Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheese and garlic pancake for drinks

Margaret Costa, the well-known cookery writer at the time, was coming to dinner and my then girl friend decided to make a gougère. It was not a success, being rather flat and solid. But our culinary guest loved the result. There must, I thought, be an easier and quicker way of making such a delicious failure. A taste-alike, quick-to-make equivalent was needed for times when people were invited for drinks on the spur of the moment. The following was the result. Everyone loves it - especially children. It is not just a Shrove Tuesday treat, but one to be enjoyed at any time of the year.


You will need:
Plain flour with baking powder or self-raising
Salt and pepper
Egg or eggs
Dijon mustard
Chilli sauce (like Tabasco)
Cheddar cheese (or a stronger kind)
Olive oil

Sieve some plain flour with baking powder or self-raising (say 3 ½ heaped dessert spoons) into a large bowl. Add pepper, salt. Stir.
Break a large egg or two small ones so that their contents fall into a depression in the centre of the sifted flour. Add a good dollop of Dijon mustard and a shake or two of Tabasco sauce (or another kind of chilli sauce).
Break the eggs with a whisk and start to stir from the centre outwards, adding milk (1/4 pint). Keep stirring and beating until the mixture is thick, yet smooth and free of even the smallest lumps. Or I’m sure a blender would do the same job.
Add some grated Cheddar (done beforehand), or blue cheese to make a stronger taste (too much cheese may make the pancake oily). Stir again.
Put olive oil in a frying pan to coat the bottom and sides. Add at least a couple of garlic cloves, squeezed from a press. Spread these morsels evenly around. Cook them until they are about to brown.
Now pour in the mixture to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Reduce the heat to very low and wait until the bubbling mix begins to dry out on its upper surface. This will take about 20 minutes (depending on the heat and the pan),
It is now time to toss the pancake - or turn it over as best you can.
Tossed, with its brown and garlic side now uppermost, with the point of a knife cut slits in the surface to allow moisture to escape from within.
Lift a corner to inspect the under side (cooking will take a further 10 minutes or so). When cooked and golden brown, turn the pancake on to a board. Offer it to your guests cut into small sections.
With my frying pan and gas heat source at just above its very lowest, the whole cooking process takes 30 minutes. So half an hour before guests arrive for drinks I start to cook the pancake.
It is a good idea to make quite a lot of the mixture if guests for a party will be arriving over the period of an hour or two. Then, as you leave the kitchen with the first hot pancake, add some more garlic and mixture to the frying pan - and so on. The success of this delicious pancake will surprise you, and delight your guests. Children love it, too. But don’t tell the young about the garlic, as some don’t like the sound of it.
Get children to hand around these pancake squares. Reward them. Like dogs, if given a job to do, they (and you) are happy.