Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Winter Slaw (or the only way to eat red cabbage)



Red cabbage and sprouts. Two vegetables best eaten raw. 

After a childhood of sprout and red cabbage aversion (in which I am fully aware I am not alone) it was a revelation to discover that neither require nor, in my most humble opinion, benefit from cooking. 

Nine. That was the number of sprouts on my plate as a child. Nine. What sort of parents make their sprout-detesting child sit and look at nine whole sprouts? Mine. Although of course they'll laugh and dismiss the very idea if I ever mention it. I recall my attempts to disguise them from myself by smothering them in mashed swede (why sully a decent element of my roast dinner with the dreaded sprouts when I could combine two of the most revolting foods on my plate?). Luckily for me I had younger siblings who were rather partial to a sprout or two. So with a little distraction and the odd flick of a knife here and there, I managed to offload a few. The requirement to eat nine did eventually reduce to three. Three. Still three too many. 

The first time I willing ate, and (gasp) actually enjoyed, sprouts was with family in France last Easter. A simple salad of finely shaved raw sprouts, lemon, cheese and hazelnuts made by Lisa. I even had seconds. 

Red cabbage at its best

Red cabbage was no better. As a child I only ever knew it slowly braised with apple or pickled and served straight from the jar along side homemade shepherd's pie. (I'm guessing that's a northern thing). Pickled I could live with, crisp at least, even if the vinegar it was doused in was of the most mouth-stripping, astringent kind. But braised was up there with the worst of the over cooked sprouts. Slightly sweet, heady with clove and allspice. It has a bit of the marmites about it. Love it or hate it. 

A winter slaw is where red cabbage excels. I'm not overly fond of the traditional coleslaw. Vegetables which have spent too long languishing in a creamy, almost cloying, sauce made with excessive amounts of cheap mayonnaise. (Although that is not to say that a simple, well made celeriac rĂ©moulade would be banished from my plate. An entirely different beast. Crisp celeriac given the briefest of introductions to lemon juice, Dijon mustard, good mayonnaise and a little natural yogurt. Perhaps tinged pink with grated beetroot stirred through moments before serving). 

When a red cabbage finds its way into my fridge it is for the sole purpose of making a salad. A crisp, colourful, wintery salad. Or three or four. It is a bountiful vegetable which keeps on giving, staying fresh long after the parsley has wilted, making this salad a great fridge foraged lunch.

You don't have to use the same ingredients every time, it really will depend on what is lurking in your fridge, but the crisper and more robust the better. Celeriac, beetroot, cabbage, kohlrabi… 

Winter Slaw

Ingredients

¼ tsp salt
juice ½ lemon
2 tbsp light extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled
¼ medium red cabbage
½ apple, core removed
½ pomegranate
2 or 3 mejool dates
small handful of flat leaf parsley leaves

Method

Begin by making the dressing. Put the salt and lemon juice into a medium sized bowl and whisk with a fork. Add the olive oil and whisk until combined.

You can use a mandolin to prepare the carrot, red cabbage and apple, or (like me) a chopping board and a big sharp knife. Julienne the carrot and finely slice the red cabbage. Add them to the dressing and stir well to combine.

Finely slice the apple (I like to leave the skin on) and add to the carrot and red cabbage before it has chance to start turning brown.

Remove and discard the stones from the dates and finely chop the dates. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate (I do this by holding the half a pomegranate over a bowl and bashing the skin side with a wooden spoon or rolling pin).

Add the dates, pomegranate seeds and flat leaf parsley to the slaw, stir and serve immediately. 

Winter Slaw

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls


Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls
Never wishing to feel like I'm missing out, I have to admit to being a little miffed if Christmas Day comes around and I find that I have to forgo all of the trimmings. But stuffing is so versatile. It can easily be adapted to suit everyone.

These Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Lightly spiced, with little nuggets of sweetness from the dried apricots, they work as well with turkey or goose as they do with a vegetarian main course. In fact, I'd quite happily forgo the main event for a pile of these little morsels, roasties, buttered kale, honey and lime roasted parsnips and a huge jug of vegetarian gravy.

Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls

They taste just as good cold the day after, so make sure there are plenty to snack on when Boxing Day comes around. And if you do have happen to have some leftover (or if you make a double batch) they make great snacks for children (and adults).

Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls
To make this recipe vegan, replace the butter with olive oil and use your usual egg replacer instead of the eggs.

Ingredients

50g cashew nuts
25g unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp ground cumin
zest of 1/2 unwaxed orange
100g fresh breadcrumbs
50g dried apricots (about 8), chopped
1-2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 medium eggs, beaten
salt & black pepper (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan).

Put the cashew nuts on a small baking tray and roast in the oven for 8-9 minutes, until they are a light golden colour. This really enhances their flavour, so well worth doing. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then roughly chop. If you are feeding babies or very young children, you can pulse the cashew nuts in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs instead of chopping them so there's no risk of choking.

Whilst the cashew nuts are in the oven, put a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butter. Once the butter has melted add the onion and turn the heat down a little. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is beginning to turn golden at the edges. Add the grated carrot and continue to cook, stirring often, for a further 5 minutes, until the carrot has softened. Add the ground cumin and cook for a minute or two.

Transfer the onion and carrot mixture to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool.

Once cool, add the orange zest, breadcrumbs, chopped dried apricots, chopped flat leaf parsley, roasted cashew nuts and season (I don't add salt as I cook for young children and there is already salt in the breadcrumbs, but if you are cooking for adults you will probably want to add salt and pepper to suit your tastes). Stir well to combine.

Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.

Add the beaten egg to the mixing bowl, a little at a time, and mix well (I use sourdough breadcrumbs which seem to need a little more egg to combine, but you may not need the full amount, so add gradually). Form the mixture into 9 balls, each about the size of a golf ball, and place them on the lined baking tray.

Put the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the stuffing balls are golden and a little crispy at the edges.

Serve hot or cold. The stuffing balls can be made ahead, cooled and frozen. Defrost thoroughly and then reheat in a medium oven for 7-8 minutes, until hot.

Carrot, Cashew & Apricot Stuffing Balls

Friday, 16 December 2016

Caramelised Shallot & Chestnut Tarte Tatin with Spelt Olive Oil Pastry


Caramelised Shallot & Chestnut Tarte Tatin

Old recipes need to be revisited. Viewed afresh. Updated. There are new ideas and techniques. Ways to improve. Ingredients which have become more readily available. Others which are outdated or have fallen out of favour.

So this is my updated Caramelised Shallot & Chestnut Tarte Tatin. The perfect vegetarian and vegan centrepiece for Christmas dinner. I first wrote a version of this recipe back in 2009, having made it for Christmas dinner a few years earlier.  My Uncle John was visiting from Ireland for Christmas, an event in itself, which always involves much silliness, standing on chairs singing nursery rhymes and a vegan alternative to turkey for us all to share.


The original recipe (such as it was, made, eaten and enjoyed, but never written down) was vegan, but the pastry will no doubt have been made using White Flora, a white vegetable fat, which has long since vanished from shop shelves. Its closest dairy-free equivalent, Trex, is made from palm oil. Whilst it may make good pastry, I won't buy it. The same goes for the principal dairy-free ready made puff pastry on the market, Jus-Rol, or indeed anything containing palm oil. Its connection with rainforest deforestation, human rights violations, child labour and animal cruelty (to name but a few) is well documented. I'm with Joanna Blythman, journalist and author of Swallow This, when she says that going into 2017 it is time to abandon palm oil.

So this tarte tatin has a classy new pastry to be proud of. Rich and packed with fresh thyme, it is simple to make and work with. There's no need to be careful and light of finger when mixing the ingredients, and definitely no rubbing fat into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. When dry ingredients meet wet ingredients, the pastry comes together in a matter of seconds. A vegan-friendly pastry recipe which uses olive oil instead of palm oil.

The combination of shallots, chestnuts and mushrooms is not a new one. Especially at this time of year, when they are all in season and at their best. Add a splash of madeira and plenty of fresh thyme and they taste so good.



Ingredients

For the pastry:

225g white spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
75ml extra virgin olive oil

For the rest:

2 tbsp olive oil
500g shallots (about 400g peeled weight)
150g cooked, peeled chestnuts
100g chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp madeira*
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Begin by making the pastry (this can be done up to 24 hours ahead). Put the flour, baking powder, salt, fresh thyme leaves and nutritional yeast (if using) into a large mixing bowl and whisk together with a balloon whisk. Add the olive oil and 70ml cold water. Using your hands, bring the ingredients together to form a rough ball. Knead lightly for a few seconds until the pastry is smooth.

