Pancakes are one those meals that don’t require you to have a reason or special occasion to make them. They are so easy to throw together and more likey than not you probably have all the ingredients you need languishing in different parts of your kitchen πŸ˜€.

We love pancakes and hubby loves it especially decadent so I am always mucking about with various toppings and syrups to keep things interesting. But regardless it’s still easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Ingredients (yields about 12 medium sized pancakes)

1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter

The “How To”

 In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, ie, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients; milk, melted butter (or oil), and egg.  Then add the dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. Be careful not to overmix; here a few lumps are good. 

The reason being that if you overmix it you will agitate the gluten in the flour and whereas this is not a cataclysmic problem, it means you may not have light fluffy pancakes but dense not so fluffy ones. There! Chemistry lesson over!

Heat a large skillet (I used non-stick) on medium heat. Using a folded sheet of paper towel, dip it oil and carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.

Allow 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter per pancake in the skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you ought to be able to make two pancakes at a time if you’re using a large skillet)

Once the surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, flip them carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside for about a minute more. Once done, transfer to a pale and continue until you have exhausted your batter, you may cover the plate with foil loosely to keep them warm. 

As far as toppings go, there is no limit really, from maple syrup, honey, chocolate sauce, fresh fruits, strawberry coulis, raspberry coulis,  blueberry coulis, lemon curd, caramel sauce and even butter and these are just for the sweet pancakes. If you wanted to go the Savoury route, well……just go for it!

   

     

  

For great easy to follow recipes for pancake toppings check this post for how to make caramel sauce, this one for how to make lemon curd, here for coulis.

If you noticed the frothy, refreshing looking drink in the last picture; congrats! You have spotted one of FFF’s home made brews and I will tell you ALL about it soon!πŸ˜‰

FFF Tip of the Day

It’s a lot easier to stack pancakes that are just slightly warm especially if you are going to layer sauces and and jams between each piece. If the pancakes are really warm they will slide off. Alternatively you can stack warm pancakes without anything in between and pour your preferred topping over the stack. Your call!πŸ˜€

Quite frankly, I am still feeling the after effects of the holidays. It was a nice time with my family but it also meant, with a full house for about two consecutive weeks, I was on my feet…..cooking, mostly.

I found an amazing bread recipe that looked deceptively complicated; it’s twisty and round and all kinds of delicious but I was glad I made it.

As always, a quick audit of my fridge and pantry assured me that I had almost everything I needed. The things I didn’t have, I simply substituted without missed a beat.

I present to you a wonderful cranberry and almond filled wreath; although I served it up for breakfast on Christmas Day, this will delight anyone at anytime of the year.

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You must to be pretty organized to follow through on the preparation of this bread so I advise that you measure and set everything out ahead so that you can go through the process seamlessly.

Ingredients
For the bread:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 50 degrees C)
1/2 cup warm milk (about 50 degrees C)
3 tablespoons sugar
60 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder (the original recipe called for cardamon)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good quality lemon essence (grated lemon zest is ideal but I didn’t have any)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the cranberry-almond filling:
3/4 cup raisins soaked in 1/2 cup rum (recipe called for dried cranberries or cherries soaked in brandy; I got creative with what I had to hand)
90 grams butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon essence or freshly grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cranberry preserve

For the sugar glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

* if you have fresh lemon juice, you should the substitute the Lemon essence and vinegar for lemon juice wherein you will require 2 tbs water and 1 tbs lemon juice.

 

The “How To”
Preparing the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let it foam up for at least two minutes. Then blend in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, ginger, eggs and lemon essence. Stir in two cups of the flour, a cup at a time and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough β€” I used up all my flour but you might not need to use all so be attentive to the consistency of the dough.

Place the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5 to 10 minutes; WARNING! This is a great arm work out and also a good way to get rid of any pent up emotions…..lol :-)…..just saying………Dust with more flour if needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

When you are done, place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl large enough to accommodate it as it doubles in size. Cover with cling film or a clean damp tea cloth and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take about 1 1/2 hours.

The filling
Drain the dried fruit from the liqueur and reserve the liqueur for another use. In a small bowl, combine the drained fruit with remaining filling ingredients. Once you are done, cover it and refrigerate.

