Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gastronomic milestones

The RL Family Australian Farewell Tour is under way, and this past weekend we made one last trip to Jervis Bay, for some quality time with our friends C. & M., who have a place down there; for a last rendezvous with the staggeringly beautiful South Coast of NSW; and for a needed breather before the onslaught of our last 10 days in Canberra.

We spent the weekend eating and playing at the beach; eating and playing board games; eating and playing with Miss B. and C. & M.'s big goofy dog; and oh, eating some more. My favorite kind of weekend. We started as we meant to go on, early Friday evening, with some beers, a bottle of rose, and a few plates of oysters.

C. & M. were shocked when I confessed I had never eaten an oyster before. I'm still kind of amazed myself to realize the advanced age I had reached before trying one. All those wasted years! Because they really are wonderful: "as close as you can get to eating the ocean," as C. said. And the best part is when a highly-touted culinary experience actually lives up to the hype.

I was able to return the favor on Saturday morning, when I made pancakes for breakfast and served them with maple syrup, because M. had never tasted maple syrup before. Given how much it costs in Australia, I think we may have both acquired an expensive new habit this weekend.

Express Pancakes
Adapted from Nigella Express
I am not exaggerating when I say that this homemade pancake mix has transformed our weekend breakfast routine: we have gone from having pancakes two or three times a year to every Sunday, without fail.

Pancake mix
600 g/5 cups plain/all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1 tsp salt
40 g/3 Tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Keeps indefinitely.

150 g/1¼ cups* pancake mix
1 egg
125 ml/4 oz milk
125 ml/4 oz yogurt
1 Tbsp melted butter

Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.

You can fry these with no fat if you feel confident your pan is sufficiently nonstick; otherwise, grease the pan with butter. Drop batter in large tablespoonfuls and cook until the edges are starting to dry out and bubbles appear, about 2 minutes.

Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side. Remove to a warm plate and repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately, drizzled with real maple syrup.

Serves 4 adults and 1 child.

* I have found that this recipe can successfully be halved by using half of all the ingredients, except the egg. I can't halve eggs.


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