Cooking with Crimespree: Mike Cooper.

For more than ten years I’ve been the stay-at-home parent in our family. The most important part of this role isn’t cleaning, or paying the bills, or doing the shopping. It’s feeding our children – as they will tell you.

Actually, what they’ll mostly tell you is how lousy the food is. “He makes us eat kale every day!” (Come on, three times a week at most.) “Beans again??” (But they do like burritos.) “Fish – I hate fish!” (A brick wall, there.)

Breakfasts, however, are much easier. Although they refuse to eat my various porridges – amaranth, for example, or quinoa – staples like cinnamon rolls, muffins and french toast are unvarying crowd-pleasers.

In fact, in preparation for this piece, I asked them their favorite food that we cook. Excluding desserts and burritos, the answer was unanimous: apple pancake.

Not a plain pancake with apple rings pressed in, nor even an applesauce batter! This recipe, modified from one in the Boston Globe, is an old-fashioned European baked “pudding.” Don’t let that put you off, though. It’s easy, fast (30-35 min total) and, depending on how much powdered sugar you put on top, will appeal to even the most finicky five-year-old. Plus there’s fruit inside, so it’s healthy! So perfect, we might as well call it …

WIN-WIN-WIN APPLE PANCAKE

(Note: the recipe is quite similar to Yorkshire pudding, but with sugar and apples. It will puff up and look its best the moment it comes out of the oven, though it may be a little too hot to eat at that point.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. You can cook the pancake in the same 12” (or larger) iron skillet you saute the apples in, or use a ceramic baking dish. In the latter case, put the pan into the oven during preheat – having it nice and hot prevents the batter from sticking.

Whisk together:

1 c. whole milk
4 large eggs

Add and whisk until smooth:

1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Let sit while you prepare apples. (You can also refrigerate it overnight.) Peel, core and slice into thick wedges:

3 medium apples

Saute apples for 1 minute in:

2 tbsp butter

Cook 2 more minutes after sprinkling with:

2 tbsp. sugar

Pour batter over apples, slide the skillet right into the oven, and bake 20-25 min, until puffed and golden brown. (Or dump apples into preheated baking dish, add batter, and cook it that way.)

Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

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Mike Cooper is the pseudonym of a former jack-of-all-trades. Under a different name he has received wide recognition, including a Shamus Award, a Thriller nomination, and inclusion in BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES. Viking has just released FULL RATCHET, the sequel to CLAWBACK. Mike lives outside Boston with his family. More at www.mikecooper.com.