Monday, 5 December 2011

Pancakes (Κρέπες)

unicef children recipe booksThere are common themes recurrent in my teaching work, which also constantly get attention in the mass media, such as education, pollution, climate change and poverty to name a few. Most Greek children know about UNICEF, and will have taken part in some of their fundraising ventures. Before I became a mother, I was fascinated by UNICEF's range of educational toys and books, and often bought products they sold, even though I didn't have a family of my own, because I could turn them into interesting projects for discussion in an English class. These books ended up becoming a part of my children's book collections, books which I mainly bought at a time when I liked the idea of cooking for multitudes, but did not have any multitudes to feed.

It's a very satisfying feeling when children show an interest in what their parents are doing around the house. No doubt, many parents will agree with me that when children see their parents doing something constructive, creative and interesting, they will happily relinquish their toys, cartoons and games, and ask to join in the 'fun', using 'adult toys'. This is slightly perturbing when they want to hold or use dangerous objects, such as clippers in the garden or knives in the kitchen. They need to be watched the whole time, but it is worth the effort. A rainy Saturday morning is better spent making biscuit dough than watching cartoons the whole day.

garden gnome garden gnome
I think the gloves attracted them more than the weeding...

Since my children discovered these UNICEF recipe books on the bookshelves, they often ask me to let them make something that they (think they will) like out of them.

la petite chef soup
My daughter likes to dress the part, but I notice she also has culinary flair.

la petite chef pizza la petite chef crepe

The recipes are organised by country, with a diagrammatic account of the ingredients required, with pictures accompanying the instructions. Each recipe is given an origin. The recipes are simple, while most require minimal cooking. The children usually choose to make chocolate sweets, but there are many savoury recipes included too, using locally grown vegetables; I also encourage the children to help me make the Greek dishes, for obvious reasons. I've made a number of dishes from these books together with the children (the countries named below are given as the origin of the recipe included in the books). Sometimes it convinces them to try the finished meal (eg aubergine dip); other times, they simply enjoyed the process of making the finished product:
  • guacomole (Mexico)
  • aubergine dip (Iran)
  • roast peppers (Greece)
  • hamburger (Canada)
  • brownies (USA)
  • chocolate biscuit balls (UK)
  • 'surprise' cake (Yugoslavia - some of these books are quite old!)
  • pancake fritters (Holland)
  • walnut crepes (Hungary)
  • chocolate tart (Switzerland)
  • hot chocolate (Holland)
By far, their favorite recipe ios the one given for walnut crepes from Hungary - but without the walnuts (since they're cooking, it's their choice)! The printed recipe contained a mistake, which I felt I had to explain to the children by reminding them that we live in the internet age, and can check any information for its validity. But the process of cooking is still fun, and the experience gained is worth the mistakes made along the way.

To make 10 large pancakes, you need:
225g flour
400 ml milk (the initial recipe said 40ml - clearly a typo!)
2 tablespoons water
3 eggs
100 grams sugar
butter/olive oil for greasing the frying pan

My daughter once again surprised me; after cooking all the pancakes herself, she presented me with the tolled up pancakes spread with chocolate and cut in bite-sized pieces.

Mix together the flour, milk, water, eggs, and sugar. Let the mixture rest for an hour. Make sure your mixture is runny. If it isn't, mix in some more milk to make a runny batter. Melt some butter (I use about a teaspoon of olive oil) in a frying pan, and pour two tablespoons of mixture into the pan. Let it spread all over the pan. Cook the pancakes, one by one, by melting a dab of butter in a small pan, and pouring two large tablespoons of the runny egg mixture into the pan. They need a high heat and constant watching over the element so as not to burn. Cook them on both sides (kids love flipping pancakes), take them out of the pan and lay them on a plate, one stacked on top of the other.

We like to serve them with chocolate spread, honey or jam. Pancakes are a simple fun way to get everyone involved in cooking. They are also a winning meal - no one says no to pancakes.
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