Millet cakes

Cafe Orline is a place I’ve been going to for brunch for years now. It’s a popular spot in the East Village. Artists, actors, and generally cute and interesting folks eat there. So it makes for great people watching if you’re into that. It’s great for tasty, healthy eats if you’re into that too. Occasionally I go for lunch after class. It’s quiet during the week and there’s no rush to vacate the table. So it’s a good spot to get some reading and writing done, and clear the noggin. It’s also a spot friends introduce friends to. An old friend brought me there in 0’00 and it was love from first bite. But we nearly didn’t go since I made a fuss about St. Marks being like hippyhadesville and was not in the mood for the insanity. I laugh at my silliness then and was a good story for a while. But now it’s tapped here so it’s time to move on and get a new story.

Today I brunched there with a girlfriend I introduced Orline to some time ago. Our schedules are typical of any two friends living in Gotham. While we live about ten blocks apart, it can be months sometimes between get togethers. We tried checking out one of the trendspots on the UWS first but thankfully there was the usual three hour wait. I’m not a fan of the place so I won’t bother to tap its name here. I haven’t been in years so one of these days she and I plan to go and I’ll give it another chance. But Gotham is no longer the brunch void it still was when I moved back here in late 0’98. There’s no excuse for three hour waits for brunch.

I’ve never waited longer than a few minutes for a table at Orline and I’m recognized as a regular by the host. That’s quite an honor in this town. Not to mention I live nowhere near the neighborhood. But I crave their victuals often enough to help me maintain regulars status. They have a few dishes I alternate between which are only available during weekend brunch. I typically lean towards the millet pancakes and order them with a side of poached eggs. This dish is great. It comes with a beet salad with feta, a bit of green, and homemade chicken sausage. It’s altogether yumness in my book. Plenty of energy, light on the sweet and savory goodness, fatty mouthfeel, and protein. It’s nearly enough to sustain me for the day, with a light something in the evening.

One of the books I read last term includes a recipe for millet cakes. It’s listed under ‘prehistoric repasts’ and originates from ‘early agricultural communities in the Near East, particularly Anatolia’. Cafe Orline’s menu tends towards Middle Eastern, though they offer some typical American brunch fare too. I’m not sure if this recipe matches how Orline makes theirs. Next time I’m there will ask if they’ll share their recipe. Though I have to ask an editor about reprinting restaurants’ recipes. Is that legitimate? I think if I make the recipe at home and print how I prepare it should be okay. I’ll check on that and get back to you. I’ll share the recipe from the text I read. I searched thoroughly and nowhere does it list no reproductions allowed. The book is a great read and I refer to it often as it includes a concept near and dear to my heart–prandium. Art, Culture, and Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy was written by Phyllis Pray Bober.

Millet Cakes
Makes about six servings

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups millet, cracked with a rolling pin
1/2 cup sheep ricotta
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup herb honey
1 cup roughly crushed and toasted pistachio nuts
2 teaspoons sea salt

Stir together safflower oil and honey. Add whole wheat flour, millet, ricotta, pistachio nuts, and sea salt. Stir in water until misture holds together. Shape in patties and bake on an oiled cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Buen provecho..

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