milk

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

panettonepudding

I’m not a huge fan of panettone but there is often one knocking around after Christmas and it does make a delicious cheat’s bread-and-butter pudding. This one came from the bottom box of a ‘Tower of Treats’ and was re-gifted to me in January. I was thrilled because I new exactly what to do with it.

Since there is fruit, mixed peel, butter and sugar already in the panettone you don’t need to add any extra – which is why I use the word ‘cheat’. If you have a particularly sweet tooth you can add some extra sugar to the custard if you like and I do add a light smear of extra butter to the top of each slice of panettone for a nice crispy crust.

It’s the perfect comfort food but very indulgent. Carbs, sugar, fat – it’s all in there. Sorry if you’re trying to be good. I’ll aim for a healthier recipe next time.

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

  • 1 panettone (mine was 500g and 20cm diametre), cut into slices about 2 cm thick
  • 30g of butter
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 600ml of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional – 50g of caster sugar

Lightly butter a ceramic baking dish approximately 20 cm x 30 cm (or one with a similar area).

Spread the rest of the butter thinly over the top surface of each slice of panettone and arrange in a single layer in the dish but with each slice overlapping the next (as above). If you want it to look prettier then you can cut the panettone slices into smaller pieces but I don’t bother.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and, if you have a sweet tooth, the caster sugar.

Pour this over the top of the panettone slices, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour for the bread to soak up the custard mixture.

When you are ready to cook, remove the cling film and sprinkle over some demerara sugar and a good grating of nutmeg.

Place in an oven preheated to 180oC for 45 minutes – one hour (or until the custard is set – you can test this with a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean then it’s done – and the top is a deep golden brown). Mine took 55 minutes.

Let it stand for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long) before serving. Serve with pouring cream if you like but I think it is perfect just for itself.

panettonepudding2

It tastes so much better than it looks.

A little bit of comfort – golden turmeric milk

tumeric-milk-2

“Be good to yourself”.

This is what my yoga teacher says and it usually goes in one ear and out the other.

But this month I’m taking her advice, jumping on the bandwagon and trying to embrace the Danish concept of hygge. This involves attempting to create a general vibe of relaxation and wellbeing i.e. lighting lots of candles, cuddling up under warm blankets, drinking warm drinks…eating stews. I’m relaxing my punishing exercise regime (which sometimes enters the realms of self harm), letting some dust build up, and trying to ignore my ‘to do’ list.

I am also NOT having a dry January.

This recipe for warm, spiced milk, slightly sweetened with honey encapsulates the feeling that I’m trying to achieve. Although you may argue that hot chocolate laced with brandy would be better.

Waterstones was packed with books about hygge over Christmas and so it’s not surprising that I received one as a present. I really enjoyed reading it because it was entirely readable and intellectually unchallenging – which in itself is very hygge (have I annoyed you with my italics yet?).  My honest view though is that we already have a perfectly good English version of this concept – it’s just that our word for it is ‘cosy’. An open fire, a cup of tea, a good book – who doesn’t love that!

This is a very good article on the matter but it is not short so you will need a good attention span and at least 15 minutes spare to read it (The hygge conspiracy).

Golden turmeric milk (Anna Jones writing for The Guardian)

Makes 2 cups

  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 400ml of unsweetened milk (regular dairy, oat, coconut, almond)
  • ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of runny honey

Bash the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and put them into a small saucepan with the milk, turmeric and cinnamon. Heat gently until almost boiling.

Strain into mugs and stir in the honey once it has cooled a little.

NOTE: I’m cooking meatballs in gravy tonight from a Tom Kerridge recipe. I’m hoping that this will supply further comfort and feelings of wellbeing. If they’re good I’ll post the recipe here next week. I’m just trying to decide whether to have them with mashed potatoes (the obvious accompaniment) or chips (what I really want!).

 

Fiskekaker (Norwegian fish cakes)

Norwegian fish cakes

It may seem perverse to come back from holiday and attempt to recreate dishes that you didn’t even try whilst there, but that is exactly what I’ve done this week. I saw these fishcakes for sale in Bergen, and I really wanted to try them, but I didn’t because my penny pinching reflexes kicked in and I couldn’t bear to part with £££s for them.