Flatten the pastry out into a patty, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (longer if possible).

Whilst the pastry is chilling, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Peel the shallots and slice any large ones in half lengthways. Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a piece of kitchen roll, then trim off the stalks and cut into quarters.

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Put a tarte tatin dish dish (20cm diameter) or an oven-safe frying pan of the same size over a medium heat. Add the olive oil, then place the shallots into the dish, cut side down (for those you have sliced in half). Cook for 10 minutes until the shallots are starting brown slightly. Add the chestnuts, mushrooms, thyme leaves and sugar, pushing the chestnuts and mushrooms down gently between the shallots. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the madeira, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pastry from the cling film and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll out, turning with each roll, until it is a rough circle measuring about 22cm in diameter. Using a pastry brush, brush a little oil around the inner rim of the tarte tat in dish, then careful lift the pastry over the shallot mixture, tucking it in, and any surplus pastry back on itself, to form a seal.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is a light golden colour.

Slide a knife around the edge of the pastry to loosen. Put a plate over the dish and then carefully tip the dish with the plate held firmly on top over so that the tarte tatin is sat shallot side up on the plate. Remove the dish. If any shallots decide to stick to the dish instead of the pastry, carefully lift them off the dish with a fish slice or spatula and put them back into position on the pastry.

I like to serve this with roast potatoes, buttered kale or cabbage and vegan gravy.

*not all brands of madeira are vegan-friendly, so if you are making this for someone who is vegan it is worth checking.



Monday, 12 December 2016

Festive Rocky Road

Festive Rocky Road

Calories are essential.

You're on the home straight. The final push. You need to keep your energy (and spirits) up.

Whether you're partying hard, wrapping a mountain of presents, ferrying children from party to performance or staying up half the night, bleary-eyed, with gin in hand, trying to create a nativity costume (with the stars falling off as quickly as you can stick them on), you need sustenance. This is no time for self sacrifice.

These little morsels of rocky road are easy to eat. Too easy perhaps. Blink and you've demolished four. So make them, give half away as festive gifts (another job ticked off that mother of all lists) and let yourself loose on the rest.

And if you are worried about that calorie thing, then take the advice of Mum's work colleague: break a piece in half, shake out the calories and get eating.

Maraschino, Amaretto & Almond Rocky Road

Makes 64 bite-sized pieces

Ingredients

200g Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate
100g Green & Blacks milk chocolate
100g good unsalted butter
3 tbsp condensed milk
pinch maldon salt
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)
zest 1 orange, finely grated
100g Luxardo maraschino cherries (drained weight)
50g blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
150g amaretti biscuits

Method

Grease and line a 20cm square, loose-bottomed baking tin.

Break up the chocolate and put it into a large heat proof bowl with the butter. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (taking care to make sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water) and, stirring occasionally, leave the chocolate and butter to melt.

Whilst the chocolate is melting, blot the maraschino cherries on kitchen paper to remove most of the syrup and cut each one in half. Put the amaretti biscuits into a plastic sandwich bag and bash them a little with a rolling pin until they are roughly broken up.

Once the chocolate has melted, add the condensed milk, salt, amaretto liqueur (if using) and orange zest. Stir to combine.

Add the maraschino cherries, toasted almonds and amaretti biscuits. Stir until evenly coated in the chocolate. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, spread out to fill the tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon as best you can.

Put the tin into the fridge for an hour, or until solid. Alternatively leave overnight. Then remove from the tin, discard the baking paper and carefully cut into small pieces. Dust with icing sugar.

Store in the fridge or a cool place.




Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Apricot, Almond & Amaretto Mincemeat



One of my earliest memories of food at Christmas time is of my mum appearing by my bedside late one evening, a large mixing bowl rested in the crook of her arm. It was dark, with just a flicker of orange light creeping in through our old brown curtains from the street light outside. I felt snug under my crisp sheets and eiderdown, and comforted by the familiar sounds around me. Yet I was drowsy and bewildered.

