In Which I Make Almond Pancakes

As I mentioned in my last post, with all this free time I’ve been cooking a lot more lately and I promised more recipes, so here’s one to start off the day. It’s nice to spend a little more time of breakfast when you can; over the weekend, or if you have a day off (or work from home, as I do now). When I was commuting into the city breakfast would be a scrambled bowl of cereal or porridge at my desk, or a sugary muffin on the way in, or just a latte, because the work whirlwind started as soon as I sat down at my desk in the morning. I’ve learnt that it’s important to take care over your food – and consequently over yourself.

I’ve also been cutting down my milk intake recently (because I can’t bear to cut out cheese – cheese is life!), as drinking all those lattes for breakfast used to bloat me out in the morning so I got into the habit of trying non-dairy milks in my lattes. Loads of the chain coffee shops have started stocking them, so it’s easier than ever now. My favourite for drinking is oat milk (tastes like a cuddle for my stomach – or not; just ignore the weirdo here), but it’s quite difficult to find in the supermarket so at home I usually get almond or coconut milk. I use the latter in the recipe below, as I find it’s better for sweet foods, but you can substitute with any other plant milk you like, or even regular cow’s milk if you’re happy with dairy.

I use dairy-free butter to fry the pancakes; I find some kind of butter is the best thing to fry pancakes in, but you can use oil if you prefer; it might just not sizzle or brown as much as butter/butter-substitute would. I’m using almond flour (also called almond meal or ground almonds, depending where you buy, though you’ll find from some producers it’s a little finer/courser), which cuts down on the carbs and increases the protein – if you’ve not had almond-flour pancakes you might find the texture a little too mealy for your taste. If that’s the case (and you’re fine to eat gluten), try starting out with a half-and-half mix of almond flour and plain flour and slowly changing the ratio until you have 100% almond.

On to the recipe –

Almond pancakes

Almond Pancakes
Serves 2, or 1 hungry person (makes 4 small pancakes or 2 large)

6 heaped tablespoons almond flour
1 organic egg
6 tablespoons coconut milk
3–4 knobs dairy-free butter
Fresh raspberries (or other fresh fruit; I used half a punnet here)
Honey (or agave nectar)

Place the almond flour in a jug or mixing bowl. (I use a jug as it’s easier to pour.) Break in the egg and mix together with a fork or small whisk. Add one tablespoon of the milk at a time, stirring each time to incorporate. (This helps it keep from going lumpy.)

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add a knob of butter. When the butter has melted and is sizzling, give the mixture another quick stir then pour in a quarter. Twist the pan the move the mixture around if you prefer a wider pancake. Fry until starting to brown on the underside (about 2 minutes), then flip. The almond flour makes the pancake a bit less flexible and more brittle than regular pancakes, so I’d advise flipping with a spatula rather than tossing it, to avoid a broken cake (and disappointment first thing in the morning). Fry on this side until golden brown (about 1 minute), then deposit onto a plate.

Repeat for the remaining batter, adding additional knobs of butter as needed, until you have 4 pancakes. I like to add a little drizzle of honey on each layer, but dress the layers how you fancy – you can squeeze raspberries in each layer or reserve them all for the top like I did here. Top with a handful of raspberries each (or more if you want) and drizzle over with honey. Serve immediately, eat, then make more if you’re super hungry!

In Which I Make Mushroom Burgers

So, I’ve decided to post up my signature recipe for mushroom burgers. I make this one frequently in the summer (and often in the winter) and it’s my favourite from-scratch recipe since I became vegetarian, though I sometimes substitute pre-made alternatives if I’m particularly tired – usually the wedges. At a first glance, it may look like a lot of ingredients, but this recipe is so versatile you can swap and change almost every element with whatever is in your cupboard/fridge; usually all I really need to buy is mushrooms, buns and potato.

Below I’ve given my core recipe and the one I make most often, but I’ll often swap things; switch the sweet potato for regular potato, or courgette; pick any cheese you like (even cream cheese – we had it with Boursin the other day, mixed into the stuffing, and it was delish); swap the avocado for hummus, or leave it out altogether.

Serves 2

For the Wedges
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Burgers
2 Portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs or 1 teaspoon flour
handful basil (optional)
2 slices/handful grated cheese

To Serve
Knob of butter
2 brioche buns
1 avocado
½ lemon, or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt
½ teaspoon harissa

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

For the Wedges
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into chunky wedges, or chips as you prefer. Place in a glass bowl (you don’t want to use a plastic one, as it will stain), pour over the oil and sprinkle over the spices. Feel free to experiment with different spice blends as you prefer. Mix together thoroughly, adding more oil if needed to coat the wedges. Tip into a large pan and roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes until cooked through.

For the Burgers
Meanwhile, remove the stems from the mushrooms and place in a food processor with the breadcrumbs or flour and basil, if using. Season and pulse a few times to dice (don’t blend to a paste). Alternatively you can finely dice by hand. Spoon this mixture into the cups of the mushrooms and press down, then top each with a slice of cheese.

Place in the oven to roast for 5–10 minutes until the cheese has melted (if you’ve picked a melty cheese) and the mushroom is cooked. If you’re super speedy, you might want to wait until the potatoes have 10 minutes left on the timer, so everything in the oven is ready at the same time.

To Serve
Halve the brioche buns. Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan and lightly toast the brioche on the cut side. Alternatively, spread with butter and toast in a toaster, or just have plain.

While everything is in the oven, prepare the avocado. Scrape the flesh into a food processor and add a squeeze of lemon, pinch of sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Blitz for a few seconds until chunky but not smooth. Alternatively, mash by hand or, if you prefer it unsmashed, simply slice and dress with the lemon juice and sea salt.

Spoon the yogurt into a small bowl, add a squeeze of lemon and the harissa, then season. Mix together roughly.

By now the wedges and mushroom should be done. Assemble everything on two plates – I like to smear the top and bottom buns with the yogurt mixture, then put a mushroom with avocado on top. I’ll usually spoon some extra yogurt on the side as a dip to have with the wedges. Enjoy!