On another note, I’ve been lusting after newly published cookbooks recently, but for before-said miserly tendencies I’ve made a resolution to revisit cookbooks that I currently own but never use instead. So I was reading Elisabeth Luard’s ‘European Peasant Cookery’ (which is a great hulk of a book, which I put on my birthday list 7 years ago, received and then promptly ignored) and one of the first recipes in the book was for Norwegian fish cakes, or fiskekaker. This tweaked my interest having been in Norway recently and I decided to try making them.

I wish I had tried the authentic version to compare them with, but what I can say is that mine (or rather Elisabeth’s) were delicious in a subtle, comforting way – almost like nursery food. I make fish cakes a lot but these are refreshingly simple with fish being the star of the show. Unsurprisingly my children loved them and I think they will become a regular feature on our weekly menu.

Fiskekaker (Norwegian fish cakes)

From Elisabeth Luard’s ‘European Peasant Cookery’

Makes about 12

  • 500g of filleted white fish (haddock or cod will do but make sure it’s as fresh as possible)
  • 1 small cooked potato, mashed, or 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 6 tablespoons of single cream or full cream milk
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt
  • A good grinding of white pepper
  • Butter for frying

Skin the fish and remove any pin bones. Roughly chop the fish flesh and pound this either with a pestle and mortar (hard work but traditional) or finely mince in a food processor. Stir in the potato, cream and seasoning. Beat until you have a smooth doughy mixture.

Melt a good dollop of butter in a frying pan and heat to medium.

Using a dessert spoon dipped in water, scoop out a spoonful of the fish mixture and add it to the pan. Press it down with the back of the spoon. Alternatively shape into small cakes with wet hands. Continue until the pan is full. Brown on one side before flipping over to cook the other, about 5 minutes on each side. Keep warm in a low oven while you cook the others.

I served mine with dill butter, a beetroot salad and rice. More traditional would be to eat them just for themselves or with boiled potatoes.

Ricotta hotcakes

ricotta hotcakes

I have mentioned Nigella Lawson’s ricotta hotcakes before but at that time I just included a link to the recipe on her website because I only ever made them very occasionally for my husband who disliked my stodgier Be-Ro dropped scones.

Nearly two years on however these have become the ones I ALWAYS cook. It turns out that my children prefer them too and with no sugar in the pancake itself they are a teeny bit healthier. Nigella keeps hers healthy by serving them simply, with strawberries, but in our house it’s golden syrup and chocolate spread all the way, so they do still remain a weekend breakfast treat.

You need two bowls and you do need to remember to buy ricotta cheese from the supermarket, but once you’ve made them a couple of times you’ll find that they’re not that difficult to make.

Because there is no sugar in the batter they also make a good alternative to blini topped with savory toppings like smoked fish and sour cream.

Nigella’s ricotta hotcakes

Makes about 20

  • 1 tub (250g) of ricotta cheese
  • 125ml of semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Groundnut oil (or other flavourless oil) for frying

You’ll need two mixing bowls. First separate the eggs and put the egg yolks in one bowl and the whites in the other.

In the bowl with the egg yolks add ricotta cheese and milk. Mix until well combined and then add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix again until you have a thickish batter.

Whisk the egg whites in the other bowl until foamy. This will only take a couple of minutes – you don’t need stiff peaks as for meringue.

Fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture with a metal spoon, nice and gently so that you don’t knock out too much air.

Heat a large frying pan with a little groundnut oil to a medium high heat. Then add dessert spoons of batter into the pan (I do four at a time).

Cook the pancakes for about a minute until golden and then flip and cook on the other side for about another minute. The batter is quite delicate so this is probably the trickiest bit.

Continue this process until all the batter is finished, keeping the cooked ones warm on a warmed plate covered with a tea towel (or in my case I act as pancake slave, serving up each batch immediately to my family of hungry little birds who eat them more quickly than I can make them).

ricotta egg yolks burghley

Showing off my new Burleigh bowl – a 38th birthday present from my mum.

Soup and a roll

soup and a roll

If you’ve been reading the papers this week, you’ll probably have seen the story that Miriam Gonzalez Durantez (the wife of Nick Clegg) has a secret food blog (http://www.mumandsons.com/).

Surprisingly the blog is an amateurish affair (just like mine) and not at all slick (unlike the politicians vying for power in next week’s election). But it’s rather sweet and the recipes do seem genuine – like she really does cook them, in her very own kitchen, with her very own children.

And Miriam’s milk bun recipe (below), which I tried this week, is very good and pretty straight forward. It won’t persuade me to vote Lib Dem but then I don’t think it’s meant to.

Politically I sit very much on the fence and I had thought about asking Samantha and Justine for their favourite recipe and then voting according to which of the three was best. But then that’s just a bit silly. Instead I’ll most probably abstain or vote for ‘Justice for Men and Boys’ (even sillier).

And to go with the buns, here’s one of my favourite soup recipes, which uses possibly my most hated vegetable. Sounds twisted and it is – horrid swede, turned into nectar in soup form. The recipe is based on one in Lindsey Bareham’s ‘A Celebration of Soup’.

Miriam’s milk buns

Makes 10

  • 500g plain flour (I used strong bread flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 9g fast action yeast
  • 90g butter (room temperature)
  • A good pinch of salt

Warm 100ml of milk. Mix the yeast, 100g of flour and the warmed milk and let it rest for half an hour until it gets frothy.

Then mix this with all the other ingredients. The easiest way to do this is in a food processor with the kneading hook for around 8-10 minutes. (I don’t have a food processor and the mixture is quite sloppy so I attempted to use the dough hook on my hand mixer but then ended up kneading by hand).

Once kneaded, put it all into a glass bowl (greased with a tiny bit of sunflower oil) and let it rest for 2 hours until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough to get rid of the air. Then divide the dough into 10 parts. Shape each one like a ball, or give them an oval shape.

Put them on a tray lined with baking paper (I needed two trays, with 5 on each). Cover the buns with cling film (I used a tea towel) and wait for another 35-45 minutes until they rise again.

Preheat the oven at 220 degrees. Cut the buns (if you like that shape) and ‘paint them’ with beaten egg (I didn’t bother with the egg glaze (a waste of a valuable egg) but sprinkled with poppy seeds instead).

Put them into the oven, lower the temperature to 200 degrees and bake for 15 minutes (mine needed an extra 5 minutes).

Lindsey’s swede soup

  • One swede weighing about 450g, peeled and chopped into dice about 1cm square
  • 2 or 3 shallots, or half a regular onion, chopped
  • A small bunch of parsley, leaves and stalks
  • 75g of butter (although I can never bring myself to use this much and generally use half this amount)
  • 1 litre of good stock (homemade would be best but I generally use a Knorr beef stock pot)
  • Salt and pepper

Take a large sauce pan and melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onion, swede and parsley stalks to the pan and stir well so that the vegetables are nicely covered with butter. Put a lid on and allow everything to sweat in the pan for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After this time, pour on the stock, bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Put the mixture into a blender, along with the parsley leaves and puree until really smooth.

Return to the pan and check the seasoning before serving.

Scone off – Delia vs Paul

scones

Scones are quick and simple to make but I have so many recipes for them that I get confused as to which one is best. So last Sunday I decided to try two recipes and compare them directly. Firstly, I chose a recipe from the stalwart of everyday home cooking – Delia, and secondly, one from the man hailed as the new god of baking – Paul Hollywood.

I was taught to make scones as a child and the following golden rules (most probably my mother’s) are embedded in my brain:

  1. Use a very light touch, work quickly and don’t over mix the dough.
  2. Try to cut as many scones from the first roll as possible as the more you work the dough the heavier they will be.
  3. Bake the scones as close to eating as possible – they always taste better fresh from the oven.

To be honest though even if they turn out a bit dense or uneven, freshly baked scones are always better than horrid, dry, shop-bought ones and once you’ve smothered them in strawberry jam and clotted cream you won’t notice any flaws.

So back to the scone off and whose recipe was best according to the Shelton household. My son hates scones and so didn’t vote. My husband preferred Paul Hollywood’s and my daughter and I favoured Delia’s. So it was:

Delia 2 – Paul 1

I don’t think there’s a male versus female thing going on here, but I do think the large, manly size of Paul’s scones (which he describes as small!!!) did win my husband over. His are also richer and involve an additional step, a process called ‘chaffing’ (sounds slightly worrying in view of his sex god status but all will become clear below).