Looking back now, the wooden spoon being proffered can only have been for me to stir our Christmas pudding. In that hazy light, as if watching myself on sepia-tinted film, my faded memory sees me push myself up, resting on one elbow as I dutifully stir the heady mixture of dried fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and brandy. With my sleep-heavy limbs, I managed one, maybe two, turns of the bowl before I settled back down, contented.

Apricot, Almond & Amaretto Mincemeat

It has been a long time since I have been around to give my mum's Christmas pudding its traditional stir for good luck. Instead it is my turn to pass these traditions on to my sons. The huge, old Mason Cash mixing bowl, with its crazed glaze. A tarnished old tablespoon which was tucked into my kitchen box when I left home for university. And one of many well-used wooden spoons, which have stirred food, banged pots as if they were drums and will one day themselves be packed into a bag leaving home for the future that lies ahead.

As I grew older, my memories of festive baking with my mum, in the kitchen of our little two up two down, turned to mince pies. Not just the odd dozen here or there. Tray after tray of brandy-laced mincemeat wrapped up in flaky shortcrust, always lovingly made by hand. The mince pie tin has to be seen to be believed. One minute filled to the brim with two, maybe three dozen rich, buttery pies, only for hands grappling to be the first to reach the last one moments later.

Homemade Apricot, Almond & Amaretto Mincemeat

The very best mince pies are those crammed so full with boozy, homemade mincemeat, that it seeps out like molten lava as they bake. My mincemeat recipe evolves year on year. This is the third iteration of 2015. The jars to be polished off this week before we embark on a new batch for 2016.

Ingredients

100g golden raisins
200g currants
100g large black flame raisins
200g sultanas
75g good unsalted butter
200g soft brown sugar
zest & juice 2 oranges
zest & juice 1 1/2 lemons
200g bramley apples (cored & peeled weight), grated
75g blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
150g dried apricots, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
freshly grated nutmeg (as much or as little as you like)
100ml amaretto
25ml cognac

Method

Mix the raisins, currants and sultanas in a large mixing bowl and pick over to remove any stems.

Put a large pan over a low heat. Add the butter, sugar, orange and lemon zest and juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the grated apple, raisins, currants, sultanas, dried apricots, almonds and spices. Stir to combine.

Put the mixture back into the large mixing bowl and stir in the amaretto and cognac. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool, dark place for at least 24 hours.

If you are just making the mincemeat to use over a couple of weeks then it will keep perfectly well sealed in a plastic container.  If you want to store it in jars to keep it for longer, then fill sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool dark place.

Homemade Christmas Gifts

*Please don't be put off by the list of random dried fruit. I like to use lots of different sultanas, raisins, etc for their size, flavour and colour, but you could just use the equivalent weight of whatever you have knocking around in the cupboard. Just make sure you use the dried apricots for this recipe because it really does make a difference.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bakewell Pudding Ice Cream


Bakewell Pudding Ice Cream
I am well aware that September is not usually the time of year to be publishing an ice cream recipe. Until the beginning of this week, my mind had begun to turn to corn on the cob, squash and hearty bowls of soup. I was all set to add fish pie to next week's meal plan. Then here in London, summer decided it would have one last hurrah before ceding passage to the crisp, fresh days of autumn.

As the table laden with gutsy, monochromatic bakes at Band of Bakers last night will testify, the regional bakes of our British Isles are not made for these Indian Summer days. A heavy and (dare I say it)  rather stodgy collection of tarts, buns and cakes with more than their fair share of dried fruit, pastry and lard.

Hailing from Derbyshire, I had my eye on a Buxton Pudding, a baked dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, flour, milk and lemon zest (which I've never eaten, let alone baked before) or some Ashbourne Gingerbread. Then on Sunday evening the ever-reliable Countryfile weather forecast painted a rather different picture of my week, with temperatures set to rocket back up in to 28C. I adore hot weather. Love it. But I'll be damned if I am going to entertain the thought of spending hours in a hot, sticky kitchen baking on a scorcher of a day.

Everyone knows that ice cream is what we need on a hot day and this recipe is embarrassingly easy. Really. Damn it, you could even use shop bought madeira cake and a jar of good raspberry jam if you didn't have the time (or the heat tolerance) for baking and jamming.

