Pancake Day

Bacon, Spinach and Cheddar Pancake

In the UK it was Shrove Tuesday yesterday; or pancake day if you prefer.

Most people forget pancake day these days. It was always a big deal when I was growing up – but the only pancake you’d ever get was dressed in a squeeze of lemon and some sugar. Maybe I was just deprived but it’s all I knew in the 70’s and early 80s.

We already had pancakes this week; Freya and I met up with her brother and his girlfriend in Chelsea for Dutch Pancakes in My Old Dutch. It wasn’t bad although £10 for a pancake with a few pizza toppings is a bit much. That said the beer was reasonably prices and I have a very nice Kriek Boon – which usually costs a lot more.

I promised Freya pancakes this week – and hoped to have a few for dinner before going to our regular Rock’n’Roll dancing class  – but North Circular traffic put a stop to that. It did allow us a good two hours to think about the pizza toppings. It also allowed an amusing text exchange between a couple of my friends – who eventually admitted defeat to my relentless pancake puns.

Bacon, Spinach and cheese was the eventual winner – going totally against the ‘no cooking meat on the boat rule’. Rules are made to be broken though.

Pancakes are pretty easy to make – it’s only eggs flour and milk. Some people add melted butter to the batter, some add and extra egg yolk, some add oil. I opted for the extra yolk option but only because I had one lying around from a previous recipe.

You need your pan to be super hot. I always make my pancakes in a mix of butter and oil – and wait for the butter to brown. I also tend to make savoury pancakes a bit thicker than the sweet variety as the toppings tend to tear the base and it all goes horribly wrong if you need to grill the cheese afterwards. You just can’t shift them out of the pan! Thicker is better in this case.

I fried the bacon in a pan first – I used really cheap bacon bits from Morrisons – I think they were only 89p – in keeping with the frugality of pancake day. In hindsight a better quality of bacon might have been better – less salty for a start – although it didn’t bother me.

Once you’ve make your pancake, top it with trimmed spinach leaves, your cooked bacon and a generous handful of grated cheese. Pop it under the grill and let the cheese bubble.

When it’s ready slide it onto a plate and serve.

I made enough batter for two each but one was enough really. It was very filling and very very tasty.

I think I might start making pancake pizzas from now on. It uses up eggs and milk and there’s always something you can put on a pizza/pancake.

Sweet Potato Cakes

Sweet Potato Cakes

From the time consuming – to the incredibly quick and easy!

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much lately. We’ve been so busy trying to get the boat finished. We are moving it next Thursday from Maidenhead to Brentford – a two day voyage along the River Thames – by two absolute novices in the piloting of a boat. Our best efforts so far include Kayaking up to Bourne End – and almost causing a passenger boat collision on the canals of Amsterdam in a Pedalo!

I’ve always liked Yotam Ottolenghis myriad pancakes (note the correct use of the word myriad! – not a myriad of…) – he has many variations on a theme – this one I like – mainly because I really like sweet potatoes.

We’ve been packing up our cottage this week as well – getting all our stuff together – and that included looking in the freezer and seeing what we had in there. Quite frankly not very much. A couple of frozen meat based dishes which have clearly been in there for more than six months (we’ve not cooked with meat since November), some ice-cream (obviously) and a bag of frozen sweet potatoes and a bag of frozen butternut squash – both cubed.

With time not on my side – nor energy – I’d spent most of the day making steps for the outside of the boat from 3.6 metre decking boards (so was exhausted) – I simply tipped both bags of frozen veg onto a roasting tray – drizzled with Olive Oil and roasted for a good 30 minutes.

After letting them cool and draining off any liquid (of which there was very little anyway) you mix the roasted vegetables with flour, spring onions, a chilli, some soy sauce and a little bit of sugar. I Magimixed mine – which was maybe a little brutal – I think a potato masher might have done just as good a job.

You then make small burger sized patties and fry them in butter. I made 16 I think. In 2’s.

I served mine with a yoghurt dressing made from greek yoghurt, soured cream, lemon juice, olive oil and coriander.

These were really yummy, and really quick, and required very little effort. Just what I needed – I had little desire to be fine chopping stuff with Global knifes – and have a tendency to clip my fingers when I’m too tired.

It’s a shame the photo isn’t that exciting. These are really tasty – but don’t look like anything special.

Green Pancakes and the East End Gangster Cookery Show

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There’s a woman from the US who has a cookery show. We think she’s a fake – acting as an Italian gangster’s wife and she cooks everything in character. Her name is Nadia G. and her show is called Bitchin’ Kitchen. Hopefully it’s all tongue in cheek – I’ve never really watched it – but it got Freya to thinking; maybe I should record some YouTube videos and cook in the style of Bob Hoskins or another East End Gangster. She’s often mocking my accent – being born in Ilford there’s still a bit of Cock-er-knee in there sometimes!

You could imagine it couldn’t you – ‘ere we ave some nice apples and pears with a raspberry veloute – blindin’.

She seems quite keen for me to do it. Not sure I could keep a straight face! We shall see.

Anyway – this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.

I like making this kind of pancake – and Ottolenghi has many variations on a style. I’ve made them with Sweet Potato and I think also with sweetcorn – and these with Spinach are equally nice.

The pancakes are quite small – and you can make lots of them – so you have enough to eat for now and snacks or seconds for later.

Essentially its just a pancake batter with spices – and then some cooked, squeezed and shredded spinach is added before frying them in olive oil. You’re supposed to use self raising flour but I didn’t have any – so I added 2 tablespoons of baking powder. You also fold in a ‘beaten to soft peaks egg white’ which made the pancakes quite fluffy.

I made the mistake of buying Natoora Spinach from Ocado. I usually just buy the baby spinach from Ocado, but Natoora do some amazing pomegranates, lemons and tomatoes – so I thought I’d give their spinach a go. Unfortunately, from a 400g bag of their spinach I only ended up with 200g after removing all the stalks. It was very stalky indeed !

I fried these two at a time in an omelette pan and ended up with 12 pancakes – perfect to stack in a pile of three – it doesn’t look like there is much spinach in them – but there is and you can certainly taste it.

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That said – when I make them again I’ll probably add even more spinach to them.

You eat these with a chilli and lime butter – which you make by creaming some butter, adding lime, coriander and chilli and then resetting it in the fridge in a sausage of cling film.

These are really nice. We had three each before going out to the Goth Club ‘Electrowerx’ in London to listen to Ivardensphere. And another three each when we got home at 1 in the morning. Yummy!