Tuesday Tutor with Will Cook For Friends

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Each Tuesday I ask a friend to be my tutor for a day. I select one of their original recipes, I follow my friend's recipe instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I sample the results - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More

I first met Willow via Triberr - all thanks to CJ from Food Stories who had graciously encouraged me to check out Triberr and join her tribe. And as I started opening recipes by new-to-me bloggers, I quickly discovered some amazing photos by "some blogger" named Willow. The photos were so stunning, I soon sent off an email requesting permission to use her photos for Food Fetish Friday.

Some time later (a couple weeks, I think), I did a little more reading up on Willow. She was homeschooled (like me!), she loves from-scratch cooking (like me!) and she apparently thinks along the same lines as me for barbecue sauce! In fact, two weeks ago, within 24 hours of each other, we BOTH posted a homemade barbecue sauce recipe. Spooky, I know... ;)

For me, that's all I needed to know about Willow. I'm so pleased to have her as my tutor. Please give a big welcome to Willow - Welcome, Willow! And thank you so much for being my tutor!

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Willow is the writer, photographer and home-chef behind scenes of Will Cook For Friends, a blog dedicated to creating and sharing delicious from-scratch recipes made with whole, healthful ingredients. She is entirely self-taught and has recently started an educational series with a focus on culinary science, nutrition and more. When she's not in the kitchen, you will most likely find her with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds.

Featured Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

More About Today's Tutor
  1. I first became interested in cooking in my late teens. As a kid, I was really big on eating food, but didn't have much regard for it besides getting it from my plate to my mouth. As I got a little older I became interested in where food comes from, and how our bodies use it. I started studying nutrition, and along the way began spending more and more time in the kitchen. Before long, I had discovered a passion I never knew I had!
  2. I love being adventurous in the kitchen, and keep a kind of culinary bucket list in my head of things I hope to one day make. Among the list are things like from-scratch croissants, homemade cheeses, and perfect chocolate souffles.
  3. Before becoming a food-photographing-internet-junkie, I was a dog-walker and pet-sitter. I've always loved animals, and grew up with horses, dogs, cats, hamsters, lizards, and more.
  4. I am a huge fan of quotes from famous people, but am never quick enough to pull one of them out in conversation.
  5. One of my favorite culinary quotes is this, by Alton Brown: “I cook my daughter breakfast every day... no one will feed you as well as somebody who loves you. I believe that. I believe there is a tangible, transferable value of love in cooking for people.”

How to Make: Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes
For a printable recipe and complete list of ingredients and steps, see the original recipe

Cast Iron Griddle
Grease and preheat your griddle. I recommend using a cast-iron griddle but it will take about 10 minutes to preheat fully. Set the heat to just under the medium heat setting for best results.

Dry Ingredient Mix for Pancakes
While the griddle heats, prepare Willow's basic pancake mix (makes enough for 3 batches of these pancakes): Combine 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking power, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk together.

Dry Pancake Mix in Airtight Container
For this recipe, you will only need 1 cup of the pancake mix. You can store the unused portion of the mix in an airtight container for future batches of pancakes.

1 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Zest from 3 Lemons
Zest enough lemons to get 1 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon zest (for me, this was 3 lemons).

1 Cup Whole Milk
Measure 1 cup of whole milk.

1/2 Lemon to be Juiced
Juice 1/2 of a lemon into the milk and stir to combine. The milk will curdle and that's exactly what you want. Let the milk rest for a couple of minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

Full Fat Ricotta Cheese
Measure 3/4 cup of full-fat ricotta cheese (I use ricotta without any additives or preservatives).

Ricotta, Extracts and Lemon Zest Added to Whole Milk
Add the ricotta, 2 egg yolks (reserve egg whites for the next step) lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 to 4 drops of almond extract to the milk. Beat together with a fork until thoroughly combined.

2 Egg Whites and Pinch of Salt Added to Mixing Bowl
Add the 2 reserved egg whites and a small pinch of kosher salt to a clean medium glass or metal bowl.

Egg Whites Beaten to Medium Stiff Peaks
Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites until they form medium-stiff peaks. This doesn't take long so be careful not to over-beat the whites...

Wet Ingredients Added to Dry Pancake Mix
In a large separate bowl, combine 1 cup of the basic dry pancake mix with the milk/lemon/ricotta mixture. Fold together until just combined.

Pancake Batter Just Mixed
Don't over-mix the batter - you will be folding in other ingredients so it's fine if there are some lumps.

