Food always tastes better when made with love. Whether it's from the passion the cook has for it or from the love for the people it’s being created for. Each mouthful becomes even more pleasurable when love is involved.
Julia Turshen’s new cookbook Small Victories is full of wholesome yet exciting meals made from such moments. Revealing and laughing at her own cooking mistakes, turning them into useful tips, Turshen encourages you to overcome the daunting and stressful task of making a meal. To find enjoyment in the ‘small victories’ like not dropping any celery on the floor when first learning to sauté, or turning ice cream that wouldn’t freeze into a dinner party milkshake hit.
Small Victories has a humble quality, from Turshen’s expert but easy-going guidance, to its focus on utilising good, fresh produce that is accessible to most home cooks. With a few ingredients and flavours included to help broaden your pantry and excite your tastebuds, Turshen takes away the angst of having to find and buy these ingredients if you don’t have them, by providing effective alternatives.
Out of milk? You can still have pancakes for breakfast (or dinner)! Try out the ‘Sour Cream Pancakes with Roasted Blueberries’ recipe from the book, which I SuperCharged by using a Turshen alternative of buttermilk rather than sour cream. By the way if you’re dairy free coconut milk would be just as nice!
This book is Turshen’s outstretched welcome into her home kitchen, with beautiful nostalgic photography and personal stories, and every turn of the page is filled with the essence of her love for food and cooking.
The other wonderful thing about Small Victories is that you don't need to be an expert to enjoy it; if you're more of a "one recipe kind of a cook" the book features creative ways to reuse recipes, turning your single mastered meal into a multitude of delicious moments.
Small Victories is a great introduction to food for new cooks because it gently takes away the seriousness of getting it right and finds laughter and pleasure in your ‘small victories’.
My first stop was the Sour Cream pancakes and I made a couple of supercharged switches using buttermilk in the recipe which I'm sharing with you here.
Buttermilk Pancakes with Roasted Blueberries
- 1 ¼ cups (160g) blueberries, rinsed and drained
- 3 Tbsp coconut sugar
- ½ cup (60g) oat flour
- ¼ cup (30g) sorghum flour
- 1tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (240ml) Buttermilk or coconut milk
- Coconut oil for cooking and serving
Preheat oven to 200°C
In a baking dish, combine the blueberries with 2 Tbsp of the coconut sugar and stir to mix.
Place in the oven and roast, pulling the baking dish out a few times to stir the blueberries, until their skins burst and they have released lots of juices, this takes about 20 minutes.
Using a fork or a potato masher, crush the berries a bit so that they become jammy. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.
Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, add the buttermilk and remaining 1 Tbsp coconut sugar, and whisk until the mixture is uniform. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to mix everything together. It’s okay if the batter isn’t perfectly smooth – it’s better to under mix than over mix.
Set a large cast-iron pan, or your largest frying pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp coconut oil. Once the oil melts, swirl the pan or brush the pan to evenly coat the surface.
Pour the batter into the pan using a ¼ cup (60ml) increments to form pancakes that are roughly 10cm in diameter, cook only as many pancakes at a time as can fit comfortably.
The minute that pancakes become too precise is the minute they become no fun, so don’t stress over this – it’s okay if they’re not the same size. Cook the pancakes until small bubbles appear on the surface and the undersides are nicely browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
Flip the pancakes over and cook until the second sides are nicely browned, another minute or so.
Transfer to warm plates and continue making pancakes, adding more coconut oil as you go, until you’ve used up all the batter.
Serve pancakes immediately, with more coconut oil on top and the warm roasted blueberries.
SPIN-OFFS You can use coconut milk, buttermilk, sour cream or even yoghurt.
SHAKE UP THE TOPPING ROUTINE by roasting just about any fruit in place of the blueberries (berries are the most jammy, but all fruit benefits from the concentrated caramelisation that happens in the oven). Roasted blackberries, sliced bananas, sliced peaches, and thinly sliced apples or pears are all really delicious. Or rhubarb! Just keep an eye on the fruit while it’s roasting, as some types (e.g., apples) take a little longer than others and some (e.g., sliced bananas) take not much time at all.
THE ROASTED FRUIT TOPPING IS VERY VERSITILE; serve it with coconut cream for dessert, on toast spread with goat's cheese for breakfast, or on waffles for any time. Stir it into yogurt. Or serve alongside or grilled rich meat like pork shoulder or pork chops. Or lamb! Lamb loves fruit.
JULIA TURSHEN has co-authored such cookbooks as Spain…A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali, It’s All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen with Dana Cowin, and The Kimchi Chronicles, Hot Bread Kitchen: The Cookbook, The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries, and Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food.
She hosted the first two seasons of Radio Cherry Bombe and has written for Vogue, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Saveur, and The Wall Street Journal. She lives in upstate New York with her wife, dogs, and cat.