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Part II of my North German adventure…eating in, out and on the street

Here I am. Back to writing after a brief hiatus (well, crew catering in a field at Kaya Festival to be precise).  Now I’m back and here is part two of my trip to Northern Germany. This time it’s all about the food.

My North German guide was in her element feeding and cooking me local dishes and getting me to taste all kinds of strange and wonderful things. When friends heard I was visiting North Germany their standard response was ‘have a beer and currywurst for me’. Clearly that’s what our perception of German food is, but I soon discovered there is much than this. OK its true, they do like sausages and beer, and yes I did have both, although I stayed as far away from currywurst as I could! (Once experienced forever avoided). I did eat a fair bit of ham and salami, and lots of bread and cheese, but since Kiel is on the coast seafood makes up a big part of the local diet plus it was the peak of the white asparagus season so there was lots of that too.

On the first night of my stay my host excitedly cooked up the traditional white asparagus dish which consists of a rich hollandaise sauce, steamed white asparagus, new potatoes and smoked ham, which looked to me like uncooked bacon but she assured me it was the traditional way to eat it. The ham, which tasted like the Bavarian stuff back home in the UK was thickly sliced on to the plate and everything else layered on top. Plenty of heavy, buttery, artery hardening sauce coated the asparagus and potatoes and it was just heaven on a plate. We finished our meal with a tiny glass of ice-cold Kummel Schnapps, a traditional caraway flavoured schnapps to clean the palate, which was refreshing after all the richness.

Determined to recreate this at home I packed the ingredients in my suitcase and they survived the flight…

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My first meal out was at elMovenschiss a lovely little terrace restaurant overlooking the sea at Schilksee and a mere 5 kilometres from where I was staying. The food joined traditional Northern German cooking with dishes of Mediterranean influence with a heavy emphasis on seafood.

Loosely translated the name means el seagull shit and with that bit of German wit won us over. It was actually recommended to me by Shropshire supper club host Kerstin Losch (Kerstins kitchen). I trusted her. She is German and knows about food and her recommendation proved a good one.

It was a sunny evening and as the restaurant was busy and full we sat outside overlooking the marina. Folded blankets lined our seat and kept us warm as the evening drew on. I felt like an old woman with my blanket over my knees, but even the kids wrapped themselves up after they’d finished running around the beach in-between courses.

We loved the greeting page of the menu…lost in translation?

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Apart from the kids in our party (who of course chose the ubiquitous sausage or currywurst) we all ordered fish dishes and hefty portions of well cooked food arrived promptly (as one might expect in Germany!). My guide ordered a traditional Northern German dish of  herring, cream sauce potatoes and salad, while my other companion chose Zander and salmon fillet, pan-fried and served with roasted potatoes, spinach and mustard sauce. I opted for a tomateoey Mediterranean fish soup, with prawns, scallops and white fish. All were delicious and very filling.

I managed to save a little room for dessert as i’d already spotted that they had a favourite of mine on the menu, Crema Catalana. It didn’t disappoint with its perfect crispy sugar topping and beautiful orangey cream underneath. We left as the sun set over the harbour, watching the boats all lined up for the sailing event at the weekend and feeling full, but pleased with our choice.

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busy open plan kitchen…checking out portion sizes before we ordered!

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currywurst

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traditional German Fare…herring, cream sauce and potatoes

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Mediterranean fish soup

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Lights twinkling in the harbour as we prepare to leave

Saturday arrived and we headed off early to the market. The market in Kiel like the rest of Germany isn’t like the pokey little farmers markets we have in the UK. This one is huge and runs twice weekly. People come and do all their shopping, meet friends, drink coffee and generally make a day of it. Its a great place to browse, do a bit of tasting and some people watching. Here you can everything from beautiful ceramics, household goods, plants and general bric a brac to vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread, meat, cake, sweets and anything else you could want to eat. We tasted, drank coffee and cake bought a bit of everything.

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smoked fish counter at the market

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Kieler sprotten….a local speciality. Whole smoked sprats eaten head ‘an all.

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Horse butcher….sausages, salami the works…I brought some home

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White Asparagus

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all the fruit and veg stalls were busy…lots of local produce

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cheese!

