This morning I woke up in a cold sweat.
No doubt it was due to the fact that I have to spend what feels like my thirtieth work day in a row attempting to clone my gene-of-interest into a lentiviral vector that not only likes to recombine in strange and unusual ways once it is transformed it into bacterial cells so that even though it seems like you have a whole plate full of positive colonies. Really. You have none. Which you learn after you mini-prep FIFTY OF THEM. (Ugh.) But also likes to randomly degrade itself every other time you try to digest it, sending you on a wild goose chase looking for some nuclease-contaminated digestion ingredient that may or may not exist.
To those in science. I know you feel my pain. Please send good cloning karma my way.
To those who have no idea what I just wrote…basically I have this circular piece of DNA and I want to put the DNA for the gene that I’m studying into that circular piece of DNA, so I have to cut open the circular piece of DNA and paste in my gene. Which is much harder in practice than it is in principle because in experiments like this, whose success rely on every condition being absolutely perfect at every step…everything that can go wrong. Does. And you never have any idea why. So all you can really do is try. And try. And try again. Ever. And anon.
Until you’ve finally pulled all of your hair out in the process and delegate cloning responsibility to your summer student while you go on vacation for a week. Maybe she’ll have beginner’s luck. We can only hope.
Which brings me to the other thing I find equally as frustrating as molecular biology.
Pancake-making. Tough stuff.
I know most of you are shaking your heads right now and half of you are going to unsubscribe from my blog because who in their right mind would take cooking advice from someone who finds making a damn pancake to be an unsurmountable task!? It’s okay, I understand.
But in my defense, I have tried countless recipes. There have been buttermilk, greek yogurt, and ricotta varieties. I have tried greasing the pan with olive oil and/or butter and/or oxygen. To no avail. Whatever I do, they are dense and slightly charred. Every time.
The last time I made them, The.Boy. suggested (in the sweetest way possible, of course) that I invest in some Bisquick. After I finished throwing up in my mouth a little bit at the thought, I vowed then and there that I would someday make a perfect pancake (without the aid of any boxed mix, mind you). Even if it costs me every hair follicle to do so.
You can degrade all of my DNA and dense-ify all of my pancakes. But kill my spirit, you cannot!
So, crepes. They are French, which should without a doubt make them infinitely more complicated than pancakes.
I somehow managed to make ten of them. All perfectly thin with a slight fluff. Not a single burnt bit in sight. Hallelujah.
And then I stuffed them with an utterly delicious swiss chard, caramelized onion, monterey jack cheese mix.
Pancake success story. In my mouth.
I highly recommend making them. Today. So that even when your cloning attempts fail for the six hundredth time this month…you can at least have crepe-making under your belt. And really…that’s far more impressive anyways.
Masa Crepes with Chard, Chiles, and Cilantro
Serves 4, adapted from Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
For the crepes
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or regular milk)
- 1/2 cup masa harina
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp melted butter
For the chard filling
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely diced
- 2 jalapeno chiles, finely diced, seeds removed
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 big bunches of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
- sea salt
- 1/3 cup greek yogurt
- 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- Put all the ingredients for the crepes in a bowl and stir until smooth.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion, chiles, and oregano and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cilantro and cook for a few minutes more, then add the chard and cook until wilted. Season with salt to taste and cook until chard is tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the greek yogurt and turn off the heat.
- Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup crepe batter into the pan and swirl around so that it forms a thin layer. Cook until mostly set, about 1-2 minutes, and then flip. Cook for another ten to fifteen seconds and remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, stacking crepes on the plate as you go. Spread half the crepe with the chard, add a little cheese and then fold the edges together so that the crepes form a half moon. If desired, serve with a jicama cucumber salad dressed with some lime juice and a hint of chipotle chile powder.