Pancake Day marks the beginning of Lent, why pancakes you may ask? Well, I wondered that too, so I had a look and it’s to do with using up what is left of your luxurious food such as eggs, milk and sugar. But not everyone celebrates Pancake Day; Italy, Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries celebrate Carnival, which derives from the words carne levare, to take away meat.
Growing up in Portugal, we were always too busy getting dressed up for the parades to even think of pancakes, which is amazing considering how much I love pancakes! I could eat them all day, any day.
Every weekend we would make pancakes for breakfast, its probably one of the first things I learnt how to make and cooked alone. I remember my mum teaching me, ‘an egg per mug of flour and enough milk to make it the right runny consistency’, it’s the closest I have ever gotten to using a recipe!
It was quite a feat making pancakes for seven, no matter how many you made, there was never enough. We would start with the youngest and work up, but by the time you finished a round, the first person would be hungry again!
This time last year I was in Barcelona staying with a local family, I excitedly told them about Pancake Day and suggested we have pancakes for dinner! There was a mixture of excitement, worry and fear amongst the family members, but the mum was on my side and it was decided. Pancakes for dinner! I couldn’t wait! ‘Its kind of like wraps’ I reassured the other family memebers. They didn’t buy it.
I made a great stack of them and we had various fillings to choose from. I can’t remember them all but one that stood out was gruyere cheese and walnuts which was really delicious!
They didn’t all go for it, one of them hardly ate anything at all! Wouldn’t even try one with something savoury in it, its a shame to see how some people are so closed to trying new foods. I always jump at new things, the stranger the better. But there were pleasant surprises too. One of the younger members who was particularly fussy really went for it, trying all sorts of combinations and having the fun I hoped we all would.
It was far from a disaster.
Certainly better than my first attempt at introducing pancakes: My best friend and I made scotch pancakes which we coloured with green food colouring, packed them into tupperware and cycled to the river spot where we attempted to lure cute boys. Needless to say, the pancakes didn’t help.
Pancakes really are very versitile, like bread or wraps you can put anything in them. They don’t have to be sweet, in fact I never put sugar in the mixture.
Sometimes I like to flavour the mix itself by adding cinnamon or cocoa but mostly I keep them simple and have fun with the fillings.
Whether your a simple lemon and sugar or a leftover-dinner-in-a-pancake kind of person, there’s something for everyone. I love experimenting.
I was pleasantly surprised at how tasty left over noodles were in a pancake recently, I don’t know why, we have pancake rolls after all!
Try sautéing mushrooms with a little paprika or soya sauce as another delicious savoury filling.
Spinach is a classic and delicious with ricotta cheese. Blanch it or fry it in some garlic butter before mixing with the ricotta.
I have never tried it but I bet smoked salmon and cream cheese is great, typically paired with bilinis, which are only mini pancakes in disguise!
Sweet is easy peasy, I could go on for ever, but here are some favourites:
Caramelised banana and cream, simply fry banana in sugar and butter, add cream to make a butterscotch style sauce or serve it poured over the top.
Fresh berries and creme fraiche.
Fresh pear with honey drizzled over the top.
Grilled orange with cream or mango custard (thanks to my disaster yesterday, see previous post).
I had planned to be terribly organised and a good food blogger by having a ton of photos and recipes prepared for today but frankly, I look in the fridge, fruit bowl or cupboard and pop whatever comes to hand in a pancake and eat it up without thinking twice! But I wanted you to know the intention was there 😉
What is your favourite filling? And whats the weirdest one you’ve tried?