Tag Archives: food processor

It’s Groun… err. Pancake Day!

Well, as you probably know today is pancake day. I thought I’d celebrate it with a nice festive nut roast, but unfortunately I didn’t have the ingredients so I decided to go with a less conventional choice: Pancakes.

The problem with growing up, I find, is that you’ve figured out your parents secrets. Well, some of them anyway. When I was younger my parents often cooked breakfast on weekends. Most of them my mother made, but my father cooked occasionally. In particular he specialised in cooking crepes. We called them english pancakes (to distinguish them from American pancakes). We always considered these a great treat, as we didn’t get them very often.

The secret? They’re actually really easy to make. The batter takes 5 minutes with a food processor. I mean, sure, his are probably a bit better than mine. But the basic principle is almost no effort at all (well, ask me again once I’ve washed everything up).

What I used

1 cup white flower
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1.5 cups milk
A very small amount of vegetable oil (for frying)

What I did

It’s completely possible to do this without a food processor. That being said, I have a food processor and am lazy. Place bets on my not using it?

So, what did I do? First, I shoved everything in the food processor and hit blend until it was smooth. There, mix is done.

Now, I know you, and I know you looked at that ingredients list and thought “Bloody hell David, that’s a lot of pancakes”. Well, maybe you’re less inclined to casual blasphemy than I am and thought “Gosh durn Davey boy, that there be a lot of pancakes”. Same principle though. Well, you’re right. So the next thing I did was immediately transfer half the mix to a plastic container and stick it in the fridge. Pancakes for breakfast it is.

Cooking the pancakes was straightforward. I heated up a nonstick frying pan. It’s important to heat it up first. If you put the pancake on a cold pan it will die of hypothermia. Or possibly just stick really badly. Oh well, the first one stuck really badly anyway. Probably partly because I didn’t let it heat up enough, but I remembered that my dad usually put a tiny bit of vegetable oil in the first one to stop this from happening, so I added a bit after I removed this one.

Once the pan is hot, I pour a little bit of mix into it and rapidly tilt it round until the bottom of the pan is covered. You need to judge the amount right, but too much is better than too little – too much and you get thick pancakes, too little and you get mangled pancakes.

Once the bottom of the pan is covered, I left it on the heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the pancake moved freely on it (don’t worry if it sticks at first – it will do that until the base is cooked). Once it was at that state I peeked at the bottom every now and then to see what colour it was and when it was the right colour (it should be a light golden brown, but I’m sure you know what pancakes look like) flipped it over and repeated the process of occasional peeking until it was the right colour (this side shouldn’t stick).

I then served with lemon juice and sugar. I’d intended to try some sort of savoury vegetable filling as a nod to a balanced diet (with Ollie, my lunchtime provider of salads, currently in deepest darkest India, the vegetable content in my diet isn’t great at the moment), but I didn’t. Why? Because a) A savoury vegetable filling was more work and b) Lemon juice and sugar is just too damn nice.


Mmm. Pancakes.

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Guacamole and playing with new toys

Gosh? Is this thing still here? I suppose I’d better post something to it then. :-)

I’ve been lacking the energy to play recently, but some new kitchen toys and a renewed attempt at acquiring the energy may result in more posts in the near future.

Yesterday I had a problem. Two problems in fact.

1) My kitchen was resplendent with several exciting new sharp implements (Remember: A well armed kitchen is a polite kitchen) which were not being used. Not least among these was a food processor with more attachments than your average Swiss army.
2) For reasons which are beyond the scope of this article, I had an awful lot of avocado which were getting very ripe.

Obvious conclusion: Guacamole!

Now, I was far from my cookbooks (ok, I was 5 minutes walk from my cookbooks, but I was in Sainsburys and they weren’t), and I’ve never made guacamole before in my life. What to do, what to do… Enterprising young chef that I am, I hit upon a cunning plan.

Ok, it wasn’t very cunning. I picked up a tub of Sainsburys own brand guacamole and looked at the label.

But it could have been a cunning plan.

Tomatoes, coriander, lemon, chilli, sour cream, a little bit of avocado, etc. No great surprises. I set off to raid the store for ingredients.

First hitch, coriander. They had plenty of coriander. However, it looked really sad. And I mean *really* sad. This isn’t “Kicked puppy” sadness so much as “I’ve just read the entirety of war and peace in one sitting and have now lost all will to live” sadness. It was that sad. So, substitution time. I picked up a pack of flat leaf parsley instead.

Next substitution: They were out of sour cream. This time War and Peace was inflicted upon me. Visions of guacamole receded into the distance, laughing as they ran.

