Whether you make your pancakes thick or thin is a matter of taste. Once cooked, add sugar, lemon or any favourite ingredients that bring back childhood memories. I love the tasty combination of lemon, sugar and golden syrup for extra sweetness.
Makes 8-10 pancakes
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
25g butter, melted
Sunflower or vegetable oil for cooking
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Beat the eggs into the milk and pour onto the flour. Whisk well until the batter is smooth and creamy. If there are any lumps, simply pass the batter through a sieve into a jug.
Leave for 30 minutes or longer if you have time, and then whisk in the melted butter.
Heat a pancake pan or non-stick frying pan (about 18cm diameter) over a medium heat and rub the surface with some kitchen roll dipped in the oil. Pour only enough batter into the pan so that when you swirl the pan it just covers the surface in a thin layer.
Cook for about 30 seconds or so until the edges start to curl up and the underside is golden. Flip over and cook the other side.
Slide onto a plate and either serve straight away or keep warm in layers between sheets of greaseproof paper while making the rest.
BAKED CHILLI AND CORIANDER PANCAKES
And for those of you who don’t have a sweet tooth – you need not miss out. These savoury ones are equally as delicious.
1tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g minced beef
1 glass of red wine
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 red chilli, chopped with seeds, or 11/2 to 2tsp dried chilli flakes
1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1 beef stock cube
400g tin kidney beans, drained
1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
1 x basic pancake batter with the addition of 2tbsp chopped coriander
100g cheddar cheese, grated
To make the chilli, heat the oil in a saucepan and then sauté the onion and garlic over a medium heat until they are softened but not coloured.
Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until it is browned, breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and crumble in the stock cube. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 30-45 minutes. Stir the kidney beans and coriander into the chilli and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C/ gas 7. Make the pancakes according to the basic pancake recipe (see left), stirring the coriander into the finished batter. Stack the cooked pancakes between pieces of greaseproof paper while making the rest.
Fold each pancake in half and then half again, creating a triangle with 2 pockets. Spoon some of the chilli into the pancake pockets and place in an ovenproof dish.
Scatter over the cheese and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden. Serve the pancakes hot with any or all of the serving suggestions below:
Guacamole and/or sour cream
1 onion, chopped
TIP: It’s well worth making double of the chilli so you have plenty for another day. Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze.
RHUBARB MARSHMALLOW MERINGUE ROULADE
No matter how full people become, no-one will be able to resist this indulgent dessert.
To enjoy at it’s best make the meringue ahead, then roll up with the filling at the last minute (otherwise the meringue may become a little too squishy).
Takes about 35 minutes to make, plus 25 minutes in the oven
For the meringue
4 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted for dusting
For the filling
400g trimmed rhubarb
50g caster sugar
200ml double cream
1/2 tsp rosewater
First of all, line an approx. 2cm x 35cm x 25cm baking tray, completely lined with non-stick baking paper and lightly oiled.
Pre-heat the oven to 160C/140C fan ovens/Gas 3
To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Using an electric whisk will make the job far easier. Add half of the caster sugar and continue to whisk for a couple of minutes.
Mix the cornfour into the remaining sugar, and add to the egg whites with the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk until you have a firm, glossy consistency, a bit like shaving foam. This will take a good few minutes. Spoon and spread into the prepared baking tray. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the rhubarb into 3-4cm lengths and place in a saucepan with the sugar and 1 tbsp of water. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning a couple of times with a metal spoon, trying not to let all of the pieces become too mushy.
Remove the cooked meringue from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, and then carefully turn out onto a piece of baking paper heavily dusted with icing sugar. Cool completely.
Whip the cream with the rose water until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the rhubarb and then spread over the meringue, leaving a border of about 2cm. Carefully and loosely roll the meringue lengthways into a fat cylinder shape. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.
The rhubarb can be swapped for any other fruits, such as cooked bramley apple, plums or gooseberries. Strawberries, raspberries or blackberries (about 400g) are also really lovely, especially if you puree half of them before folding into the cream.
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND BAILEY’S CHEESECAKE
I’ve had a few requests for this recipe via twitter so here is it. It’s taken from In the Mood for Food, the ‘naughty but nice’ chapter – and it certainly is rich, so much so that you will probably only manage one slice, which is saying something for chocolate fans. It’s perfect to serve as a dessert, midmorning with coffee, for afternoon tea or … well to be honest, you could eat this anytime.
