Tag Archives: breakfast

Swedish Pancakes

When it comes to Scandinavian food, it’s all to easy to fawn over the cool aesthetic of places like Noma or think that it’s all about cinnamon buns. However, something that I really like is one of the simplest things you can make – straightforward Swedish pancakes, served the merest dusting of icing sugar and topped with lingonberry jam.

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These are made with one of those handy-to-remember recipes, based on a ratio of 2-3-6. That’s 2 decilitres of flour, 3 eggs and 6 decilitres of milk. Yes, the decilitre. Odd, huh? This is something that you come across fairly rapidly if you dare to venture into Swedish cooking, but it does at first prompt a little confusion if you’re not used to it. It’s equivalent to 100ml, but as you might have worked out by now, I’ve got a bit of an aversion to volumes-based measurements. I’ll happily measure our liquids in a jug, but when it comes to dry ingredients, I always go with my natty set of digital scales. If you’ve never tried, you really need to get a set! So much easier for getting precise quantities. Never again do you need to worry about whether flour needs to be compacted or not before adding to batter…anyway…

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These pancakes are similar to crepes. The batter is very thin (you would think that the flour is not enough for all that milk, but it is!), so when you add the batter to the frying pan, you need to make sure you quickly spread the batter to get them thin and round. When it comes to flipping, you need to be quite confident with these little fellows. If you use a non-stick pan, then the butter in the batter will stop them from sticking. It’s then just a case of shaking the pan to loosen the pancake, and then you need to flip them with a firm, confident motion. Do it this way, and the pancake with do a mid-air somersault that should impress onlookers. However, if you lose your nerve, then you’ll end up with a pancake that folds itself in half and sticks into a big, doughy mass. Be confident!

The lack of sugar in the batter also means that these pancakes work equally well with savoury or sweet flavours. If you’re trying the keep with the Swedish theme, I’d add some cheese or mushrooms. Otherwise, jam is a favourite, with lingonberry being the classic.

Now, you may or may now know that I am a bit of a compulsive collector of all manner of edible berries. I subscribe to the school of thought that says you should never pick things that you are not completely sure of, so if you’re going to don your country finest and go foraging for berries this weekend, just stick with what you know.

Anyway, I was on a trip to Finland and managed to come away with a decent amount of lingonberries from the forest to the west of Helsinki. They made it back to London, and have been hidden in the back of the freezer for a while now. I thought they would be perfect with these pancakes – I just popped the berries into a saucepan, added some water and a little sugar (one quarter of the weight of the berries) and within minutes, I had a simple lingonberry compote. If you’re not familiar with the flavour, it’s sweet and tart, but less sharp than cranberries, and it’s great on top of pancakes. If you’re in Sweden, you’ll even find the stuff served with meat and potatoes. Sadly it was too much like jam for me to think of it as something to eat with savoury dishes!

These are great for breakfast – I make the batter the night before, so you can whip up a batch first thing in the morning.

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To make Swedish Pancakes (makes 16):

• 200 ml (100g) plain flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 600ml milk
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1. In a bowl, mix the flour and salt with half the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, and beat well. Leave to sit for 30 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).

2. Add the melted butter to the batter in a thin stream, stirring constantly.

3. Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Add enough batter to make a think pancake, tilting the pan to make sure the batter is evenly spread. Cook until set, then shake to loosen the pancake. Flip and cook the other side.

Worth making? Of course. Who doesn’t like pancakes?

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Cinnamon Buns for Busy People

I’m a mega fan of a good cinnamon bun (as well as their cardamom cousins). But much as I love to make buns using yeasted dough, but there is one problem – these are recipes that taste great when they’re fresh, but if you need to allow several hours of proving time to get a nice, puffy dough, then it’s not really compatible with the idea of a lie-in at the weekend when you want to munch on cinnamon buns for breakfast. So what can you do?

I’m aware that some folk have mastered the technique of slow-rising the dough overnight in the fridge. I’ve tried it in the past, but with less than stellar results, so it’s something I still have to perfect. In the meantime, I’ve come up with a solution (of sorts). The technique is pretty much identical to the “traditional” method, but uses baking powder in place of yeast. This means that you don’t need to leave the dough to rise, and can get them done is less than an hour. It also means the recipe is foolproof, and you still get a decent amount of lift, and in the case of one bun, a rather spectacular amount!

