Michelle Darmody: How to make the most out of Pancake Tuesday

I still look forward to Pancake Tuesday, even as an adult. In some parts of the world the day is celebrated as Mardi Gras, a blast of fun before a period of abstinence in the lead up to Easter. In Ireland we have a more subdued tradition, flipping pancakes.

I am not sure why I need an excuse to make pancakes on a midweek evening, but I do.

Savoury pancakes are not something I often think of for dinner, but they can be a great vehicle for a variety of savoury ingredients. Mince flavoured with onion, garlic and tomato with some spices can be rolled inside a thin pancake and cheese melted on top, chicken in a cream sauce or, as is demonstrated, mushrooms sautéed with thyme and garlic make appetising fillings.

A heavy based pan is best for making a good, evenly-cooked pancake. Make sure your oil is hot. You can use a sheet of paper-towel to rub the oil onto the pan evenly and lightly. The first pancake is generally a flop, one of life’s mysteries.

I tend to use only a small spoon of batter for the first attempt then discard it. You can make any of the following pancake batters the evening before and leave it sit in the fridge overnight.

Ricotta pancake stack with blueberries

  • 1 egg, separated
  • 200mls of milk
  • The zest of 2 oranges
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 220g of ricotta
  • Rapeseed or sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 large handfuls of blueberries
  • Honey for drizzling

Mix the egg yolk, milk, zest and vanilla. Whisk the egg white until stiff.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together and make a well in the centre.

Add the egg yolk mixture until combined. Beat in the ricotta. Fold in the egg white.

Heat the oil to hot in a heavy based frying pan. Spoon the batter into the pan and fry until golden underneath then flip the pancake around. Store between two heated plates in a very low oven until all the batter is used up.

Coat the pan with a thin layer of oil when required.

Serve with some more ricotta or natural yogurt, blueberries and a drizzle of honey.

Mushroom and thyme pancakes

For the pancakes

  • 90g of plain flour
  • 20g of whole-wheat flour
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 270mls of milk
  • 20g of butter melted
  • Rapeseed or sunflower oil for frying

For the mushrooms

  • 40g of soft butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200g of mushrooms, sliced
  • A generous bunch of thyme, leaves removed from the stalk
  • ½ tsp of ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp of milk chilli powder
  • 20mls of cream — optional

To make the pancake batter sieve the flours and salt together. Stir in the cracked black pepper.

Mix the eggs, milk and melted butter together. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in half the liquid. Whisk the liquid into flour, brining it in from the sides. Add the rest of the liquid and make a smooth batter. Set aside in the fridge while making the mushrooms.

Melt the butter in a pan until it starts to foam, add in the garlic and stir until it is just turning golden. Add the mushrooms and stir them until coated in the garlic and butter. Allow to simmer until the mushrooms are soft. Add the thyme, nutmeg, chilli powder and cream and allow to bubble away for another minute. Taste and season.

Heat the rapeseed oil until very hot and spoon in some batter. Swirl it around until it coats the pan completely but lightly. Continue to cook until it is golden underneath then flip it over. Turn the pancake onto a warmed dinner plate and cover it with another warm plate. Continue to make pancakes, re-coating the pan with oil when required.

Fold them over with the mushrooms in the centre.

Spelt pancakes with banana, walnuts and honey

  • 120g of spelt flour
  • 80g of plain flour
  • 1 tsp of bread soda
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 360mls of buttermilk
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 banana, sliced
  • A handful of walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs of honey

Sieve the two flours, bread soda, baking powder and salt together.

Mix the eggs with the honey, vanilla and buttermilk.

Make a well in the flours and whisk in half of the liquid, once combined add the rest. Whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Set aside in the fridge for at least a half an hour.

Heat the sunflower oil until very hot. Spoon about four generous soupspoons of batter onto the pan. Allow to cook until golden underneath. Flip it over.

Turn onto a warmed dinner plate and cover it with another warm plate. Continue to make pancakes, re-coating the pan with oil when required.

Serve with sliced banana, toasted nuts and drizzled with honey.

Natural yogurt or a spoon of ricotta is nice on the side.

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