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market coffee

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drinking coffee and watching the world go by…it was very busy

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salami stall

Next we wandered off past the Rathaus and Opera house to a small artisan brewery  in Kiel for lunch (yes I know, we just had coffee and cake..but I was on holiday!). The Kieler brewery only makes one beer. Kiel Beer. Nothing flash, but very nice. We indulged in a small glass and ordered a plate of cold meat (or cold cuts they call it) to share.

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cold cuts….the circle of meat on the left turned out to be raw pork…or spreading meat as my host called it. Traditionally eaten on dark rye bread with raw onion and pepper. she didn’t tell me it was raw until I’d eaten it. She said “you British are funny about that sort of thing”

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fermentation in one of the large vats

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the brewing room in the basement

Our day of food wasn’t done. Next we headed back to Danischenhagen where my hosts kids were playing in a German/Scandinavian football tournament. The first thing that caught my eye was the German ‘street food’. I thought of the greasy burger and chip vans that line British streets when football matches are on. The doughnuts, candy floss…but not here. Ok, there was a barbecue van, manned by parent voulunteers…but look what else I spotted

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fish in a bun

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lots of different types of fish in a bun…street food stall

…it might be traditional but a few kids were heard giggling and saying “eeuukk fish in a bun” …once again the German sausage ruled

ElMovenschiss can be found at….

Soling 36

24159 Schilksee

T 0431 / 888 05 14

info@elmoevenschiss.de

The Kieler Brewery can be found or contacted here……

Kieler Brauerei am Alten Markt GmbH & Co. KG
Alter Markt 9
24103 Kiel

Telephone: +49 431 – 906290
Faximile: +49 431 – 906290
E-Mail: info@kieler-brauerei.de

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Filed under Food travel, German food, photography, Travelling with kids

A brief introduction to Kiel

This is my third visit to Kiel, one the smaller German cities that sits on the coast of the Baltic sea. It’s the capital city of Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern of Germany’s sixteen states and although it’s not the most popular destination for UK tourists it is a real hub for visitors heading up from Southern Germany and those travelling over on ferries from the Scandinavian countries.

Many tourists from elsewhere in Europe miss Kiel possibly in the mistaken belief that it is either a/generally cold and not the place for a beach holiday or b/ that it is simply the gateway to Scandinavia (it has the main ferry terminal offering overnight trips to Oslo, Gottenburg and Klaipeda in Lithuania) and is very close to the Danish border. Plus its a stop off point for cruise ships travelling the Baltic countries. To think that this is all it has to offer is a long way from the truth.

Kiel may not have the most historic or beautiful buildings (it had the shit bombed out of it during the war) but it does have a rich and interesting history and an air of culture and heritage. It has always been one of the major maritime centres of Germany, home to the German Navy’s Baltic Fleet and a centre for high-tech shipbuilding (hence it becoming a target for allied bombers). It’s sailing culture remains strong as Kiel plays host to many international sailing events, these include the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) the biggest sailing event in the World which usually takes place during the last week of June. But there are lots of smaller events popping up at one time or another throughout May and June (which is often when the weather is at its best)..in fact the weekend I visited saw a childrens festival on the harbour, a sailing festival and a kids football championship (out where I was staying)

Kiel makes a great base for exploring Northern Germany and the Baltic sea beaches, which have much to offer. There are plenty to choose from as they flank both sides of the Kieler Forde, the inlet from the Baltic that runs down to the city. All are very clean and sandy, have extremely safe waters (shallow, calm and no with big choppy waves) and are very popular with families (especially those with small kids). Of course they tend to be busy around the sailing weeks, so double-check before visiting if you don’t fancy tangling with the sailing set.

I actually stayed about 15 kilometres outside Kiel with hosts living on the West side of the Forde. The village of Danischenhagen is very convenient  for the beaches of Strande and Schilksee (only 5 kilometres), while on the East side the beaches of Monkeberg, Schoenberg and Laboe (where you can visit the Laboe Naval Memorial and the U-995; the world’s only remaining Type VII U-boat) a must-see for kids and adults alike

As the Kieler Forde opens out to the open sea more beaches line with flanked by numerous little campsites that run up and down the coastal area.

This part of Germany was once owned by Denmark (hence some of the village names) and is so close to the border that there are some similarities in the food, but whether this is due to Scandinavian influences or simply because it is so close to the sea is unclear. Whatever the influences this is a great place for seafood lovers. With regular fish markets, stalls and great restaurants there is plenty of choice.

