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I’m not a big breakfast eater. Don’t get me wrong, I do eat breakfast. But these days it’s usually a bagel at my desk or a scone picked up on my way to work because, frankly, I’d rather have those extra 10 minutes of sleep than a sit-down morning meal. Unsurprisingly, I’m not much of a morning person.

Brunch, I like. Breakfast-type meals, but after a good sleep-in.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I

Growing up, when I was a bit better about waking up in time to eat before leaving the house — partly because it was trickier to eat and walk to school at the same time — I had the strange habit of preferring to eat leftovers for breakfast. Pasta and tomato sauce? Yes, please. Mashed potatoes with gravy? Warm and filling. Cold pizza? Breakfast of champions — after all, it does have several major food groups.

My parents thought it was amusing. Except for the day I wanted to make fish sticks for breakfast; my mom drew the line at that. But sometimes I do want a real breakfast. At home. In my pyjamas.

What I don’t want, though, is a basic pancake.

My Internet travels provided a solution, as I came across a recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes — an intriguing idea. And what a pleasant surprise this recipe turned out to be. Not only did they combine my love of all things lemon, but they were light, like flat baby souffles, with golden edges and a hint of salt from the melted butter they were fried in.

I shamelessly scarfed a bunch down as, ahem, quality control before handing a plate to a friend I had staying with me. In my defence, I had made them quite tiny.

So fluffy and weightless, so bright with their lemon flavour. I couldn’t get enough.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes II

But this recipe wasn’t without its foibles. Confusingly, the tubs of ricotta are measured in grams and not millilitres or cups. I did some math and the 250-gram tub was a little more than one cup.

I wasn’t going to hang on to a tablespoon or two of ricotta cheese, so I just dumped the whole thing in. Surely, I figured, it wasn’t going to do much harm. And it didn’t. Plus, it’s one of my huge pet peeves to have a recipe that calls for almost an entire can/jar/tub or something, leaving us cooks with random leftover ingredients.

Also, I couldn’t be bothered to zest the lemon onto something just to put it in a measuring spoon and then add it the mixture, so I just zested one lemon straight into the egg yolks. I might be tempted to try the zest of two lemons next time, but only because I love that flavour and feel there’s no such thing as too much lemon.

Lastly, the original recipe I found for this suggested mixing raspberry jam with maple syrup as a topping.

But I wanted something that was going to complement the light lemon flavour of the pancakes, rather than weighing it down. Just before I got started, I diced up about two cups of strawberries, sprinkled on some sugar and let them sit to macerate while I got down to business.

It was the perfect pairing. The slightly sweetened berries added the right touch of fruit, but still let the pancakes shine.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes III

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

This recipe is adapted from the Alberta Egg Producers.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tub (250 grams) or 1 cup (250 ml) ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp (50 ml) sugar
  • ½cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) butter
  • 2 cups (500 ml) strawberries, diced
  • sugar to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta cheese, sugar, flour and lemon zest.

In another bowl, whip egg whites with a mixer until glossy peaks form. Stir about one-quarter of the whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the remaining whites gently.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat, drop batter on using small ladle or large spoon. I used a ¼-cup (50-ml) measure.) Flatten slightly, then let cook for about two minutes per side until lightly browned. Top with macerated strawberries.

This story first appeared in the Real Life section in the Calgary Herald. For more delicious recipes, visit CalgaryHerald.com/life.