ArchiveFebruary 21, 2004

Delicious pancakes

Shrove Tuesday’s here again – I adore Pancake Day, it always brings back memories of happy boisterous childhood parties – Mummy cooking stacks of thin lacy pancakes, struggling to keep up with the demand, while we squabbled about whose turn it was to have the next one off the pan.
We brushed the hot pancakes with melted butter, scattered them with castor sugar and sprinkled lemon juice over the top before rolling them up. 
There were 9 of us, we each had a different system, some cut them into cartwheels and ate them sparingly, others gobbled them down and tried to jump the queue for the next one. We were single-minded in our devotion to lemon pancakes, we never contemplated jam or chocolate spread. Tapenade or pesto or sun-dried tomatoes hadn’t been heard of at that stage, in fact it didn’t occur to us that pancakes could also be savoury.
Now we do all kinds of variations on the theme, different textures, size and shape, both sweet and savoury. We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and as canapés for drinks parties. They’re always delicious and always elicit an appreciative response. 
They definitely earn their place among my list of great convertibles. 
The basic batter is made with ingredients most households would have in the kitchen cupboard at any time – flour, eggs and milk, so grab a whisk, heat a pan and invite round the pals and off you go – have fun!

Pesto, Cream Cheese & Sundried Tomato Pancakes

This simple recipe makes a delicious canapé.
Tapenade may be substituted for pesto

Makes 48 approximately

6 large savoury pancakes – see recipe
6 ozs (175g) cream cheese
2 tablesp pesto
2-3 ozs (50-75g) semi-sundried tomatoes
lots of freshly ground pepper & a little sea salt

Spread a layer of cream cheese over the surface of a pancake with a palette knife. Sprinkle with pesto and some finely chopped sundried tomato or tapenade.

Roll into a tight swiss roll, cut into rounds or wrap in cling film. Repeat with the others. 
Refrigerate, remove the cling film and cut into ½" (1cm) rounds later. Repeat with the others. Garnish each piece with a leaf of basil or chervil

Heavenly Hots

Makes 50-60

These little pancakes are mouth-watering and very moreish

4 free-range eggs
good pinch of salt
½ teasp. bread soda
1¼ oz (30g) plain flour
16fl.ozs (450ml) sour cream
2 tablesp. sugar

Put the eggs into a mixing bowl. Whisk until well mixed. Add the salt, breadsoda, flour, sour cream and sugar and mix well. You could make the batter in a blender if you prefer.
Heat a frying pan until good and hot, grease lightly and drop small spoonfuls on to the hot pan – they should spread to about 2½ inches diameter. When a few bubbles appear on top turn the pancake over and cook briefly on the other side.

Serve immediately. For extra decadence spread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Spinach and Mushroom Pancakes

There are lots of variations on this theme, but this is a particularly delicious version.

Serves 6-8

1 lb (450g) spinach
1 x Mushroom à la Crème recipe 

Ballymaloe Batter

Makes 15 pancakes approx.
12 ozs (350g) plain flour 
5 eggs
1 pint (600ml) milk
125ml (4fl.oz) sparkling mineral water or soda water
pinch of salt

Sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the lightly beaten eggs. With a whisk or wooden spoon, starting in the centre, mix the egg and gradually bring in the flour. Add the liquid (milk and sparkling water) and beat until the batter is covered with bubbles. Let the batter stand in a cold place for an hour or so - longer will do no harm.
Alternatively put all the ingredients into a liquidiser or food processor and whizz for a minute or so. 
Cook small ladles full of the batter on a non stick pan and keep aside.

Meanwhile make the buttered spinach and mushroom a la crème.

Buttered Spinach

Serves 4-6
450g (1 lb) fresh spinach, with stalks removed
salt, freshly ground pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg
25-50g (1-2 oz) butter

Wash the prepared spinach and drain. Put into a heavy saucepan on a very low heat, season and cover tightly. After a few minutes, stir and replace the lid. As soon as the spinach is cooked, about 5-8 minutes approx., strain off the copious amount of liquid that spinach releases and press between two plates until almost dry. Chop or puree in a food processor if you like a smooth texture. Increase the heat, add butter, correct the seasoning and add a little freshly grated nutmeg to taste.
Back to Top
Make the Mushroom a la Crème 

Mushroom a la Creme

Serves 4
½-1 oz (15-30 g) butter
3 ozs (85 g) onion, finely chopped
½ lb (225g) mushrooms, sliced
4 fl ozs (100ml) cream
Freshly chopped parsley
½ tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes or until quite soft but not coloured; remove the onions to a bowl. Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice . Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add parsley and chives if used.