So, how do they compare to the buns made with yeast? In fairness, this baking powder version is not quite as as light and fluffy, but I think that this is a reasonable trade-off when you need to whip up a batch in a bit of a hurry. However, they do look good and you’ve got my word that they still taste utterly delicious. That, and you get those extra hours in bed at the weekend rather than having to get up at 6am to prepare a fresh batch…

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To make cinnamon buns (makes 12):

For the dough:

• 180ml milk
• 60g butter
• 1 medium egg
• 50g caster sugar
• 280g strong white flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 generous teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
• 4 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling:

• 60g butter, soft
• 60g caster sugar
• 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking tray with white bun cases.

2. In a saucepan, bring the milk to the boil. Take off the heat, add the butter, then leave until the butter has melted and the mixture is lukewarm.

3. Make the filling – beat the sugar until soft, then add the sugar and cinnamon. Mix until very soft and smooth. It should be easily spreadable.

4. Whisk the egg and divide in two (you need half for the dough, and half for the glaze).

5. Put the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and baking powder into a bowl. Mix, then sieve well. Add the milk mixture and half of the egg, and mix to a soft dough. If needed, add more flour, and knead lightly until you have an elastic dough.

6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle until the dough is about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Spread with the filling, then roll up into a sausage. Cut into 12 slices with a sharp knife, and lay each piece, cut face up, on a bun case.

7. Take the remaining egg (remember that?) and mix with a tablespoon of water. Brush the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake the buns for about 12 minutes until puffed up and golden.

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Dark Chocolate Spread

I made this amazing salted chocolate tart a few weeks ago (I can say it was amazing as, frankly, it was). It also got me thinking – could I adapt the filling to make a chocolate spread to enjoy in the morning? Because, you know, I’m greedy sometimes.

As it turns out, the answer to the question of “is it possible?” is a resounding “yes”. I went easy on the salt in this version, but otherwise it’s exactly the same ratios as used in the tart filling – equal weights of dark chocolate, muscovado sugar and double cream, heated until glossy, then poured into a jar and left to cool until the next morning.

So I made it, and had it the next day with breakfast. It really was truly delicious – spread on warm sourdough toast, and allowed to melt slightly. A pretty decadent way to start the day!

To make dark chocolate spread (makes 1 small jar):

• 120g dark chocolate
• 120g muscovado sugar
• 120ml double cream
• scant 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more or less, to taste)

1. Put the sugar, cream and salt in a bowl. Stir well until a lot of the sugar and salt are dissolved, then taste the mixture – add more salt if needed (but only if needed – it’s easy to add too much).

2. Add the chocolate, and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick and glossy.

3. Pour the mixture into a clean jam jar and store somewhere cool and dark until you are ready to eat it, most likely with a spoon!

Note: this will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

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Koninginnedag: Ontbijtkoek

I’ve already featured a fancy recipe if you’re in the mood to celebrate Dutch Queen’s Day, so today I’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum and made something super-easy. It’s called ontbijtkoek which literally means “breakfast cake”.

You can think of this as a very simple gingerbread recipe, but one that’s on the healthy side. Yes, there is some sugar in there, but no eggs and no butter (just milk to bind it), so it’s low in fat. Heck, there is even rye flour in there! This does mean, of course, that it’s actually rather well-suited to being spread with butter and topped with jam or honey. I realise this defeats the object of making such an otherwise healthy loaf, but then – if you’re going to celebrate Queen’s Day by jumping up and down on a canal boat while dressed from head to toe in orange, all that energy is probably essential.

This is something that I used to buy a lot when I lived in Belgium, as I went to the Netherlands rather often. This is something that people tend to buy rather than make these days. However, given how simple the recipe is, there is no reason not to give it a try, especially if you don’t have easy access to the commercial versions or you want to be free-and-easy with the spices.