Just remember to take it out of the freezer 5 minutes before serving to come to (rather than taking it out 45 minutes before and then spending that time rushing to Band of Bakers with the ice cream in a cool bag, including a diversion due to jumping on the wrong bus, panicking that all the while your ice cream will turn up looking more like Bakewell Pudding Soup).

Bakewell Pudding Ice Cream

Ingredients

For the frangipane:

75g unsalted butter
75g golden caster sugar
1 medium egg
1 tbsp amaretto
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
50g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds

For the raspberry jam:

250g raspberries
250g caster sugar
juice 1/2 small lemon

For the ice cream:

1200ml double cream
397g tin sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp good almond extract (I used Steenbergs Natural Almond Extract)

Method

Begin the day before you want to eat the ice cream by making the frangipane and the raspberry jam (alternatively you can use a jar of good quality raspberry jam).

For the frangipane:

Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan). 

Grease a small loose bottomed square or rectangular cake tin (a 15cm tin would work well here) with a little unsalted butter.

Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy (this can easily take 5 minutes or longer, depending on your mixer).

Beat the eggs together with the lemon zest and amaretto, then add this to the butter and sugar mixture a little at a time and continue mixing until incorporated. Don't worry if the batter looks a little like it has curdled, it will come together when you add the flour.

Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the batter along with the ground almonds. Mix until just combined.

Put the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until light brown on top and a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then remove from the tin and leave on a cooling rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight cake tin.

For the raspberry jam:

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Spread the sugar out on a large baking tray or roasting tin. Put the tray into the oven for 10 minutes to allow the sugar to heat up.

In the meantime, put the raspberries into a jam pan or heavy based pan (I use an old Le Creuset casserole) over a low heat. Once the sugar is heated up (this helps it to dissolve quicker) add it to the raspberries along with the lemon juice and stir.

Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for around 10 minutes. When the jam reaches about 106C remove from the heat and carefully pour through a metal sieve into a clean bowl, to remove the seeds. Set aside to cool.

For the ice cream:

Put the cream into a large bowl. Whip the cream with electric beaters until it forms soft peaks. Add the almond extract and the condensed milk and continue to whip for about a minute until the mixture is quite stiff.

Scrape the ice cream mixture into a large shallow pyrex dish or tin (I used two rectangular pyrex dishes which have plastic lids). Dot the cooled, sieved jam across the top of the ice cream and swirl gently using the end of a spoon or a knife.

Slice the frangipane into small pieces (approximately 1cm cubes) and gently press them into the top of the ice cream mixture, taking care to space them evenly. You may not need all of the cake.

Cover well and put into the freezer for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight. Remove from the freezer 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas

Have I told you about Band of Bakers? If not, it's probably about time I did. It's my fourth baby (my first was a cat and the middle two are human). Founded by Gemma and I in 2012 out of a mutual love of cooking, baking, eating, talking and, well to be perfectly honest, drinking.

Band of Bakers is a bake club. A bit like a book club, but with a lot less reading and a lot more baking. And some sleepless nights. Sugar fuelled and stuffed to the gunnels it is virtually impossible to nod off until the early hours after an event. 

The itinerant Band of Bakers roves around our gorgeous little corner of SE London, hosted by generous local business owners The PalmerstonThe Crooked Well and Brickhouse Bakery every couple of months. Each event is themed so you rarely taste the same bake twice. Except at our retro event when there were no less than THREE black forest gateaux. But, you know, cherries and kirsch.

For the last innovation-themed event before our summer break I baked this savoury cake. It's kind of a riff on a cornbread, but with warm spices and gorgeously fragrant curry leaves. I had a bag of yellow pea flour lurking in my cupboard, which is produced by Hodmedods, a Suffolk-based independent business sourcing and supplying British-grown pulses, grains and flours. A naturally gluten free flour, milled in Essex from British-grown split peas, it is high in protein and a great alternative to gram flour. The idea was for bakers to create a bake using ingredients or techniques they had never used before. So this was my contribution - a simple, delicious savoury cake. Great served with dal and raita or as a pre-dinner nibble with drinks. Leftovers make for a good picnic or lunchbox filler.

