"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pancake Tuesday

As usual, my timing is...well, less than impeccable.  Yesterday afternoon, I had word that it was Shrove Tuesday...which we celebrate, UK-style, as Pancake Tuesday.  Good planning, as ever, on my part, of course.  You know the saying "A day late, and a dollar short?"  My mom loved that one, when we were kids.  I wasn't quite a day late for the pancake delivery, but this post?  Definitely late, alas.  Oh well, so it goes.

The history behind Pancake Tuesday is that you get to gorge on what's left of the food stores that get restricted during Lent...eggs, flour, sugar, butter, and milk, being the applicable foods in this case.  Most of the folks we know who dig in and fill their bellies on the pancake feast don't actually do it for religious reasons, but it's such an ingrained tradition, and a pretty sweet deal to stuff yourself full of pancakes and delicious fillings...even if you're not going to be fasting for the foreseeable future.

Pancakes are to us Americans, crepes.  Those tasty delicate little treats, that are perfect stuffed with any number of fillings, savory or sweet.  I generally favor a savory crepe, over a sweet one, especially for dinner.  Last year, I made a mushroom and asparagus filling.  And while I actually had mushrooms and asparagus in my fridge last night, I quite simply couldn't be asked with it.  Not when we arrived home at close to six, and had to whip up the crepe batter, let it rest, and then get started on filling prep.  Nope.  I phoned it in a bit, and went for sweet.

I have to confess to buying out of season strawberries for these.  I don't know what possessed me, and truth be told, they weren't very tasty.  Even after being sprinkled with some sugar in a thwarted attempt to coax some sweetness from them.  If you're making these outside of strawberry season, I'd recommend doing it with a preserve, or perhaps a compote, instead.

Along with the strawberries, I scrounged a bit of this and that from the fridge and spice shelf, and came up with a cream cheese-based spread, with a dash of cinnamon, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon, and it was darn tasty.  Lovely, actually.  Reminiscent of a blintz filling, but without the egg, because I wasn't bothering to cook it.

The Mister generally does the crepe batter, and makes it sans recipe, throwing it all together in the blender.  I used an Alton Brown recipe I found on foodnetwork.com.  Which I tweaked, of course.  Not that it needed tweaking necessarily, but it called for 3/4 cup of milk, and 1/2 a cup of water, and since we usually just do milk, I went with 1 1/4 cups of milk.  And it was delicious.  

Here you go:

Crepes with Strawberries and Sweetened Cream Cheese


for the Crepe Batter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 Tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt

Give all the ingredients a whir in the blender until smooth, then leave it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  It will keep up to 2 days.  The recipe is easily doubled to make more crepes, should you feel particularly inclined to gorge.

To cook:  Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, and brush a small amount of butter around the pan, just enough to barely coat the surface.  You will need to keep an eye on the heat as you go, and possibly adjust.  To be sure the pan is ready for the first crepe, flick a bit of water in the pan, and if it dances immediately, you're good to go.

Pour out about 1/4 cup (ish) into the pan, and immediately swirl the batter around to get your pancake as thin as possible.  Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, then loosen with a spatula, and flip.  Cook the second side for another 30 seconds.

You can cook these ahead of time, if you all want to sit and eat together, and keep them in a very low-heated oven, around 200 deg F.  If you're the civilized, organized type.  If you're like my family, the Mister will be at the stove, the Kiddos at the table, and I will run back and forth, filling and refilling, and taking bites in between.  What can I say?  It was getting late, and it works.

for the cream cheese filling
2 oz, 1/4 package, cream cheese (the kind in a brick) - at room temp
2 or 3 Tbs plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together until smooth.

To serve:
Spread a bit of the cream cheese mixture on one quarter of the crepe, and top with strawberries, or preserves.

Fold the crepe in half...

Then in half again, to make a triangular packet.  Dust with powdered sugar, and serve immediately.

Happy Belated Pancake Tuesday.

I just thought of another good saying, like my mom's classic above.  When the Mister arrives at the beach, board tucked under arm, and sees the expected swell is flat...someone will invariably say:  "Shoulda been here yesterday, mate."  (Or dude, depending on your continent.)

You should have been here yesterday.  It was some good pancake eating, my friends.

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