The only real “prep” work is to scald the milk and then let it cool before mixing for a more tender loaf (and even this step can be skipped if you’re in a rush). Then you just mix everything together until you have a smooth – but still thick – dough, scrape into a loaf tin and bake. You’ll be rewarded by a rich, spicy aroma during baking, but if you want to dive right in, you’ll sadly need to hold off – this needs to be left to cool, then stored for a day. This means the loaf will be soft and slightly sticky on top. It also cuts easily and keeps really well, so it is perfectly suited as something to nibble on during the week for breakfast, but it’s also tasty enough on its own to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee as an afternoon snack.

I’ve mentioned the spices, and here I’ve gone with a rather traditional mixture that includes a lot of cloves, plus cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. However, you can tweak them to your heart’s content, adding more of what you love and less of what you’re not so keen on. You might like to try other Dutch spice mixtures like speculaaskruiden used in traditional biscuits, or perhaps omit the cloves and use more cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also add nuts, dried fruit or preserved ginger. I think these could all work really well, even if they would mean that you’re getting a little away from the traditional recipes. But by all means – experiment away!

So I hope you’ve enjoyed these little Dutch delights! If you’re still curious about the cuisine of the Netherlands, you can have a look at my recipes for poffertjes (mini-pancakes) or apple tart, as well as aniseed sprinkles and aniseed milk.

To make Ontbijtkoek

 • 120g self-rising flour
• 130g rye flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 100g brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 pinch salt
• 80ml golden syrup or other syrup

• 1 teaspoon treacle or molasses
• 240-300ml milk, scalded and cooled(*)

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a loaf tin with paper and grease with butter.

Put the flours, baking powder, sugar, spices and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Add the syrup, treacle/molasses and enough milk to make a smooth batter (it should be soft but certainly not runny). Add any dried fruit, nuts, ginger etc. if you’re using that.

Pour into the tin, and bake for an hour. Once baked, cover loosely with a clean tea-towel. When cool, wrap in cling film.

(*) This means bring the milk to the boil, then let it cook. I makes for a softer loaf. You need to let it cool because if you add the hot milk to the mixture, the baking powder will get to work before you can put the mixture into the pan. If you’re in a hurry, just use cold milk.

Worth making? This is a nice, easy recipe that gives you a lovely spicy cake. I think the flavour is spot on, but of course tweak the spices to taste. This is also a good one to make with kids, as the recipe is quite easy, and the lack of eggs means that they can lick the spoon and the bowl as much as they want to.

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On Location: The Lido Cafe (Brockwell Park, London)

“South London” and “Miami Beach” are not terms that you would usually expect to find in the same sentence. However, there are times where you can get the feeling of being in the latter while actually being in the former, and one of those times is when you’re at the Lido Cafe in the lovely Brockwell Park on a warm, sunny day.

No, really! Sitting next to a 1930s-style building next to a bright blue pool, the sun beating down from a cloudless sky, a table laden with healthy brunch items and fresh fruit juices, you can just about imagine you’re lazing somewhere on South Beach. This is how we enjoyed it during the summer when we had a few warm weekends.

Anyway, that was all six months ago…I was there again yesterday, and let’s be honest – when it’s three degrees in London and you’re wrapped up in a thermal jacket, scarf and gloves, that Miami-vibe is not quite as obvious. But fret not – it might not feel like SoBe, but the cafe is thankfully still pretty darned good.

First things first is the building, which alone is worth a mention. At its heart is the lido itself – a large open-air swimming pool, which is great for a dip in summer. The structure is a 1930s construction (I lean towards calling it art deco in my naivety, but I get the feeling I might not be right on this). This all means the cafe is a large, airy space with lots of windows to allow light to flood in. It’s bright during the day and all summer, and as the sun does set, you catch glimpses of the sunset over Brockwell Park. As you can see, the look is quite simple and stylish, and very relaxed.

On previous occasions, we’ve enjoyed breakfast here, and it’s pretty good – delicious pancakes, mushrooms on sourdough toast, exotic fruit juices (and – bonus – they serve Marmite with the toast if you want it!). However, on a chilly January day, following a long and bracing walk in the park (which offers some great views towards central London), we veered towards coffee and cake. We plumped for a slice of the tasty, lightly spicy carrot cake with a generous spread of cream cheese frosting, and a slice of orange, almond and polenta cake.