Oh well. Creme fraiche is almost like sour cream, right?

A quick detour via the checkout and time to run gleefully home to attack my new purchases with spinning blades (of doom).

What I used:

3 largeish and very ripe avocados
4 smallish and rather pathetic looking not very ripe tomatoes
1/2 a medium sized red onion.
1 lime
1 lemon
3 small cloves of garlic
A medium sized bunch of flat leaf parsley.
half a tsp of powdered chilli
2 tsp salt
2 tsp brown sugar
250ml Creme Fraiche.

What I did:

It’s not really rocket science. :-) The short answer is “Blended everything until it was thoroughly gooped”. You can skip the rest of this section now.

  • Squeezed the lemon and lime (using my cool and shiny juicer attachment on the food processor).
  • Switched over to the spinning blades of doom and added the onion, garlic, salt, sugar and chilli. Span until ingredients were thoroughly doomed.
  • Added the tomatoes and doomed them too, then the avocado, then the parsley. (I didn’t want the parsley too fine, which is why I added it after there was a healthy quantity of goop to act as buffer).
  • Finally added the creme fraiche and ran the food processor until it was all mixed.


Here’s a quote from immediately after making this:

<   David > That is a) An awful lot of guacamole and b) An awful lot of really damn good guacamole. :)

I don’t really have much further to add to that, except that maybe it would be worth cooking the onion first next time – the recipe doesn’t taste too oniony, but it has quite a strong aftertaste of it. Some cumin might not go amiss either.

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Sweet carrots and chickpeas

About a week ago when it was one of my nights to cook for the family I was talking with Boy. The proposed dinner plan was a chestnut and sweet potato curry, and I asked him if he’d be ok with that. He said yes, which I was pleasantly surprised by. Then he said something else.

“It doesn’t really matter what you put in a curry anyway.”

Excuse me?

“Well, once you’ve put the onion and curry powder and stuff in it all tastes the same.”

I can’t remember what I actually said in reply to this, but I suspect it wasn’t more coherent than vague sputtering noises.

Later when eating the curry he observed “See what I mean? You can hardly taste the sweet potato or chestnut.”

On the one hand, he was wrong. The curry was basically chunks of sweet potato and a spicy chestnut sauce. The chestnut was subtle, sure, but chestnut sauces are always mild. On the other hand, he did have a point. My spice selection has become a bit lacking in variety recently. So I’ve been meaning to experiment with more interesting combinations.

Today’s recipe was a case of that. I was hungry and didn’t have any convenient food (and didn’t want eggs, as I had far too many of them yesterday), so I decided to cook something. Here’s how it went.

What I used:

Two largish carrots
Two small onions
Can of kala chana (brown chickpeas)
Handful of raisins
2 tbsp sunflower oil
About 3cm cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon seeds
4 cloves
2 dried red chillis
1/2 tbsp coarse salt

What I did:

First of all I dry fried all the spices and then ground them in the mortar and pestle. The grumbling about this can be taken as read.

I’d had quite a lot of success with the shredding implement on the food processor yesterday when making the latkes, so rather than fussing around with chopping things I just peeled the carrots and onions and shoved them through it. Instant well chopped carrot and onion for almost no work. I think I could very easily grow to like this attachment…

So, I heated the oil in the pan, added the carrots and onions and fried for a few minutes. Then I added the spices and continued frying it until the carrots had softened somewhat.

At this point I decided it would be a crime not to have raisins with the carrots, so I took a handful of them and added them in and continued frying, adding the kala chana a few minutes later. Fried it for another five minutes or so then took it off the heat and covered it for another five while I heated up the pita bread to eat it with.


Very nice. The combination of sweet and spicy worked very well as usual, and it augmented the flavour of the carrot wonderfully. Also, with the food processor to do most of the work, this was incredibly easy. The spice could possibly have done with being slightly milder. I think when I make it again I’ll only use one chilli.

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I was bored.

I don’t just mean the sort of boredom that arises from not being very interested in what you are doing, I mean the sort of soul crushing mind numbing boredom that rises up from the deep, saps you of all your energy and causes you to reach the point where anything you might do to prevent the boredom just seems like too much work.

As you can imagine, this sort of boredom is a problem. I get it a lot, and being currently unemployed (which will change soon, hurrah! I just need to decide which offer to accept.) while all my friends are gainfully employed in jobs or PhDs, I’m particularly prone to it at the moment. There are plenty of things I could be doing, but if I get into a slump then they all seem like too much effort.

This time however, a solution arose. Lunchtime.

