cook like ben bebenroth (pfankuchen and bacon-wrapped lamb loin)

For the second year in a row, we used Spice of Lift Catering for our holiday party at work. And for a second year in a row, everyone left will smiles on their faces and bellies happily stuffed with wonderful tastes and flavors. Add a thoroughly enjoyable Plated Landscape dinner to the mix, and this was my third experience with chef Ben Bebenroth and the team at Spice of Life. If you are looking for some help with an event or a memorable dining experience, I can’t recommend SOL enough. Amazing food, incredibly helpful staff, impressive commitment to all things local and their set up and delivery will quickly win you over, too.

Here are two recipes courtesy of chef Ben Bebenroth:

Pfankuchen (Ben’s mom’s pop-over pancakes; yields 8)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1.5c whole milk
  • 1.5c flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp butter

Heat oven to 400 with a 12 inch cast iron skillet inside. Add butter to the hot skillet and return to the oven. Whip eggs to a frothy state. Add flour, salt and nutmeg to the eggs and mix until stretchy. Add milk and mix till smooth. Pour batter into the hot skillet and return to the oven for 40 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately with hot maple syrup.

This post was sponsored by Heinen’s. When making these German pancakes at home, Glenn, the beer specialist for Heinen’s, thinks they can be paired in the traditional way with a German Berliner Weissbier. Or his take on it, with a full bodied “coffee stout”. He adds: the Berliner Weissbier is a bottle conditioned wheat beer that is clear, pale golden straw-coloured appearance. The taste is refreshing, tart, sour and acidic, with a lemony-citric fruit sharpness. This will contrast and cut through the heavy sweet flavor of the syrup. It will be refreshing and light. My favorite Berliner Weissbier isn’t even German, though. Dogfish Head’s Peche Festina is my choice. Fermented with real peaches, it adds a little different tartness to this early Suumertime beer. This is a beer equivalent to a mimosa or a bellini. Berliner Weissbiers aren’t as popular as the used to be, when there were over 70 breweries in Berlin alone brewing this classic style. That all being said, I would probably serve a beer like Founder’s Breakfast Stout. This delicious stout is black as night with a thick tan colored head. It has a first taste of strong coffee with a little chocolate bitterness on the finish. It is full bodied enough to not be overwhelmed by the maple syrup. And with that delicious bitterness, it makes you want that next bite of the meal.

Two totally different approaches, same result he says. Delicious beer that contrasts the sweetness of an equally delicious recipe. The Peche Festina is a late spring release. Available in a 4 pack for $8.99. The Breakfast Stout is available now (but not for long) in 4 packs for $11.99.

Bacon-wrapped lamb loin over pheasant confit and winter spinach hash

  • 4pcs bacon
  • 1 lamb loin, boneless
  • 2  red potatoes (or fingerlings)
  • 1 tsp. Duck fat
  • 5 cocktail onions, rinsed
  • 2 cherry peppers, julienne
  • 1 clv. Garlic sliced like chips
  • 1.5 oz. pheasant confit  (or duck confit)
  • 1oz sherry wine
  • 1/2oz  Arrowhead spinach
  • 1.5oz heavy cream
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Drizzle of Saba (grape must) or aged balsamic vinegar

Cut lamb loin in half width ways and again long ways to yield 4 equal pieces about the size of a middle finger. Wrap each one individually with bacon at an angle to cover the whole piece keeping tight to the meat. Chill 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Wash potatoes and half them, dot them with duck fat and season with s&p, and bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Put the rest of the duck fat in a pan and get to a good sizzle. Sear the bacon wrapped loin in the duck fat until brown on all sides total 1.5 min, about 30 seconds per side. Remove from pan and rest in a warm place. Add to the pan the drained and dried cocktail onions, and cherry peppers, sweat for 2 minutes, but allow little color. Add garlic and move around in pan for 30 seconds. Add 1.5 oz. of pheasant confit  and allow to get loose for 30 seconds. Crank the heat and deglaze with sherry wine, come all the way down until very little liquid remains. Add the cream and spinach and allow to simmer hard for 30 seconds. Remove hash from the pan and pile in the corner of your plate. Pull the thyme off the stem and add to the cream sauce, set aside. Slice the lamb on a bias and position on top of the hash. Drizzle sauce around the hash pile and accent with a drizzle of Saba.

For this dish, Laurie, one of the wine consultants for Heinen’s, says this recipe screams Cotes-du-Rhone. She says it pairs so well because of the earthy, cherry, spice and herb flavors common in this wine from the Southern region of France.

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    It’s 10am and I want to start cooking already. Thanks, I’ll be making this next week :)

  2. Brian
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I love the beer pairing information!

  3. amy
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The popover pancake was beautiful and very tasty! I don’t have a cast-iron skillet, but I used my 12-inch skillet and got great results.

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