We hit the place just before it was time to collect toddlers form the local nursery, so it was pretty much kid central for around an hour. If you appear around 3:30, be quite prepared for a series of small child to appear behind you, to tug your clothes and then ask you questions. All part of the charm. And if you’ve got a couple of small folk in tow, this place is a pretty safe bet to make them happy, especially when the pool is open in the summer. You’ve also got the park outside if the energy from all those cakes needs to be burned off.

Finally, I just want to draw your attention to the funky wallpaper that adorns the back of the cafe. Amazing, isn’t it? I have a vague recollection that we had curtains like this at home when I was growing up. Ah, memories…

So…would I go back? For sure. I love this place – the 30s building, the bright, open space and the delicious food. It’s pretty much kid central, but just sit back and enjoy the ride. In summer, it is fantastic sitting outside by the pool, and there aren’t a lot of places in London where you can do that.

The Lido Cafe, Dulwich Road, Brockwell Lido, London SE24 0PA. Tel: 020 7737 8183. Brixton Tube or Herne Hill Rail.

LondonEats locations map here.

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Spiced Plum Compote

A few days ago, it was baking hot outside – 30° here in London – but as we all knew, it was not going to last. We had hot days and warm evenings, but the mornings were crisp and cool. We knew we would be shivering under coats and scarves in a couple of weeks, and the seasonal produce has been providing a pretty clear steer as to what is coming.

And now it is indeed autumn! Leaves are turning and people are turning to cosy pubs with log fires. At this time of year, there are also plums everywhere, so time to enjoy them before they are gone.

I had a lovely bag of purple-blue Marjory plums sitting in the kitchen, but I’ve been so busy in the last week with work and travel that they were not being eaten. Slightly past their best to enjoy as they are, I decided to make a compote with them. It’s the perfect way to use fruit – very easy to make and still allows the flavour of the fruit to shine through. And making compote is just as magical as making jam – the golden flesh and dark skins of the plums were transformed into a deep ruby compote. Try it with Victoria plums and it turns a vibrant red. Mirabelles will turn into deep amber. Just like the colour of the leaves!

In a nod to the long-expected-and-now-here autumn weather, I made this recipe even more seasonal by using a good dash of my famous German Lebkuchen spice mix to add touches of cinnamon, cloves, aniseed and ginger.

Compote is simplicity itself. Fruit, sprinkling of sugar, a little water and leave to cook for simmer for thirty minutes. Job done. In my version, I just de-stoned and sliced it into quarters. I like the strips of skin which curl up and seem to become candied in the compote, but if you like a smoother compote with fewer “bits” you can of course chop the fruit into smaller pieces.

Finally, I planned to keep the compote for a few days to eat on yoghurt for breakfast, so I added one of the pits from a plum stone to the compote to give a hint of almond flavour. They are small but strong, so be warned – just the one will do it!

Compote on yoghurt is delicious and a classic pairing, but of course do not limit something so delicious to breakfast. It is great on pancakes or ice cream, but it makes a truly excellent  addition to chocolate – try a cake with a decent side of spicy plum compote and tell me that does not serve as the perfect antidote to cool days and chilly evenings. This also makes a lovely quick and easy jam for the impatient to spoon onto warm scones. No messing around with pectin, setting points or sterile jars. It doesn’t last as long as proper jam, but chances are that it is not going to last long enough for that to ever be an issue!

To make plum compote:

• large plums (Victoria, Greengage, Marjorie)*
• sugar (10g per plum)
• water (10ml per plum)
• ground spice, to taste

Rinse the plums and remove the stones. Cut into pieces (small or large, according to preference). Add the sugar, water, spice and kernel from one plum stone. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until the fruit has collapsed.

Mash the fruit slightly with a fork, then either serve as a sauce or store in a jam jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.

