I hope you all had a wonderful Pancake Day yesterday!
We took a slightly different route this year – still flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants to make crepes on a school night, but this year, we threw in the added challenge of making a gluten-free version.
We followed our tried-and-tested recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini, with a couple of tweaks. We replaced the flour with Cup4Cup, Thomas Keller’s stellar gluten-free flour, and added more milk to thin out the batter. The end result was a crepe that was so pitch perfect, you would never in a million years guess that it was gluten-free, which is really the goal, right?
Kids topped it with lemon and sugar, and then on round two, spread it with Nocciolata, an organic hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk, and were in dessert heaven.
As for me, I went au natural, scoffing it straight sans spread and it was delicious. Here’s the recipe.
250 g (2 C) flour (gluten-free like Cup4Cup or all-purpose)
1/4 L (1 C) milk
100 g (1/3 C) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 L (1 C) still water
butter for cooking, and an assortment of toppings
In a large mixing-bowl, roughly combine the flour and eggs. Whisk in the milk, adding it slowly to avoid lumps. Add in the sugar, vanilla, oil and rum (if using), and whisk to combine thoroughly. Whisk in the water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
Take the bowl of batter out of the fridge, and give it a whisk to “revive” it. Put a thick-bottomed, low-rimmed frying pan over high heat. Wait until it gets very hot (hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle). Melt a dab of butter in it, and spread the butter evenly in the pan with a wadded paper towel (watch your fingers).
Ladle a little batter in the pan (just enough to cover the pan thinly, we are not making pancakes here), and move the pan around so the batter forms an even disk. Wait until the edges of the crêpe start to pull slightly away from the sides of the pan, peek underneath, and flip the crêpe with a spatula when it is nice and golden. Cook for a few more seconds (the second side cooks much faster) and serve immediately, topped/stuffed/rolled/spread with the sweet condiment of your choice.
Yep, pretty much, right? Thanks to Overheard in Waitrose for this gem.
The New York Times last week answered a reader’s question that we have all been wondering: Why do Americans refrigerate their eggs?
The answer has everything to do with the fact that large-scale egg producers must wash their eggs to control salmonella – a process that actually cleans off the protective cuticle that protects bacteria from penetrating the shell.
There was one night in London where we couldn’t get a room at Premier Inn. So we stayed at the Holiday Inn King’s Cross/Bloomsbury.
It was good – two double beds – and check this out. I opened up one of the drawers that appear to be a desk and …. TEA DRAWER!
(Note, I did make the tea that is in there. I didn’t open the drawer to find two hot cups of tea!)
Okay, this is seriously mad, but also looks like fun! Sorry we didn’t check it out when we were there!
When we visit London, we stay at the Premier Inn, which remains our go-to hotel.
For some reason, it is just hard to get a room in London for a family of four. Seriously. Either their rooms do not have the capacity for four people or they are quite expensive. It’s almost like an outlandish request if you want to stay together in one room, with your two small children.
But not at Premier Inn. We get the family room and they provide a double (which is basically an American queen) bed for us and two cots for the kids all in the same room for about £120/night. We stayed at one in London Southwark near the Tate Modern, and tried another one near King’s Cross. Both were ridiculously quiet, efficient, clean and consistent.
Even the check-in process is streamlined so you can use a glorified vending machine to get your keys. I’ve never seen anything like it in the U.S.
Plus, kids get a free hot buffet breakfast the next morning (and about £10.50 per adult). We ordered it every morning that we stayed at a Premier Inn because it’s just easier with small kids to be able to get breakfast quickly and taken care of – but the spread was very traditional, with fried eggs, British bacon (boo!), black pudding (double boo!), tomato, beans, croissants (plain, chocolate and almond varieties, yay!), cereal, fresh fruit, toast, crumpets, pancakes, coffee, tea. You name it! It was a smorgasbord of great options! Better than any Embassy Suites breakfast and I don’t say that lightly!
(Note: I am not being paid to say any of these lovely things about Premier Inn. But they really are awesome.)
Don’t you love when an impromptu singalong strikes people on the London Underground?! It’s Erasure. It’s Kentish Town. It’s amazing.
It was lunch time in Covent Garden and we were hungry. We nearly went to an All Bar One for old time’s sake, until we spotted a man butchering a huge piece of meat in the window of another restaurant: Flat Iron.
Amidst so many tourist traps, this place was a gem and really the best lunch experience we had in London – very reasonably priced (£10 for the whole shebang), awesome customer service and a unique dining experience. Beef dripping popcorn to start, flat iron steak as the main event (with horseradish because that’s the way I roll) and salted caramel ice cream, rolled in chocolate, scooped on your way out. Small menu so they know what to do and do it well. It was a well-rehearsed dance that was smooth and effortless from start to finish.
Plus, they were very cool with our kids. My son ordered the burger, which was massive and decadent (probably would order without the béarnaise sauce for kids’ next time, but I took a couple of bites and loved it). An ooey, gooey masterpiece.
So, I told you about our epic proper British tea. But did I share the heartbreak that had happened just an hour before we waltzed into Grosvenor House?
There we sat on the London Tube – Bakerloo line – mentally preparing for bountiful treats that were awaiting us on that jet lagged afternoon — and we were nearly there. We just needed to change to the Central Line to get to Marble Arch … and the moment we got out of the carriage, my daughter turned and realized that she had left her stuffy, Oscar the Owl, behind.