Sunday, 27 February 2011

Not an excuse to be late for School & Blueberry Pancakes

Saturday morning, not quite sure why I promised to make Fresh Blueberry American Pancakes before school this morning. The Pink Lovely, aged 7 1/2, briefly looked pristine in her school uniform but then turned her hand to beating the mixture. Some of it stayed in the bowl, most of it went down her, but being A Domestic Goddess is never easy and best she learns this early on.  We made enormously thick pancakes which puffed up joyfully but then would not cook in the middle. Darn, I thought, this is tricky.. too little heat and they don't cook and too high and they burn. Never mind, we will eat them in the car, not my best idea as they are drizzled with maple syrup and the blueberries are oozing very hot and sticky, purple juice. Revert to kitchen table. Clock now says 08.20. Ooops! due in at 08.15am
Can one actually sneak into a full class room, with teacher in full flow, without being noticed? Not really. As I am bestowing my most winning and apologetic smile, I notice to my horror that I had forgotten to wipe The Pink Lovely's angelic little face. Now, I love the colour purple, don't get me wrong, but possibly not all round my daughter's mouth. Hands much the same colour. My brief moment of Domestic Goddess-dom evaporates and I retreat to ponder if I really am cut out to do Saturday School.
This is a SUPER EASY RECIPE, ideal for breakfast or afternoon tea.
Fresh Blueberry American Pancakes
Serve with Maple Syrup or Golden Syrup
Makes 12
150g plain flour or gluten-free Doves Farm plain flour mix
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch fine sea salt
250ml buttermilk or 110ml St. Helen's Farm goats yoghurt with 110ml goats milk
1 large free range egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
200g fresh blueberries
sunflower oil for greasing

Put the first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl and add half the buttermilk, the egg and the vanilla. Whisk everything together, add the remaining buttermilk and whisk until smooth. Add the blueberries and fold in. Lightly oil a frying pan and drop 2 tablespoons of the mixture per pancake. Cook each one until dark golden underneath and bubbling on top. Flip over and cook on the other side. Serve immediately.

I have to cook lunch and we are, as you know, busy saving the oceans at the moment! So, we are having Whitebait for the first time in 20 years.  Pubs in Shropshire and Herefordshire in 1970s, I recall, usually had a choice of 4 starters. These never seemed to vary which was part of the charm. Rather less exhausting than wading through a page of Pacific fusion or retro French or confused Italian starters that are so often listed nowadays on every pub menu.  Prawn cocktail (in various forms), Avocado vinaigrette on a sad piece of Iceberg lettuce, Melon and Parma ham and last but not least, Fried Whitebait with a wedge of lemon. So, reassuring, no big decisions.  I think we have too much choice nowadays not just in menus but in every shop and store. Things we didn't even know we wanted.
Whitebait was an old English term for tiny fish. They are transparent fishes that migrate into our rivers during spring and summer. They drift out to sea and feed on algae and other fish eggs.  The pinkish-white flesh is low in fat and has a fine texture with a mild and sweet flavour and edible skin. This is fast food at its best.  Choose fish that are pristine and smell fresh. Fish should not have bellies torn open. This is due to enzymes within breaking down the flesh-yuk!

Here is my recipe for Kathy who requested one yesterday
Chilli Fried Whitebait with Aioli
Serves 2 main course of 4 starter
Make Aioli first: either cheat or make the real thing! Cheat: Mix Helmans Mayonnaise with one egg yolk, plenty of crushed garlic(4-7cloves), a pinch of freshly chopped oregano leaves and season to taste. For the real thing: make mayonnaise and beat in the garlic and herbs. Transfer to a serving bowl.
In a polythene bag combine 1/2 cup flour with salt and pepper and a good sprinkling of chilli powder. Add the fish and shake the bag around so that the fish are evenly coated. Deep fry in oil until golden and crispy (about 5 minutes) and drain on some absorbent kitchen paper towels. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon, the Aioli and a big bowl of mixed salad.

The Pink Lovely's pink bicycle has been collected from the repair shop on a rather circuitous return trip from school this morning. To celebrate, we are going to Croft Castle to bike the length of the fish pools along the valley, up into the fields and down to the castle tea rooms where rewards will justly be given. Scones and tea have been requested! The word "we" is the royal "we" of course.... due to the fact that I have never successfully ridden a bicycle. Actually, never ridden a bicycle would be more accurate. I have of course ridden an elephant in Sri Lanka, a camel in Morocco, my childhood ponies and even a donkey in Greece but I have never managed to stay on a bicycle. So, when we go for a bike ride, I walk the dogs and inevitably end up pushing the bike up the near vertical path through Mortimer Forest to the gate at the top. This in itself is worthy of scones and tea and I have absolutely no guilty conscience what so ever!

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