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GOOD COOKING

Breakfast at the Pretty Good Cafe

February 27, 1992|ABBY MANDEL

Whether it's because of the recession or because of a yearning for the satisfaction that comes from putting good-tasting, straightforward food on the table, people are cooking at home more often.

And for me, there is no better meal to eat at home than breakfast, though these whole-wheat pancakes will work until mid-afternoon. The creation of Gail Forsberg of the Pretty Good Cafe in Winnetka, Ill., they can be served with toppings that range from simple preserves and syrups to a medley of fresh berries. Grandma's Swedish Rice is unexpectedly creamy without rich milk and eggs, somewhat like the consistency of a risotto, a boon for those who crave this comfort food without the usual cholesterol.

As simple and basic as these pancakes are, they can be elevated to great heights with various toppings such as a dried fruit compote. In summer, they are best served with a combination of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Sliced ham, Canadian bacon and sausage are the appropriate sides. The pancakes have a light yet substantial texture.

PRETTY GOOD WHOLE-WHEAT PANCAKES

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

2 large eggs

2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 tablespoons wheat germ

Syrup, honey, fresh fruit, stewed fruit or berries, for serving

Combine melted butter, eggs and buttermilk in 2-quart bowl. Mix well. Combine flours with baking soda and wheat germ in 1-quart bowl. Add flour mixture to liquids. Stir until just combined with few lumps. Let stand several minutes before using. (Can also be mixed day ahead and refrigerated. Mix well before using, adding more buttermilk if batter is too thick.)

Grease griddle lightly. Drop in batter, 1/4 cup per pancake, spreading with back of spoon. When bubbles appear and underside is lightly browned, turn and brown lightly on other side. Keep warm on platter in 200-degree oven while remaining pancakes are being cooked. Lightly grease griddle between batches. Serve hot with topping of choice. Makes 16 (4-inch-diameter) pancakes. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

411 calories; 338 mg sodium; 157 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 42 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams protein; 1 gram fiber; 48% calories from fat.

This warm, creamy rice is Gail's grandmother's recipe, a dish she enjoyed during her childhood years. It's remarkably rich-tasting without any richness at all. At the cafe it's served hot in a cereal bowl like oatmeal, either plain or topped with fresh fruit, raisins or chopped nuts. It can also be served cold for dessert; just mix in a little milk before serving since it firms up as it chills.

GRANDMA'S SWEDISH RICE

1 cup long-grain rice (not converted)

4 to 6 cups low-fat milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix rice, 4 cups milk and sugar in top of double boiler. Cook over simmering water, covered, until rice is tender and milk is absorbed, about 1 1/4 hours. Stir occasionally. Add milk as necessary. Remove from heat. Add cinnamon.

Serve hot or cold with toppings as desired. (Can be made day ahead and refrigerated, covered airtight.) When ready to serve, stir in enough milk for creamy consistency. Gently reheat in double boiler or in microwave oven. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

334 calories; 126 mg sodium; 10 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 65 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams protein; 0 fiber; 7% calories from fat.

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