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Rice Pancakes

Blinis are small pancakes made of buckwheat flour originating in Russia.  Apparently, early Slavic people saw them as a symbol of the sun, and baked them at the end of winter to celebrate the sun’s return.  I think there’s something rather nice about making a sun symbol at this time of year as the sun slips lower in the sky to remind ourselves that the sun will return again in a few months time.

I had been planning to make blinis for a while and keep a few handy in the freezer, but then I remembered this recipe over on 101 Cookbooks, which looked like a great idea and decided the combine the two.  In the end, I made half a batch of the mixture into blinis, then added some cooked brown rice to the second half and made the larger, rice pancakes.

This is a simple recipe making the blinis and pancakes perfect as a base for other flavours.  The pancakes are delicious piled up with ratatouille and the blinis are wonderful as a starter or snack with cream cheese and beetroot relish.  And, actually, they’re both rather good served for breakfast warm with maple syrup.

Blinis and Rice Pancakes

1 large Egg
150g Buckwheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
250ml Milk
1 tblsp Oil

For the Rice Pancakes
To the second half of the mixture, add:
1 cup cooked brown rice
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the eggs until frothy, then add the flour, baking powder, oil, salt and milk.  Whisk or beat well, until a smooth batter is formed with no lumps.

Heat a little oil in a large, heavy frying pan.  Put tablespoonfuls of the batter into the pan four at a time (or two in a smaller pan).  Cook the batter until bubbles have formed and burst on the surface and the underside has started to brown.  Turn the blinis over and cook on the other side.

Repeat this with half the mixture, then add the cooked rice and black pepper and mix well.

Heat more oil in the pan, and add a larger quantity of the batter to make one pancake.  Again cook the batter  until the bubbles have burst and the pancakes is browing on the underside before flipping over and cooking on the other side.

Blinis cooking as the bubbles start to rise

I have to admit that despite my best efforts, I don’t have the greenest of fingers.  I therefore feel disproportionate joy at the smallest success!  Talking of disproportion, I enjoyed reading about giant veg over on igrowveg this week, but all the time knowing that this is something I will never aspire to.  I’ve been delighted by my first attempt at growing cucumbers as there is currently a healthy looking fruit, about 7-8 inches (hardly giant!) in length.  I think today might be the day it gets picked as I’m too excited to wait any longer…

One of the things I have loved about growing cucumber is that each fruit is covered by a prickly skin with sharp thorns which deter even the kind of super-determined slugs and snails we get in our garden.  You see the prickles clearly on the baby fruit:

There are actually a lot of the baby fruit on one plant, but will there be enough good weather left in the year to help them grow?

The other produce we’ve started to harvest is the tomatoes.  This has been a pleasant surprise, as the summer was generally wet and quite dark, ensuring that no tomotoes ripened for some time and making me fear they would all be lost to blight.  But a couple of weeks of sun in August, and suddenly there was progress.  I tried three varieties this year, Moneymaker and Alicante, both of which have produced ripe fruit and San Marzano, a plum tomato, which was very slow to grow in the cold weather and has produced a small number of large fruit, which have yet to ripen.  Again, will September be warm enough to ripen them?

The Ham House from Kingston walk features in the National Trusts collection of great walks

The Great British Walk is the initiative of the National Trust to get people out and about this autumn.  Using their click-able map, you can choose a download from 1,285 walking trails.  The walks on the National Trust website are in pdf format and have a clear, easy to follow layout.  The ‘Ham House from Kingston Walk’ for example is 8 miles long and takes in a lovely, wooded stretch of the River Thames, 17th Century Ham House and the open space of Richmond Park.  This is one of my favourite parts of London and proved to be a great day out.  The print outs also include information about the sights along the way.  Of course the walks tell you about facilities available at National Trust properties (in this case Ham House), but this walk takes you very close to Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park with a cafe and accompanying facilities available without an entry ticket!  Still these walks all look like a great opportunity to get out in the autumn sunshine (hopefully!) and take in heritage at the same time.

National Trust Great British Walk

Oh, and if you join the National Trust at the moment, there’s a deal for 3 months for free!

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