Friday, September 16, 2011

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 - especially with drinks. And as I am often asked for the recipe, here it is.


You will need:
Self-raising flour
Baking powder
Salt and pepper
Turmeric (for colour and optional)
Chilli powder (optional)
An Egg
Dijon mustard
Cheddar cheese (or a stronger kind)
Olive oil

Put plenty of olive oil into a frying pan. Into it press a clove or two of garlic, spreading it evenly around.. Heat up the pan until the garlic begins to turn colour. Turn off the heat.
Into a mixing bowl sieve 3 ½ heaped dessert spoons of self-raising flour, into which you have added salt, pepper, a level teaspoon of baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/8 teaspoon of chilli powder.
Break a large egg so that its contents fall into a depression in the centre of the sifted flour. To it, add a good dollop of Dijon mustard.
Have ¼ pint of milk at the ready, as well as some grated Cheddar cheese.
Break the egg with a whisk and start to stir the egg and mustard from the centre outwards, adding the milk as you go. Keep stirring and beating until the batter is smooth and free of even the smallest lumps. Or I’m sure a blender would do the same job.
Now put maximum heat under the pan with its oil/garlic mix.
Add the grated Cheddar to your batter. Stir again.
Now pour in the mixture to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. The edges will just rise. Immediately 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 to 25 minutes (depending on the heat and the pan),
It is now time to toss the pancake - or turn it over as best you can. Make sure the pancake is not stuck to the pan in any way. Shake the pan or use a spatula to be certain.
Tossed, with its brown and garlic side now uppermost, with the point of a knife cut small holes slits in the browned surface to allow steam to escape from within. For a moister interior, don’t bother.
Cooking will take about a further 10 minutes. Lift an edge to inspect the under side. When cooked and golden brown, turn off the heat and, if the guests have not yet arrived, allow the pancake to keep warm in the pan.
Turn the pancake on to a board. Cut it into small pieces.
With my frying pan, and with gas heat from a large ring at its lowest setting, the whole cooking process takes 30 - 35 minutes. So just over half an hour before guests arrive for drinks I start to cook the pancake.
If more convenient, the simple preparation can be accomplished hours before the pancake is needed. Then, note the time, add the liquid, whisk the mix, and cook as above.
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 oil, 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.
If children are present, get them to hand around these pancake squares. Reward them. Like dogs, if given a job to do, they (and you) will be happy.