Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Shrove Tuesday - Perfecting Pancake Day

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) stands as a marker in my calendar as the gateway between winter slowly ending and the advent of spring, with Easter being only a heartbeat away.
As a pre-cursor to Lent, its religious significance may have waned, but the reference to ‘Shrove’ is still in common use (the word ‘Shrove’ meaning to confess – historically one would confess ones sins before Lent).  Combined with tradition, rich foods such as dairy goods and eggs would have had to be used up before the solemn period of Lent commenced.  Hence pancakes were adopted as an all-encompassing method of using these items up on Shrove Tuesday.
In years gone by, pancakes followed a basic baptism of being drizzled in lemon then coated in sugar - perhaps served with a dollop of jam.
Now, as tastes and inspiration have evolved, the wealth of pancake fillings has expanded from the use of fancier cheeses such as Gruyere, Stilton and Mexicana with anti-pasti style accompaniments of  chargrilled peppers or sun-dried tomatoes championing the savoury preferences. 
Then on the flip-side of flavours for those with a sweet tooth, use of exotic fruits like mango or combinations such as winter berries & vanilla sugar and spiced apple & chocolate provide a means of dessert albeit stemming away from traditional fillings.
As for me, I recall a visit to Paris a few years ago where I bought a large crepe/pancake from a street vendor who filled it with grated cheese and fried mushrooms.  It was the most delicious crepe I’d ever tasted – 6 Euros well spent – I can still taste it now!  Year upon year, I’ve endeavoured to replicate it, trying to add a bit of Parisian magic to my Pancake Day here in the UK!
Hands up, I do use packet batter mix (apologies to any purists out there), but being a Tuesday night, time is of the essence! 
Separately from the pancake batter, I fry sliced chestnut mushrooms in lemon juice, salt and herbs and have grated cheese at the ready.    Then assembled together, with a little spinach, it creates a wrapped pancake that acts as a tribute to my Parisian memory.

Dessert style pancakes conclude this annual ritual flavoured with honey, blueberries, lemon juice, icing sugar and a slither of chocolate spread.  Calorific I know...... 

So get your pan heated up with oil, pour in your batter and whatever your taste dictates this Shrove Tuesday - flip it, fill it, flavour it and devour it!

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