Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day) has in recent years, become a bit of a non-event for me. I like the idea of the tradition of using up the rich foods before the fast of Lent, but I don’t think that eggs, milk and flour count as luxury goods anymore and neither do I observe Lent. I tend to only realise that it’s just around the corner when stocks of long-life lemon juice are suddenly piled up in the supermarkets.
Instead of remembering on the day, grabbing the ingredients on the way home to then serve with half a jar of nutella and a banana (I’m hoping it’s not just me who has done this) why not make a bit of a fuss about it this year and throw a pancake party? Christmas was ages ago and January is a depressing heap of crash diets, pricey gym membership and tax returns so I think we all need a lift, even on a week night! Get your most enthusiastic pals round a table, compare notes on the progress of your New Years resolutions (or lack thereof) and share a stack of pancakes.
Pancakes can easily fall into the category of rice, pasta and bread as they go with pretty much anything so can be served as a starter, main or dessert (or all three!) This is my recipe for a main course dish, I think it would be great for an informal dinner party where everyone mucks in, heaping their plates with the filling and spooning over the gooey melted cheese.
Savoury Pancakes with pan-fried Parsnips, Black Onion Seeds and Baked Camembert
50g plain flour
50g wholemeal plain flour
30g butter (melted)
300ml of milk
4-5 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon of black onion seeds
50g walnuts, toasted
1 whole camembert
1 garlic clove, peeled and quartered
1) Start by making the pancake batter. Place the flours in a mixing bowl and in a large jug mix the eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients onto the flour whisking all the time until smooth. Pour the batter back into the jug and pop in the fridge to rest for 10 minutes or until you’re ready.
2) Next open up the camembert cheese, remove any of the plastic packaging and pop it back in its wooden box (leave the lid off) push the garlic pieces into the cheese and drizzle the top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
3) Bake in the oven at 200°c for 10 minutes or until the cheese is gooey in the middle. Set aside.
4) In a pan heat a good glug of olive oil and add the parsnips turning only occasionally. You want to get them lovely and golden brown on the outside so it’s a good idea to cook them in batches. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg and the onion seeds. Mix well and cook for another 30-60seconds to warm up the spices. Season with salt and pepper, tip them into an oven proof dish and set aside.
5) Now it’s time to cook the pancakes. Put just about a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a non stick pan over a medium-high heat. Pour in enough batter to create a thin covering over the whole surface of the pan. Allow to cook until the top of the pancake has set and a quick peek using a spatula shows that golden brown patches are forming on the underside. Flip the pancake over and finish cooking the other side. Slide the pancake onto a large tray or oven proof dish and put into the oven at 50°c to keep warm. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
6) Put the camembert and parsnips into the oven with the pancakes to keep warm.
7) Toast a good handful of walnuts in a dry pan ready for the garnish.
8) To put the dish together lay a pancake on each plate, add a spoonful of the parsnips, a few snipped chives and a sprinkling of walnuts. Fold the sides in to make a square and then spoon over some runny camembert cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with your favourite salad leaves dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil.
Happy Pancake Day!