Here are a few impressions from in and around Kiel …

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Tall ships in the harbour for a sailing festival

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Bunker 19: Left over from the war…spot the shrapnel and shell holes in this air raid bunker, turned cinema/theatre/art venue on Kiel University campus

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Sails and rigging

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13th century St. Nicholas’ church

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U-995 at Leboe

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Rathaus and the Opera House

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Sandy beach at Schilksee…you see the wicker chairs everywhere in the summer

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street food German style

Travel:

There are various cheap flights to be found if you search around. I flew Easyjet from Manchester airport.  They also fly from Gatwick and various other UK airports.

From Hamburg I travelled to Kiel by Kielius bus. It conveniently pulls up right outside Terminal 1 arrivals, and the journey ends at the main bus terminal in Kiel. It costs 19 euro one way and stops close to plenty of budget and mid priced hotels.  Basic Hotel on Muhliusstrasse has three stars and is a popular choice, but there is a greater selection of accommodation to be found here. If you prefer to book an apartment there are several in and around Kiel including two overlooking the sea at Laboe (see HouseTrip)

For those travelling onwards and into Scandinavia, ferries can be booked online or directly at the ferry terminus which is impossible to miss as its on the harbour, close to the railway station and many of the hotels.

Look out for next post which is all about FOOD!

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Filed under German food, photography, travel, Travelling with kids

Recipe: asparagus and parmesan souffle gratin

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Better late than never, the asparagus season is finally upon us. That late cold snap left me hanging around, waiting with bated breath for the first few stalks to arrive. I love it when asparagus season arrives. To me its a sign that summer is just round the corner; the weather has warmed up nicely and an increase in daylight hours brings everything to life again. I’ve never had much luck or patience when it comes to growing my own asparagus so I look forward to the time when Hooton’s crops are ready. But then to my horror I heard a dreadful rumour. The whole crop had failed because of the cold wind last week.

Nooohhh!! I rushed to the farm shop (it wasn’t just to check out the authenticity of this claim, I did have to do some other shopping as well….really, I’m not THAT obsessed) and asked in a hushed and slightly worried voice..‘is it true? the asparagus has failed’

The woman in the shop looked at me reassuringly. No, she said. Don’t worry, it’s just running a bit late. Huh! Like everything in my life!

But now it has appeared. The sunny weekend weather sped up the process and so they cut first stalks this week. And typically I missed them, although I did send manage to get some put by for me via a desperate twitter plea.

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When asparagus stems are young and tender they need little accompaniment and no peeling. Naturally sweet, they need only brief cooking (a quick blanch in boiling water is more than enough) and are perfect in a salad, with hollandaise sauce or in the classic dish asparagus mimosa.

Mind you, the day I collected my swag the rain lashed down, the wind blew and I even turned the heat on in the house for an hour! I wanted something warm and comforting and so returned to my old favourite, asparagus and parmesan souffle gratin. It’s a recipe I came up with a couple of years ago. Combining the lightness of a souffle, with the simplicity of a gratin this recipe stops the worry of whether it will rise or not. Topped with briefly blanched stalks of asparagus it is simple, yet sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party. I’ve made it for supper club guests a couple of times and it’s always been a hit.

Asparagus and parmesan souffle-gratin:

500ml milk

50g flour

50g butter

4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites

1 sprig of thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 small onion studded with 6 cloves and a pinch og nutmeg

75g parmesan finely grated

24 thickish spears of asparagus, peeled

half a lemon

Butter a large gratin dish and sprinkle in about a third of the parmesan cheese. Place milk in a pan with the onion, herbs, nutmeg and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Bring gently to the boil then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for about half an hour (or as long as possible).

Make a roux with the butter and flour then gradually stir in the strained milk. Return to a low heat and cook for about 10 minutes stirring constantly until you have a smooth white sauce. Add two-thirds of the parmesan and remove from the heat. Allow to cool whisking occasionally to prevent a crust from forming. When it is lukewarm whisk in the egg yolks then cover with buttered paper until it has cooled completely.

Blanch the asparagus in plenty of boiling water for a minute or two (they should be tender, but still green), drain,  then refresh in plenty of cold water to halt the cooking process.