(*) For damsons, use 10g sugar per 3-4 plums, and for mirabelles, use 10g of sugar per 5-6 plums. Err on the side of caution, you can always add a little more sugar. And beware – do not use sloes for this recipe!

Worth making? This is the flavour of autumn! It is full of flavour, tangy yet sweet, and rounded off by the heady, rich aromas of spices that provide the hint of warmth when it’s chilly outside.

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Good Morning! Buckwheat Pancakes

I’ve had a bit of a thing for buckwheat for a while. It’s a versatile little grain that lends itself to being used whole in salads, but it also makes for delicious pancakes, and these are they.

So this is the situation: it’s early, you want pancakes, and you don’t want to do much thinking. The method is simplicity itself – pour everything into a bowl, and whisk. That’s it. No rubbing, no stirring in melted butter, no whipping of egg whites or folding in. Just mix, cook, drench in honey or syrup and…that’s it!

These are quite different to “normal” breakfast pancakes – there is a real earthy “nutiness” to them from the buckwheat. And…at the risk of sounding like I am jumping on the bandwagon, they are gluten-free, so perfect to whip up when you’ve got house guests who can’t eat wheat.

Now there is no need to sit there taunting them with your off-limits pancakes – make the buckwheat version instead! Just be sure to serve them with lots of honey.

To make buckwheat pancakes (makes 14-16):

• 225g buckwheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 300ml milk
• 50ml water

• 1 egg
• pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the batter is smooth.

Heat a frying pan and grease with a little oil or butter. Pour enough batter to make palm-sized pancakes (you will get three in a large pan) and cook until the top is covered in bubbles. Flip over and cook until golden.

Worth making? These are really quick and taste really great. Best eaten warm with salted butter and honey.

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Holiday Pastries! Mallorcan Ensaïmades

As you might now be aware, I had a really great holiday on Mallorca…but there is just one little niggle…

…you see, they have a rather amazing-looking pastry over there – the ensaïmada – which is a sweet, enriched bread, formed into a coil and dusted with icing sugar. The problem? Well, they are made with a good lump of…lard.

Indeed, the clue is in the name – “saïm” is the local name for a type of reduced lard, so they translate roughly as “lard things”. So a case of “look, but don’t touch”.

For better or for worse, I found this out before I went, so of course, once I was out and about, the things were everywhere. Ensaïmades beckoning from every bakery, every café, every shop. Kids wandering the streets munching on the things. I was even handed one in the airport wine store as a souvenir. So it’s very, very lucky I have a will of iron.

Now firmly back in the UK, and with all the excitement of the Royal Wedding behind us, I decided that I would give these a try myself, but make a vegetarian version of them. So I’ve replaced the lard with butter and a bit of olive oil. So maybe not exactly healthy, but heck – I resisted for a week!

The process for making them is pretty easy and quite good fun, but it just takes a while. You start off making a dough, which I did by hand (and ended up with very sore arm muscles in the process). Once the dough has risen once, you knock it back, then roll out portions as thin as you can, brush with soft butter, then roll them up and form into spirals. I’ve done a little research, and I have concluded that lard probably works best, so if that’s your thing, then go for it. However, my butter version is still pretty darned nice, if not quite as flaky as the authentic Mallorcan version.

And the shaping process is also important – the dough needs to be as thin as possible, so when they bake, you get maximum puffiness and volume. And you need to let the rolled up dough rise first, then carefully coil it loosely afterwards – you really want the breads to be big but quite flat, rather than a round dome shape. Make sense?

Once they were kneaded, brushed, shaped and risen, they went into the oven, and emerged puffy and golden. I gave them a quick brush with more melted butter (yay!) and a dredging of icing sugar later, and they looked absolutely perfect.

But looks are not everything – finally I was going to get to taste an ensaïmada.

Happily, I can report that mine were delicious. Rich, slightly sweet and very, very buttery. The process for making them means that they are a delight to pull apart as you are eating them too, so perfect for people who are partial to playing with their food. I like to do that.

