I’ve been thinking of making these for almost three months, since those lovely warm summer days I spent in Normandy with my family in August at Manoir de Laize and sampled Normandy galettes – made with buckwheat flour – on my first day, in Falaise. I like pancakes but rarely think to make them. Shrove Tuesday comes along and I think, Pancakes are so good I should make them more often. But I don’t. And when I do, I usually just have them with sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – ultra simple. But in creperies in France, for a couple of lunches, we enjoyed savoury versions as a main course and they really do make an excellent supper with a salad served on the side.
I turned to an old book of mine, in a series published by Sainsbury’s in 1987, The Cooking of Normandy by Jane Grigson.
The late Jane Grigson was one of our best cookery writers ever and I have many of her classic books, like English Food and Fish Cookery, and even some very old torn-out pages from the Observer in which she used to write. Her little book on Normandy is a brilliant introduction to the region and I took it on holiday as a guide – not to cook, as such, but to know foods to look out for and places to visit. Jane gives a galette recipe and I also checked in Delia Smith’s Cookery Course. Both suggest using half buckwheat flour and half plain flour, so the pancakes weren’t too heavy, so I did this. I have to say that what I ended up with was more pancake than how I remember the deep coloured brown-grey galettes were … these …
… in the creperie in Falaise, but they were still very good. I decided to fill them with a mushroom and parsley mixture – inspired by Antonio Carluccio on BBC’s Great British Revival this week. I had the very same chestnut mushrooms from Waitrose that he used in a recipe, having visited the place where they’re grown. If Carluccio thinks they’re good – being the mushroom king – then who am I to question him?
First I made the pancake mix: sift 55g buckwheat flour (I couldn’t find this in a supermarket but bought it in a health food store) together with 55g plain flour into a bowl. Crack 2 eggs, with a pinch of salt, into a dip in the centre of the flour then whisk till it all comes together. Add 200ml mixed with 75ml of water gradually, mixing all the time, till nice and smooth. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and stir.
Now get the mushroom mix ready. Slice a couple of handfuls of chestnut mushrooms; chop a small clove of garlic and roughly chop a small bunch of flat parsley.
Melt a good knob of butter with about a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the mushrooms in with the garlic. Stir frequently and once the mushrooms are nicely cooked through, throw in the parsley, season with salt and pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg – if you have some, but this is optional.
Turn off the heat and add a good dollop of creme fraiche (or cream if you prefer). Now make your pancakes. Melt just a small amount of butter in a pancake or shallow frying pan. Make sure the base is covered; tip out excess butter into a dish, then add the pancake mixture. Give it a stir if it’s been standing and add about 2-3 tablespoons – depending on the size of your pan.
Swirl it round to cover the bottom of the pan. When you see the edges browning, flip it over to cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and add half the mushroom mixture to just one quarter of the pancake. Fold across once and then again. Make a second pancake and use the rest of the mushroom mix. Serve with some green salad on the side. And serve immediately! This isn’t a dish to make ahead of time and keep. If you’re making for a few people, keep the pancakes warm on a plate in a low oven while you make them all, and then fill them as you plate up, but they’re best served as soon as possible. I only had enough filling for 2 pancakes – one meal for myself – but you can easily double up and make more. I used only about half of the pancake mix. They were delicious and transported me back to Normandy for a while! Plenty more for tomorrow … perhaps with a sweet filling for pudding.