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Beat the egg whites with the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Put the souffle mixture into a large bowl and whisk in one tablespoon of the egg white to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the egg white with a spatula. Pour the mixture into the greased dish then lay the asparagus in a row on the top (as in the picture above). Bake in a hot oven (230 degrees C, gas mark 8, 450 degrees F) for about 18 to 20 minutes. The gratin should puff up and not wobble when shaken.

 

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, local produce, photography, Recipes, seasonal food, slow food, Sources and suppliers, vegetarian dishes

March mayhem (with added snow, birds and landscapes, but not much food)

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Snow in the village

Well, doesn’t time fly? Its been over two weeks since my last post and such a lot has happened. Every day I intend to write and then something else comes along to stop me.

I’m not sure where to begin with all the things that fill my days; whether it’s behind the scenes stuff like planning for all the dinners coming up in April (four in one week!!) or responding to requests for quotes, putting together invoices, menu selection and ordering. Theres not much glamour there but its all an essential part of my job.

Of course I prefer the interesting meetings where we discuss new ideas or presenting at mentoring sessions. I get out for lunch, meet people away from the four walls of my house and either put together plans or get to talk about me! (That sounds sooo narcissistic, but how many of us don’t relish the opportunity show pride in our achievements and tell others about what we’ve done). Last week I was out talking to the catering students at Llandrillo College in my role as a Dynamo role model, flying the flag for Big Ideas Wales and inspiring others to do follow their dreams….  And when I’m not fitting all of that in I’m juggling the demands of two kids (one a teenager with ADHD and my partner. After all of that there are times when I have little energy left for writing.

This particular two weeks has proved extra challenging. I’ve braved snow (yep, we snowed in again, for the second time this year. In January its expected but March!! Now that’s a bit crazy), a chaotic visit to my parents, a dislocated shoulder (my partner) plus a rather nasty and aggressive 24 hour virus that took out everyone in the house one by one. Most of our holiday plans were shelved.

One of the reasons I was in London was to hold a pop-up teashop for those attending the Easter art workshops at Wing Asylum.  I had to bring a full catering kit with me, tins, plates, ingredients, all of which were to be packed into my van. Not an easy task when it’s parked at the bottom of the village separated from my house by a steep, ice packed impassable hill. This called for improvisation. We had to tie each crate, suitcase and bag to a wooden toboggan and gingerly guide it through snow and over treacherous patches of ice. Ice grip shoes were necessary. It took four trips before we finally got on our way.

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The icy approach to my house

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The kids bike….left out in the garden

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strapping everything to a toboggan

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roses…well they’re under there somewhere

Next I had to cook and prepare cakes and tarts in a small, unfamiliar kitchen, with family members wandering in and out at will and with little space to stack boxes, crates or anything really.My mothers house is not designed to accommodate eight people so chaos reigned supreme. For a whole week.

My birthday came and went (I barely noticed it, but promised myself extended celebrations once the job had finished) and then the Wing Asylum opening night was upon us. A late night drunken affair in the toe and finger numbingly cold Asylum Chapel in Peckham. Courvoissier cocktails served to render some incapable and memories of the night are a little hazy.

We all surfaced the following morning felling like we’d been punched in the head but after caffeine, paracetamol and a BLT were fit enough to pack up our kit and drive into an uncharacteristically quiet London.

Even here things were not simple. The urn fused the electrics. The microwave in the van stopped working (so no hot chocolate…disaster!!) and we froze yet again….The stall was a success despite it all, but the organisers were left claiming NEVER to run kids workshops again after one piece sustained damage, and that night my son too went down with the dreaded lurgy.

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Asylum….and my cake stall

On Saturday I finally got to celebrate my birthday. Even our late dinner at Moro (a hugely popular North African/Lebanese/Spanish influenced restaurant run by highly regarded chefs, husband and wife team Sam and Sam Clark) turned into a drama…the closest tube station was, as it turned out,  closed. We hadn’t realised and ended up walking from Barbican arriving hot, flustered, starving and 20 minutes late. The food was worth the drama, but this being my birthday dinner I wasn’t allowed to ‘work’….i.e. no photo’s, no reviewing. It is a place I would definitely like to revisit though and we all agreed the food was superb.

We intended to go for drinks after dinner but discovered we only had half an hour to get back to London Bridge for the last train home. We panicked as we discovered a second tube station closed so in desperation hailed a cab

Can you get us to London Bridge in 15 minutes? We begged.