My stomach grumbled. “David”, it said “I hunger. You should feed me.”

“I don’t know. That sounds like a lot of work.

“Yeah, it is. But if you don’t feed me then I’ll be forced to escape from your body and go on a rampage. Millions will die to sate my hunger, and it will be all your fault.”

“Hmm. Well, that would be bad, yes. But I’m still not sure…”

My brain chimed in. “Yes. You should cook something. I’m bored out of your mind here. Cook something new and write it up for ‘Playing with your food’. That way you’ll have an hour or two of entertainment, and your three readers will get something to amuse them as well.”

“Alright, alright. You’ve convinced me.”

When your body parts conspire against you there’s really nothing to do but to go along with their wishes.

Unfortunately I was still uninspired. This needed to be remedied if I were to effectively produce a new meal. So, Robin, to the blogmobile!

My method of finding new cooking blogs to peruse was very simple. I wandered over to Food, in the main… and clicked on every link on the right hand side of the page.

Eventually I settled on this. I’ve heard about latkes before and I keep thinking “Hmm, I should try to make those.” but never get around to it. Well, the time for procrastination was over. Latkes it is.

Purely by chance, somewhere in between deciding on this and cooking it I thought I’d check my weight (I haven’t in months) and noted that I’d somehow managed to drop down to about my desired ideal weight with no conscious effort on my part. Right after christmas and new years.

How much oil was in that recipe again?

Anyway, time for some cooking.

What I used

About 7 small to medium potatoes, peeled
Three small white onions
1/2 tbsp of salt
Two eggs
1/2 a cup of flour
1/2 a cup of sunflower oil
1/2 tsp baking soda

What I did

As you will probably have noticed if you’ve followed the above link, there’s not really an awful lot of resemblance between my ingredients and Debbie’s ingredients. They’re the same sort of things, but the quantities are only tangentially related. This is in part due to my usual tendency to adapt, in part because I peel potatoes on autopilot and peeled far more potatoes than I actually needed before I knew it, and mostly because the recipe was all the way upstairs and it would be so much work to go up and check it.

I used the grateresque attachment for the food processor and got a large pile of shredded potato. As directed I put it into a metal colander and squeezed as much of the juice out as I could, but it was still quite damp. It was at this point I decided to employ low cunning to complete the task and sprinkled the salt over it, mixed it up thoroughly and went to do the onions. These I decided that rather than shredding I would do with the normal processor blades, turning them into more of an onion puree.

As an idle observation, if you run the grater attachment to the food processor and just drop a potato on top of it then it bounces about in an amusing manner. I can’t help but imagine the little potato pleading for its life as it avoids the spinning blades.

But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I’d decided to mix the Latkes in the kenwood. Why? Because I’m lazy, that’s why. And it’s the same amount of washing up, so why not? I transferred the onion to the kenwood bowl and returned my attention to the potato. The salt had done its work quite admirably and I was able to squeeze a lot more liquid out of it. Having done so I transferred it to the kenwood as well.

I then added the eggs, flour and baking soda and mixed it all up. It produced a batter with a texture fairly similar to my normal pancake mix, which was encouraging.

I then poured the oil into a nonstick pan and heated it. At this point I looked at the pan, slightly disbelieving. Buddha on a pogo stick that’s a lot of oil… I know I have recipes which use almost that much oil, but that’s in a large curry. The sole purpose of this oil is for frying things in. This somehow makes it more alarming.

Anyway, I used a heaped spoonfull of batter for each latke. The pan fit about four of them, and there was enough batter to make eight. I fried them for five minutes on each side until they were a darkish brown.

Towards the point where I wanted to flip the first batch I noticed that the best spatula was currently in a pile of washing up leftover from my brother cooking bacon and egg earlier (the irony amused me briefly). I quickly washed it up and moved to flip the latkes.

Point of reference? Putting a wet spatula into very hot oil isn’t a great idea. Ouch.

Anyway, latkes duly flipped, they cooked for another five minutes and then I transferred them to a plate and put the next batch on.


I was already pretty sure these would be good. They smelled wonderful.

Good lord. They tasted even better. These are really really good.

I’d made far more than I was going to be able to eat, so I rushed upstairs to get the Boy. (‘The Boy’ is my affectionate name for my brother).

“Boy”, says I, “Would you like to try something indescribably delicious?”

The Boy is skeptical. I cook strange and unnatural things, with vegetables and hardly any dead animal to speak of. However upon my description of what a latke is (“It’s basically a pancake made out of shredded potato and onion”) he is convinced to give it a go.

