SHROVE TUESDAY is as good an excuse as any to make one of the most versatile casings for delicious fillings, sweet and savoury. My basic pancake recipe is foolproof and guaranteed not to stick.
Make sure the pan is hot before pouring a ladleful of pancake batter and swirling it quickly around the pan. It will go further than you think on the hot surface, but don’t worry if your mixture doesn’t go right to the edge of the pan. Make smaller, American style pancakes by dropping smaller amounts on the pan and not rolling it. Top with crème fraiche and smoked fish. A little blob of roasted and puréed butternut squash is delicious too.
This recipe will ensure that your pancakes are light and full of flavour. Any plain or self-raising flour will do.
You can use spelt flour or a mix of buckwheat and plain to resemble Russian blinis, eaten with smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs and caviar, but they can be quite heavy, so use more plain flour than buckwheat.
Watch sell by dates on eggs and buy the freshest possible. Choose a frying pan with the lowest sides so steam can evaporate efficiently to keep them crisp.
30g melted butter.
Mix all together in one go until well blended. Allowing the mixture to stand for half an hour may improve it marginally, but use it straight away if necessary.
Heat the frying pan and rub it with a little oil or butter. Any more and the pancake will be heavy. As there is butter in my pancake batter, it’s often not necessary to add more oil or butter to the pan later.
Pour the pancake batter into a jug and pour a skim of batter onto the hot pan.
Roll the pan quickly so the batter spreads over the pan and replace on the heat.
Allow to cook until brown without moving it around. The pancake will only flip successfully when well cooked.
Tilt the pan away from you so the pancake almost slides off, and flip so the uncooked side goes onto the pan.
Allow another minute to cook the second side.
Serve immediately or stack and put in a warm oven to keep hot while cooking the rest.
It’s hard to beat a meaty pancake, a featherlight envelope filled with juicy ‘ragu’ meat filling, spiked with vegetables.
500g minced beef
4 streaky rashers, chopped finely
1 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
Handful mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10cm stalk fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 dessp tomato paste
500ml tomato passata
2 large glasses red wine or meat stock
Salt and pepper
Take the meat out of the fridge so it comes to room temperature before using. You get a better texture this way.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the rashers and cook for 5 mins while chopping the vegetables. Add the vegetables, garlic cloves and herbs. Cook slowly for 6 minutes. Add salt to the meat and add to the vegetables, moving them to the side so they don’t brown.
Don’t stir for about five minutes so the meat gets a good chance to brown well underneath, then turn over for another 5 minutes. Stir gently for another 5 minutes, until the moisture evaporates and it’s starting to stick. Add the wine, or stock.
Allow to reduce to almost dry, then add the tomato paste and passata and 500ml water. Cook, uncovered, ideally for an hour. It’s worth taking your time, but 20 minutes will give a good result. It’s a good one to freeze too, so make a lot at a time. The result should be a thick, meaty sauce.
Use this in pancakes and top with parsley or some grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, but almost any cheese will work.
These rich red pancakes have grated beetroot in the mix and are topped with yoghurt mixed with horseradish to complete the sense of earthy deliciousness.
1 raw beetroot, grated
1 dessp finely grated onion
Horseradish sauce (optional)
* Tip the grated beetroot and onion into my basic pancake batter and fry as usual. Serve with yoghurt, which is particularly delicious flavoured with horseradish.
Before Lent begins get rid of all your chocolate cravings in this nutty, chocolate delight.
100g slivered almonds
Dry fry the almonds on a medium hot pan. Turn the heat down and add the chocolate, stirring gently until it melts. Drizzle onto the inside of the pancakes and top with more almonds before serving hot.