Monday, 22 March 2010

Pancakes, pie and hero worship

Ever since I first watched the breathtaking 'Pulp Fiction', I have wanted to try heroin  driving a taxi barefoot  being somebody's gimp  blueberry pancakes and at last I have.

They were well worth the wait.

I took Nigella's pancake recipe and as they sat cooking in the pan, as pancakes should, I dumped a handful of frozen blueberries onto each one. This kept the blueberries moist and possibly retained some of their nutritional goodness...not that that was a factor - it's all about the flavour.

These were sprinkled with sugar: obviously, if we'd had any, maple syrup would have been better, perhaps some bacon too, or just a splash of single cream, just to highlight its' treat worthiness, but the sugar did the job. We really should make more of breakfast: if only there was enough time to do so, as it really does set the tone for the day, all be it, in this instance, the culinary yearnings of a murderers' wide-eyed innocent love.

It was National Pie Week here in the UK recently, not that I need an excuse for pie. Pie's are deceptively simple: you can go crazy on intricate pastry and delicate fillings, but the best pies are robust, simple and thrown together with hungry aplomb, as are the best people.

Again, I used frozen fruit. So often do I buy a stack of delicious-looking fresh fruit, only to watch it slowly rot: frozen fruit negates that sad inevitability. This pie was made from the scrag ends-of-bags of a selection of frozen fruit, including cherries, blueberries and summer fruit. It is embarrassingly simple, but feel free to complicate matters with the finest unsalted butter known to very few people, the addition of fine spices of thine choosing to the fruit and / or the pastry, lacing the fruit with a splash or 5 of booze, a sprinkling of nuts and seeds, adding fine oats to the pastry or adding a handful of dried fruit for a cascade of flavours and textures. Or, just do this:

The 'Why the hell don't I make pie more often when it's so feckin easy?!' Pie

180g plain flour (this, being Nigel Slater's pastry, doesn't need sieving: Hurrah! He is wise.)
100g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge
ice-cold water (or at least damn cold water that you've added a few ice cubes to)

Filling (bask in the glow of its' preciseness):
roughly 5 or 6 handfuls of fruit (sorry: I just used what I had rather than followed a recipe)
approx 2 tablespoons soft brown sugar and possibly a sprinkling of cinnamon
a bit of milk, for glazing and sh*t
approx 1 tablespoon demerera sugar for pre-baking pastry sprinklage

  • Cube the butter and rub into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
  • Add enough water to the crumble to bring it together into a firm, soft dough. 
  • Pat it into a flattened round, wrap in clingfilm and thwack in the fridge for about half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 200oC / Gas mark 6 
  • With reckless abandon, plop your frozen fruit into a wanton pie dish (according to Mr Slater, it needs to be big enough to hold a litre of water, so, for God's sake! Just do as the man says!) 
  • Sprinkle with the sugar (and spices, nuts, seeds, bacon -it might work-) 
  • Remove your pastry from its chilly abode and, on a floured surface, using a floured rolling receptacle, roll your pastry out until it is big enough to hat the dish.
  • Moisten the edge of the dish with a little of the milk and place the pastry on top of the fruit. Don't bother faffing around trying to make fluted edges or poncy cut outs: for this pie to work, it must look as if it has landed straight out of the sky, possibly chucked out of the window of a floating castle by a bored but passionate (and now hungry) woman.
  • Brush with milk, sprinkle with demerera and then stab two air-holes in the top of the pie in an unprovoked fashion.
  • Bake for about 40-45 mins until the top is golden and enticing.
  • Slather in the jus of your choosing: double cream, ice cream, custard, Bailey's etc
 I've started going to the gym: this won't hurt...

And, naturally, from baking, we move onto hero worship: Spaced, to be precise. People who love this wonderful series don't just love it, they absorb it. Phrases meld into their language and unleash themselves onto the unsuspecting uninitiated. Being the bad parents that we are, we introduced our kiddlings to the joy of Spaced at far too young an age. I am happy to report that my little (and not so little) nerds are familiar with pretty much all the cultural references therein, (and therefore my son thinks of David Walliams as a Vulva. ) It is quite simply one of the most imaginative comedies ever to be seen, with director Edgar Wright using techniques, previously only used on film, to produced a stylish visual smorgasboard of tasty televisual meat...or something. They (writers Jessica Stevenson -now Hynes- and Simon Pegg) only made two series, but they are utter perfection. Such is the respect that fans realise that a new series, so late in the day, would not work. far better to discuss what might have happened to our beloved characters than to be put through another Phantom Menace. Naturally, this adoration unleashed itself onto Facebook, culminating in an homage to the series that is itself doused in homage, and further proof of the unspoken telepathy between Spaced geeks. Oh yes, my friends: Spaced Flashmob! Naturally, I took the day off work (my assistant manager telling me that that was the finest reason anyone had ever given for a day off.) and dragged (that's a lie: they couldn't wait and had been practicing for weeks.) the family up to London for 2 minutes of sheer stupidity and joy. I mean, what else is there to do on a wet Saturday in Trafalgar Square?

Ok, I know we were supposed to have dispersed at the end as if nothing had happened, but we wanted to celebrate the madness of it all, and then disperse.

If you look carefully, you may be able to spot my blue-hatted self, using Mr Yump as a gun turret in the bottom lefthand corner, around 0.11...

May your week be just as tasty and foolish.


Unknown said...

I have been on a pie and pancake frenzy myself. Must be something in the air! Loving your blogg!

Unknown said...

are those words crossed out because you've done them? u rock chick u!

Unknown said...

Mr Slater is so very wise I couldn't agree more.

I'm sorry but the Phantom Mennace has it's place, however I feel that a Star Wars day with my brother was what tipped the feelings towards this.

I love and miss you and hurrah at the internet

Heather Leavers said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm pancakes. excellent idea chucking in frozen fruit, must tell the cook.

yumptatious said...

M'Lady: why thank you! (your blog is wondrous) The PP's are clearly where it's at
Maose: well, a mother's gotta have interests away from her family, after all
KT: I love his liberal use of butter (Mr Slater: if you're reading this, please feel free to use that qoute on your next book)
Nifty: it's so simple, so convenient and should be law.