Thursday, 17 March 2011

Time to get fresh

As much as I may love staying in, I finally embraced the importance of getting out into the great outdoors. Feeling a gentle breeze on my face, breathing in the invigorating fresh air, striding out as far as my stumpers will allow, helps blow away the mind cobwebs that choke my lil brain.
I'm lucky enough to live in a town that's surrounded by glorious Kentish countryside (not that the nearby Sussex countryside is too shabby either.) and really don't get out into it enough, though I'm trying to redress the balance. And now is a fab time to go because spring is on the verge...

Donning my 15 year old Docs and an outfit that potentially would trigger vivid memories for a Crimewatch reconstruction (please tell me that I'm not the only one who considers these things.... O_O), off I went.

I liked the green 'flowers' in the grass (though not enough to tiptoe daintily through them, thus avoiding their imminent squishage. Seriously, you try tiptoeing daintily in Docs - it can't be done.)

I love how this fallen, ivy-choked tree just refuses to die. I'll take another pic when it's in full leaf.

To fully appreciate this view, you should be playing this on your internal jukebox (or iPod if you want to be boring and unimaginative)

I love how the other geese are looking up at those two: "Bloody Dave and Keith - they've never been the same since watching 'Top Gun'"

A beckoning bridge, wearing this season's moss adornment. It's so now...
...and comes in mustard too.

I thought these buds were like nature's own fairy lights (and no, I wasn't smoking anything...)

New buds emerging from aged, knackered wise old branches, like the first chin hair on a post-menopausal woman

Blossoming barbed wire. Feel free to make your own trite metaphorical observations etc

Fer-luffy catkins

...and catkins masquerading as either pom-poms or fireworks

I stomped for a good hour, possibly more, going down paths I'd never even noticed before let alone walked along. I love finding new things in places you feel you already know, seeing things from a different perspective and feeling just a little lost. On my travels I also saw a bumble bee big enough to put a saddle on, two magpies (joy!) and heard, but did not see, a woodpecker, presumably sending out the latest news to the woodland via morse code, or spreading delicious gossip to a nosy mob. At the end of all this, I yearned for strong fresh coffee and pancakes.

This recipe comes from Sophie Dahl's wonderful 'Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights' of which I have made mention before. It manages to straddle the twin channels of food memoir and recipe book but is warm and wise rather than condescending and pushy. A delightful book to dip into when you're feeling a bit ugly and hopeless. Oh and hungry, of course.
These pancakes are a little different as they use spelt flour and ricotta cheese, resulting in a satisfying yet light texture. I ate them plain, but Miss D recommends drizzling with agave or maple syrup and serving with raspberries. I had an apple later: that'll do. As I didn't have any agave (how remiss of me...) and had not managed to secure a mortgage with which to purchase maple syrup, I commonly threw in  a dessertspoonful of caster sugar: yeh, not even soft brown, or muscovado: maverick baking! Grrrr! I also made bigger pancakes than she suggested as I thought one's the 'size of a large chocolate coin' were a tad pointless, so went with tablespoon dollops instead, thus making 6 cakes 'o' pan. Plus, last change: I used a few drops of lemon extract in place of lemon rind. How very reckless of me.

Miss Dahl(ish)'s Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes
110g ricotta cheese
70ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large egg, separated
1 teaspoon lemon zest (or a few drops of lemon extract)
1 dessertspoon caster sugar (or agave or maple syrup if you're posh)
30g stoneground spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

sunflower oil for the pan

  • In a large bowl, mix together the cheese, milk and egg yolk with a good sturdy whisk (don't use a machine: this doesn't take long at all)
  • Add the lemon zest / extract and the sugar and mix in well
  • Stir in the flour and baking powder
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the lonely egg white until it turns into white foam (but not into the peaks that one is usually required to whip an egg into)
  • Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the foamy white until thoroughly combined
  • Heat a dollop of oil in a small frying pan on a highish heat, pouring out the excess into a cup when it is hot (just before the oil gets 'ripply')
  • Dollop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for a minute or two until they start to bubble
  • Carefully turn them over using a fishslice and cook for another minute
  • Pop onto a plate and cover with a clean towel to keep them warm and moist
  • Devour in the style of your choosing
These ones are ready to be flipped over (Sorry, but the pic I took once they'd been made looked awful, but trust me: they are delicious.)