I said on Monday that I wouldn’t be back unless I had some kind of brainwave. I don’t know if this qualifies as a brainwave, but we have just demolished a stack of the best pancakes we have had in ages. And it all started from a pack of something that the health and safety brigade would have chucked in the bin.
Here is how it happened that our near-trash turned into bona fide treasure.The other day I found a pack of unopened sprouted quinoa, dated best before something or other 2012. Not one to say no to a bit of culinary danger (kids, don’t try this at home), I cracked it open and had a think. I may have even stuck my tongue out of the side of my mouth, so deep in thought was I. Nothing wacky but do-able immediately sprang to my tiny mind so I left the packet there to inspire me. Or mock me.
Anyway, today it was well past breakfast time and Miss R and I were hungry, our stomachs having stretched over Christmas and not yet shrunk, despite a small-portion Boxing Day. She asked if I would make pancakes. “But of course, my darling,” I answered. “You run along and I will bring them up to you with some coffee and the newspaper.” Or something like that. Except it was probably more like a sotto voce, “Grr, why can’t we just have avocado on toast? I’m knackered and it’s only 9.30.”
I grabbed the past-its-best quinoa packet, then rootled in my cupboards and found a nearly empty bag of gluten-free self-rising flour (Dove’s if you’re interested) – all-quinoa did not seem a good idea for a breakfast pancake.
As we had recently had peanut butter in regular flour pancakes – and damn fine it was too – I thought I would mix that in as well. This legumey addition may sound a bit weird to non-Americans, but it really is gorgeous if done with a light hand.
And the fruit bowl was looking a bit sorry for itself, having been ignored in favour of a Terry’s chocolate orange, which nestled apologetically in the bowl trying to disguise itself as a real orange. A couple of pears looked edible enough so they were plucked from a mouldy fate and used too.
Having never made up sprouted quinoa before I read on the packet that I could just soak the stuff and when it rehydrated it could be eaten as is. Fair enough. But to be honest I wasn’t too sure about a crunchy pancake and I couldn’t be faffed with the 45-minute wait – that ripe avocado was calling me at this point. So I simmered up the quinoa with half water and half almond milk, and wonder of wonders it tasted great just like that. In fact I will do it again at a later date as porridge as I am not so keen on normal quinoa porridge (if one considers quinoa porridge at all normal), and this was pot-scrapingly good. No trace of saponin-bitterness, and with a texture slightly more ‘poppy’ than normal quinoa. All good so far.
Then it was just a matter of whisking an egg with enough almond milk – and peanut butter – to make a batter that, if not crowded with quinoa, would be the consistency of single cream. Initially I did not sweeten the batter but after a test pancake I added just enough to let you know it was there. As for the pears, I sliced them thinly lengthways and sautéed them in a smidge of butter. I could have chopped or grated them and added them to the batter but I went for them as caramelised buttery topping instead.
Truthfully, if you hanker for a traditional fluffy pancake, this is not for you. However if you want a bit of rough with your smooth, and a satisfyingly protein-packed pancake without weird, saw-dusty protein powder, here you go. You could ditch the nut butter if it is not to your liking but do keep the cinnamon and maple syrup – or perhaps apple pie spice and honey. Just be sure to use in-date quinoa. Or you could live dangerously like me 😀
Two years ago: Brilliant Blinis with Sweet and Savoury Toppings
Miss R’s track of the week: Boots by The Killers
A very recent happy experiment from food to glow. Who would have thought quinoa and peanut butter would work. But it does. Go on, I dare you!
Sprouted or regular quinoa – 75g (½ cup)
Almond milk – 105ml (½ cup)
Water – 105ml (1/2 cup)
Gluten-free flour OR white spelt flour – 80g (½ cup)
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Vanilla powder OR extract (add with liquids) – 1 tsp
Cinnamon – 1 tsp
Almond milk – 300ml (1 and 1/3 cup)
Maple syrup OR date syrup- 2 tbsp
Egg – 1, lightly beaten
Peanut butter – 2 tbsp
Pears – 2-3
Butter or coconut oil – 2 tsp
Cinnamon – extra to serve
Maple syrup OR date syrup – to serve
Light oil – for cooking the pancakes
1. To make up the quinoa, rinse then drain if using regular quinoa; this isn’t necessary for sprouted quinoa. Put the quinoa in a small saucepan and add the water and almond milk. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat and let steam for a further five minutes. You may need less time with the sprouted quinoa – I cooked mine for five minutes and steamed for five.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla powder (if using) and cinnamon. When the quinoa is slightly cooler than just-cooked, stir this in.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup and a little of the milk; gradually whisk or stir in the peanut butter (a fork works best). Whisk in the remaining milk until all is amalgamated and smooth.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Mix well and – to achieve the best consistency – let the batter sit for about half an hour.
5. Just before you make up the pancakes, slice the pears and sauté in a little butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Keep warm or at room temperature.
6. To make the pancakes, heat a non-stick pan with a ½ tsp of oil until medium hot and a test splash of batter sizzles but doesn’t burn. When the pan is hot enough, ladle in ¼ of a cup of batter – one or two dollops in a pan. Cook until the bottom is golden; flip and do the same on the other side. Oil the pan as needed. Continue making pancakes – topping with sautéed pears, more cinnamon and maple syrup – until you are full and happy!