Today is Pancake Day (or to be more traditional, Shrove Tuesday). Our pancake tea consists of Curried Chicken pancakes for main course followed by a couple of dessert pancakes which vary depending on what we have in the house but nearly always includes a traditional lemon juice and sugar pancake. This has been our tradition for at least the last 6 or 7 years.
The pancake recipe has varied but the one we usually do now came from Delia Smith's website (original link has gone off-line, this is similar) and is fairly reliable.
In the past we have often used a tin of chicken in white sauce and added some curry powder but this year I cooked it from scratch by finely chopping 2 chicken breasts and frying them in a little oil. I made a thick roux and added curry powder, cayenne pepper and a little turmeric before stirring in the cooked chicken. The pancakes were filled with a couple of tablespoons of the chicken curry mixture then sprinkled with grated cheese before being rolled up and rapidly eaten.
We shared three dessert pancakes this year. They were filled with chocolate coated raisins, traditional lemon juice and sugar, and golden syrup.
This is based on another recipe from the Oat Cuisine book. Again, I followed the recipe fairly closely but ended up increasing the amount of spice since the meal tasted a bit bland using the original amounts. I cooked it in a pressure cooker since whenever I cook lentils, they don't usually cook down soft enough for my liking.
I started by frying 2 diced red onions, 2 chopped peppers, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I then added 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
I then added 50g of porridge oats, 175g of pinhead oats and 1 litre of water, and simmered for half an hour. Next I added 225g of lentils (a mixture of red and green), a teaspoon of stock granules and a teaspoon of chilli flakes, and put the lid on the pressure cooker and cooked for a further half an hour.
The original recipe called for raisins and nuts to be stirred in just before serving. We decided to leave out the fruit but to add mixed seeds instead of the nuts. Unfortunately I forgot to add the seeds but the end result was still good. The lentils had cooked down soft and the pilaf had a slightly porridge-like texture. We served the pilaf with a piece of seeded breaded fish.
I might use a similar technique the next time I try to cook tarka dahl but I will probably need to buy the right kind of lentils first.
The inspiration for this meal came from a book called Oat Cuisine, published in 1985. The pancakes batter was made using a mixture of plain flour and rye flour with porridge oats added. The original recipe called for skimmed milk but I used semi-skimmed with some chicken stock added. A couple of eggs went into the mix too.
The pancakes were fried for a couple of minutes on each side and put to one side until they were all cooked. Then we filled them with a mixture of shredded chicken and cream cheese, with parsley, paprika and cayenne pepper. The pancakes were filled and rolled up before being sprinkled with grated cheese and popped in the oven for a few minutes.
While we were eating them I thought they were a bit similar to Staffordshire Oatcakes. I looked up a few recipes and there are a few differences (no eggs in the Oatcake recipe and the oats were more finely milled) but the basic idea was the same.
Oat pancakes stuffed with chicken, with melted cheese on top, served with potato wedges.
My sourdough bread making experiments are continuing and this week I had a go at this recipe, which sounded interesting. I scaled it down a bit since it called for more starter than I had, and I only have a 400g loaf tin.
My scaled down recipe contained:
- 250g plain flour
- 30g rye flour
- 280g starter
- 1tsp turmeric
- zest of 1 orange
- juice of 1 orange (came to 70g)
- 20ml water
I did not need to add much water since my starter was quite runny. The original recipe called for '75% hydration' starter but I have no idea what the 'hydration' of mine is, since I add flour and water in a fairly irregular manner without keeping track of the exact amounts of each. This is the first recipe I have used which specifies a particular hydration of starter - equal weights of flour and water give 100%, which is how mine started off but over the weeks it will have changed quite a bit.
I deviated from the original recipe with the proving and rising steps too. Instead of putting it in the fridge for 9 hours, I left it in the cold oven overnight. The weather has recently turned cold again and the kitchen temperature is around 18c, significantly lower than the 23-25c specified.
I baked the loaf for about half an hour at gas mark 7 (equivalent to about 250c). The texture was good, with a hard crust on top and soft underneath. The orange flavour came through quite well but the turmeric was less noticeable. The only other times I have made spiced bread has been when I put chilli flakes in a pizza base. I will have to experiment with other spices and flavourings.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.