3 Best pancake recipes to celebrate Shrove Tuesday

The best pancake recipes for breakfast on pancake day

Last week, I tried to explain to my American roommates what Shrove Tuesday is and why we should be excited about it. A transcript of that conversation might look something like this:

Me: Guys, next Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday!
Guys: What’s Shrove Tuesday?
Me: Pancake Day!
Guys: What’s Pancake Day?
Me: The day before the start of Lent.
Guys: What’s Lent?
Me: The 40-day fast from Shrove Tuesday until Easter. You know what Easter is, right?

(They did.)

In fact, they do celebrate Shrove Tuesday here in the USA; they just know it by a different name. In hindsight, I now realise that I should have opened with “Guys, next Tuesday is Mardi Gras!” But whatever name you know it by, tomorrow is the day when Christian families traditionally use up all of the sinfully delicious foods in their houses, so as to spare them the temptation to break their fast of penance. This fast, also known as Lent, lasts from Ash Wednesday all the way through to Good Friday (which falls on 14 April this year), when many Christian faiths begin their celebration of the resurrection of Christ. So you can see why it might be a good idea to use up all the sugar and fat in the house before you embark on your 40 days of self-denial. (Lent is considered to last 40 days, rather than the 47 calendar days it actually comprises, because you get Sundays off.)

Ingredients for honey cloud pancakes by Things We Make: fresh fruit, honey, eggs, milk and flour.
Get all those sweet and fatty foods out of sight and out of mind!

Each country, and indeed each family, will mark the lead-up to Easter in a slightly different way. You will most likely have heard of the famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, and the Venetian masquerade celebration, both of which celebrate the last week in which they are allowed to enjoy the carnal pleasure of a rich and indulgent diet, making tomorrow the last day of festivities. In the UK, only Pancake Tuesday itself is celebrated: and yes, you guessed it, all we do is make and eat an ungodly amount of pancakes. In my household, growing up, we tended to stick to the same tradition every year: my mother, who seemed to hold the firm belief that her ability to provide the pancakes on Pancake Day was a direct reflection of her success as a mother, would come home from work and fire up the stove while we looked on in anticipation. In this entirely pressure-free environment, she would then begin her attempt to produce pancakes, instantly become frustrated when the first one inevitably turned out less than perfect, then try to compensate by adjusting the heat settings, which would result in the second pancake also being sub-par, thus commencing the vicious cycle of descent into despair and, ultimately, anger. At around the fourth pancake, I would usually take over in an attempt to alleviate her stress, only to find that she had finally perfected the stove settings and the rest of the pancakes turned out beautifully, thereby giving me unearned credit for her work and increasing her own false sense of failure as a mother.

And so I made a mental note that if I was going to perfect one single recipe in my life, it would be pancakes: I never wanted to experience the shame and self-loathing that my mother’s relative lack of pancake-making abilities subjected her to on a yearly basis. In fact, I’ve come across a few practically fool-proof pancake recipes, and I plan to make all three of them tomorrow: partly because I’d like to challenge myself and impress my roommates, and partly because that way I have two failsafes in case I really balls it up. If you try out any of the recipes below, don’t forget to comment and report back! Either way, the single most important thing to bear in mind when making pancakes is that the first one is always a dud: whatever you do, don’t let it make you second-guess yourself!

French crêpe recipe from BBC Good Food (UK):

Fluffy, American-style pancakes, also from BBC Food (UK):

Honey cloud pancakes from Things We Make (US):


Spotlight on: Croquettes

Cuisinology takes a look at a globalised French delicacy: the croquette

The humble croquette: a concept so simple and delicious that it has traversed the globe and embedded itself in the food cultures of countless nations. Its origin is French, from the verb croquer (to crunch or be crunchy), and the concept is simple: a filling of your choice, sometimes bound together with béchamel sauce, dipped in breadcrumbs and fried in plenty of oil.

So what is it about this delicacy that gives it its international appeal, allowing it to conquer the world? Well, first of all, it’s a cinch to prepare: just take any kind of food, mix it to a paste with béchamel sauce, coat it in egg and breadcrumbs and fry in scorching hot oil until crisp. So unless you live in a place where flour, eggs, bread, and oil are hard to come by; or you don’t know how to mix ingredients together, dip ingredients into other ingredients, and fry stuff; you should be able to whip up a batch of these satisfying bites in no time.

Home-made ham and blue cheese croquettes
I whipped up these ham and blue cheese croquettes while living in Madrid. Riquísimas!

Secondly, although French in origin, the croquette is versatile: it can be made with all kinds of local delicacies, thus blending in and becoming part of the national cuisine. The croquetas that appear on Spanish menus are typically filled with jamón (cured ham), bacalao (salt cod), or morcilla (Spanish blood sausage). In Italy, potato and mozzarella crocchette are popular, while another version containing aubergine is more commonly known as polpette. In South Korea, a goroke (고로케) or keuroket (크로켓)* might well contain japchae, kimchi or bulgogi, while seafood is a popular ingredient in the Japanese korokke. Potatoes are the staple ingredient in German, Austrian and Swiss Kroketten, as well as Irish and British croquettes.

* The Korean word for croquette is slightly less recognisable than the others because the language does not support consonant clusters, so the ‘c’ and ‘r’ have to be separated by a vowel: keuroket or goroke.

So the croquette has the unusual ability to insinuate itself into the hearts, minds and bellies of the locals, wherever it goes. But the fact that it can be made with almost any filling also makes them very practical: the leftovers of most meals can be scooped up into lozenges and made into croquettes for a convenient appetiser or finger food the next day. I’ve made croquettes with leftover mince, mashed potato, mushroom risotto, and even haggis! It’s a fool-proof way of re-styling your leftovers with ingredients you probably have in your pantry.

For a basic potato croquette recipe, click here (USA) or here (UK). Martha Stewart has a recipe for Spanish-style croquettes with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese here. If you’d like to give it a shot with leftover risotto, try Epicurious’ version here. Once you get the hang of the process, the sky is the limit! I’m currently working on a way to croquettise the leftover chilli from the Superbowl last night: I’ll let you know how it goes…