The Boy agrees. They’re really very good. He’s rather full from having had the aforementioned bacon and egg, so he only has one, but I make up for this by having three (and another one halfway through writing this post). The rest will keep to be reheated in the oven later.

So, a definite success. They do generate a lot of washing up, and they do stink up the house, but they taste amazing.

The only thing I would do differently in future is make sure that they really were a quite dark brown. Some of them were slightly undercooked and, while still nice, they were a bit to soft inside and lacked the crispness of the really well cooked ones.

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Spicy pumpkin and bean stew

I still haven’t learned my lesson with pumpkins and how much water they give off when you cook them. Eventually I’ll figure it out, but until them I appear to be doomed to have watery pumpkin dishes. In the end it didn’t turn out too badly. It was just a bit more of a soup than I’d intended it to be…

Anyway, on to the recipe. I’m afraid this is another one I didn’t measure very carefully.

What I used

Lots of cinnamon (about 5cm)
Two dried red chillis
About half a tbsp of coarse sea salt
1/4 cup sunflower oil
Three small white onions
Lots of chopped pumpkin (maybe a bit under a kilo?)
Two cans of red kidney beans

What I did

First of all I had a pumpkin to dismember. As I’ve probably mentioned, my mother grows an awful lot of pumpkins. This is great, but when we have a large number of them we don’t manage to sell it means that there’s an awful lot of pumpkin to process.

This is normally a massive chore, but I for christmas I was given some extremely nice knives. All three of which tout themselves as the “World’s sharpest knife”, supplied by the rather dubiously named Twin Towers Trading (I can’t view their site because a) They’re idiots who don’t know how to correctly design a site and b) I don’t have flash installed). Sounds like it’s the lead up to a massive joke and/or disaster, doesn’t it?

It actually didn’t. These turned out to be really good. The serrated carving knife in particular is scarily effective and cuts through the pumpkin almost effortlessly.

Good lord. I sound like an advert. But seriously, it’s true. These things are great.

So, summary version for those of you whose eyes glazed over: One large pumpkin rendered into conveniently sized chunks. A lot of time spent, but relatively little effort. Most of it was bagged for later use or turned into soup, but the aforementioned about a kilo went into making this dinner.

Next, the spices. I dry fried the cinnamon and chillis (having broken them up suitably) and then powdered them in a mortar and pestle with the salt. Yes, this is exactly as much work as you think it is. I really need to get a spice grinder. (I suspect I’ve complained about this before, but blogger is currently down so I can’t actually check. Also on to do list: Make local copies of my blog posts)

Towards the end of this my mother pointed out that the food processor had a mini attachment that would work well for spices. I looked skeptical, but was fed up so decided to give it a try. It worked about as well as I expected. Worse yet, it managed to not screw up in an entertaining fashion which I could relate to my enthralled audience. It just didn’t do anything to them. At this point I declared the spices to be good enough.

Anyway, I now had a food processor that was going to need washing up anyway, and after two long and involved tasks I didn’t really feel like chopping onions, so I just shoved them in the processor.

Now, obvious things ensued. Heat oil, add the onions, fry for about 5 minutes. Yawn. Add the powdered spice mix, fry for another five minutes. Taste the fried onion to make sure I’m not about to poison people (I wasn’t. Mmm… cinnamon and chilli).

More standard obviousness continues. I added the pumpkin and fried for another five minutes. Added the beans and fried for another five minutes.

Hmm. At this point the recipe book says ‘bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer’. Errr… what? There’s no water in this recipe. I double checked it and confirmed. No water. This presents me with a dilemma: Am I supposed to boil the pumpkin? How do I do that? Wikipedia lists the boiling point of carbon at about 4000k, and my oven barely reaches half that temperature!

Instead I resort to covering it and sticking it in the hot oven to see what would happen. After about 5-10 minutes I was somewhat skeptical about whether or not it was really doing anything, so I added boiling water to half cover the pumpkin and put it back in. This did indeed cook it, but of course once the pumpkin started cooking it began giving off its own water, ending up with what was really closer to a pumpkin soup. After about twenty minutes I uncovered it and put it back for another 15 in an attempt to reduce it a bit. This rather failed, but never mind.


This was really nice. I should have used less water of course (probably about half a cup of boiling water to start it off with steaming is enough), but the taste was great. The cinnamon was my own addition, and I consider it to be a total success – this would have been boring without it.

So, if you have prechopped pumpkin (and I’m going to for ages now) and a sane way of grinding spices then this is a low work recipe which tastes great. Definitely a winner.

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