We’ve been away. Not for long – just over a week. But while we were gone the garden turned feral. We came home to the obligatory end of holiday marrow, to raised beds that had been left freshly cleared and ready to be sown with winter salad leaves now carpeted with weeds, and runner beans stretching out to be a foot long and very stringy. There’s a lot of catching up to do.
But a bit of extra time needed to put the garden back to rights is a fair trade for a week away by the sea. We’re just back from Islay, an island that is no doubt listed as one of the most beautiful on Earth in many island top tens. And I say that despite the fact that Islay really doesn’t have the kind of warm, sunny climate I’m looking in a perfect holiday destination. It has a rugged, windswept charm with peat bogs and quiet beaches frequented by herds of cows and not many tourists.
In fact the beaches offer much more than a place for the local cows to hang out. There are waves for body boarding, long stretches of sand for bracing walks, rock pools to explore, and plenty of space to put the kettle on for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
The harbours and coastal walks are very atmospheric (ok, wet) in the grey and mist.
And there must be more whisky distilleries per square mile than anywhere else in the world (I could be wrong on this… but there are nine on a small island, with a tenth in the planning).
There’s also a beautiful walled garden that’s run as a community project, growing and selling freshly harvested vegetables and herbs. We called in a few times to stock up on ingredients for evening meals. One of the quickest and easiest teas we made involved cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and some basil from the walled garden. Combining two favourites in one meal – pizza and pancakes. Well ok, they’re much more like pancakes than pizzas, but the filling has all the essentials of a good pizza topping – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.
This is my entry for the final month of the Recipes for Life challenge, hosted by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash. The three ingredients for August are flour, milk and eggs – making pancakes perfect candidates.
(enough for 6 pancakes)
for the pancake –
175g plain flour
a pinch of salt and a little black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
extra butter for frying
for the filling –
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
150g mozzarella, chopped into small chunks
a handful of fresh basil leaves
Turn the oven on to a very low heat – it doesn’t need to be very hot, just enough to keep the pancakes warm while you cook them all.
Make the pancake batter by sifting the flour into a large bowl and adding the salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs and milk. Then add the wet ingredients to the flour and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
Mix together all the filling ingredients in a bowl and leave to sit until you need them.
In a large, heavy based frying pan, melt a knob of butter over a medium high heat. When the butter is melted, pour a ladleful of the batter mixture into the pan and tip it to spread the batter into a circle over the base. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the bottom of the pancake is starting to brown, then flip it over and cook the other side until brown.
When the pancake is cooked, slide it onto a plate and keep it warm in the oven until all the other pancakes are ready, (you could, of course, fill and eat the pancakes as they are made if everyone is very hungry).
Once all the pancakes are cooked, spoon 1/6th of the filling mixture over ½ of the pancake. Either roll the pancake up, of fold into quarters and serve immediately.