To make 12 ensaïmadas:

For the dough:

• 4 teaspoons dried yeast
• 240ml milk, boiled and cooled
• 100g white sugar
• 450g flour
• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 40ml olive oil
• 170g butter, softened

To finish the ensaïmades:

• 25g butter
• 50g icing sugar

To make the dough:

By hand: Combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons of white sugar and warm milk and allow to sit for 15 minutes until frothy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and remaining sugar. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and mix as much as you can (it will be very dry). Add the eggs and olive oil, and work until you have a smooth, soft, elastic dough (about 10 minutes). Once the dough is made, cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm until doubled in size (around 1 hour).

By machine: Combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons of white sugar and warm milk and allow to sit for 15 minutes until frothy. Put the yeast, flour, salt, remaining sugar, eggs and olive oil into the bread machine and run the dough cycle.

To form the ensaïmades:

Knock back the dough and knead again for a minute. Divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll each portion as thin as possible (as in – really, really thin). Brush each generously with softened butter. Roll up the dough (Swiss-roll style) and put on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and leave until doubled in size (around 1 hour).

Next, take each piece of rolled-up dough, and form into a loose coil (gaps will be filled when they rise again). Transfer each coil to a well-greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth or a piece of oiled cling film and leave until – you guessed – doubled in size.

To bake the ensaïmades:

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Put hot water in an ovenproof dish and put in the oven to create steam.

Bake the ensaïmades until they are golden brown (about 15 minutes). Once cooked, remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then brush lightly while still warm with melted butter and dredge with icing sugar.

Worth making? They might be a lot of work, but they are fun and taste really good. I will be making these again, more likely for a special occasion than for an everyday breakfast, but a nice way to bring a little Mallorcan sunshine to the early mornings. If you’re so minded, you can also change them with a dusting of cocoa powder in the filling, or add cinnamon or raisins.

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Guest Chef: Brooklyn Berry Pancakes

For those that have missed the many, many hints at the end of 2010, I spent New Year in New York this time round and had an absolute blast.

On 30 December, we had a real Mad Men evening, and headed to Midtown for dinner at the super-swish Casa Lever. This place was, quite simply, stunning. A fantastic bar with well-made (i.e. strong) cocktails, and a funky 1950s-inspired retro interior. That selection of Warhol-style prints on the wall? Eh…no…they are Warhols. I loved, loved, loved this place. The menu is not vast, but even given this, I found the veggie selection to be pretty good, and – refreshingly – rather innovative. Mushroom risotto is all well and good, but ’twas not to be seen. Instead, it was a joy to eat  their fantastic baby beet salad, followed by pear ravioli with smoked butter. Sitting in the coveted corner table, all of us dressed up smartly, it was a superb meal. We rolled out of there, and straight into the nearby Monkey Bar for more, eh, cocktails. Just a quick Old Fashioned to finish off the evening. Then into a cab and whisked through the icy streets of Manhattan, over the bridge and into Brooklyn with the glittering skyscrapers of the city piercing the freezing night air…

…however, the next morning, it is fair to say that we were a little “delicate”. I put it down to the jet lag. Honest! But we were fortunate enough to wake up to the smell of the hostess’s pancakes. After a little persuasion, she agreed to let me take the pics and post the recipe. So here as her (almost) famous Brooklyn Berry Pancakes, which also makes her my first guest chef of 2011!

In this recipe, you are looking for large fruit, and then drop three or four sizeable berries (blackberries, raspberries – fresh or frozen) onto the top of the pancakes are they sizzle in the skillet (frying pan – this word confused me at first – we really are two nations separated by a common language).

All was peaceful until I asked for syrup. Maple syrup was promptly presented with a flourish (“the finest Vermont maple syrup from our trip up there in Autumn…”), and I made a throwaway comment about how great golden syrup is on pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love maple syrup, but I also love golden syrup and salty butter on pancakes. But this was the wrong crowd, and there was probably nothing I could do to bring them round. The American perspective about the wrongness of golden syrup was rammed home with a tale about glazing a holiday roast in England with golden syrup and the resulting “interesting” taste experience that followed. We left it agreeing I would never persuade them, and all was good when we later dropped by Dean & Deluca in the New Year, I picked up a full 16 fl oz of maple syrup to take home. With that, we were all friends once again, not that I think we were ever not.

