Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Joy the Baker's blog is pretty special - it's beautifully designed and photographed and full of the best baking and dessert treats you can think of.  Seriously, look at the recipe index and be suitably impressed that Booze, Bread and Pie have their own categories.  I want to make everything she makes and can only hope it looks half as beautiful.  Joy's first cookbook was published earlier this year and it's cover proclaims that it's a "celebration of butter and sugar" - don't doubt this!  These are American style recipes in a more-is-more way - think coffee bacon, chocolate and salty peanut butter ice cream, chocolate hazelnut spread with orange cream cheese grilled sandwiches, apple pie crostadas and baked coffee cake fresh toast. There is elegance amongst the decadence too and desserts such as dark chocolate and anise biscotti, honey and toasted walnut ice cream, grapefruit souffle pudding and chocolate, goats cheese and black pepper truffles. If you're sick of hearing about "classics with a twist" (as commented on by another noted food blogger recently) you may not be a fan of this book, but these are so incredible they should keep even the most "new-spin"-fatigued baker interested. There's definitely more of an emphasis on the sweet side of things and the savoury items are more snacks than anything particularly substantial but notable inclusions are baked chili cheese fries, Parmesan seaweed popcorn and black pepper bacon waffles. 

The book starts off with Joy's top kitchen tips which is full of helpful information, such as how to make a buttermilk substitute and explains what makes up cake flour, which I think is particularly good to know for UK readers. It also has how-to's on making your own brown sugar and vanilla extract, seasoning skillet pans and how to get the best from your ingredients.

The rest of the chapters are loosely connected via types of food - breakfast, comfort foods, celebration, chocolate and foods that transport well for parties. To be honest, it's slightly confusing as any given recipe could be classed in several of the chapters but this is the most minor of quibbles. As a blogger's cookbook, all of the recipes are accompanied with beautiful photographs and Joy's personal musings about her life, family and baking career. I quite enjoy her open style of writing - it's all a bit tongue in cheek and meant to be a giggle.

These pancakes are taken from the breakfast chapter entitled "Pancakes Pancakes Pancakes - and lesser breakfast items" which I am totally down with - pancakes are, after all, the king of breakfast. There are six different pancake variations which are all not only are there these awesome oatmeal cookie pancakes, there's also carrot cake, courgette & potato and blueberry, orange & almond pancakes with orange maple glaze. The "lesser" breakfast items are no such thing - they include delicious sounding baked coffee cake french toast, extra crumb coffee cake, whole wheat honey and goat cheese drop biscuits and oatmeal raspberry ginger scones. These pancakes are a perfect lazy morning treat, they don't require any hard work and are proper fluffy American style pancakes made special with spices and raisins. I also added some dessicated coconut as I usually add them when I make my oatmeal cookies and they add a nice extra touch of sweetness. Serve these in mini stacks with maple syrup and a pat of butter as soon as you can after making them.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
Recipe by Joy the Baker
(makes about 40 mini pancakes)

175g plain flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs
475mL buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute)
55g melted butter, cooled
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup dessicated coconut

1. Place a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to a low temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius. This will keep the cooked pancakes warm while you finish the entire batch.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl., whisk together eggs, buttermilk, male syrup and melted butter. Add the buttermilk mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture and fold together with a spatula until all of the flour is incorporated. Fold in the raisins and dessicated coconut. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Heat griddle/frying pan over medium heat and add a touch of butter to melt. Spoon or pour small rounds of batter onto the hot griddle. Heat until the bottom is browned and the top is bubbly. Flip and cook through, about 2 minutes on each side. Place on a heatproof plate in the oven to rest until ready to serve.
5. Serve in stacks with maple syrup. Pancakes are best served immediately.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Weekend Brunch: Nobles Bar

One of the questions I am frequently asked on Twitter is where can the best brunch in Edinburgh be found? In Edinburgh we are spoilt for great brunch venues, with most places doing all day brunches over the weekends so you can enjoy a not quite breakfast, not quite lunch at any point of the day. One of my favourite places that’s always on the list is Nobles Bar, a short walk from the Shore in Leith. Their brunches run from 11am - 5pm on weekends and have a great balance between traditional breakfasts like a full Scottish brekky (£8.95), smoked salmon eggs benedict (£5.95) or eggs any way you like ‘em (from £2.95) with more interesting choices like pancakes with bacon & syrup (£6.45) or creamed tarragon mushrooms on brioche toast with pine nuts and spinach (£5.95). I must admit I do favour places that have a late brunch - not only could I happily eat breakfast food at any time of the day, I'm also disgustingly slovenly on weekends and it is highly unusual for me to venture out for a weekend brunch before 12pm.  My last visit coincided with a day that was kind of all over the place and resulted in me having pancakes at 4:30 - that's a win in any pancake lover's book. 

There are also some options of classic pub grub lunches - burgers (£8.75), fish chips (£8.50), nachos (£4.95) and a damn fine selection of sandwiches including duck pastrami, chicken caesar salad and steak & caramelised onions (£6.45), all served with salad and chips. My top picks are the eggs Benedict – the eggs are always poached to perfection. The steak sandwich is definitely a favourite too – chunky bites of steak in a crisp baguette with fries has saved many of my hangovers in the past.

Nobles is truly beautiful inside, with stained glass windows paying homage to Leith's fine seafaring tradition and tables painted with octopus tentacles, waves and other such nautical imagery. The table service has always been friendly and swift and our traditional order for coffee (very good) and orange juice (okay) is usually taken straight away. It’s a large-ish pub so booking isn’t essential but I would phone ahead if you’re arriving after 1 o’clock. 

Nobles is very much a drinkers' pub rather than a foodies' destination with Black Isle Brewery making a strong showing along with other Scottish beers on tap. It’s the type of place you can stop for brunch, have a few drinks and find that you’ve been there the past four hours – what better way to spend a lazy Sunday…?

Nobles Bar
44a Constitution Street
Tel: 0131 629 7215