The bad news is that the warm sunny spell in the middle of English February has finished. But the good news is that apparently we’re in for a bite-free summer as all the wasps and mozzies hatched early and will be exterminated by the return of winter. Poor wasps, actually. And what about the bees who visit my lavender bed in droves, buzzing and making lavender honey? Every silver lining has a cloud.
This week is all about pancakes though, mild weather or not. Traditionally the last day before Lent begins, it was by no means a celebration: it was all about cooking up all the rich staples in the household, eggs, milk and butter, so folks should not be tempted during the austerity of Lent.
Pancakes then; crêpes, galettes and ‘shroves’ as The Weather Man calls them (Shrove Tuesday = Pancake Day; shrove = pancake; the logic is staggering). Try spinach and blue cheese filling so you can make a dinner out of the dessert. Or completely unconventionally, wrap some Mexican seared steak, carne asada, in a pancake instead of a tortilla.
Galettes, pancakes from Brittany are made from buckwheat flour and so gluten free; I actually prefer them for their savoury flavour. And if you just want to have pancakes for breakfast, American style, and get it done with, here are guaranteed fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
On one of the other nights you could cook lemon chilli chicken and serve it with zingy carrot salad. If you have more time on your hands, put that chicken in the oven for a Moroccan tagine. Any leftovers can be stirred in with couscous on the next day and make arguably even a nicer meal.
Then it could be the time for a pasta dish with capers and breadcrumbs: vegetarian and simple, fitting in with Lent. Or rice pilaf with Arbroath smokie which is a gorgeous Scottish smoked small haddock – but a smoked mackerel will play well too.
Now I know it’s a long wait for Easter still, but do you think the first small batch of hot cross buns could be making an appearance? Or at least some spiced Easter biscuits? I do. But if you celebrate Purim rather than Easter, it will soon be time to bake some hamantaschen.