Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Volcano, Not Dumbo, Shrove Tuesday

Watching good Morning America, apparently Mt. Kilauea is erupting at the moment. It has been live and active for many years, but now is being very violent Mt. Kilaueawith lava fires all over the place some of them erupting to over 80 ft. There is a wide no fly zone over the area because of the danger of the lava splashes. At the moment there is no anticipated danger to residences, but it sounds as though there could be at any time with small eruptions happening all over the place. The ground under the area is all volatile and could crack open at any moment.

Experiments are being carried out with elephants to see just how intelligent they are. Cooperation is considered a sign of intelligence and in Thailand they are running such experiments. One shown on TV this morning iselephants_cooperating two elephants cooperating by each pulling on a rope at the same time in order to pull buckets of corn towards themselves. If only one elephant pulls, the gadget doesn’t move towards them properly; the corn is in the red buckets which you can just see. Other experiments are being designed. It has already been shown that elephants can paint pictures of themselves and this morning we also saw an elephant taking a self activated shower by waving its trunk in front of an electric sensor button. Quite a contrast to the picture I showed on March 1 with the elephant pushing a tourist vehicle over in a park.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or in the UK Pancake Day, in the south Mardi Gras. By pancake we mean crêpes. I haven’t indulged in years, but this year I am thinking what the hell? The classic crêpe on Pancake day is served with sugar and lemon with some butter. However, this recipe from Delia Smith caught my eye. I remember making Crêpes Suzettes on one occasion and we ran out of butter and fruit juices and basically ended up with all liqueur for the host and hostess. That being Matt and I we didn’t complain, although, like my dad, I think this sauce should be bottled.

Crêpes Suzette

Delia SmithCrepes Suzettes

For the crêpes
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted (all purpose)
pinch of salt
2 eggs
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
50g/2oz butter
1 medium orange, grated zest only
1 tbsp caster sugar
For the sauce
150ml/5fl oz orange juice (from 3-4 medium oranges)
1 medium orange, grated zest only
1 small lemon, grated rind and juice
1 tbsp caster sugar (regular sugar in North America)
3 tbsp Grand Marnier, Cointreau or brandy
50g/2oz unsalted butter
a little extra Grand Marnier, for flaming

Preparation method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing. Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs - any sort of whisk or even a fork will do - incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so.

  2. Next gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don't worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk). When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream. Now melt the 50g/2oz of butter in a pan. Spoon 2 tbsp of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake. Stir the orange zest and caster sugar into the batter.

  3. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you're using the correct amount of batter. These little crêpes should be thinner than the basic pancakes, so when you're making them, use ½ tbsp of batter at a time in a 18cm/7in pan. It's also helpful if you spoon the batter into a ladle so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it's tinged gold as it should be. Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife - the other side will need a few seconds only - then simply slide it out of the pan onto a plate. If the pancakes look a little bit ragged in the pan, no matter because they are going to be folded anyway. You should end up with 15-16 crêpes.

  4. Stack the pancakes as you make them between sheets of greaseproof paper on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest.

  5. For the sauce, mix all the ingredients - with the exception of the butter - in a bowl. At the same time warm the plates on which the crêpes are going to be served. Now melt the butter in the frying pan, pour in the sauce and allow it to heat very gently. Then place the first crêpes in the pan and give it time to warm through before folding it in half and then in half again to make a triangular shape. Slide this onto the very edge of the pan, tilt the pan slightly so the sauce runs back into the centre, then add the next crêpe. Continue like this until they're all re-heated, folded and well soaked with the sauce.

  6. You can flame them at this point if you like. Heat a ladle by holding it over a gas flame or by resting it on the edge of a hotplate, then, away from the heat, pour a little liqueur or brandy into it, return it to the heat to warm the spirit, then set light to it. Carry the flaming ladle to the table over the pan and pour the flames over the crêpes before serving on the warmed plates.

Happy Pancake Day


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