Turning Leaves

October 16th, 2014

Turning Leaves

It feels a little strange to be on this blog, in this space, typing these words. Time has past, the blog has stood still, waiting patiently for me. I’m finding my way back, fingertips feeling for keys, mind reaching for the words turning in my mind. I’ve had a long break and it’s been long enough.

It’s kind of inevitable that this is the time of year that I would feel the inspiration and desire to start writing again. Autumn is the season I embrace the quickest and firmest with almost overnight changes to home, attire and cooking. At the first sense of change in the air I pull chocolate leather boots over skinny jeans, paint my nails with deep blackcurrent polish, light sweet and spicy scented candles, slowly cook sausages in a pan until they turn brown and sticky, and beat butter into creamy mash. I look forward to the festivities of Halloween and Bonfire Night and to planning Christmas. Autumn, the season of change, blows in on a cooler breeze, curling in and around the trees, the flowers, the earth. There is nothing unaffected by its touch; the animals and even we feel its presence.

Autumn is not the only inspiration I have right now. I’ve been spending a lot of time this summer by the sea surrounded by the English countryside. Time with friends and family, time alone, time to reach inward and time to look outward. I can think of nowhere better to connect with inner creativity. This summer I have been painting the sea with oil pastels, capturing the beauty of my surroundings through my camera lens, creating pirate adventure days (with a three year old, I should add). And I’m very much looking forward to writing and sharing with you once again.

Yes, it feels a little strange to be here. But it feels like I’ve come home.

Shrove Tuesday

February 21st, 2012

Pancake

Whether sprinkled with sugar and squirted with lemon, filled with something savoury or drizzled with Maple syrup, warm pancakes fresh from the pan are pretty hard to resist. And what’s more they’re such fun; fun to make, fun to dress and fun to eat! I love them with lemon and also filled with banana and honey, and for a savoury version this steak, mushroom and Camembert filling is pretty damn good, if I do say so myself! Here it is in full:

Steak, Camembert and mushroom pancakes

Makes 4 pancakes

For the pancakes
60g plain flour
1 egg
150ml semi-skimmed milk
vegetable oil, for cooking

For the filling
2 large, flat mushrooms
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
250g rump or sirloin steak, thickly sliced into strips
100g Camembert, thickly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C /Gas Mark 6.

To make the batter for the pancakes, sift the flour into a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the centre, then crack the egg into it. Whisk the egg, gradually incorporating the flour until it starts to form a paste and then slowly mix in the milk using a small whisk, so that you get a smooth mixture the consistency of single cream. Leave the batter to stand for 30 minutes.

Once the batter has rested you can start making the filling for the pancakes. Wipe any dirt from the mushrooms (never wash them as they’re porous and will absorb water) then slice them. Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat then add the mushrooms and onion. Sauté them for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat up to high, add the steak and continue sautéing for a few more minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, until everything is cooked through. Keep warm in the pan, covered with foil, while you make the pancakes.

To make the pancakes brush a little oil onto the bottom of an 18-20cm frying pan using a pastry brush or some kitchen towel. Heat the pan over a high heat so that it’s nice and hot and then turn the heat down to medium. Add a ladleful of batter to the pan and swirl it around so that it covers the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the bottom of the pancake starts to turn golden. You can check this by loosening the edges with a palette knife and checking underneath. When the bottom of the pancake is cooked flip it over with the palette knife or by tossing it in the air. The other side won’t take as long to cook; only about 30-60 seconds. Place the cooked pancake on a plate with a sheet of greaseproof paper on top. Repeat to make 3 more pancakes, layering them with greaseproof paper as they are cooked.

Put a quarter of the steak mixture in the middle of each pancake with a quarter of the Camembert. Roll the pancakes up and place them on a medium non-stick baking tray and bake them in the oven for about 5 minutes or so, until the cheese starts to melt. Serve straight away.

What is Shrove Tuesday?
Shrove Tuesday is the day before the first day of Lent – Ash Wednesday – in the Christian calendar. It was traditionally the day when foods were used up and eaten before fasting started, and this is how it came to be associated with the making of pancakes.

However you eat yours tonight, enjoy.