I liked the simple taste of Delia’s scones better and I definitely AM swayed by the no-nonsense nature of her recipe. There’s no showing off here and straight forward store cupboard ingredients which certainly suits my style of cooking better.

Delia Smith’s basic scones (from her Complete Cookery Course)

Delia

Make about 12 scones

  • 225g of self-raising flour
  • 40g of butter at room temperature
  • 150ml of milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 220oC and grease a baking sheet.

First of all, sift the flour into a bowl and rub the butter into it rapidly, using your fingertips. Next stir in the sugar and salt, then take a knife and use it to mix in the milk little by little. Now flour your hands a little and knead the mixture to a soft dough – adding a drop more milk if it feels at all dry.

Then turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board and roll it out to a thickness of not less than 2 cm using a lightly floured rolling pin. Take a 4 or 5 cm pastry cutter and place it on the dough, then tap it sharply so that it goes straight through the dough – don’t twist it or the scones will turn out a peculiar shape. After you have cut out as many scone shapes as you can like that, knead the dough trimmings together again and repeat until you have used it all.

Then place the scones on the greased baking sheet, dust each one with a little extra flour and bake for 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and eat them slightly warm.

Paul Hollywood’s scones (from ‘How to Bake’)

paul

Makes 15 small scones (I made half the quantity and ended up with 7)

  • 500g of strong white bread flour
  • 80g of unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 250ml of whole milk

To finish

  • 1 medium egg beaten with a pinch of salt

Heat oven to 220oC and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Put 450g of the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the flour and butter together with your fingers to create a breadcrumb-like mixture.
Add the sugar, eggs and baking powder and use a wooden spoon to turn the mixture gently, making sure you incorporate all the ingredients.

Add half the milk and keep stirring to combine. Then add the remaining milk, a little at a time, and bring everything together to form a soft, wet dough. You may not need all the milk.

Sprinkle most of the remaining flour onto a clean surface. Tip the dough onto it. Sprinkle the rest of the flour on top. The mixture will be wet and sticky. Use your hands to fold the dough in half, then turn it 90 degrees and repeat (Paul calls this ‘chaffing’). Do this a few times to form a smooth dough. Be careful not to over work your dough. If it becomes too sticky use some extra flour to coat it or your hands.

Sprinkle a little more flour onto the work surface and the dough, then use a rolling pin to gently roll up from the from the middle and then down from the middle. Turn the dough 90 degrees and continue to roll until about 2.5cm thick. ‘Relax’ the dough slightly by lifting the edges and allowing the dough to drop back onto the surface.

Using a 7cm pastry cutter dipped in flour so that it doesn’t stick, stamp out rounds and place on the trays. Don’t twist the cutter, just press firmly, then lift up and press the dough out. Cut out as many as you can and re-roll the dough bearing in mind that the more you re-roll the less fluffy the scones will be.

Leave the scones to rest for a few minutes, then brush just the tops with the beaten egg to glaze.

Bake for 15 minutes.

scones 2

Elderflower pana cotta with gooseberry sauce

panacotta

Our gooseberry bushes at the allotment have done really well this year so I earmarked this recipe to try and use them up and asked my daughter Elizabeth (aged 5) to pick the fruit.

I have vivid memories of being sent into my granny’s garden at a similar age to pick gooseberries. Now, if you have ever picked them yourself you will know that they are very thorny. It’s a painful pursuit but as a child I didn’t wear gloves and despite getting prickled and scratched I don’t remember making a fuss. Perhaps it was the thought of the gooseberry fool that we would make afterwards by mixing the stewed fruit with Bird’s instant custard that kept me going.

Now Elizabeth is pretty tough but she managed to pick just five gooseberries before moaning and giving up. I let her off and picked the rest myself (albeit with gloves) wondering whether I should be a tougher parent.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you will have noticed that I’m a fan of stodgy puddings but in warm weather it’s nice to have something lighter and more summery. This Hugh  Fearnley-Whittingstall dish from his ‘River Cottage everday’ book is just the ticket and it’s the best panna cotta recipe I have tried. I often find panna cotta too creamy but in Hugh’s version he adds yoghurt which gives a nice tang.