NOTE: I noticed that the cranberry preserve I added made the filling a bit wet and somewhat made the dough slightly difficult to work with when I filled it and tried to cut and twist it. I applied the preserve because I wanted a tart kick to it since I didn’t have dried cranberries. All-in-all it turned out great but maneuvering it was tricky.

Now for the fun part! Shaping the dough.

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board, kneading it just enough to release any air bubbles.

Let me add here that you need a a big, clean surface to roll it on. Roll the dough into a 9×30-inch rectangle; it helps to use a ruler to measure the dimensions.

Crumble the filling over the dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Starting along a long side, tightly but carefully Β roll up the dough, pinching edge against loaf to seal. With a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise. Carefully turn the halves so the cut sides are facing up, and then loosely twist the halves around each other, keeping cut sides up.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and carefully transfer the “rope” to the baking sheet and shape into a wreath, pinching the ends together to seal it. Let it rise, uncovered, in a warm place until Β it is puffy for about 45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 175Β°C and bake the wreath until it is lightly browned which should take about 25 minutes. While the wreath is baking, stir together the ingredients for the glaze and set aside.

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When wreath is done, transfer to a cooling rack by picking up the sides of the parchment and then sliding the parchment out from underneath it. Cool for a few minutes then drizzle the glaze over the warm wreath. The glaze is very forgiving and helps to mask any imperfectionsΒ your wreath may have.

You may serve he wreath with your favourite jam, butter or even some lemon curd but I assure you that you will gobble it all up before you even add anything to it. It is that good!

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I served mine with some fresh fruits and juice and it was a real treat.

 

FFF Tip of the Day

It is always a great idea to be guided by recipes especially when baking things like bread but don’t be afraid to apply your intuition. If the dough feels too sticky sprinkle on some more flour. Remember YOU are in control

This recipe was adapted from thekitchn

As a rule of thumb, I run screaming in the opposite direction when I encounter a recipe that requires the use of yeast as a raising agent.

But when I woke up today with an unrelenting craving for Puffies, I knew that I was done for. Puffies are popularly called puff-puff here in Nigeria and a favourite snack. There is hardly a Nigerian party that you will attend that won’t have these sweet ishy squishy delights as part of the meal offerings. They will usually be part of what we call “small chops” which is essentially finger foods.

Puffies are akin to the infamous French Beignets; consider them to be the African cousin to beignets.

After a hasty assessment, I gathered the ingredients I needed.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 1/4 tsp instant active yeast
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or store bought ground nutmeg)
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar ( to garnish) optional

The “How To”

In a large bowl combine yeast, sugar, salt and warm water and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. Then add the flour and nut meg. Using your (clean) hands work the dough through until all ingredients are evenly mixed through. The consistency should be sticky and be a dropping consistency. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm placed for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Then heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet; you should have at least 3 – 4 inches oh oil. To test the temperature of the oil drop a bitter of the batter in the oil, if it sizzles and rises to the top then the oil is ready.

Proceed to carefully drop balls of the batter in the hot oil. The batter will puff up once it hits the oil (which is where it gets its name) so be mindful of that when you’re determining the size of each one.

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Fry them turning then over until they are evenly golden brown. Drain on paper towels, dust with icing sugar and favourite dip, in my case I paired mine with a raspberry coulis. The sharpness of the coulis was a fab contrast to sweet warm squishy treat.

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In my next post, I will share my recent berry cherry obssession.

FFF Tip of the day: Coulis are a versatile fruit “sauce” that can be made well ahead and keeps well on the deep freezer. The add such vibrancy to dishes that it’s a shame not to try them.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed from my recent personal retreat to sunny Zanzibar I have hit my food lab with renewed vigor. Armed with a variety of spices and dry herbs, it has been an aromatic infusion since my return. But this time my focus will be on using fresh herbs.

Today, I whipped up two simple meals for lunch and breakfast and show cased herbed butter in both meals.

