Father's Day is coming up this Sunday and there's so much for me to thank you for. I don't need to get too personal here. After all we talk all the time. But I did want to thank you for being so clever in getting that job running the L.A. County Museum of Art when I was a teenager. It changed my life. Actually, it opened up my life--literally exposing me to the world as our family met artists, curators, and other museum directors from so many countries and cultures.
One of my favorite experiences was when Tom and Hoodle van Leeuwen came for a visit from Amsterdam, where Hoodle--who had an uncanny resemblance to tall and leggy Carly Simon--was your counterpart at the Van Gogh Museum. Forget my big adventure driving them from the Valley to the Watts Towers as a newly minted driver. Tom had made you his memorable pancakes when you, Mom, and Jay visited them. When they came to stay at our house he taught you how to make them for us. We always called them Tom Aches and they were a huge treat.
For years after that visit, you continued to make them for the family and for friends. They were unusual because one of the key ingredients is beer. And, forget putting maple syrup on these crepe-like pancakes. Once they slid from the pan to the plate, we would slather them with melted butter, then sprinkle powder sugar followed by a good squeeze of lemon juice--just as Tom and Hoodle taught us. The flavor was unforgettable--a subtle hint of fermentation from the beer, but beautifully complemented by sweet and tart with a chewy texture. I know you prefer to eat them with lingonberry jam that you get at Ikea, but I savor that unusual beer/butter/powder sugar/lemon juice combo.
I'm so happy that you agreed to make them for me last week. For years I've stared at that list of ingredients that passed as the recipe, but since there were no amounts I felt powerless to even try to make the batter. You did it by feel. Well, I'm glad we took the time to measure it all out. Now the grandkids can make them in the future. Hey, now I can make them!
I have so many friends whose father's culinary talent was limited to making restaurant reservations. I feel so fortunate that I got to grow up with parents who felt the heart of the home was the kitchen and that both had the skills and love of food to back it up. Grandma Anna would be so proud!
Happy Father's Day, Dad!
All my love,
Tom Aches (Dutch Pancakes)
Serves 3 or 4
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup beer
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, melted (split between cooking the pancakes and spreading on the finished pancakes)
1 lemon, cut into squeezable slices
In a large bowl whisk together flour and eggs. Add the water, milk, and beer. Whisk until smooth. Adjust with either more liquid or more flour to reach the consistency of a light soup. Let sit for about five minutes. Whisk in salt.
Heat a frying pan and brush on butter to coast the surface. When hot ladle in enough batter to form a thin coating on the pan. Watch for it to form bubbles. Brush the bubbles with butter. Flip the pancake to cook on the other side for just a minute. Then flip again and slide onto a plate. Ladle in more batter and repeat. You should have enough for 8 or 9 pancakes.
Brush the pancake with melted butter. Sprinkle with powered sugar. Squeeze lemon juice over the sugar. Fold into thirds and serve.