To make American Berry Pancakes:

• 180g plain flour
• 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• pinch of salt
• 2 tablespoons melted butter (plus extra, for frying)
• 300ml milk
• 1 egg
• 2 handfuls berries (fresh or frozen)

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add the melted butter, milk and egg. Whisk until smooth, adding more milk if the batter is too thick – it should be fairly thin (aim for single cream consistency) or it will thicken up too much when cooking. Pour batter into a measuring cup or something with a spout.

Put some butter in a frying pan and heat gently until melted. On a medium heat, pour enough batter the same size as “silver dollar” pancakes (about the size of your palm). When they start to bubble on top, drop a few berries on top. Flip over and when done, place on a plate in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Serve with sliced banana or apple and…pour maple syrup all over them!

Worth making? Tasty and always welcome first thing in the morning to give you the energy to head into town for sightseeing! And with that little jolt of fruit…well, you might even be able to claim that it is healthy.

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Scottish food: Tattie Scones, or Something New for Breakfast

Oh, those oatcakes were so healthy. Now for a change of pace. This winter was cold and I became a really big fan of a cooked breakfast. A hot plate of potatoes, beans and mushrooms seemed just the thing to set me up for the day. Ideally I would have it every morning, but it remains a bit of a weekend treat as I am just not really organised enough to sort my stuff out during the week.

Today’s post combined the pleasures of a cooked breakfast with a traditional Scottish recipe, tattie scones (or potato scones, if you prefer). Don’t confuse these with normal scones. These are not big and fluffy, but more like a thick, heavy potato pancake. The recipe is a little be reminiscent of Norwegian lefse, but the heroic amount of butter in here means that the dough is a heck of a lot easier to work with – just don’t think about what it is doing to your arteries. These “scones” might not be in need of cream and jam, but they make an excellent accompaniment to breakfast, either covered in lots of cheese and popped under the grill, or served with mushrooms and baked beans.

Surprisingly photogenic, aren’t they?

As I have recently found while blogging about traditional Scottish food, the recipe is very simple. Just potatoes, butter, flour and a little salt to round out the flavour. One tweak that I make is to add a little baking powder. This may not be terribly original, but it does add a little bit of lightness to the tattie scones which I think is quite welcome. Add it or don’t. You’re not missing out, but equally adding it doesn’t take you a million miles from the authentic taste experience.

What I do have to confess is that they can be a bit of a mess to form into shape. If you’re feeling bold, turn the dough onto a well-floured worktop and try rolling it. It will work, but the dough it so moist and sticky from the mashed potatoes that it will often stick to everything. Far easier to butter the frying pan, then shape them directly there (while the pan is still cold, of course!). There are two ways to make them – one large circle, then cut into wedges, or make them as individual smaller rounds, more like pancakes. I go with the wedges, as ’twas ever so in my house, and I quite like the way they look on the plate. Plus, looks pretty impressive as you stand by the cooker, flipping a large pancake, with your brunch guests oohing and aahing.

And finally, if you make them and don’t eat them all in one go, they will happily keep for a couple of days in the fridge, ready to be reheated in the toaster or in a dry frying pan. But I ate them like this – and there were none left!

To make tattie scones (makes one round, or six individual scones, serves 2):

• 250g potatoes(*)
• 50g plain flour
• 25g butter
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil until soft, then drain. Return to the pan, add the butter and mash. Add the salt, baking powder and flour, and stir with a spoon until combined.

Lightly grease a frying pan with butter, then add the dough. Use your hands to flatten it, and put over a medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip over(**). Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Both sides should have lots of brown flecks, but will not be evenly coloured. Serve warm or cold.

(*) This is the weight after cooking. Be sure to use floury potatoes if you can. Waxy potatoes make the tattie scones heavier and the dough is impossibly sticky.

(**) You can either flip in the air, but if you’re not feeling brave, slip the pancake onto a well-floured plate. Then put the frying pan on top, flip over, remove the plate, and the tattie scone will be upside down!

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Filed under Recipe, Savoury, Scottish Food