Savoury Cake with Spiced Onions & Chickpeas (gluten free)

Ingredients

For the cake:

150g course gluten free polenta 
75g fine ground yellow pea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala 
250g whole milk yogurt
2 medium eggs
50g butter

For the topping:

2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
large pinch gluten free asafoetida 
2 large onions, sliced 
10-12 fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp soft brown sugar
1-2 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Method

In a large bowl, mix together the polenta, yellow pea flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, turmeric and garam masala. In a separate bowl, beat the yogurt and eggs together then stir into the dry ingredients and mix to form a smooth batter. Put to one side whilst you make the topping.

Pre-heat the oven to 220C.

Put a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds and asafoetida. Wait for the mustard seeds to begin to pop (about a minute) then add the onions and fry for around 10 minutes, until they have softened and golden. Add the fresh curry leaves, ground turmeric, chilli powder, salt, black pepper and brown sugar and stir to coat the onions. Finally, add the tamarind paste and chickpeas and stir to combine.

Put the butter in a 20cm x 30cm rectangular roasting tin and put it into the oven until the butter has melted and the tin is piping hot. Pour the batter into the tin and quickly put the onion and chickpea mixture over the top (I find that the easiest way to do this is with your fingers). 

Put the roasting tin back into the oven and cook for about 10 mins, until golden brown.

Serve hot or cold.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

Banana Sourdough Pancakes

Banana Sourdough Pancakes

Feeding my boys is a full time job. Or at least it feels that way. No sooner have the early morning cries for porridge been met than fruit needs distributing and packed lunches assembling. There's bread to be baked for sandwiches, fritters to be fried, chickpeas to whizz up into houmous, vegetables destined for soup to be chopped. All before the morning school run.

And that's how weekdays go, in a bit of a blur of the day to day routine. I try (but in reality fail) to fit everything in - always on my feet, mostly in the kitchen, with my two year old by my side. He loves nothing better than getting his hands on anything and everything. So we cook, chat, eat and play our way through our days together. Stopping for coffee mid-morning. Our daily ritual whether we're at home or out. Lunch at midday. And now, whilst the sun shines, he can spend his afternoons outside in the garden digging up the lawn, collecting snails, balancing precariously on the upturned butler's tray and festidiously ensuring that all of the stones from the garden path are distributed across the grass (it would be entirely misleading to call it a lawn), whilst I flit in and out. Playing, pegging out washing and feeling permanently guilty for not giving enough of my time to anything or anyone.

When the weekend arrives our shoulders visibly drop, we breathe more deeply, the pace slows, and getting dressed before breakfast is not an option. Cups of tea are drunk whilst still hot. And so, once the demand for porridge has been satisfied, there is the time and head space for something different. Packing a picnic and heading to the woods, cycling in the park, a trip to the theatre. Or simply kicking back at home, reading endless stories and eating pancakes.

These banana sourdough pancakes are our current favourites. My boys love them. I love them. Especially with a drizzle of Peckham Honey.

Banana Sourdough Pancakes with Peckham Honey

Inspired by my hatred of waste, I make these pancakes with the unfed sourdough starter which would usually otherwise be discarded after feeding the mother (I keep mine in the fridge as I generally only bake sourdough once a week). This recipe is adapted from Vanessa Kimbell's recipe for Sourdough Scotch Pancakes which is on the Bakery Bits website.

Ingredients

125g sourdough starter
1 medium egg, beaten
90ml whole  milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
1 medium banana, mashed
100g pasta / 00 flour (I used Dove's Farm pasta flour)
1 tsp baking powder
groundnut oil for frying

Method

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sourdough starter, egg, whole milk, vanilla bean paste (if using) and mashed banana.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the batter and stir to combine.

Put a pancake pan or heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Add 1 tbsp groundnut oil to the pan and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour any excess oil into a small bowl and put to one side. Pour a heaped tablespoons of batter into the frying pan, leaving a little room between each one (I usually fit 4 at a time in my medium sized pan). Allow to cook for a minute or two until the pancakes are a light golden brown colour, taking care not to overcook them. Using a fish slice, turn the pancakes over and cook in the same way on the other side.

Using the excess oil which you put to one side, continue to cook the pancakes using up the rest of the batter.

Keep the cooked pancakes warm in the oven (170C/150C fan) until you have finished cooking them all. I like to serve them with fresh fruit and a little honey, but you could add bacon and maple syrup or greek yogurt and fruit compote, or just eat them as they are.