She promised to do her best and after 11 minutes of hair-raising driving, back ache inducing races across speed bumps…and minus my cervix which I left back at a crossing on route, we arrived with 10 minutes to spare. I’m sure this did nothing for our digestion but we got home and that’s the main thing.

Easter Sunday was somewhat underwhelming. The teen had gone off to a ‘illegal rave’ in London and had yet to return….the kid was still recovering from the virus and late in the morning my sister emerged with her boyfriend late announcing that they too had been hit by ‘the bug’ . We held a very late and slightly half-hearted Easter egg hunt and even today the eggs are still pretty much intact.

With my 8 hour shoulder of lamb cooking in the oven we were all a bit dejected. My sister claimed that this must be the worst day ever to come down with a stomach bug and we all struggled to motivate ourselves. With a little sun returning and a suggestion that spring might yet arrive we blew the cobwebs away with a walk around the RSPB reserve at Rainham Marshes in Essex admiring award-winning Visitors Centre and Bird Hide (designed by my sisters firm Van Heyningen and Haward)

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RSPB Reserve, Rainham

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The Purfleet Hide

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Cold but beautiful….you’d never know how close to the M25 you are

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The bird hide

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Despite it all we managed to fit in a fair bit….and most had recovered enough to enjoy an Easter Sunday dinner and glass of wine (albeit a small one for some).

The RSPB Visitor Centre, car park and reserve trails are open 9.30 am to 4.30 pm from 1 November-31 March and 9.30 am to 5 pm from 1 April-31 October. There are tons of things for kids to do aside from bird spotting plus a great walk around the perimeter of the lakes.  My ten-year old had a great afternoon. For more info check here

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Whisky and orange crepes….perfect for a snowy day

So, I’m snowed in. It’s a reasonably common occurrence where I live as I’m up on higher ground. Whilst those in Bangor city wonder what all the fuss is about, my village just a few miles outside is hit by snowmageddon! Abandoned cars, icy roads and snow drifts render some parts of the village inaccessible (including my street) but the fun we have tobogganing makes up for it. We all love a ‘snow day’!

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So of course I did the only thing a girl could do. I panic bought whisky and ginger wine to make whisky macs, drank Bailey’s hot chocolate with whipped cream, enjoyed a snowy walk or two and tried not to fall over on the ice. Sledging was unfortunately out of the question what with my back being bad and all, but I made up for it with some dedicated ‘apres ski’.

With food running slightly short in the house (yep, bought plenty of booze, but nothing of much use other than that) we resorted to split pea soup (at least I’d made it with proper fresh chicken stock and topped with crispy bacon) and a wonderfully indulgent creation of whisky and orange pancakes. Made in the same way as crepe suzette, the retro classic french dessert, but with whisky and not Grand Marnier and using a couple of the 15 kilos of Seville oranges from the load delivered on Thursday. They were a massive hit. Using the Seville’s with a couple of lemons produced a sharper citrussy sauce, but I liked that sweet and sour effect. Just like squeezing lemon juice on your pancakes.

Whisky and orange crepes:

To make 8 crepes:

120g plain flour

pinch of sea salt

2 large eggs

half a pint (275ml) milk

oil for cooking

For the sauce:

zest of one orange and one lemon

juice of one lemon and three oranges..I used Seville but you can use any juicy orange.

90g butter

120g caster sugar

100ml whisky

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs and milk and whisk together to make a smooth, lump free batter.

Heat a small flat-bottomed pan. Add a trickle of oil and swirl it around the bottom of the pan. When it is really hot and just beginning to smoke a little add some of the batter. Quickly swirl this around the pan to coat the bottom. Cook until it looks golden brown and then flip it over to cook on the other side. Remove the crepe on to a plate and repeat the process until you have used all the mixture.

In another pan, this time larger melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and simmer together for a few minutes until it just starts to change colour. Immediately add orange and lemon juice and zest and simmer for a couple more minutes. Add whisky and then start to add one pancake at a time folding into quarters, they should all be able to fit snugly into one pan. Allow to bubble gently for a few minutes so they soak up the sauce

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You can serve these with cream or ice cream, but they really don’t need anything else but the rich, sticky sweet-sour sauce. True comfort food!

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