The charm of the humble pancake

Mostly associated with Shrove Tuesday, the much-loved pancake is something that is very much enshrined in our culture. The ultimate in comfort food, pancakes make for a delicious and indulgent breakfast, a tasty midday snack or a delectable bedtime treat.

Simple to make and yummy to eat, this piece of culinary genius can be found across the globe and enjoys universal popularity with people of all ages. After all, who can resist the scrumptious smell of freshly baked pancakes straight from the hob?

Pancakes are versatile and can be either sweet or savoury depending on the ingredients used. There are a range of options with regards to fillings and toppings with different nations throughout the world offering their own unique take on this feel good food.

In the UK we eat our pancakes thin and flat whilst the Americans prefer their pancakes a bit thicker. The French have their own twist on the pancake and call them crepes which can have practically any filling you care to mention, and can be eaten for breakfast or lunch as a more substantial meal.

If you’re a pancake novice or you want to be more adventurous this Shrove Tuesday (Tuesday 4 March), there are lots of sites with great pancake recipes to try your hand at. From traditional basic pancake recipes to crispy pancake rolls and the more luxurious cinnamon and raspberry pancakes, you will find every recipe you ever dreamed of online with easy to follow step-by-step guides. Other recipes you can find online include cheesy bacon, American raspberry and for the more decadent taste buds there’s an orange and chocolate sauce recipe.

The standard pancake is made with milk, eggs and flour and is then cooked in a frying pan until golden brown on both sides. Often, they are then sprinkled with sugar and drizzled in lemon juice to enhance the flavour. These ingredients were once considered luxuries and were the type of items that people centuries ago gave up as a sacrifice during the six weeks of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent begins which is the reason that people made pancakes on that day, an opportunity to use up ingredients and enjoy this tasty treat one last time until Easter.

Whether dished out as a one-off treat for Pancake Day or served up as fine dining, it is a staple that has been with us for centuries and will remain with us for many more to come. There’s simply no match for the charm of the humble pancake.

N.B. This is a guest post

Day Thirteen – Cod, lamb and blasted tomato fondue

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I came in even earlier than usual this morning to get my mise en place done, as I had five recipes to make this morning. Even so, I didn’t manage to do very well – the fish dish I made just took so long to make, and we had to fillet the fish together, which took ages, too.

Something seems to happen to me in the kitchen. I go in all organized, on time and know what I need to do, and then throughout the course of the morning, no matter how hard I work, I seem to get further and further behind and struggle to get my food out on time and manage all the clearing up, too. I’m trying not to rush so that I do things properly along the way, but I seem to get more and more out of control as the morning progresses. I’m not really too sure how to put that right, but there we go.

I find the equipment is taking a while to get used to. As I started making the tomato fondue, I placed my carefully sliced onions in the pan on the lowest temperature on the smallest ring to sweat, but I still managed to burn them within 5 minutes. I know full well how best to cook them and can manage them perfectly at home, but I just don’t seem to be able to manage it at Ballymaloe.

My marks were OK – generally 7s, but the teacher said it all tasted good. I think I got an 8 or 9 for my marmalade, although I’m not sure how it could have been improved.

I did manage to have lunch, get changed and ready for my flight in the break. We had Rory for the afternoon’s demo and we spent some time learning how best to butcher half a lamb carcass. By this time though, I must admit, I was struggling to stay awake after the hectic week. It’s not only physically tiring, but mentally, too as we have long mornings in the kitchen followed by a huge amount of information to assimilate every day.

I managed to get off on time after demo and catch my flight back, arriving back just before midnight. It’s been really nice to come back and relax this weekend. I’ve started to psyche myself up for Monday morning already though, as I have another 5 recipes to do on the day, too. Hopefully Monday will be a better day…

Day Twelve – I never want to see a Crème caramel again…

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Today has been a funny old day. The kitchens seemed to be a bit stressful today and I don’t think cooking was enjoyable for a lot of people. I certainly didn’t do a great job today. It certainly feels as though people feeling stressed rubs off, and can affect the whole kitchen. The teachers are just amazing though. They are all so nice and really go out of their way to help.

If I’ve learnt one thing today, it’s that I don’t like crème caramel. I didn’t think I liked them, I didn’t enjoy making them, and they were the bane of most people’s lives today, I reckon. Still, lesson learnt!

I made quesadillas for lunch (easy peasy, even have recipes for them in my books), but managed to burn most of my batch which I put in the oven (without checking the temperature (it was on 250C!)) to keep warm when Darina unexpectedly came over to taste my food and I panicked. Oh dear.

Still, at least I managed to have lunch, and I even managed to change my library books, which is progress.

This afternoon’s demo was with Rachel and we focused on fish. It was an interesting demo, although I sensed that I was not the only one starting to feel the effects of the week catching up on them.  After demo, I went to check on the adorable chicks, turn my cheese, prep my marmalade and head to the gym.  Tomorrow I am making bread as my duty, marmalade as an extra and a fish dish, plus a potato dish and a vegetable dish. I think I’ll have to get in quite early as I actually have a lot of prep to do. I also need to manage to change at lunch time, as I’m whizzing straight to the airport after demo.

I’m off home tomorrow for the weekend, so I will be back blogging in a day or two. I’ve had so many lovely comments and emails this week. Thank you all so much. It means a lot.