pancakes

Bites & Pieces

I celebrated the Winter Solstice weekend by launching my first travelogue cookbook!

It’s called Bites and Pieces of America: Exploring food and friendship in Whidbey Island, Salem, Boothbay Harbour and Boston. It’s filled with pieces from my trip last year from Australia to the USA where I got to visit a dear friend on Whidbey Island, celebrate July the 4th in Salem the Witch City, visit puffins in Maine and meet a baby sloth in Boston. There are also many bites of recipes from the foods that inspired me along the way.

While I’m hoping you’ll rush out and buy the book 🙂 I will share parts of the journey here. I’ll also include recipes that nearly made it into the book but just missed out like my Stout Pancakes (below). These are perfect for Winter in Australia. If you’d like pancake recipes that are more in tune with Summer – like Blueberry Pancakes or Carrot Cake Pancakes – you can find them in my book!

B&P cover 

Bites and Pieces is currently available from Lulu. An ebook is on the way and it will be in other online stores soon 🙂

Stout Pancakes

IMG_6176

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons maple sugar*
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup stout**
butter for frying

Instructions
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and stout.
Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Heat a small amount of butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Pour some batter into the pan. Remember that the bigger the pancakes, the harder they are to flip, so don’t make them too big.
Cook until bubbles start to form.
Flip and cook for a further 1 – 3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with your choice of toppings.
I like them with a good drizzle of pure maple syrup, golden syrup or honey.

*You can substitute brown sugar for the maple sugar.
**Try different flavoured stouts like chocolate or coffee ones. I used a maple flavoured stout.

Advertisements

Spring Equinox / Spring Pancakes

When I first tried a spring onion pancake at a Chinese New Year festival, I almost wept in happiness. The moment I bit into the crunchy, flaky pastry and tasted the warm spring onions I had a memory of a similar taste sensation from my childhood – leek zelnick. A zelnick is a Macedonian flaky pastry filled with all sorts of things from pork, pumpkin, cheese and my favourite – leek with ricotta and feta. I love zelnicks but they can be a bit time consuming to make. Could I make a fusion version of a spring onion pancake? There was only one way to find out – experiment!

zelnick

zelnick

I followed the recipe for Shanghai Onion Cakes from Bamboo: A Journey with Chinese Food by Sally Hammond & Gordon Hammond and then added my own Macedonian twist. After adding the spring onions, I crumbled some feta cheese on a few of the pancakes. I then followed the recipe to completion. The traditional spring onion pancakes were as fabulous as the ones I tried at the festival. As for the feta ones, they ended up tasting like a delicious cheesy spring onion pancake zelnick 🙂 I’m already thinking up new variations.

These pancakes make me think of the Spring Equinox, and not just because of the key ingredient! The Spring Equinox in the southern hemisphere falls on Friday the 23rd of September this year. The northern hemisphere is heading for its Autumn Equinox at the same time. The Equinoxes are a time of balance, when day and night are relatively equal. After the Spring Equinox, the days will be longer than the nights, until we reach the Autumn Equinox and night once again overtakes day.

Like the Equinoxes, these pancakes symbolise balance and union. They are a balance between two cultures and a melding of a childhood staple food with a new culinary discovery. I loved the idea of playing with spring onions for Spring!  And for those of you celebrating the Autumn Equinox, don’t worry, pancakes are great for Autumn too 🙂

Spring Onion Pancakes

img_0367

Ingredients
1 + 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup boiling water
sesame oil
sea salt
4 spring onions, green parts only, chopped
feta cheese (my fusion twist)
high smoke point vegetable oil for frying

Instructions
Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the boiling water. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, quickly work into the flour until you have a smooth, soft dough. Invert the bowl onto a board and leave the dough to cool.
When cool enough to handle, knead the dough for 2 – 3 minutes or until smooth. Form into a smooth ball. Rub with sesame oil. Cover and leave to rest for 1 hour.
Lightly flour a board. Cut dough into 5 pieces. Roll out thinly. Brush with sesame oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cover evenly with spring onions.
It is here that I add my fusion twist. I crumble some feta cheese over the spring onions!
Roll up the dough then coil each roll into a round cake. Lightly dust with flour, then gently roll into a thin circle (about 1/2 cm or 1/4 inch thick).
Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry the pancakes until golden brown, turning once or twice. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Check out my recipes for Pumpkin Pancakes and Yeasted Pancakes 🙂

Pancakes for Bram

Wednesday the 20th of April is the 104th Deathiversary of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.

