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.

Game for a Pie

January 25th, 2012

Game Pie

January. It’s a bit of a D month, don’t you think? Dreary, drizzly, dull. It’s not really A-list, not like, say, blossoming April or sultry August. OK, enough of the word play, you get my drift. Christmas has long gone, everyone’s broke…it is, officially, the most depressing month of the year. Still, we’ll soon be crossing the boundary into February, onto Valentine’s Day and one step closer to spring.

But January has got at least one thing going for it: game. Whether you go for deep rich venison, flavoursome pheasant or the more delicate rabbit, game feels like a real luxury in this bare month. Make the most of the season while it lasts and why not mix up the meats with a hearty, full-bodied pie like this one?

Game Pie

Serves 4

Olive oil
500g mixed game (such as venison, partridge, pheasant), diced
2 rashes of streaky bacon
200g mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon plain flour
A good slosh of red wine (optional)
400ml beef stock
A generous pinch of Herbs de Provence
A packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
Salt and pepper

Add a little oil to a large pan and brown the game over a medium heat. Remove it and set aside.

Add the bacon to the pan and sauté it for a few minutes then add the mushrooms and onion. Continue to sauté for until the onion and the mushrooms start to colour and then add the browned game back to the pan.

Stir in the flour until everything is coated and then add the wine, if using, stock and herbs. Season well and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the game is tender and the sauce reduced and thickened. If the sauce thickens too much stir in a little water.

Preheat the oven to 200c, fan 180c.

Transfer the game to a pie dish and then top with puffed pastry. Put a small hole in the middle, using a knife, to allow steam to escape.

Bake the pie for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Slice of Game Pie