Schools Nutrition Perfect Pancakes By Annah Herbert-Graham, Magic Breakfast Nutritionist A pancake can be enjoyed in its simplest form or with a range of elaborate toppings and twists, both sweet and savoury. Historically, Shrove Tuesday was an opportunity to use up any leftover eggs and butter before beginning the fasting of Lent leading up to Easter, and pancakes fit the bill perfectly, with the core ingredients being eggs, milk, butter and flour. The art of flipping pancakes is just as old as the recipe itself, dating back to the 1400s when cookery books insisted on flipping the ‘cake in a pan’ so that it didn’t burn. At Magic Breakfast, we enjoy any excuse to get creative with delicious breakfast treats, however pancakes can be made any time of day, using the different topping ideas to turn a sweet-treat into a wholesome savoury lunch or dinner. RECIPE IDEAS Use this recipe as a base for a traditional English flat-pancake (makes approx. 6 small pancakes): 100g plain flour (or a gluten-free alternative) 250ml semi-skimmed milk 50g butter 2 small eggs pinch of salt (optional) Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt if using. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the eggs into it. Mix together using a whisk or fork. While mixing, gradually add in the milk, a ladle at a time, until a creamy consistency forms with no lumps. It should be just thicker than single cream. Gently heat the butter in a frying pan. Pour 2 tablespoons of the liquid butter into the batter and mix it in. Pour the rest into a separate bowl and use a teaspoon to grease the pan each time you make a new pancake. Heat the greased frying pan on high heat until the butter starts to bubble, then turn the heat down to medium. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan, immediately swirling it around to evenly coat the base of the pan with a thin layer (the amount will depend on the size of your frying pan). Leave it to cook for a minute until the edges start to come away from the pan and the base is golden. Use a silicone or wooden spatula to turn the pancake (or if you’re feeling brave, try the traditional flipping method - just watch it doesn’t get stuck on the ceiling or land on the floor!), cook for a further minute or until golden on the other side. Serve immediately with your favourite topping, or keep pancakes warm at low-temperature in the oven while you make the rest of the pancakes (wrap them in foil so they don’t dry out). Top Sweet Toppings: 1. A squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sugar. 2. A handful of mixed berries topped with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey. 3. Chopped banana and a spoonful of smooth peanut butter. 4. Grated apple, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. 5. Poached pears (spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) with a dollop of creamy ricotta. Top Savoury Toppings: 1. Grated cheddar cheese and sliced ham. 2. Sliced mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and a few fresh basil leaves. 3. Cream cheese, smoked salmon and chopped chives. 4. Pan-fried garlic mushrooms, baby spinach and crumbled feta cheese. 5. Smashed avocado with squeezed lemon, cracked black pepper and a chopped red chilli. Nutritionist’s Favourite: Crispy Buckwheat Crepes with Ratatouille Filling My mother used to make these pancakes as a mid-week dinner for the whole family, and I still make them today as an alternative to pasta or to use up a glut of vegetables in my fridge. The vegetables listed below work well together, but feel free to add in any others such as peppers, potatoes or carrots if you have them. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, despite its name (it’s actually a seed), and is a great source of fibre, protein, magnesium, manganese and B-vitamins: all necessary nutrients that support energy levels and promote growth and repair of the body’s cells and tissues. To make the ratatouille: 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves of garlic, chopped 1 small courgette, sliced 1 small aubergine, chopped into 1 cm cubes. Handful of mushrooms, sliced 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 1 tsp oregano Salt and pepper to taste Fresh basil leaves to serve Fry onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add tomatoes, aubergine and oregano. Cook on medium heat until aubergines start to soften (approx 5 minutes). Add mushrooms and courgette, cook over low to medium heat for a further 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep the ratatouille warm while you make the pancakes. Simply replace plain flour with buckwheat flour in the pancake recipe above. Fill half of each pancake with ratatouille mixture, fold the pancake in half and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Place until the grill until cheese is melted and edges are crispy, and serve with fresh basil leaves and a side salad of watercress, rocket and spinach.