Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nothing says love like banana pancakes

I am not going to lie to you - Rachel Allen's Fruity Pancakes from Rachel's Food for Living makes for a seriously delicious stack. In the spirit of all things lovey dovey, I made them for Stu yesterday morning (an no, I didn't even think to attempt the heart shapes!)

Fruity Pancakes - makes about 12 pancakes

150g plain flour (about 1 cup)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25-50g caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml buttermilk (I add about 1 tbsp lemon juice to regular milk. I also added a bit of extra milk at the end to get the batter to the right consistency.)
25g butter, melted
fruit of your choice, about 150g in total, or 2 small bananas, mashed
sunflower oil

Step 1: Sift the floour, baking powder and soda together in a bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix.
Step 2: In another bowl whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and melted butter. Pour this into the dry ingredients, whisking as you add it in. The batter is ready to use now or may be stored in the fridge overnight.
Step 3: If you are using mashed banana, fold it in just before you want to cook the pancakes.
Step 4: Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and oil it very lightly. Drop large spoonfuls of pancake batter into the hot pan. Leave plenty of space between them as they spread while cooking. If you want to add other fruit, such as berries, do so now. Don't mix it in, just place it on top of the cooking batter.
Step 5: Cook for 1-2 minutes on the frist side until bubbles appear on the upper surface, then use a fish slice or something similar to turn the pancakes over and finish cooking on the second side for another couple of minutes until golden brown. Cook all the pancakes this way. Serve wisth sliced strawberries, maple syrup and bacon!

While we're at it, I would also like to give Rachel (I'm a bit of a fan) mad props for the Mediterranean Pasta Bake in her new book Bake. I made it last week (extra points for getting all the right cheeses and some nice chorizo from Sawers) for dinner one evening and it was very tasty, not to mention super easy.

Mediterranean Pasta Bake - Serves 6

100g chorizo, finely sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
500g penne pasta
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
175ml boiling water
175ml double cream
50g chopped spring onion
2 tbsp chopped basil
50g capers
100g olives, pitted and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
75g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
150g Gruyere cheese, grated
75g cheddar cheese, grated

30cm x 23cm oven proof dish

Step 1: Preheat oven 200c
Step 2: In a frying pan set over a high heat, cook the chorizo with the olive oil for 2 minutes and drain.
Step 3: In a large bowl, mix together the dried pasta with the tomatoes, the boiling water and cream. add the chorizo and then the spring onion, basil, capers, olives and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and the sugar.
Step 4: Place the mixture in the ovenproof dish and scatter over the three cheeses, making sure the pasta is completely covered, then bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and the sauce golden and bubbling. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if it begins to dry out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

'The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.'

BIG NEWS folks . . . it snowed in Northern Ireland last night!!!

I just watched the evening news, and I quote, 'Let's take a look a the blizzard like conditions that turned people's journeys to work into HELL . . . ' At the risk of sounding all Canadian and superior-like when it comes to weather (which I do all the time and drives Stu nuts!) . . . errrrr not so much. Despite my light-hearted mockery, I will 'fess up to joining my colleagues in watching the flakes from our office window throughout the day and this morning I opted for the very late (even more than usual) bus rather than drive to work on the slippery roads (but in truth that's probably more due to the fact that I'm still a bit R-plate shaky!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Breath Icy

As I type this Stu is watching Ice Road Truckers. He thinks it's a nice way to stay connected with Canada but as you might guess if you've seen it, it's not really my cup of tea. I think it's scary (because of the expanse of the frozen Arctic and the crazy rednecks who star in it.)

I am reading Digging to America by Anne Tyler on the recommendation of a friend from work. So far I am really enjoying it. The only other Anne Tyler I've read is Breathing Lessons a few years ago which I thought was excellent. I think she describes the complexities of family relationships very well.

A few friends have tagged me lately challenging me on Facebook to write 25 interesting things about myself. I wonder if I can come up with that many things that would actually be interesting without sounding poncy. Being extremely nosey I love reading other people's entries so will have to give it a try myself.

I have gone on another cooking spree this afternoon - somebody might have to step in soon as my nesting/domestic streak seems to be in overdrive!! On the bright side our freezer is now well and truly stocked with beef curry, fragrant chicken spinach curry, spinach dahl, two (yes, two) lasagnas and a batch of oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies.