Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fruit-Filled Lemon-Ricotta Pancake “Omelets”

If you’ve never had a ricotta pancake, you’ve been missing a real treat. The richness of taste and texture that ricotta adds brings the pancake’s fully goodness to a new level. And in this recipe, we’ll be giving these already delicious pancakes some extra special treatments:
  • We’ll make our own fresh ricotta. (You’ll love how easy it is!) Of course, if you prefer to use packaged ricotta from the supermarket, that’s ok too.)
  • We’ll make each pancake a bit larger than normal – one pancake will be a full portion – and fold it over, omelet-style, with a fruit and bacon filling inside.
  • As always, all of this goodness will be made even better by being reduced fat!
Time to get started! This recipe is in three parts – the ricotta, the fruit filling, and the pancakes – and, when combined, makes four generous servings.

Making the Ricotta
As mentioned above, if you prefer to use store-bought ricotta, just skip this step and go on to the next. If you’re thinking about making your own fresh ricotta, however, and are concerned that you may not have the skills needed, here’s a simple quiz you can do in the privacy of your own home to find out: 

Can you read a thermometer? (     ) Yes   (     ) No
If you answered "Yes",’re a born ricotta maker! (You’ll also need a candy thermometer; that’s something you’ll find useful to have for a wide range of cooking projects.)

This portion of the recipe makes about a cup of ricotta.

Zest a large lemon and set the zest aside. We’ll use it later for the pancakes.

Combine 2 quarts of 2% milk and the juice of the zested lemon in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. (Steel or enameled only.)

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently and constantly, until the temperature reaches 170 degrees as measured with a candy thermometer. (By now you’ll see the mixture should be separating into solids (“curds”) and a pale, milky liquid (“whey”).)

Stop stirring but continue to heat the mixture until the temperature reaches 190 degrees.

Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Line a colander with fine-mesh cheese cloth and place it on a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the colander to strain out the curds while capturing the whey (about quart or a little more) in the bowl. (Don’t discard the whey. More on this later.)

After about five minutes, tie the top of the cheesecloth with twine to form a bag, and hang over the sink or other location to drip for about another 15 minutes.

Transfer the cheese curd to a bowl, and add salt, starting with ½ tsp and adding more to taste. (You’ll probably end up using about 1 teaspoon all together, but judge the amount by the taste.)

Use the cheese right away (warm is good) or store it in an airtight container and refrigerate. Since it has no preservatives, use it within 2 or 3 days. Do not save the cheese longer than that.

With our cheese now made, here’s a word about the whey before we go on to the rest of the recipe. Inexplicably, practically every ricotta recipe out there says to discard the whey after straining the curds. With the guidance of Facebook friend, chef, cheese-maker (and purveyor of fine scarves!) Maya, however, I was enlightened as to the wonderful taste, texture and health benefits whey brings to breads, soups, or other recipes when used as a substitute for water or even milk. (Click here for a very helpful site she suggested.) Thank you, Maya, for showing me the whey! (Ahem...sorry, couldn't resist.)

Making the Fruit Filling (With Just a Bit of Bacon!)
I used apples for the filling, but feel free to use whatever fruit suits your fancy.

Cook 2 – 4 slices of turkey bacon till slightly crisp and set aside.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until the sugar has melted, stirring often.

Add four Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into ¼”- ½” wedges, along with ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of butter substitute, to the saucepan and mix well to coat with the melted sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the apples are soft and the liquid is reduced. Turn off heat and let rest to thicken the liquid while you make the pancakes in the next step. Crumble or chop the bacon and add before using.

Making the Pancakes
Now that we've got our fresh ricotta and the filling...

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine 1-1/2 cups of skim milk; ½ cup of low-fat ricotta cheese; 2 tablespoons of melted butter substitute; 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; zest of one lemon, and one egg-substitute egg.

Sift together 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon of baking powder; 3/4 teaspoon of salt; 3 tablespoons of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. Mix the dry ingredients into the milk mixture until combined.
Combine 2 fresh egg whites and pinch of salt, and beat until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites in parts into the batter, working carefully to keep the fluffiness.

Melt 1 teaspoon of butter substitute on a griddle or crepe pan. Working one pancake at a time, pour ¾ cup of the pancake batter onto the griddle or crepe pan and cook until done, turning half-way. (Tip: Because the pancakes are very large, using a plate makes flipping them a lot easier! Slide the half cooked pancake onto a plate, cooked side down, and drain any excess liquid from the griddle or pan. Turn the pan over on top of the plate, turn them both over together, and remove the plate. Your uber-pancake is now flipped!)

Once all the pancakes are cooked, place them on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 4 minutes to finish. (I’ve found this oven step gives a nice texture to the pancakes, both inside and outside.)

To plate, place some of the fruit filling on half of the pancake (and, if you like, some of the ricotta for extra richness), and fold the pancake over as with an omelet.

Top the folded pancake "omelet" with butter substitute and syrup or preserves, serve with an appropriate side dish, such as turkey sausage, and you’ve got a breakfast – or lunch, or dinner! – that is as fresh as it is good-tasting.

I hope you enjoy making and serving this special pancake meal, and that you’ll come back again next week for another recipe! Till then stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Looks delicious, Ben! A lot of work, but delicious!

  2. Glad you like it, Gloria! It is true there are a lot of steps, but nothing difficult. (Difficult is an ingredient I try to avoid. lol) And the results speak for themselves. :-)

  3. This sounds wonderful, Ben. Please send me the recipe. Thanks.

    -Gitana the Creative Diva

  4. Thank you, Gitana. The recipe is on the way!