Elderflower panna cotta with gooseberry sauce

For the elderflower panna cotta

  • 100ml whole milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of elderflower cordial (homemade or shop bought)
  • 2 gelatine leaves
  • 150ml plain yoghurt

For the gooseberry sauce

  • 500g gooseberries
  • 75g caster sugar

First make the gooseberry sauce. Wash and top and tail the gooseberries, then put them in a saucepan with the sugar. Cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Hugh keeps his sauce lumpy which you can do if you like but I personally don’t like the texture of the pips so I whizz the mixture in a food processor then pass through a sieve so that you have a nice smooth sauce. Set aside.

For the panna cotta, first soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5-10 minutes until floppy.

While the leaves are soaking, in a saucepan combine the milk, cream, sugar and elderflower cordial and bring the liquid just to the boil (Hugh calls this scalding).

Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the hot creamy mixture and stir until they have dissolved.

Leave the mixture to cool at room temperature, stirring from time to time.

Once cool add the yoghurt and stir until well combined.

Pour the mixture into ramekins or small jelly moulds and chill in the fridge until set (about 4 hours).

When you are ready to serve, dip each mould in warm water for a couple of seconds and then turn out onto a serving plate (as you can see from the photograph above mine were left in the water just a little too long which is why some of the outer mixture has melted into the gooseberry sauce).

Serve with a spoonful of gooseberry sauce and if you want to be poncy (like me) some wild strawberries.

NOTES:

If you don’t like gooseberries then you can serve these panna cotta with any fruit sauce. Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum all work brilliantly. You can also leave out the elderflower and add a few drops of real vanilla essence instead (you will need to add an additional 10g of sugar to the milk at the start though).

I made elderflower cordial for the first time this year because it’s really expensive to buy in the shops and we have an elder tree overhanging our allotment. It was super easy and here’s how I did it. Measure out 900g of caster sugar in a bowl and pour over 1.7 litres of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and leave to cool. Add about 30 elderflower heads and 50g of citric acid (which I bought in my local chemist for 99p). Leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring from time to time. Strain through some muslin and transfer to sterilised bottles. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. You can dilute it with tap water, sparkling water or champagne!

Good hot porridge

porridge
You may find this post both patronising and hypercritical if you read the one I wrote a while back criticising Jamie Oliver for including a fish finger sandwich in his recipe book. But I’m posting this recipe because my daughter Elizabeth loves porridge and I would like my way of cooking it to be written down so that she can make it the same way when she’s a big girl. And remember, you don’t have to fork out £20 to read this blog.

Porridge is often classed as poor food because it’s cheap. I ate it for two meals a day when I was a skint graduate desperate to live in London with an unemployed boyfriend to support and too much pride to go running to the bank of mum and dad. But even then I really didn’t mind eating so much porridge because, just like my daughter, I LOVE it.

And now that money is not a huge issue but time is, porridge has become a real luxury for me. Most weekdays breakfast is a small bowl of muesli or a slice of toast eaten standing up whilst doing several other things, but when I can find time to make porridge I’m always pleased that I did. Here’s how I do it.

Porridge

Serves 2

  • 100g whole rolled jumbo oats
  • 450ml water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon of semi-skimmed milk
  • A little freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon

Start the process the night before (remembering this is the trickiest bit). Measure the oats into a saucepan and soak in 450ml of cold water. Cover with a lid and leave overnight. This part is essential for a lovely creamy texture even though you are just using water.

In the morning put the pan on a high heat until it just starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously so that it doesn’t stick. If you think the porridge is a little thick for your liking then you can just add a bit more water.

Spoon into bowls and pour over 1 tablespoon of milk and add a drizzle of honey and some grated nutmeg. If you’re feeling really luxurious then you can use cream instead of milk which is delicious and an occasional weekend treat.

NOTE: Providing you don’t use cream this is great diet food. It really fills you up and is only 256 calories per serving (oats 185 calories, honey 64 calories, milk 7 calories).

Porridge and Elizabeth 1

Elizabeth enjoying her morning porridge.

Recuperation food – macaroni cheese

macoroni cheese 3

We’ve been a poorly household this week – struck down with an annoying virus that has taken us all out one by one. And in our period of recuperation some simple, soul warming food has been called for.