1/2 of Egg Whites Added to Pancake Batter
Gently fold in 1/2 of the beaten egg whites until just mixed.

Second 1/2 of Eggwhites Added to Pancake Batter
Very gently fold in the second 1/2 of the egg whites, being careful not to deflate them.

2 Cups of Fresh Blueberries
Add 1 pint (approximately 2 cups) of fresh or frozen blueberries to the batter and fold in the berries until just mixed. I found the berries dropped right to the bottom of the batter and when I checked with Willow, she recommends tossing the berries with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of flour before adding to the batter to keep them from falling out.

Blueberries Folded into Pancake Batter
To cook the pancakes, brush a little unsalted butter over the preheated griddle and pour approximately 1/3 cup of the batter onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes for approximately 2 minutes, then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Check the underside of the pancake early if you're unsure about when to flip.

Pancakes Cooling on Wire Rack
Both sides of the pancake should be golden grown when you remove the pancake from the griddle. Re-brush the griddle with butter between each pancake for best flavor and to prevent sticking. Pancakes may cook faster at the beginning and slower as you continue, but resist the urge to constantly adjust the heat for the griddle...

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes Overhead
These pancakes are delicious by themselves, but you can optionally serve the pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup and a pat of butter and even a dusting of powdered confectioners' sugar.

Thoughts while scarfing...
  • I'll be honest - I've had a really tough time with pancakes. Either they're so moist (underdone) or they're too burned on the outside or they're too tough. So I figured it was time to get some help from a tutor. Willow's pancakes are delicious - especially if you love blueberries! And they're moist without being undercooked. Just keep the griddle at just under medium heat and the pancakes will cook perfectly without burning...
  • To me, the batter seemed a little too thin and next time I make this batter I will toss the berries in a couple extra tablespoons of all purpose flour and see if that helps. However, due to how delicious these turned out, I'm a little hesitant to tweak the batter...
  • I've read from a lot of different sources that the trick to really light and fluffy pancakes is to separate the egg yolks from the whites and beat the whites until stiff - and that's exactly what Willow does. It seems to work well and I encourage you not to skip this slightly painful but very important step. Beat the egg whites, then fold them into the batter. Just do it :)
  • The first couple of pancakes on the griddle ALWAYS seem to be throw-away tries. I can't explain it, but no matter how carefully I preheat the griddle or how carefully I watch the pancakes, the first two never turn out right. So just embrace that fact, sacrifice two pancakes, and move on. 


  1. Really nice, I like your tuesday decisions. :)
    Have a nice day, Jo!

  2. Kayle (The Cooking Actress)June 18, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    I'm so jealous of your griddle

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed and Willow was a wonderful tutor and she recommended this delicious pancakes!

  4. Really interesting, the pancakes look amazing so I'm definitely going to try this recipe, making sure of course that I don't leave out the all-important egg white whisking part! Grateful thanks to both of you!

  5. I really hope you enjoy! They're so light and just bursting with blueberry goodness!

  6. Great tutor! Really interesting, and I learned a lot. I think everyone messes up the first few pancakes - we're too impatient, and haven't let the griddle properly heat. Let you pancake batter sit a bit and it'll thicken up some (it'll take quite a bit longer than you're probably interested in waiting, though, if you're ready to start making pancakes). Good stuff - thanks.

  7. I've read that you should let the batter rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes before starting to drop the batter onto the griddle. And I admit, I've never tried it because usually I am in too big of a hurry ;) And I think my problem is, I'm overheating the griddle and then scorching the first few pancakes... I'm so glad you enjoyed the tutorial, John. Willow was a great tutor!

  8. Thanks for introducing me to Willow! Love the pancakes and the looks of her other dishes that you feature. The tutorial is great! For me the trick with pancakes is the temperature of the griddle and the cast iron griddle that you show in the pic is a must! Of course like you, it took me a while to learn that, and some pancakes ended up in the trash, but with many years of making pancakes - it's no longer a problem. I've never had the patience to separate the eggs, but maybe one day I might try it. Great post Mark and nice to meet you Willow!

  9. I love my cast iron griddle, but I'm still having trouble with burning/under-cooking. I'm starting to think is really just me being too picky about the perfect "doneness" :/ And I never had the patience to separate the eggs either, but I think it really did make a difference so I plan to try it again with other recipes... Thanks for the kind words, MJ, and I'm so glad you enjoyed...


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