Takes 45 minutes to bake
Makes about 10–12 slices
For the base
250g shortbread biscuits
100g ground almonds
2 teaspoons ground ginger
75g melted butter
For the filling
675g cream cheese (low-fat or full-fat – it’s up to you)
200g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
2 large eggs, beaten
150ml whipping cream
125g white chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.
Grease a round 22 to 24cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
To make the base, finely crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. This is best done in a food processor, but can be done by putting them in a sealed freezer bag and bashing with a rolling pin (a great way to relieve any stress!) Mix in the ground almonds, ginger and melted butter. Press well into the base of the cake tin and refrigerate.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and cornflour (ideally in a food processor or using an electric hand whisk). Add in the eggs, cream and Bailey’s and beat until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Stir in the white chocolate.
Pour into the tin and sit in a roasting tray filled with 1 to 2cm of hot water. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is lightly golden and the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before taking out of the tin.
Serve cut into slices as big or small as you can manage.
If you like the idea of very little washing up when you finally get the kids to bed so you can enjoy a meal with your partner, you’re going to love this. It’s a complete meal cooked all together in the oven (on a baking tray) in a greaseproof paper bag. The best thing to do is to prepare ahead (perhaps when the kids are eating their tea) and keep it in the fridge to cook later on in the evening.
MAKES 2 adult or 4 kid-sized portions PREPARATION TIME 10 minutes COOKING TIME 20 minutes
400g/14oz/13⁄4 cups tinned chopped tomatoes
240g/81⁄2oz tinned butter beans, drained 90g/31⁄4oz/2∕3 cup pitted black olives
1 bottled or tinned roasted red pepper, sliced
10–12 thin slices of chorizo (about 40g/11⁄2oz), halved
2 large handfuls of baby or young spinach leaves
2 fish fillets, such as cod, pollack, haddock or salmon
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and put a large baking tray in the oven to heat.
2 Take a piece of greaseproof paper about 60–80cm/24–32in long
and fold in half to make it double thickness, then fold in half again. Tightly fold together to seal two of the edges, creating a pouch, making sure there are no gaps for the food to escape when cooking. Repeat with another piece of greaseproof paper. (Alternatively, you can buy greaseproof paper bags from supermarkets that are all ready to use.)
3 Divide the tomatoes between the parcels, then do the same with the butter beans, olives, red pepper, chorizo and spinach. Season inside
the bags with salt and pepper, then put the cod on top of the spinach. Season the fish and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Seal the open end of the bags by folding the edges over, leaving as much space in the bags as possible for steam to circulate when cooking. (The parcels can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for a good few hours before cooking.)
4 Put the parcels on the hot baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through. When cooked, split open the parcels and serve hot.
This light and flavoursome soup really has the wow factor – but the wonderful reality is that it’s amazingly easy to make. If you fancy a change from prawns, try using sliced chicken or tofu instead.
MAKES 4 adult portions PREPARATION TIME 10 minutes COOKING TIME 8 minutes
200g/7oz raw, peeled tiger prawns 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
11⁄2 tsp caster sugar
100g/31⁄2oz vermicelli rice noodles 1l/35fl oz/4 cups vegetable stock
2 lemongrass stalks
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1⁄4 tsp chilli paste
100g/31⁄2oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
100g/31⁄2oz baby plum tomatoes, halved 4 spring onions, finely sliced
Juice of 11⁄2 limes
3 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces
A few coriander leaves, for sprinkling
1 Put the prawns in a small bowl and stir in the salt and 1⁄2 tsp of the caster sugar. This will really bring out their flavour. Break the noodles into about 5cm/2in long pieces and soak them in hot water for a couple of minutes to soften, then drain. (You can get all the ingredients ready and prepare the recipe to this point, then put it in the fridge so you can do the last-minute cooking just before serving.)
2 Meanwhile, heat the stock in a wok or large saucepan over a medium heat. Bash the ends of the lemongrass to help release their delicious flavour, then add to the pan with the fish sauce, chilli paste and remaining sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
3 Drain the noodles and add to the wok along with the prawns, shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, spring onions, lime juice and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the prawns are cooked through (they will have turned pink). Have a taste. If the soup could do with being slightly more spicy, add a little more chilli paste; if it’s a little too hot, add some sugar and a squeeze of lime.
4 Serve sprinkled with a few coriander leaves.