It’s time to don the pinnies and dust off the non-stick frying pans ready for Shrove Tuesday. Paul Amer, head chef of Marco Pierre White’s restaurant in Newcastle, whisks up a few timely treats. KATHARINE CAPOCCI has the details
IT’S Pancake Day this coming Tuesday so time to toss caution to the wind and dig out the trusty non-stick pan.
Pancakes are cheap and incredibly easy to make, essentially requiring just four basic ingredients – plain flour, salt, milk and eggs.
How you snazz them up is entirely down to your own personal gastronomic preferences. So whether sweet or savoury, or served up purist fashion with a sprinkling of sugar and a drizzle of lemon juice, the sky’s the limit when it comes to complementary sweet and savoury additions.
Which means they can be as healthy or as calorific as you choose.
And because they’re so easy to make – and the pancake flipping adds the fun and slight potential of it all going wrong! – it’s great to involve the children.
Pancake Day – Shrove Tuesday – falls this year on February 12 – the day before Lent on Ash Wednesday.
Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, was traditionally a time of abstinence and, on Shrove Tuesday, Christians went to confession and were absolved of their sins, or “shriven”. It was also the last chance to use up all of the rich foods in the pantry – eggs, fat and milk – before embarking on the Lenten fast. And pancakes were seen as the easy catch-all way to use up these ingredients.
Pancakes will be on the menu this Shrove Tuesday at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill at Hotel Indigo in Newcastle.
Paul Amer is head chef of the MPW restaurant and here he is, pictured above, perfecting his pancake tossing.
His pancake recipes, overleaf, will feature on the starters and desserts menus on Pancake Tuesday.
Paul took over as head chef at the top-flight restaurant last November.
In a career spanning 30 years, award-winning chef Paul, 48, has had stints worked alongside top celebrity chefs, including Marco, Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc, as well as running his own restaurant in Jesmond.
Paul says: “I have a real passion for food and take great pride in the creation and presentation of each and every one of the dishes I produce.
“I consider myself a perfectionist with the ability to cook to a very high standard across all areas with my brigade, which gives me the ability and knowledge to create seasonal dishes and menus that ‘fit’ and that the customers love.”
Paul adds: “In the past during holidays, I have spent some time in different restaurants to gain experience and new ideas. These include Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where I worked with Raymond Blanc and Mirabelle.
“I also spent a week working with Gordon Ramsay.”
Prior to working at Hotel Indigo, Paul was a partner and head chef at the Bayleaf Bistro in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.
Paul also used to co-own Jesmond Hotel and Amer’s Restaurant on Osborne Road in Jesmond from 2005 to 2010.
Under Paul’s supervision as head chef, the restaurant achieved the accolade of Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide for three years running.
His professional work experience also includes a seven-year stint at the Fisherman’s Lodge in Jesmond and the prestigious Michelin-starred 21 Queen Street, where he worked as head chef.
GORGONZOLA AND BACON PANCAKES
THE basic pancake recipe is suitable for both savoury and sweet dishes. Makes about 12
“So simple to make but it’s delicious!” says Paul.
4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 rashers of bacon – fried and roughly chopped
75g of Gorgonzola cheese (or another blue cheese)
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, making a well in the centre.
Break the eggs into the centre of the well. Gradually add the milk and water mixture, continuously whisking.
When all of the liquid has been added, whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Melt the butter and add half to the pancake mixture, keeping the rest to fry the pancakes.
Heat a frying pan, add a small amount of the butter and then add 2-3 tbsp of the batter mix, moving around the pan to create an even, thin pancake.
It should take about half a minute to cook. Flip the pancake over and cook it another 10 seconds.
Slide it from the pan and then repeat the process.
Crumble the cheese and spread it around the pancake evenly.
Add in the bacon, folding the pancake in half, then in half again.
Place into a pre-heated oven for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted and then serve.
MAPLE, APPLE AND PECAN PANCAKES
4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 eating apples
85g pecan halves
175ml maple syrup
Follow the method as for the basic pancakes recipe on the right, until the pancakes have been cooked in the frying pan and tossed.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and cook the apples until they’re golden but still firm.
Stir in the pecans and maple syrup then heat gently for 2-3 minutes. Spoon the mixture on to the warmed pancakes and then serve.