The accidental creator of the famous pancakes, Crêpes Suzette, was a 14-year-old boy, Henri Charpentier. He was cooking a crêpe sauce for a special restaurant customer, Albert, Prince of Wales. The sauce — a combination of citrus, sugar, butter and various liqueurs accidently caught on fire. Henri thought his sauce was ruined but when tasted, it was delectable! He plunged the crêpes into the sauce and served them — much to Albert's delight. The creation was named after a little girl present at the dinner. Thus Crêpes Suzette were born.
Pancakes come in varying shapes and sizes. Crêpes are thin and light. Thin Asian pancakes are usually a savoury combo. American pancakes are thick and puffy. Pikelet-sized pancakes can be sweet or savoury. Russian Blini are also pikelet-size.
Choose a small to medium-sized heavy frying pan which is slightly rounded between the base and the sides. Use about a quarter teaspoon of butter and brush over the base — or use a spray oil.
Heat the pan and test by letting a few drops of water fall on the base. If the water sputters, the pan is ready to use; if it sits and boils it is not hot enough; if it vanishes, the pan is too hot.
VIETNAMESE PANCAKES WITH PRAWNS
Nuoc Mam sauce is available from most supermarkets and Asian food stores. Serve rice on the side.
50g (5 tablespoons) rice flour
1 teaspoons ground turmeric
100ml each: coconut milk, water
good pinch each: flaky sea salt, caster sugar
Filling: 300g large raw prawns
salt and pepper to taste
rice bran oil for frying
2 small shallots, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 large spring onion, finely sliced
Salad: 8 small crisp lettuce leaves
1 cup fresh herbs: eg basil, mint, coriander
Nuoc Mam sauce
To make the pancake, whisk the rice flour, turmeric, coconut milk, water, salt and sugar in a bowl until smooth and the consistency of cream.
To make the filling, devein the prawns and cut in half lengthwise, Season.
Heat 2-3 teaspoons of the oil in a 16-18cm non-stick frying pan. Sauté the shallots and prawns for 1 minute, until the prawns are pink. Add the bean sprouts and spring onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove and keep warm.
Wipe the pan clean. Add a little oil and heat. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the batter and swirl to coat the pan. Cook until golden brown on the base. Flip over and cook for 30 seconds then remove. Repeat to make 4 pancakes.
Place the filling on one half of the pancakes and fold over to enclose. Serve with the salad. Use the lettuce and herbs to hold some of the pancake. Dip in the Nuoc Mam sauce and enjoy. Serves 4 as a light meal.
Great enjoyed spread with cream cheese and topped with twists of smoked salmon.
1 1/2 tablespoons rice bran oil, divided
1 cup baby spinach leaves, finely sliced
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 cup each: frozen corn kernels (thawed), grated carrot
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the spinach, shallot, corn and carrot and sauté until softened. Set aside
Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a bowl. Add the buttermilk and egg. Whisk to combine. Add the vegetable mixture and cheese. Add a little milk if too thick.
Brush a non-stick frying pan with the oil. Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan cooking 4-5 pikelets at a time. cook until bubbles appear on top. Flip over. Cook for about 2 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Repeat. Makes about 22.
FLUFFY AMERICAN PANCAKES
Serve as a dessert with fresh fruit drizzled with maple syrup and topped with whipped cream. Or serve at brunch with avocado, bacon and maple syrup.
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 — 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
butter for cooking
Combine the flour, cream of tartar, caster sugar and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk. Mix well. Slowly whisk in the buttermilk until the mixture is smooth.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the batter 2-3 tablespoons at a time. The batter should be airy.
Using a paper towel, wipe a large non-stick frying pan generously with butter. Drop 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the pan so it makes a pancake about 8cm in diameter. Repeat making as many as you can fit comfortably on the pan. Cook until bubbles appear on the top. Flip over and cook until golden on the base. Repeat until all the batter is used. Makes about 12 pancakes.