The last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent and 40 days before Easter) is Shrove Tuesday. ”Shrove” translated means “to confess,” (Shrove Tuesday was the last day of confession and forgiveness before the Lenten season), and here’s another interesting piece of trivia: the root of this word today is found in the expression “short shrift,” or giving very little attention to someone’s explanation!
In preparation for Lent, eggs, milk and butter (fat) were historically feasted upon by the faithful in every possible dish, as they were prohibited during the 40 days of Lent. One of the most popular ways to incorporate these ingredients was by making pancakes. Hence, Shrove Tuesday’s more colloquial name: “Pancake Day.”
You may also know this day as Mardi Gras (translated, “Fat Tuesday”) … so many reasons to pay homage to history with food!
If you want to learn more about other tasty Mardi Gras culinary traditions, you simply must sample my King Cake and my Beignets, which pay a real tribute to those famous treats that made Cafe du Monde famous! (And watch this video on DC’s FOX 5 news with my King Cake and Beignets!)
But for now … back to the pancakes!
When it comes to pancakes, it seems that there are two schools of thought:
1) the fluffier, the more flap-jackier, the better!; or 2) thin and delicate crepes are the real deal.
Now, I’m not here to pick sides. No way. I love them both and they each have their place. Adults seem to covet those lacy-thin crepes, and we enjoy them equally, whether stuffed with sweet fruit fillings and drizzled with chocolate, or filled with savory sauteed crabmeat and artichokes.
My kids are true fluffy pancake fans though, and they call for them as frequently at night as in the morning. We have a little tradition in our family that we call “Upside-Down Night,” which really gives the term “pancake supper” new meaning!
If you favor the fancy crepe style, look no further than my new book, Free for All Cooking. It details everything you need to impress the neighbors with these (shockingly easy!) treats for your next dinner party or dessert. I have tweaked my flapjacks recipe from Free for All Cooking and am sharing that with you today. The recipe below is somewhat thinner than the one in my cookbook, giving you the freedom to allow your imagination to be your only restraint as you “paint” your way to your next breakfast (or dinner) table, pleasing all those palates around you. For an even EASIER way to make the best darned pancakes ever (we’ve gotten lots of testimonials like that!), just grab a bag of my Jules Pancake & Waffle Mix!
Pancake Strawberries with Mini Chocolate Chip “Seeds”!
Like any good short-order chef, I field all kinds of artistic requests with this thick, but pourable pancake batter. I have “painted” with this food-colored batter and created everything from my kids’ names in cursive, to potted flowers! I even made a pancake bicycle once. I think my favorite though, is making pancake strawberries, with mini dairy-free chocolate chips as the seeds. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss! (Mind you, I’m no serious pancake artist – I promise this batter is fun and enhances your artistic abilities! : )
Happy Shrove Tuesday! Happy Pancake Day! And Happy Mardi Gras to you and yours!
- 1 1/2 cups Jules Gluten Free™ All-Purpose Flour
- 1-2 Tbs. dry dairy or or non-dairy milk powder (I use Vance’s DariFree™ non-dairy milk powder)
- 1 Tbs. granulated cane sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
- 3 Tbs. canola oil
- 1 1/2 (+/-) cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- high heat oil for the pan
- berries, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc., if desired
- food coloring (optional) – for natural food colorings, try Seelect
Fried egg? No – it’s a pancake!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In another larger bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients, using only 1 1/4 cups of milk at first. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredient bowl until well integrated and only a few lumps remain. Add more milk as needed to thin the batter to the point that it is easily spooned onto the skillet, but is not watery at all. You should be able to put a dollop of batter onto the hot oil and spread the batter out with the back of a spoon to form a circle without the batter being too thick or too runny.
Pour enough oil into a large skillet or griddle to have a thin covering over the entire surface. Heat the skillet or griddle to medium-high.
Spoon batter onto skillet and spread the batter with the back of a large spoon. Leave space between each pancake so that you can use a spatula to flip each one easily. If desired, place berries, chocolate chips, etc. onto the uncooked side of the pancakes. (Or make into fun shapes like Mickey Mouse!) If you would like to color your pancake batter, divide mixed batter between bowls and add food colorings to each one. For best “painting” results, pour colored batters into individual squeeze bottles (I use cleaned and emptied agave squeeze bottles). Squeeze batter out to form designs like flowers, fried eggs, strawberries, hearts, stars, teddy bears or even your kids’ names in cursive!
Cook until bubbles begin to form in the batter, then gently flip, continuing to cook until light brown on the bottom with slightly crispy edges. Serve warm with maple syrup, or layer with pieces of wax paper between the pancakes, and seal in a zip-top bag once cooled; refrigerate or freeze and reheat for later serving.