Note: Mushroom a la creme may be served as a vegetable, or as a filling for vol au vents, bouchees or pancakes, or as a sauce for pasta. It may be used as an enrichment for casseroles and stews or, by adding a little more cream or stock, may be served as a sauce with beef, lamb, chicken or veal. A crushed clove of garlic may be added while the onions are sweating.
Mushroom a la Creme keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Mix the Mushroom a la Creme with the spinach. Taste and correct seasoning.

Lay a pancake on a clean worktop. Put about 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle, fold in two sides and fold over the ends into a parcel. Repeat with the others. If the components are cold, reheat in a covered dish in a moderate oven. Serve with a little light Hollandaise Sauce.

Foolproof food

Pancakes with Butterscotch Sauce and Bananas

This basic pancake may be served with any other favourite accompaniments – lemon juice and castor sugar, jam, chocolate sauce, chocolate spread with chopped hazelnuts.

Serves 6 - makes 12 approx.

Pancake Batter
6 ozs (170g) plain white flour
a good pinch of salt
1 dessertsp. castor sugar
2 large eggs and 1 or 2 egg yolks, preferably free range
scant : pint (450ml) milk, or for very crisp, light delicate pancakes, milk and water mixed
3-4 dessertsp. melted butter

Butterscotch Sauce

4 ozs (110g) butter
6 ozs (170g) dark soft brown, Barbados sugar
4 ozs (110g) granulated sugar
10 ozs (285g) golden syrup
8 fl ozs (225ml) cream
2 teasp. pure vanilla essence

4 bananas

8 inch (20.5cm) non-stick crepe pan

First make the batter. Sieve the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the lightly beaten eggs with a whisk or wooden spoon, starting in the centre mix the egg and gradually bring in the flour. Add the liquid slowly and beat until the batter is covered with bubbles. (If they are to be served with sugar and lemon juice, stir in an extra tablespoon of castor sugar and the finely grated rind of half a lemon).
Let the batter stand in a cold place for an hour or so - longer will do no harm. Just before you cook the pancakes stir in 3-4 dessertspoons melted butter. This will make all the difference to the flavour and texture of the pancakes and will make it possible to cook them without greasing the pan each time.
Next make the butterscotch sauce*
Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla essence. Put back on the heat and stir for 2 or 3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.
To serve
Heat the sauce, slice in the bananas, spoon over a pancake, roll up loosely or fold into a fan shape. Serve two pancakes per person.

* To save time you could of course serve the pancakes with one of the many excellent Irish made butterscotch or chocolate sauces on the market 

Top Tips

For Pancakes - Use a non stick pan, then you can flip to your heart’s content.
Add a tablespoon of melted butter to the batter and whisk well, no need to grease the pan between pancakes.
I know blueberries are totally out of season but if you do happen to pick up a punnet which has come all the way from Holland, mix 225g of cream cheese with a generous tablespoon of icing sugar, fold in about 100g of berries and use to fill some freshly made pancakes. 

Apple Juice – get delicious Karmine Apple Juice by post from Con Traas at Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary – this terrific service is available anywhere in Ireland – 12 bottles of juice made from the Karmijn de Sonnaville apples grown on their own farm, come in a sturdy well-constructed box via An Post – I got a delivery myself and they arrived undamaged. You can order on the website email:con@the Tel. 052-41459 Fax 052-42774

New Chief Executive for Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Dr. John O’Brien has been appointed Chief Executive of the FSAI and will take up office in June 2004. Dr. O’Brien is originally from Cork and has a BSc and PHd in Food Chemistry from UCC, as well as an MSc in Toxicology from the University of Surrey. He has a broad knowledge of risk assessment and food safety management at an international level together with communication expertise.


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