This time last week I was prepping for the annual arrival of Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day. In the Christian calendar it marks the last day before the start of Easter (Ash Wednesday). Having been brought up a catholic we only really tended to have pancakes on this one day, which considering how much I love them now seems rather bizarre. I’ve also become aware that pancakes, or rather pancake preferences, are quite the controversial topic. The battle lines seem to be drawn on two fronts: “American” vs. European, and Sweet vs. Savoury. I have to say that whilst I can appreciate the merits of an I-hopesque doughy cake (otherwise known as a drop scone or scotch pancake) for me they are just a little bit too much. The housemate on the other hand strongly disagrees with this and would quite happily guzzle the fluffy little monsters topped with streaky bacon and maple syrup any day of the week. Savoury vs. sweet? I say both!
So, it’s after Pancake Day, why am I posting about pancakes? Well lots of countries have a healthy pancake culture (Holland, America, France, Iceland [the pancake pan we brought back from a holiday there in 1996 is still a firm companion and their choice filling of whipped cream and homemade jam is to die for]) so why is it that we have to wait a whole twelve months to come across a day that celebrates them? Being a resident Mancunian I lamented the loss of the Dutch Pancake House on St Peter’s Square which was the only place outside of home or the Christmas market that I could ever get my hands on delicious and positively gargantuan crepes. There are rumours that a spinoff of the house has opened in the Arndale centre as a stall but the people running it don’t look the same and the pancakes are definitely not in the same proportions.
I digress, my love for the pancake house probably stems from the fact that they were such a rare occurrence at home. It was also the first place to ever introduce me to savoury pancakes: gorgeous smoked ham, oozing melted cheese and just enough pepper to give it a kick, my qualms about savoury pancakes quickly disappeared. I know that the cool thing to do is to try and be subversive with these posts and create something ‘alternative’ to pancakes but I’m sorry, I like them just as they are and I’d like to share with you my two favourite pancake recipes – One savoury, one sweet – oh and I dare you to make them this week!
KBF (Kitchen best friend – interim name) indicate Thermomix instructions rather than conventional equipment instructions.
Basic pancake batter mix:
KBF: All ingredients in bowl mix for 1 min speed 6. Let stand for at least 20 minutes or so before using.
To cook the pancakes melt a knob of butter in a frying or pancake pan (if you have one). It’s important that the heat isn’t too high otherwise the butter will burn, nor too low otherwise you’ll have really greasy soggy pancakes. I like my pancakes quite thin so I take half a ladle of batter, pour it into the middle of the pan and then in a circular motion move it round the pan, tipping any excess out of the side of the pan. Obviously if you like them a little thicker use half a ladle per pancake.
Make sure that the first side is a lovely caramel brown before either flipping or turning with a spatula.
So, once you’ve got a lovely pile of pancakes what do you do with them? My savoury filling of choice is Fruits de Mere with a white wine cream sauce. I like this because it’s particularly adaptable to people’s fish/shellfish preferences and the rich creamy sauce perfectly complements flaky fish and silky smooth pancakes. You can use any combination of fish or shellfish that you like, if I’m making these for the family at home I will stick mainly to shellfish and crustaceans, so scallops, mussels, clams and prawns. As I was at my house this year and I have a housemate who isn’t particularly fond of shellfish I went with a nice mix of smoked haddock (the smokiness adds a lovely depth of flavour to the sauce), salmon, cod and prawns.
Sweet pancakes are a little bit more controversial with people being particularly defensive of their favourite filling. Whilst nutella and banana is delicious, lemon and sugar classic and cinnamon and sugar an American favourite, I am standing in vehement defence of my favourite: Hot sticky cherries and vanilla ice-cream.
Fruits de Mere and White Wine Cream Sauce. (Makes filling for roughly 8 pancakes)
Hot Sticky Cherry Mix.
You can either do this with fresh black cherries or with tinned black cherries in syrup. The tinned ones are slightly quicker to do as the syrup helps speed up the reduction of the juice, plus it means you can make them when black cherries are out of season. This fruit reduction makes enough for roughly 4 pancakes which doesn’t sound like a lot but they are rich, though it’s easy to make too many of them if like me you have eyes bigger than your stomach!
Vanilla Ice Cream – You can either buy this or make it. This is a recipe for Ice cream in the KBF:
You can also make this crème anglaise by hand and churn it in an ice cream maker if you don’t have a KBF.
To Serve put a generous spoon of the cherries in the centre of a pancake, add a scoop of velvety soft ice-cream, fold in half and eat it before all the ice-cream melts! I’m sorry there aren’t any pictures of these...they got eaten too quickly. I guess I’ll just have to make some more...damn! (Will insert some pictures when I've done this)
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