Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pancake Tuesday

Flipping pancakes

As most of you will know, today is Shrove Tuesday or as it is more commonly known, Pancake Tuesday. I adore pancakes, I really do, however, very rarely do I make them aside  from on and around Pancake Tuesday,  when I have no shame or qualms about consuming vast quantities of pancakes.

When my sister and I were younger we used to thoroughly enjoy the annual pancake day races in the garden. Adults and children alike took part in this, racing down the garden, jumping over the obstacles, flipping the pancake at assigned spots and racing back to pass the frying pan on to the next team member. It was great fun, however, the best part was always afterwards when we finally got to eat the pancakes. My all time favourite topping was and still is, lemon and sugar. Although I used to love experimenting when frying them by adding ingredients such as apple slices and bacon to the batter and then drizzling the piping hot pancakes with maple syrup before devouring.

American style blueberry pancakes

American style blueberry pancakes

Ever the one to make the most out of food events and festivals, I started my Shrove Tuesday celebrations early by making my friend and I a royal breakfast of American style blueberry pancakes, with maple syrup on Sunday. These gorgeously fat pancakes were so easy to make and they tasted delicious;  just the thing to eat before heading out into a miserably cold February drizzle.

Aside from the home-made versions, my favourite place by far to eat pancakes in London has to be the Riding House Cafe. They really and truly make the most scrumptiously fat, fluffy pancakes served with fresh berries, vanilla clotted cream  and maple syrup. And every now and again I allow myself a well deserved indulgent weekend treat.

Stuffed ricotta and spinach pancakes with tomato sauce

Stuffed ricotta and spinach pancakes with tomato sauce

That said, pancakes are most certainly not only good when served sweet. I recently discovered a divine savoury recipe; stuffed ricotta and spinach pancakes with tomato sauce. This dish is so simple to make and it tastes absolutely beautiful. To start you fry a chopped onion and garlic in butter, once caramelised add the spinach and cook until wilted. Take off the heat and leave to cool during which time you can make the pancakes and a simple tomato sauce. When everything is ready, add the ricotta to the spinach mixture, season and add a little bit of lemon rind and grated Parmesan shavings, mixing it together. Spread half the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oven proof dish, place a dollop of the ricotta mixture on each pancake, roll them up and put them side by side on the tomato sauce. Once all the pancakes are in the dish pour the remaining tomato sauce on top, grate some Parmesan on top and place the dish in the oven at 180 degrees  to bake for 25 minutes. Once ready, serve straight away and enjoy.

So in light of my excessive fondness for pancakes I have decided to endeavour to make them more frequently and try out more savoury versions throughout the year, not just on and around Shrove Tuesday.

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A weekend of traditional German cuisine and snowy walks

GermanyAbout once a year I take a trip to Germany to visit my grandmother – or Oma as we call her – and my family near Stuttgart. These visits are always filled with lots of eating – my grandmother always makes my favourite dishes – walks, visiting my aunt and her family, a trip to a nearby town and watching  German TV – usually a folk music festival and a few of my grandmothers favourite shows.

Fresh broetchen

Fresh broetchen

I went for my annual – snowy this time – visit last weekend and per usual I was royally spoilt, I literally ate the entire weekend. Every morning my grandmother went to the local bakery to get fresh broetchen; I have to say the German’s along with the French and Italians really know how to bake bread. Fresh from the baker, still warm, the butter literally melted on the bread, it was delicious. It was hard to come back to cereal and porridge for breakfast after indulging for a few days.

Koeningsberger Klopse with Spätzle

Koeningsberger Klopse with Spätzle

A traditional Schwäbisch dish which my Grandmother always makes for me when I visit is Spätzle, a German noodle dish, which is made with flour, milk, eggs, water and a pinch of salt. The mixture is then pressed through a Spätzle

Turkey schnitzel with Spätzle, carrot salad and lamb's lettuce

Turkey schnitzel with Spätzle, carrot salad and lamb’s lettuce

machine into a pot of salted boiling water. Once the noodles float to the top you take them out with a slotted spoon and put them into a  bowl of cold water for a few minutes. There are numerous things you can serve them with; Käsespätzle is always a favourite,  to make this you add grated cheese to the freshly made Spätzle and put the dish in the oven to bake until the cheese is golden and crisp. My sister always makes Spätzle with fried bacon or chicken and a creamy mushroom sauce. During my visit my grandmother made Spätzle with Koeningsberger Klopse, which is another traditional dish similar to meatballs and my aunt with turkey schnitzel, carrot salad and lamb’s lettuce. I adore this dish and I finally got myself – or rather my grandmother did – a Spätzle machine, which means there will be a lot of traditional German cooking going on in my flat over the next while.

Raclette

Raclette

Aside from lots of Spätzle, my aunt invited us over for Raclette on Saturday

Raclette with potatoes, cream cheese and beetroot

Raclette with potatoes, cream cheese and beetroot

evening. Raclette is a Swiss cheese dish where you have an electric grill and individual pans which you put raw vegetables, cooked meat and whatever else you fancy into and top with a slice of Raclette cheese. The pan is then placed under the grill and you wait until the cheese has melted and browned. Traditionally is’t a popular meal to have after skiing,

Maultaschen with potato salad and lamb's lettuce

Maultaschen with potato salad and lamb’s lettuce

but my family tend to have it all year round. It’s sociable, fun and really delicious. We had  it with boiled potatoes, a cream cheese sauce and pickled beetroot. My grandmother also made lamb Maultaschen during my visit which we ate with my all time favourite German potato  salad and lamb’s lettuce. A lettuce I’d forgotten how much I liked and one we always used to have it in the winter in Ireland.

Oma's Käsekuchen

Oma’s Käsekuchen

So as you can see we ate a lot over the weekend and it was really lovely, although I was dying to go for a swim once I was back to London. One recipe that has been baffling me for ages and despite a few attempts I could never get right, was finally resolved – well at least the German version. And that is cheesecake or Käsekuchen. My grandmother makes an absolutely divine baked cheesecake. I’ve always struggled with the recipe, actually the cheese part to be more exact. Online recipes always say cream cheese, but I can never find any cream cheese that works and they never specify a brand. Now, thanks to my grandmother I have a recipe that is delicious, easy to make and more importantly I know what cheese to use. The base is a simple; flour, eggs, sugar, butter and a dash of milk or water to bind the pastry together. The topping is made with quark or soft cheese, crème fraîche, sugar, a bit of butter, egg yolks and beaten egg whites. The mixture is then poured into the pastry shell and put into the oven to bake. And the result; a gorgeously creamy and tasty cheesecake. To mix it up a bit you can add raisins,  apple slices or any fruit you want on top of the pastry base before pouring in the cream cheese mixture.

So all in all, I had a lovely weekend in Germany being spoilt and eating a lot. I also gained a few new recipes from my grandmother which I’ll be trialling, so watch this space for more German food posts and recipes.

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