Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pancake Power

Basic Pancake Recipe: makes 12 (F)
4 oz (100g) plain flour
pinch salt
1 egg
half a pint (285ml) milk
Sift flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the egg into this and beat well with a wooden spoon. Then slowly beat in the milk, working in the flour from the sides until you have a smooth batter - this should take about 5 minutes (21st century cooks probably sling the lot in a blender ),
To cook the pancakes, heat a knob of butter in a frying pan, making sure the base is covered, then tip any surplus butter into the batter mixture and give it a stir to mix. Pour just enough batter in the pan to just coat the bottom, tipping the pan so the batter runs evenly. Keep the heat fairly high, and when the pancake is browned underneath, flip it over with a fish slice. Cook until golden on the other side. Turn onto a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, piling pancakes on top of each other as they are cooked. These can be made a day before using if wrapped and stored in the fridge.
To freeze, interleave pancakes with greaseproof paper, and overwrap the lot. Use within four months. To thaw: remove as many pancakes as you wish, re-wrapping and returning the remainder to the freezer. Thaw out for 20 mins then use as required. Or reheat in a greased frying pan for half a minute on each side.

This next recipe uses a very small amount of cooked meat and inexpensive vegetables. It can also be frozen before baking.
Rustic Pancake Rolls: serves 4 (F)
12 ready made pancakes
2 oz (50g) butter
1 large onion. chopped
1 carrot, grated
8 oz (225g) white cabbage, shredded
4 oz (100g) cooked ham, beef or chicken
8 oz (226g) cooked, diced potato
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
1 tblsp chopped parsley
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion until golden, then add the carrot and cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, adding the cooked meat and potatoes a few minutes before the end. Stir in the egg and seasoning and mix well. Spoon onto the darker side of the pancakes, roll up and arrange in a shallow, buttered ovenproof dish (they can be frozen at this point). Cover with foil and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 15 - 20 minutes or until hot. Reheat from frozen, covered with the foil, at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 20-40 minutes.

Often, in the freezer we have a few prawns to use up, maybe some smoked haddock, white fish or kippers, or even canned fish in the storecupboard. With the last of the mushrooms in the fridge, plus the pancakes, you gain another dish.
Fishy Triangles: serves 4
8 ready made pancakes
1 lb (450g) chosen fish
salt and pepper
2 oz (50g) butter
2 oz (50g) mushrooms, sliced
2 oz (50g) plain flour
half a pint (285ml) milk
handful peeled cooked prawns
1 tblsp lemon juice
If using raw fish, poach/simmer in a little waterl for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Drain, skin and remove an bones. If using canned fish, drain and flake.
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the mushrooms until they are softened. Then stir in the flour, cook for one minute then stir in the milk until thickened. Add prawns, lemon juice and the fish, season to taste and spoon the mixture onto each pancake, spreading to the sides, but leaving a border. Fold in half and then half again to form triangles, arrange in a greased ovenproof dish and cover with foil (at this point they can be cooled and frozen, wrapped to be used within a month). Heat through for about 5 minutes (the filling is already hot) at 190C, 375F, gas 5 making sure they are piping hot. (to reheat from frozen, place in a dish, covered with foil and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 30-40 minutes).
Note: if using frozen and thawed prawns for the pancakes, do not re-freeze. If wishing to freeze the filled pancakes, omit the prawns.

This pancake dessert again makes use of mainly storecupboard ingredients, and as it serves six to eight people, it does work out fairly economically. Instead of the canned pie filling, make your own by using your choice of berries from the freezer, juicing some down to thicken with arrowroot, and when cool, stir them together. This can be frozen, but better I think, made fresh.
Pancake Layer Cake: serves 6 - 8 (F)
12 ready made pancakes
2 bananas
2 tblsp lemon juice
5 fl oz (140ml) whipping cream
1 x 400g (14oz) can cherry pie filling
1 oz (25g) chocolate, grated
3 oz (75g) mixed chopped nuts
Mash the bananas with the lemon juice. Whip cream until thick, then fold this into the bananas.
To assemble: put one pancake on a serving plate, spreading it with the banans mixture and sprinkling over a little chocolate and some nuts. top with another pancake, spreading this with the cherry filling, then repeat until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a pancake. Chill for half an hour, then cut into wedges and serve.
To freeze: overwrap, seal and label. Eat within 2 months. Thaw out overnight in the fridge or at least four hours at room temperature.

The dessert for today is another storecupboard favourite and yet another use for the cream cheese that seems to crop up in most recipes these days. Instead of peaches, used canned apricots.
Crunchy Chocolate Peach Pie: serves 4
1 can peach halves or slices
8 oz (225g) cream cheese or ricotta cheese
5 fl oz (140ml) single cream
1 egg
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
zest of one orange
one tablespoon orange juice
topping: 8 oz (225g) choc digestive biscuits
Drain the fruit and place in the bottom of a 9" (23cm) flan dish. Beat together the cream cheese, the cream, egg and sugar, the orange juice and zest, until smooth. Pour this over the fruit and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20-25 minutes until firm with a slight wobble in the centre. Roughly crush the biscuits and spread over the hot pie, leaving it to stand for a very few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt slightly, then serve. With cream would be nice.