Archive for March, 2007

A RECIPE: American Pancakes


I’m struggling with a chronic state of indecision. It used to pain me as a kid that my sister could never decide over what flavour ice cream to get and now here I am unable to decide what I really want to eat for breakfast- when I’m hung-over. Last week I was asked where to go for a good English breakfast in New York and it got me thinking- a dangerous mind-set. So far I’ve managed to stand on one side of the pond over all food related issues, whether it be the London bias or the New York bias. But all I could come up with this time was ‘I love New York Diners- but I could murder an English now that you’ve mentioned it’!

I suppose it is possible to love two things equally- indeed when I’ve been questioned in the past on which country I love best I’ve been lost for an answer. But when I set out to write this blog I wanted to state my opinions about which country is better for what and I wasn’t prepared to be stumped only 3 months in.

That is until I started going out for breakfast in New York. After a boozy night out in London who can resist a tasty fry-up- eggs dripping in bacon fat, bread fried in bacon fat, bacon in bacon fat, tomatoes… mushrooms…beans (naturally); you get my drift. But in New York, post-drinking you can go to breakfast and order stacks of pancakes topped with fried eggs, waffles mounded with fruit and yogurt, French toast drenched in syrup or a freshly baked bagel stuffed full of eggs and processed cheese. I could even enjoy this option sober and hangover-free. And yet, I’m torn. I could sit and argue that boiled eggs and soldiers are better in London or that Crispy bacon is better in New York than London but those are just components of the bigger issue.

So, in my troubled little head I’ve been laying out the criteria for what is required for breakfast having visited the Porcelain God the night before (whether it was you paying penance or holding back the hair of your friend as they do.) A hangover breakfast needs to be fat based. Both score ten’s here. They need some sort of fruit or vegetable (so you don’t feel too guilty), both score full marks again. They need carbohydrate to absorb any leftover vodka shots swirling around your belly. Tied. They need to be drenched in sauce for ease of swallowing, draw. You need a limited choice because too much thinking is not desirable to a delicate head. Ah hah- perhaps there is something to be said for the UK- all you need to say is ‘full English’. In a diner you are faced with far too many choices, including lunch options and it’s all rather a headache- which you already have. In New York you do get unlimited coffee refills- but fall headfirst when it comes to making a good cup of brew. I think what I’m trying to say here is that I can’t make a decision here- but please don’t loose faith I can assure you that my opinionated self will return for my next instalment.

I’m leaving you with a pancake recipe- not because I’m biased but because I can’t write a recipe for and English fry-up (but you can check out Good Food January 2007 issue for my one pan English breakfast recipe!).

These pancakes are fluffy and filling and perfect served with raspberries, bacon and maple syrup (and there you have all the main food groups). Buy grade B maple syrup, as it’s less refined giving it more flavour- it’s also cheaper (now I’ve got you taking note.)

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: American Pancakes’

Baked beans

baked beans

I’m feeling very smug today. This is not because I’ve created a cake recipe that will have cause for Martha Stewart to pound down my door demanding rights for it (although I am developing the world’s best vegetarian lasagne) but because I have discovered baked beans in the supermarket. Anticlimax! I hear you cry! But, no, for these are not just any old beans- but Heinz ‘est. 1886’ baked beans with tomato sauce. The kind that come in a turquoise tin and make you produce what can only be described as record-breaking gastric outbursts.
As my eyes caught sight of these infamous gems, I momentarily wondered if God was looking down on me- but as I greedily snatched 5 cans from the shelf I decided perhaps not. I paid $1.29 per can- a little steep perhaps but after 3 months of bean–deprivation I thought it was a small price to pay. Perhaps it seems a little peculiar to you that a self-proclaimed ‘cook’ is blubbing over baked beans but this is one ‘convenience’ food that I could never give up. They reign king of the tins.

In retrospect my experiences with beans should have scarred me for life and left me avoiding the canned-goods isle altogether. At boarding school we were fed them at least 4 nights a week- I lived on baked beans on toast for 2 years. At University I had a flatmate who ate them out of the tin cold. Whilst studying drama, my classmates and I were subjected to playing mindless children’s games including the baked bean game where we ran around like fools pretending to be an assortment of beans. I broke wind for the first time in front of my boyfriend having gorged myself on baked beans (note to self and other women/men, consuming beans on a first or any date for that matter has more detrimental consequences than spaghetti). This was followed by 8 hours working on a commercial ‘casting’ baked beans for that hero close-up of a single beautiful bean nestling between the prongs of a fork. I was even asked by the producer at the time “do your parents’ know you do this for a living?” Luckily these were Branston’s baked beans, a far inferior brand and thus why I was able to look past this unfortunately unforgettable affair (and for those interested in the matter, there were by far, more rejected beans than graded beans).

Alas, for the past 3 months I have sampled can after can of American-branded baked beans searching for the soothing flavour of Heinz- I even tried a Heinz variety developed in Canada. They are all just too sweet, containing brown sugar instead of white- and twice as much as English beans. With 14g per serving they may as well be topped with a mint sprig and called dessert! The brown sugar gives then an unappetising brown tinge and comparable in taste to apple pie. Whereas all my English compadres will know that English Heinz baked beans are a lavishly deep orange that aren’t too sweet and are simply delightful when pared with a fluffy jacket potato and a handful of grated cheddar. Now, I’ve discovered the ‘foreign’ foods section though, I will never have to worry about this inconvenience again. Hurrah! Triumph. Long live Heinz est.1886 (made in England, not Canada) baked beans!

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