When I was ill as a child my mum used to give me Heinz tinned macaroni cheese as a treat. I think I’m the only person in the world who likes this. I know it smells disgusting and tastes nothing like pasta, cheese, or indeed of anything that should be eaten (the words ‘cat’ and ‘sick’ spring to mind) but even now I still find it strangely comforting.

But I think my husband would divorce me if I served it up in our house so instead I opt for a homemade version. This is very easy to make and I can just about manage it (even with a stiff neck, snotty nose and aching joints). And it is just what the doctor ordered, so comforting, creamy and soft, verging on bland, but seriously moreish.

My children gobble it all up and swear that it makes them feel much, much better.

There are hundreds of recipes for macaroni cheese but this is mine.

Macaroni cheese

Serves 4 generously

  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of English mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 400g macaroni
  • 75g cheddar cheese (grated or cut into chunks)

Topping

  • 50g cheddar cheese or parmesan grated
  • 30g breadcrumbs
  • A little paprika

Heat your oven to 200oC fan.

First put a pan of water on the hob, bring to the boil and cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions or until cooked completely through.

While the pasta is cooking make the sauce. Measure the butter, flour and milk into a saucepan and put on the hob over a medium heat. Whisk the mixture continually as it heats up and the butter melts (it won’t go lumpy as long as you whisk all the time). When the mixture comes to the boil it will start to thicken. Turn the heat down and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes (so that the floury taste cooks out). Add the mustard, cheese, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese has melted.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour over the cheese sauce. Mix thoroughly and then transfer to a large oven proof dish, or use several smaller ones like I have in the photo below.

Sprinkle a mixture of grated cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs (seasoned with a little paprika and pepper) over the top of the macaroni and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

macoroni cheese before baking

Before baking.

Note: I sometimes add a couple of handfuls of frozen peas into the cheese sauce before mixing with the pasta if I’m trying to get some ‘green’ into the children (there’s no need to cook them first, they will defrost and heat up in the oven).

The quantity of cheese I use results in a mild cheese flavour, if you really like your cheese then it won’t upset the recipe to up this to 100g, or you can use a mixture of cheddar and parmesan.

My mum used to place slices of smoked back bacon on top of the pasta instead of breadcrumbs and cheese. Providing the oven was hot enough the edges of the bacon crisped up and bacon juices dripped into the pasta – it was absolutely delicious.

Weekend breakfast – pancakes, pancakes!

pancakes

In our family weekend breakfasts have to be a bit special and for us this usually means either eggs or pancakes. This recipe for scotch pancakes comes from the Be-Ro Flour Home Recipes book and it’s the one my mum always used. These really excite my children and they’re so quick to knock up. In terms of the effort versus pleasure ratio they’re a complete winner and it’s a great recipe to have to hand when you’ve run out of bread in the morning.

Dropped scones (in our house called Scotch pancakes)

100g self-raising flour
25g caster sugar (the original recipe uses 50g but I think this makes the pancakes too sweet, especially if your favourite topping is golden syrup!)
Pinch of salt
1 egg
Milk to mix (about 4 tablespoons)
Oil for frying

Measure the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Add a drop of milk and stir with a spoon until the mixture comes together in a thick batter. Add a little more milk gradually until you have a dropping consistency.

Drop a desert spoon of batter into a moderately hot frying pan greased with a little oil (I use groundnut or rapeseed oil, never olive oil). You can usually fit 3 or 4 into the pan at a time.

Turn over once the pancakes start to bubble and are golden brown on the underside.

Serve with plenty of your favourite topping. I love lashings of golden syrup, my daughter likes raspberry jam and my son prefers them plain or, as a special treat, chocolate spread.

This recipe cooks about 10-12 pancakes. This is usually enough to feed my two hungry children and myself.

My husband dislikes these basic dropped scones as he says they’re a bit stodgy. He prefers Nigella’s delicious Ricotta hotcakes (http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/ricotta-hotcakes-229) which are super light and fluffy. However,  as they involve ricotta as an extra ingredient (which you have to remember to buy at the supermarket), an extra bowl, egg separating and whisking, I’m afraid these don’t get cooked very often.

NOTE: The title of this post comes from Eric Carle’s children’s book ‘Pancakes, Pancakes!’. It’s such a great story that involves a small boy having to go to great lengths to source all the ingredients for his much desired breakfast pancake. He has to thresh the wheat to make flour, milk the cow and so on.