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Squash Pancakes with Fig Syrup

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Contributed by Chef Michel Nischan
From: TASTE, pure and simple. Chronicle Books, 2003
Serves 4

Part of the challenge of creating healthful recipes was figuring out how to use less processed flour for all those people who have trouble digesting wheat. Any good restaurant must have pancakes on the menu. While developing menus I looked around, noted the leftover starch pulp from juicing squash and sweet potatoes, and decided to fool around with using it instead of a lot of flour. This recipe calls for a little flour, but we have experimented with no flour at all--just egg whites--with good success. The pancakes are almost like mini soufflés and those who've tasted these cakes can't believe they're cooked on a griddle. If you don't have a griddle, a nonstick sauté pan or skillet works well. You will need a thin-bladed spatula and patience when you tackle these, and no doubt the first few pancakes will fail. Keep going; you'll get the hang of it and these are worth it. I suggest fig syrup for these, since it's used in the batter, but you can also serve them with pure maple syrup. Think of making these to serve with poultry later in the day, as well as for breakfast or brunch.

12 ounces butternut or hubbard squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 cup apple juice
2 large egg whites
1 to 2 teaspoons fig or maple syrup, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1. Juice the squash (page 00), reserving the pulp.  You should have 1/4 cup pulp and 1/2 cup juice. Put the squash pulp in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with the flour. Using your fingertips, gently squeeze the pulp and cake flour together until they are just blended. Add the apple juice and 1/4 cup of the squash juice, and stir gently until blended. 
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the 1 to 2 teaspoons syrup and beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the squash batter. Season with salt and pepper. Gently fold the lightened batter into the egg whites. Be careful not to blend the mixture completely. The more gently you treat the egg whites, the higher the pancakes will rise.  You should have about 2 1/3 cups of batter.
3. Heat a large non stick sauté pan, skillet, or griddle over medium heat. Rub the oil over the surface of the hot pan with a paper towel. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, or until just set. Using an oiled thin-bladed metal spatula, very gently turn the pancake over and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until done. The pancakes will be very soft and light.
4. As it sits, the batter will separate. Stir or fold it gently before cooking the rest of the pancakes. Serve the pancakes overlapped on heated plates and drizzled with syrup.