I feel like a few months ago I was all “blah blah blah, I just want it to be summer and for there to be juicy, juicy peaches dripping down my face and onto my summery, summery sun dress” and now it’s all BAM. Summer! Busy! Potential possibilities for exciting things developing! On the verge of feeling overwhelmed but feeling really, really excited about it all! HUMIDITY.
Thankfully, for times such as these, you have people you can turn to. Such as, in my case, parents. In Puerto Rico.
Ahh, that’s better.
As announced long, long ago, the German faction of The Troika Table up and moved to Puerto Rico. From the looks of things, I’d say they’re quite enjoying themselves. Braeden and I cleverly decided that in lieu of an Amazon gift card or some new-fangled, technological gadget for a Christmas present, we’d “settle” with tickets to Puerto Rico over the 4th of July week. (I surround “settle” with quotation marks because I want you to read that in a sarcastic tone. As in, who wouldn’t be fine with tickets to a Caribbean island as a Christmas present?) In other non-shocking news, Puerto Ricans don’t really celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July (although it is a fun beach-going holiday there). We didn’t mind, though – we were too busy eating juicy, juicy pineapple, watching subtitled French chick flicks, and drinking piña coladas. (And yes, since you asked, we also occasionally got caught in the rain.)
Along with a suitable amount of beach-going, sun-soaking, and picture-taking, we ate a lot of food. (This is a food blog, after all.) We sampled tostones, most often made of cooked plantains which were then smashed, fried, and dipped in a sort of ketchup-mayo sauce. At Crash Boat Beach near Aguadilla, we nibbled on pinchos while watching a man manipulate pelicans into doing tricks.
Driving from Mayagüez to Ponce, we stopped at a cafe situated right above the water, where I finally tried the famed mofongo and a few other Puerto Rican delights.
Back at my parents’ house, we crafted our own Caribbean-inspired meal, making a variation of this pumpkin curry served with sautéed chayote and steamed breadfruit, which we had picked up at a roadside stand. Mom made pizza loaded with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, broccoli, grilled eggplant, and peppers. There was chipotle meatloaf. There was fried rice. There were breakfast hashes of crispy potatoes, peppers, and eggs. There were sweet-tart quenepas. There was the rainforest and its waterfalls. There were geckos, iguanas, and coqui. There was rum. There was so much to see, to taste, to smell. I can’t wait to go back.
Our recipe today is fusion food at its best: ebleskivers filled with guava paste, drizzled in a guava syrup. Ebleskivers are Danish pancakes and sort of a cross between an American pancake and a popover. You need a special ebleskiver pan to make these little treats, and I’m not sure what else you could use to replace the pan. Buy one online, or just keep your eyes peeled – I found a cast iron ebleskiver pan in an antique store in Gettysburg, PA. It might have cost $10. Mom found her ebleskiver pan before my sister and I were even born, at the tiny Hartline Grocery in good ol’ Hartline, Washington (AKA our homeland). Hartline Grocery was run by a man named Raymond, who happened to be a heavy smoker. Once when mom bought a box of oatmeal, the oats smelled like cigarette smoke. And once, when describing a rather sorry-looking Christmas tree, someone said he had seen more green on a loaf of bread at Raymond’s. Apparently his “fresh” food prices were higher than the bigger grocery stores but he had inventory in his store that had been there for decades and never changed the price stickers. Mom used to buy thread on real wooden spools for 10 cents when it would have cost a dollar or so in a fabric store. Then one day, she came across the ebleskiver pan, which cost maybe $4. When she took it up to the counter, Raymond asked what on earth she was going to do with it, surprised that she actually knew what it was. He had ordered the pans when Danes were farming over across the Coulee and had that one pan left that no one bought. (The Coulee is generally this area, AKA more of our homeland.)
Mom remembered learning about ebleskivers in a high school home economics class. The teacher was young and ahead of her time in terms of multicultural education, and she looked for people of any ethnic heritage in the community to come in to teach how to make traditional dishes. They made Basque fish soup, Japanese tempura, and Danish ebleskivers.
For me, ebleskivers mean a special occasion. I remember them most from trips visiting my parents when I was in college, when the breakfasts were late and we could mill about, taking our time, because it was usually the holidays. Maple syrup was my first ebleskiver condiment, with Nutella eventually taking its place. This time, in Puerto Rico, Mom added a tropical twist and filled them with guava paste. If you’ve never had guava paste, I encourage you to go get some. You can definitely find it in a Latin American store, and I’d even think in a well-stocked grocery store (in the Goya section). It comes in fairly sizable blocks or discs and can be used in a variety of recipes from empanadas to pies to muffins to glazes to syrups to just sliced, with a cube of cheese. It also lasts forever (relatively speaking), since it has so much sugar.
The stories about the origins of ebleskivers are murky at best, but my favorite comes from a Viking myth: Vikings, famished and returning from a fierce battle, had no pans in which to cook and thus flung their battered shields onto a fire, making pancakes in the indentations. While that might not be quite how ebleskivers came about, we do know that three main islands of the US Virgin Islands were in Danish possession from the 1600s until 1916. Who knows – maybe one of the Danes added guava to his ebleskivers.
Guava ebleskivers with guava syrup
adapted from Julia Peterson Tufford’s Original Scandinavian Recipes
Makes about 28 ebleskivers, can easily be halved
For the guava ebleskivers:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups buttermilk, or 1 1/4 cups yogurt mixed with 3/4 cups milk, or 1 1/2 cups sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup milk
- butter, for cooking
- enough guava paste to fill desired amount of ebleskivers: if making 28, you’ll want 28 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch cubes.
1. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the eggs and liquid and beat until smooth.
2. Heat your pan over medium to medium high heat. Cut your butter into little dabs so that you can quickly add it to your ebleskiver pan. Like this:
3. When you add your butter, you want it to sizzle slightly, rather than nonchalantly melting. The sizzle means your pan is at the correct temperature to efficiently cook your ebleskivers through without taking too long. Take a deep breath, you can do it.
4. When your butter is sizzling, drop in the batter so it fills the holes about halfway. Working quickly, tuck a cube or two (depends how much guava you want!) into the batter, but don’t shove it down to the bottom. You want the guava to float in the batter, not get stuck to the pan. Dollop a little more batter on top to cover, and cook until you can slide a fork or knife under to see that the bottom is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Using a fork or knife or your fingers if you’re an adventurous Viking, flip the ebleskivers to cook on the other side another few minutes.
They are best enjoyed hot out of the pan, drizzled with this simple guava syrup:
In a small sauce pan, add a chunk about the size of a fist and slice it into cubes (you can just slice it right in the pan to avoid more sticky fingers). Over medium to medium-high heat, warm the guava paste with 1/2 cup of water, whisking and breaking up the guava to form a syrup. Once the guava is blended into the water and the syrup is simmering, you can decide if you want a thinner or thicker syrup and add more water or more guava accordingly. Any leftover syrup happens to go quite well with peanut butter, on bread.
Kara and Tami