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Cookbook Review: How to Boil an Egg + A Lemon Ricotta Pancake Recipe By Way Of London & Paris

In this new year of chef cookbooks and kitchen resolutions, sometimes you simply want to fine tune the basics: the perfect pork chop, the creamiest ice cream, How to Boil an Egg. In her latest book, Rose Carrarini, owner of Paris' Rose Bakery, reminds us just how much of a culinary chameleon the egg has always been, an ingredient that changes with the times yet holds true to its earlier hollandaise and béarnaise days.

Carrarini is a British baker who often recounts her Parisian pastry welcome as less than enthusiastic; now, there are lines outside her café most days, with additional outposts in London, Tokyo and Seoul.

Not bad, amidst all that puff pastry, for a couple of loaf cakes (pumpkin with white chocolate, Welsh tea cakes, chocolate and orange polenta cakes) and scones of various shapes and sizes (whole wheat, chocolate, cheddar-leek-curry).

Get more, and Carrarini's lemon-ricotta pancake recipe, after the jump.

No surprise: boiling an egg and other basics are covered: eggs Benedict and Florentine, eggs baked in dashi, French toast, pancakes, and various breakfast pudding and frittatas. But in Carrarini's hands, they somehow feel more than basic Saturday morning fare.

And as Carrarini reminds us, what would pudding, crème caramel, mousse and that ethereal Pavlova be without eggs? Or that British classic, the Eton Mess, a beautifully simple dish of baked meringues crushed and folded into whipped cream with whatever fruit you have on hand. Sometimes, a good pantry dessert really isn't so hard to find.

Keep flipping through the pages, and somehow those poached eggs in tomato & fennel broth, vegetable gratins (curried cauliflower; leek and Dijon mustard) and Japanese chawanmushi (savory custards) keep calling you to the stove.

The book's unusual recipe layout (several to a page, in newspaper-like columns) and gorgeous food paintings by botanical artist Fiona Strickland give it an old-school air. Just the sort of cookbook that would make a lovely dinner party host gift -- along with promises of these lemon ricotta pancakes for reciprocal brunch times soon.

Lemon Pancakes

From: How to Boil an Egg

Makes about 10

Note: Per Carrarini, "What I love about these pancakes -- apart from their lovely lemony flavor -- is that they don't contain baking powder, which sometimes leaves a slightly metallic taste in the mouth. However, this means that special care should be taken with the egg whites, whisking them well and folding in gently without knocking the air out. These pancakes go beautifully with crushed raspberries, or spiced apple or pear compote."

3 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar

60 g (4 ½ tablespoons) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

175 g (3/4 cup) ricotta cheese

40 g (1/3 cup) AP flour

Grated zest of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix together the egg yolks, sugar, melted butter, ricotta and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

Fold in the flour, lemon zest and juice.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until quite firm, then carefully fold into the egg yolk mixture.

Grease a frying pan or skillet with a little butter and set over medium-high heat.

When the pan is hot, drop about 3 tablespoons for each pancake into the pan, without overcrowding it, and cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface.

Turn the pancakes over and cook for another 30 seconds, until golden.

Transfer to a warm dish and keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.


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