunder and Storm. A sweet time was had by all!

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Boy Scout Troop 45 and Cub Scout Pack 41 are hosting a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help make their activities sweeter.

The breakfast will take place on Sunday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m. until noon, at the Port Jefferson firehouse on Maple Place.

Scouts are selling tickets for the breakfast. Those tickets are $5 each and may be purchased at the door on the day of the breakfast fundraiser. Children under 6 are free.

All proceeds from the pancake breakfast benefit troop and pack activities and help defray the cost of summer camp for individual Scouts.

Both the troop and pack are sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson.