Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or Pancake Tuesday; depending on your cultural heritage. My friend William argued yesterday that Pancake Tuesday was a better name as people prefer pancakes to being shrived. Such terminology brings to mind Shakespeare’s Juliet who was sent to Friar Lawrence’s “to shrive and to wive”. Speaking of Protestant Housewives, John called over last night so we could compare pancake batters. (That is not a euphemism!).
I threw together some batter using Nana’s old Regalo Oven Cookbook, which gained a childhood infamy for its recipes for Haggis and Brain Sauce. Neither of those two recipes have ever been trialled at home and it’s unlikely that a butcher would sell you cow brains ever since the BSE crisis, so it looks like they won’t be either. However, the pancake recipe is turned to year on year, as evidenced by a batter splattered page.
The standard recipe that we’ve always adhered to is:
Pinch of salt
Half a pint of milk
Never content with just one batch, as kids we always insisted on double, triple and even quadruple doses of pancakes. I suppose this behaviour is symptomatic of a food that is only eaten once a year.
I was using my Nana’s recipe and John was using a Odlum’s instant pancake batter that he picked up in Dunnes for a Euro. Oh seeing my single bowl of batter, John commented that it seemed like quite a small batch. I responded that I only had one egg in the house, so I was limited to what I could make. He consoled me with the promise that he had his insta-batter and therefore we would have pancakes a plenty. When he reached for his packet to read the instructions, he informed me that it said “Just add two eggs.” Further investigations proved that one also had to add a pint of milk. This seemed odd, as two of the three essential ingredients of pancakes are eggs and milk, the remaining being flour. What then, was in the packet of Odlum’s Batter Mix if eggs and milk were missing? The answer. Flour. Oh Odlums you rascals!
The Guardian have very helpfully run a feature on pancakes, including a three minute video when G2 resident chef, Felicity Cloake, where she actually shows you the tricky business of frying them. Worth a look.
She uses an extra egg yolk, which seems innovative. (Must try that this evening.)