Beghrir Moroccan Pancakes

Beghrir Pancakes Today is Shrove Tuesday, and while elsewhere in the world people are dancing and singing with Mardi Gras and Carnival, here we eat pancakes. Although I’d much rather be cavorting on the streets of New Orleans or Rio, at least I can console myself with a sweet traditional meal before we head into Lent.

Two years ago at this time, I was in Morocco, and there I came across amazing pancakes called Beghrir. They are served with honey and are oddly pock-marked. Here’s a recipe, in case anyone wants a pancake that’s as tasty as it is unusual.

Beghrir

Ingredients:

  • 125 g semolina
  • 40 g non-rising flour
  • 150 ml warm water (ca 40C)
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried active yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

What to do:

  1. Combine the yeast with 50 ml of the warm water and the sugar. Set aside.
  2. Sieve the other dry ingredients.
  3. BeghrirWarm the rest of the water and the milk in a small saucepan to 40 C.
  4. Beat the egg well and add the warm milk and water, stirring all the time.
  5. Add to the yeast and stir until fully combined.
  6. Stir into the dry ingredients in small parts, mixing vigorously until it is combined and free of lumps.
  7. Cover and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  8. Warm a non-stick crepe pan or sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  9. Pour batter into the pan to make a thin, round pancake.
  10. Cook until the top layer is dry – bubbles will form.
  11. Flip the pancake and cook for another 20 seconds.
  12. That’s it! It’s ready to eat.

Yield: About 10 small pancakes.

Note: Traditionally these would be eaten with honey mixed with butter and warmed in a pan. The ratio, if you want to try it, is 1 part butter to 4 parts honey. Simply combine them in a pan and cook over medium heat until the butter melts. Remove immediately from the heat and stir until smooth.

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Granny’s Cooking

Kitty in Cork Eoin from Mercier Press has been working through ideas and issues of new media and the publishing industry on his blog for some time now. That’s fine, you might say, but why would an ice cream man be interested? Well, Eoin has come up with a brilliant idea, and it relates to Irish food.

Here it is: he has launched a website, Our Grannies’ Recipes, where he will collect and showcase recipes of good, old-fashioned Irish cooking – the kind our grandmothers might have made.

The best recipes will then make it into a book to be published by Mercier in October. The royalties will go to Age Action Ireland.

I have to say this really gets me excited – new media meets old media with a lot of munching involved. So all you Irish (and Irish American, etc.) food bloggers out there who want to get published in print – it’s time to pay homage to Granny (or Granddad)!

Now… which recipe??? My own dear departed Cork grandmother Kitty (photo above)Â will be keeping a close eye on me from above, and she’s certainly able for lots of inspiration…

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Chocolate Macaroons with Cognac Ganache

Chocolate Macaroon I have given a recipe for meringues here as a solution for what to do with the egg whites after making ice cream. Another possibility is macaroons. Anyone who has been to Paris is sure to have tasted these amazing confections, which rise in pyramids in bakery windows.

The following recipe is adapted from Pierre Herme, although the ganache (filling) is ours. They aren’t hard to make, although I sometimes have difficulty in getting them to rise properly (here’s a photo of a batch my brother made with a little more height). No matter. They still sure are tasty!

I like a dark cognac ganache filling, and it’s actually adaped from Wiebke’s (my brother’s wife) Sachertorte.

Ingredients:

  • 150 ml egg whites (from ca. 3 large eggs)
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 150 g finely ground almonds
  • 25 g unsweetened cocoa + a bit more for dusting

For the ganache filling:

  • 75 g 70% chocolate
  • 25 g butter
  • 50 g golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cognac

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 150C.
  2. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (don’t over-whip!)
  3. Sift together all the dry ingredients.
  4. Fold into the egg whites in four additions.
  5. Put a teflon baking mat on the counter, or put a teflon liner (cheap and reusable and should be available at any supermarket) on a baking tray.
  6. Spoon the dough into a piping bag and pipe out half inch to one inch round circles on the baking tray, leaving 1 inch of space around each cookie for them to expand. You can also simply use a spoon.
  7. Try to keep the size of them the same, since you will be using two to make the filled macaroons. I like them small.
  8. Dust with cocoa.
  9. Macaroon CloserBake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are firm but still pliable.
  10. Place on baking racks to cool.
  11. For the ganache filling, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over (not touching) simmering water.
  12. Remove from the heat and stir in the golden syrup.
  13. Stir in the cognac.
  14. Allow to cool until it is semi-solid, and then either pipe or spoon onto the flat side of a cookie.
  15. Top with a second cookie.
  16. Allow to set before serving, if you have that kind of patience!

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Caffeine Crazy

Espresso I’m all jittery after a very early start (I’m definitely NOT a morning person), a long day, and an afternoon drinking coffee. We’re opening the shops again tomorrow after a short winter break, and there’s always so much to do. One piece of that was getting our coffee right.

Every time we have our espresso machines serviced, it takes a lot of tinkering and tasting before we’re happy again with the taste. This year, we’re extracting our coffee for longer at a slightly higher pressure, and the result is a little more Italian than what we’ve been serving – a little more flavour and kick, although we’ve worked hard to retain the smoothness.

It’s part of our Continental drift, I suppose. People talk about whether Ireland is more aligned with Boston or Berlin – for us and coffee, it’s more a matter of Seattle vs. Sorrento. Anyone who reads this blog knows we gravitate toward the latter…

Gravity is not something I’m feeling much of, though, at the moment. I probably tasted 30 espressos, and I’m bouncing off the wall. The good news is that I have copy of the Instituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano‘s “Espresso Italiano Specialist” book, and they say that 20% of caffeine is metabolised every hour, so I’m sure I won’t be up all night. I’m bound to fall asleep by 4 or 5 in the morning…

They also make some considerable claims for the health benefits of coffee. I knew about the healthy side of chocolate, but I’m already feeling slightly less jittery in the knowledge that coffee:

  • Heightens memory capacity
  • Alleviates headaches and migraines
  • Heightens conditioned reflexes
  • Increases artery tone and improves circulation
  • Increases pulminary ventilation
  • Helps digestion

… and so on (it’s a long list). They also point out that to reach dangerous levels, one has to drink 100 espressos right after the other. I’m relieved I stopped after 30.

Finally, I’m happy to pass on the fact that we will almost certainly be going organic on the milk for our coffees (thanks to everyone who took part in the poll). We will have to add an average of 10c to pay for the additional cost (on top of a price increase to deal with price increases from our suppliers), but I think our customers will appreciate the added value of organic. We work hard to be the best and organic milk will taste better and feel better. We’ve been using Fairtrade coffee for a while now, so I guess it’s a natural step.

Now I’ll go and try to relax. Maybe I’ll test my conditioned reflexes or test my memory capacity. Mama Mia. How do the Italians do it? Bring on the grappa?

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