Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Ranelagh Kitchen Diaries - part five

Hi there blog watchers. I guess it is time to issue probably my fiftieth apology for a lengthy gap between this post and the last. All the usual excuses apply: busy at work, hectic social schedule and a two week holiday in Vancouver and Whistler for a spot of sightseeing and skiing.

This was a big trip for me as the last time I was in that neck of the woods I almost managed to write myself off permanently via a pretty catastrophic ski accident. Two operations, five days in the ICU, five weeks in hospital and almost a year later I was back to myself again, but liver lacerations, a duodenal tear and a jejunal perforation are not to be recommended!

Despite this, I have had no problems getting back on skis again and long time readers will note that the origins of the blog lie in my return, bored and depressed from a ski season in Val d'Isere. Consequently, when the chance came to extend my stay in Canada and spend a couple of days cat-skiing at a remote lodge three hours north of Whistler, I jumped.

Anyway, the full story of that trip is one I am hoping to have published elsewhere, so why am I telling you about it here? Obviously there was also something there that piqued the foodie as well as the wannabe pro-skier, gnarlster in me...

What was it? Why, the pancakes served up at breakfast of course! I am not going to launch in to some sort of rant about how they do breakfast better the other side of the pond and, if you recall a previous post,  I am not a fan of going out for breakfast anyway. But as an occasional treat, the combination of thick, fluffy pancakes, salty, crisp bacon and lashings of maple syrup is hard to beat.

So when I was in depths of post-holiday depression on Saturday morning (somewhere I remain), it was to pancakes, bacon and some Vancouver Airport, duty-free maple syrup that I turned to lift my spirits.

On their own, this holy trinity work damn well together, but it was the addition of some sauteed slices of apple that lifted this particular breakfast from average diner fare to something slightly more impressive. Of course, apple and pork are natural bedfellows, so it is not so surprising that the apple combined so well with everything else to make a very tasty menage a quatre.

Make these pancakes to cheer yourself up; make them to cheer someone else up; or make them just for the hell of it!

Pancakes with bacon, apple and maple syrup

Makes 10-12 pancakes, so enough for four breakfasters

125g plain flour
125ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
pinch sugar
30g melted butter plus more butter for frying the pancakes and apple
3 dessert apples, cut into eighths
8-12 rashers of bacon, back or streaky depending on your preference

Pre-heat the oven to 200C, gas 6

  1. Lay the bacon out on a baking tray and put in to the pre-heated oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until nice and crisp (streaky will take less time than back).
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine the milk, egg and melted butter in another bowl or jug.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, then add the milk etc. and whisk vigorously to combine into a thick, lump-free batter.
  4. Leave the batter to stand while you turn your attention to the apples. Melt approximately 25g butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the apple slices when the butter is foaming. Gently fry the apple slices until they are lightly caramelised on the outside and are soft all the way through.
  5. Remove the apples from the pan and leave in a warm place until ready to serve.
  6. Now return the frying pan to the heat and add more butter if necessary to lubricate the pancakes while they cook. When the butter has melted, add the batter to the pan. If you are using a large frying pan you should be able to make three at a time - mine were about the circumference of a teacup, but make them as big or small as you like.
  7. When bubbles start to appear on the uncooked side of the pancake, flip them and cook until they are golden brown on both sides. Now remove the pancakes and keep the in the same warm place where you left the apples until ready.
  8. Repeat these steps until the mixture is all used up and you have a steaming pile of fluffy pancakes ready for the table.
  9. To serve, I laid my bacon on the plate, then alternated pancakes and slices of sauteed apple, so that there were three layers of each and then drizzled maple syrup over the whole lot. 

After that, you can either go out and slay some killer lines in the backcountry powder, or get a lift down to Tunbridge Wells for your friend Phil's 30th birthday. Guess which one I actually did on Saturday? Clue - it wasn't this...

Photo courtesy of Ryan Davison Crisp 

P.S. Don't worry if there's only a couple of you for brekkie - make the same amount of batter as it will happily stay in the fridge for a couple of days, supplying you with more pancakes for breakfasts or dinner time desserts.

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