Getting children into the kitchen is something I’m absolutely passionate about. There’s no doubt about it, cooking works on so many levels……… knife skills are perfect for developing fine motor skills, adapting quantities and weighing ingredients can be used to test mathematical proficiency whilst keeping on top of the mess and the timings calls for good organisation. Then, most importantly, there’s the opportunity to develop a love for, and an understanding of, good ingredients and real food that will set up good eating habits for a lifetime.
Sometimes it’s great to have a recipe that really challenges, whilst at others a familiar and extraordinarily simple combination is wonderful for building confidence and creativity. There’s something really empowering about making something without even turning to a book. An omelette is a perfect example; once they’ve mastered the egg cracking a kid can decide between herbs, grated cheese, sliced spring onion, sweetcorn and a multitude of other bits that you find in the fridge. You will probably want to stand by as they fry depending on their age and ability but it really can be a meal in minutes.
American-style pancakes (Scotch pancakes or drop scones) are a fabulous “head recipe” especially when you use measuring cups – most people use these in the U.S. and Down Under although I have to admit that I’d rather weigh if I’m looking for precision. However the beauty of cup measuring for simpler combinations such as the pancake batter is the speed and ease with which you can work and, even better, how easy it is to remember the recipe. There are plenty of cutesy cup measures around the shops nowadays or you can just stick with the basics.
So, assuming that the child can remember the 1+1+1 recipe, they can head into the kitchen, have a cupboard/fridge forage (with your permission) and make any number of different combinations.
American- style Pancakes
– Serves 4 (about 12-16 pancakes)
The basic recipe
1 cup self raising white flour/ self raising wholemeal flour or a mixture of both.
pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1 cup milk
For the Frying: 2 tsp butter + 2 tsp vegetable oil
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
Add the egg and milk and whisk everything together until just combined Don’t worry about a few lumps, over whisking will make your pancakes tough.
Add 1/2 a teaspoon of butter and 1/2 tsp oil to a large frying pan and set the pan over a high heat. !!!!! Once the butter has melted, carefully add dessert spoonfuls of pancake batter to the pan. You can cook them 4 or 5 at a time.
If the pan begins to smoke turn down the heat.
Once the top of the pancakes are bubbly and the sides begin to firm it’s time to turn them over using a fish slice drawing or metal palette knife drawing
Cook for another minute or two, until golden and then place on a warm plate.
These are scrumptious eaten straight away but you can cover them with foil to keep warm until you have used all the mixture.
Add another teaspoon of butter to the pan, wait for it to melt and spoon in your next batch of pancakes.
Serve with bacon and maple syrup or a fruit salad with honey and yoghurt.
Add 1 grated apple or pear (peel and all) to the pancake batter when you stir it all together. Great with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Stir 1 mashed banana and the zest of 1 lime into the pancake mix and serve sprinkled with toasted coconut chips, a pinch of brown sugar and lime juice.
Add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to the pancakes as soon as you have spooned the mixture into the pan. About 3 0r 4 fruits per pancake will be plenty. Serve with honey.
Stir 50 g grated cheddar cheese into the batter with a tablespoon of chopped chives.
Stir 100 g sweetcorn kernels and 2 chopped spring onions into the batter. So, so good served with a dollop of guacamole!
Make the pancake batter with wholemeal flour, a tablespoon of chives and chopped dill. Serve with smoked salmon and a blob of sour cream.
& the good news ……….I gave a presentation to Year 5 at Bristol Grammar School last week and we played around with some variations on these pancakes. When it came to tasting, more of the kids plumped for the savoury than sweet options……. RESULT!
Images are by Deirdre Rooney from my book Cool Kids Cook ( Pavilion 2016)