Every year I commemorate his birthday and death day.
Last year I went to the newly resurrected pancake restaurant appropriately named Stokers.
This year I decided to make my own pancakes in honour of Bram.

IMG_2010

Pancakes are filled with mythological and folkloric meanings. They are most commonly associated with Shrove Tuesday and Lent. Their circular shape associates them with the sun and they are often eaten at the end of winter to welcome the coming spring. They are symbols of the beginning and the end of life. I remember eating pancakes at funerals and I remember new mothers being given pancakes after childbirth. With their links to life, death and the sun, pancakes are the perfect food to honour an author whose greatest character was deeply connected to life, death and the sun.

The pancakes below are unusual as they are leavened with yeast. Yeasted pancakes are common in Eastern Europe, especially in Transylvania! They can be eaten with savoury or sweet fillings. I have chosen a classic combination of strawberry jam and cream, not only because I love the flavours, but because the colour combination has a vampiric feel for me – perfect for Mr Stoker.

Yeasted Pancakes

IMG_2030

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 cups lukewarm milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
extra olive oil for frying

for serving
strawberry jam
cream

Instructions
Add the flour to a large bowl.
Slowly stir in the milk.
Add the egg, butter and oil and mix until they form a smooth pancake batter.
Add the salt and yeast and stir until combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for 1-3 hours or until doubled in size.
Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.
Pour in approximately 1/4 cup of batter.
Cook for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to form bubbles.
Flip and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with jam and cream.

Pass The Pumpkins Please

Our local coffee shop makes the best coffee. I mean it’s really, really good. The only problem is everyone wants one! And they don’t take reservations on the weekends. So if you don’t get there early enough you go on a waiting list, or you order one to go. The coffee is so good that it has inspired me to roll out of bed early on the weekends and get there just after it opens – 8.00am!! And while I’m there, I sometimes have breakfast as well. My favourite breakfast? – pancakes 🙂

The walnut pancakes with side orders of bacon and hash browns were my favourite. Sadly they’ve changed the menu for summer and the latest pancake offering is okay, but not fantastic. This made me think – why don’t I make my own pancakes when I get home? I’ve made buttermilk pancakes before, which were delicious, but I wanted something different. The first flavour that came to mind was pumpkin pancakes. The only problem was my partner Paul doesn’t particularly like pumpkin. I didn’t want to make a batch just for myself because I knew I would eat them all 🙂 How could I tempt him to try pumpkin pancakes? There was only one way – add them to my cookbook. As my main taste-tester he could hardly refuse!

IMG_9063c

We wanted to make our own pumpkin puree so our preparations for Sunday pancakes began Saturday night. Here’s what we did:

Preheated our oven to 180C / 350F.
Removed pumpkin seeds from pumpkin and kept them aside to make pepitas.
Cut the pumpkin into pieces and placed in a baking tray. Sprinkled lightly with olive oil and baked until cooked. When cool enough to handle, we removed the skin from the pumpkin and discarded it. We mashed the pumpkin with a potato masher until smooth and refrigerated it for the next day.

To make pepitas, we separated the seeds from the remaining pulp surrounding them. Rather than discard this pulp, we thought we’d try baking it too.
We preheated the oven to 200C / 400F and lined two baking trays with baking paper.
We dried the seeds with paper towel, tossed them in olive oil and salt and then spread them out on one of the baking trays. We tossed the pulp in olive oil and salt and placed it on the remaining tray. We baked the seeds for about 10 minutes until they were crispy and the pulp for about 15 minutes until it was caramelised. The seeds and pulp were eaten straight away! They were so delicious I almost couldn’t wait for Sunday to make the pancakes – but I did 🙂 Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 4 fluffy pancakes.
IMG_9067c
Ingredients
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 + 1/4 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
extra butter for frying

Instructions
Whisk together the buttermilk, pumpkin, egg and butter in a large bowl until combined.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Heat some butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Pour in 1/3 cup of batter.
Cook for 1-3 minutes or until it starts to form bubbles.
Flip and cook for a further 1-3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Repeat with remaining batter.

Well I’m happy to say that both Paul and I loved the pancakes! Paul had his with butter and maple syrup and I had mine with sour cream and crispy fried prosciutto. Naturally we tried each other’s to see which was best. I loved my savoury ones but I think Paul’s sweet ones were better.

We can’t wait to make them again. If you make them let me know which topping you prefer – sweet, savoury or both!!