I had bought a bunch of curly leaf parsley on impulse earlier in the week and didn’t want it to perish in my fridge so I chopped it up and mixed it in with 200 grams of butter (at room temperature). To finalize the preservation process, I placed the mixture in some cling film and carefully rolled it into an even cylindrical shape. I plonked in the deep freeze and all but forgot about it. All this happened late one night so I was in no condition to take pictures……I was practically sleep walking…..anyway getting back on track….

Breakfast was a simple fare of sliced bread, fried eggs, beef sausages and baked beans but the kicker was……yes you guessed it! Herbed butter! It just elevated the meal nicely. Isn’t it amazing how a simple inclusion makes a big difference?

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To give your sausages and eggs a mini make over follow these tips.

1. Scour your sausages with diagonal slashes before frying or grilling. Be careful not to slice it through just light cuts.
2. To make your eggs look geometric use a round metal cookie cutter to give the egg definition.

Simply place your non-stick pan on the burner and place a lightly greased or oiled cookie metal cutter in the pan. Add a bit of butter or cooking oil on the pan but inside the cookie cutter. Then carefully crack an egg in a bowl and pour it gently into the cookie cutter. Let the egg set for about 2 minutes; you may season with salt and pepper at thus point. If you like your yolk runny the cook the egg for a further minute and take off the heat. If like me you like your eggs well done then place a lid over the pan for at least two minutes and voilΓ  nicely rounded fried eggs.

Lunch had to easy to make too as I was in no mood for complex dishes. I had marinaded some pork chops yesterday so I just had to figure out what else to pair it with. I settled for sweet potatoes and carrots.

Ingredients.

4 pork chops on the bone (about an inch thIck)
1 tbs wasabi
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs steak sauce or BBQ sauce
1tsp coarse salt
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil

3 medium sized sweet potatoes
100 grams unsalted butter
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp black pepper

3 large carrots
1 tbs honey
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green grapes

This meal serves 4.

The “How To”

Marinade your chops in a ziplock bag using the mustard, wasabi, steak sauce, sesame oil and salt. Give them a good rub in the bag and leave over night or at least 4 hours in the fridge.

Bring them out to come to room temperature fir at least 20 minutes before you intend cooking them.

Turn on your oven to 195 degrees centigrade.

Wash and peel you potatoes. Chop them in half and cook for about 15 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking commence prepping the chops.

Put a thick bottomed oven proof pan on high heat and add 2 tbs of vegetable oil to it. Leave the pan on for 3 minutes until the oil is very hot and even smoking slightly and carefully add your chops to the pan. (Be sure to scrape off most of the marinade of the meat before seating. This is only so you can use the marinade for a sauce later and also to ensure that the meat is relatively dry when it hits the pan to get good color on it).

Leave chops in the hot pan, heat turned to medium for 3 minutes without touching them. The carefully flip them over using a pair of tongs and put the pan straight into the oven for 10 minutes but keep checking them so as not to over cook and dry them out. From the 6 minute mark check their progress. It is cuit a point when you press on the middle of the meat with your find and it springs back immediately. Do not poke the heat to check for doneness as you will release essential juices.

Once the chops are cooked take them out and transfer them unto a plate and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutest this will allow the meat to “relax” and distribute it’s juices.

The potatoes should be cooked by now. Drain them, add 100 grams of butter and mash until you have a chunky consistency. Cover the pot and set aside. Scrape and slice carrots. Blanch them for about 3 minutes. Drain and drizzle 1 tbs of honey over them and mix through.

Add the marinade to the pan juices from the chops and cook for two minutes until slightly thicker. Sear cherry tomatoes and grapes in 1 tbs of vegetable oil on high heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Now you are ready to plate up and enjoy your meal! A nob of herbed butter completes this delicious meal!

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There was complete silence during this meal and all plates were returned completely devoid of food save for the bone from the chop.

My mum and hubby both took a nap after this meal so it is quite filling; be warned!…..lol!

FFF Tip: it is easier to work with herbed butter when it is frozen that way you can slice the pieces off as required.

A variety of herbs can be preserved in this fashion including basil, coriander, flat leaf parsley and tarragon. If you prefer a healthier route this mode of preservation, you can freeze the herbs in olive oil by placing them in an ice tray and filling with olive oil. Then you just use the required number you frozen cubes for your sauces and meals.