Pancakes!

This week I’ve been making a very easy and delicious pancake recipe from Jamie Oliver. It’s one of the easiest and best ones I’ve come across, most of which take ages to make and then the prospect of cooking them, especially for a late weekend breakfast seems a world away. In general I give up in desperation and reach for a piece of toast, but this beauty of a recipe is quick, it’s simple. I can make it off the top of my head as well because there are only five ingredients. I’ve probably become a bit carried away with making them as last Sunday was the fourth time last week. But at least for you, the reader who has not yet made this recipe I can tell you all the mistakes I have made so you don’t have to. Below is the recipe and also a link for the video where Jamie made them with his daughters Poppy and Daisy so you can see how they’re supposed to look like and for further tips. Enjoy! Note, I’ve made them with banana and with pear, 2 small or 1 large banana mashed with a fork should do or 1 – 1 1/2 grated pears (I found 1 pear from Jamie’s video didn’t convey enough flavour), also if you decide to make these with gluten-free flour whether for people with coeliac’s disease or who are gluten intolerant then the pancakes will taste of rice. So it’s essential to eat them with maple syrup or honey. Chocolate sauce is inadvisable as a condiment.

Super Easy Pancakes (from Jamie Oliver’s foodtube) –
1 breakfast cup of self-raising flour and of milk
1 free-range egg, preferably at room temp. as you get more volume
Pinch of salt
Fruit of your choice, e.g. banana, strawberries, apple, pear (go wild!)
Some butter to cook with

Start by getting out a large mixing bowl, whisk, breakfast cup and a baking spatula. Add first your flour and then milk (if you don’t have self-raising flour then add 2 tsp of baking powder to your empty breakfast cup and top it up with plain flour) then crack in your egg and add the salt. Slowly bring together with the whisk then quicken your movements till you have a smooth batter. Now take out your frying pan and put it on a high heat to warm up and add your fruit to the batter quickly mixing it in. After you have done this your pan should be ready so turn it down to a medium heat, bring your mixture over to the stove and slip a large knob of butter into the pan. Put generous dessert spoon sized dollops of mixture in and leave to cook till you can see a multitude of tiny bubbles on the surface of the pancakes and when they are of a very golden brown on the bottom. Flip over and continue to cook till done the same then remove from the pan. I suggest that you add more butter for each batch even if you are using a non-stick pan as it contributes to the taste and colour of the pancakes. Serve with your choice of condiments but I reccomend you serve them with maple syrup or honey and yoghurt, I do not reccomend you eat them with chocolate sauce.

Note – You can make this batter a day ahead of time but using plain flour instead of self-raising and adding the 2 tsp of BP on the morning you’re making them. This is to ensure your pancakes will be fluffy. Also, this recipe isn’t great for cooking large pan sized pancakes as they won’t hold together very well, perhaps because when I tried it this way I made them with grated pear which could have made them fall apart. Do try it with banana though and tell me what happened.

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New vegetable discoveries – Butternut

(The “New Vegetable Discoveries” column will appear fortnightly on the about sean’s food blog so be sure to look out for it!)
Butternut squash

Recently my Granddad discovered a lovely vegetable called buttternut and in my opinion it beats pumpkin by ten-fold. It’s sweet yet not overly so, it’s soft and not too chewy and for me it was an entirely new taste experience. We recently roasted it in the oven with a bit of red onion and some harissa paste smeared on it which was absolutely delicious, the particular harissa recipe in question being from Diana Henry in her cookbook Salt, Sugar, Smoke which I will soon be reviewing. We have also roasted it in the oven with potatoes in a bit of olive oil which also had very good results, but if you haven’t tried butternut before then make sure you pick some up next time you’re food shopping. And if you make it all the time then how do you do it?

Below is a link to the harissa paste recipe we used which is excellent on chicken thighs as well. Try this recipe and you’ll fall in love with it.

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/11/27/basic-homemade-harissa-recipe

Next vegetable – Beetroot

Tandoori Chicken


Right, don’t be daunted by this very long looking recipe. It is in fact surprisingly easy. Firstly if you don’t think that you can find all of the spices needed for the marinade then find a local Indian spice shop, I know for a fact that it is almost impossible to find mace in a supermarket but in the Indian spice shops they usually have big tubs of all sorts of spices (including mace) where you can get as much or as little as you need. Also don’t think that becuase you have to marinade the chicken that you can’t make this recipe, you just have to plan ahead. It is also worth noting that it’s a good idea to double the amount of marinade. You can freeze half of it for when you’re making it another a day, making it much easier for yourself in the future.

Ingredients –
1 medium sized onion, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, 2 in by 1 in
3 tbsp lemon juice
250 g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 generous glugs of olive oil
2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 – 1 tsp orange food colouring, (use sparingly!)
a few lemon wedges to garnish

6 – 8 free-range chicken breasts

Firstly make your marinade. Put the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and lemon juice in your food processor or use one of those funny hand blender sticks and blitz till a smooth paste is achieved. Scoop all of that out into a bowl large enough to accommodate your chicken or one of those very large glad freezer bags then add all of the yoghurt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, mace, nutmeg, ground cloves, cinnamon, olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper and food colouring. Mix thoroughly.

Now score your chicken, cut three diagonal slashes across the breasts and make sure the knife goes halfway through. Then put your chicken into the marinade (there might be more marinade than you actually need so if you want to then you could put the chicken in the bowl first then pour as much marinade in as you need, freezing the rest for another day). Put the chicken into the marinade and rub it all over the breasts and into the slashes with your thumbs.

Cover the bowl or just seal the bag and leave in the fridge for at leat six hours but I suggest that you make it the day before you’re using it so as to give the chicken a good long time to marinade. This will increase the flavour. Shake the bag or bowl a couple of times while it marinades.
Right, so when you’re going to cook this chicken, about half an hour before you do, light up your barbecue and leave on its lowest notch. After about 20 minutes, when it’s screaming hot, get your chicken out of the marinade and put onto the barbecue. Cook for about 6 – 8 mins per side and baste with the marinade as you cook. Insert a knife into the centre to see if the chicken is cooked in the middle, if not then leave for a couple more minutes until it is. I suggest you serve this with a couple of lemon wedges to squeeze over it and maybe accompany it with a salad and a small pot of raita. This is very filling and tasty.

Escargots

escargots

For me it is fascinating how many people refuse to eat escargots! Perhaps due to the misconception that anything which is slimy and (I do agree) ugly should not be a wonderful taste experience to be desired like caviar, well something cheaper than caviar. But many delicious delicacies do look revolting. In particluar the tarantulas which are abundant in the amazon jungle which are thoroughly enjoyed by the locals. Apparently the creatures legs are reminiscent of chicken and are considered marvellous. However due to my absolute arachniphobia, even someone who will try almost anything like me would certainly be nervous. What if it wasn’t quite dead and leapt off the chopping board to get onto my face before I’d got around to severing its legs! Hardly likely, but a frightening thought. However a simple snail is surely not as bad as a tarantula. Nobody’s got any excuse not to try them! When you think of it, escargots arrive at your table in restaurants looking nothing like snails and more like a firm, overlarge chicken liver in a shell. So why don’t people try them? I consider them a pest as I find plenty of them in my garden before I lay down the snail bait so wouldn’t it be a good idea to eat them instead of finding ones foaming at the mouth which is a horrible way to die. I think I and certainly the snail would prefer the painless and quicker death of being cooked in garlic and butter. Plus at the end you get to eat them!

Recipe for snails will appear soon.