Monday, 8 February 2016

Everybody's favourite Tuesday: Pancake Tuesday!

Carnival, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday. Three different names for festivities marking the beginning of Lent, the Christian fasting period before Easter.

Let me start off by this: I honestly had no clue about such things until I was twenty-two.

And let's be honest, as a child, who cares about these things? Growing up in Great Britain, all you know is this: Pancake Tuesday is THE best Tuesday ever! No matter where you are, who you eat with, it's basically unwritten law that they have to feed you pancakes. It's criminal not to.

It's also a much loved tradition that I am all to happy to pass on to my son who, as luck would have it, is in fact old enough to eat pancakes today. But not just any pancakes, because as a mum I of course want what is best for my son which means making pancakes a delicious but slightly healthier treat. In my case it meant replacing the white flour I have always used with my current flour of choice: spelt. Spelt is slightly lower in carbs and calories but higher in protein than regular wheat flour making it just a bit more nutritionally balanced and having the added bonus of just tasting delicious. Be it bread, donuts (I'll get to those later in the year) of cakes, I love spelt. Knowing that it's slightly better than wheat is really the bonus from my perspective.

Spelt pancakes.

  • 300 grams spelt flour
  • 4 medium/large eggs
  • 750 mL milk, I always drink semi-skim so that's what I use for pancakes
  • A splash of neutral flavoured oil, I've grown up with my mum using sunflower oil
  • A great non-stick frying pan
First off, the good non-stick pan is essential for when you want to avoid adding fat to your pan constantly I have a lovely BK pan that can also go in the oven, we love it!

In a large bowl, add the flour and eggs. Gently loosen the eggs with a whisk.
Next add your milk and whisk until the flour and eggs seem incorporated, a few small lumps of flour are fine.
Heat up your frying pan(s) and keep an eye on how much heat is best for your own cooking speed.
Once the pan is hot, whisk a small splash of oil into the batter and ladle a spoonful into your frying pan.
When the batter is no longer a liquid and small bubbles have formed around the edges, gently lifting them up, use this natural process to flip the pancakes, I use a spatula as I am no hero with air flipping.
Toss out onto a plate and cover with some aluminium foil, the heat from every following pancake will keep the others warm and the steam also loosens the pancakes which can come out of the pan looking a bit stiff.
Bring the stack of pancakes to your mouth the table and enjoy the smiles and happiness that pancakes bring!
Fry, little pancake, fry!

My suggestions for toppings:

Homemade dark chocolate sauce
Strawberries and maple syrup
Cheesy leeks for my little one as I want him to have some vegetables and he's not allowed to have syrups or chocolate yet

My suggestions for add-ins:

Of course you can also add things to the frying pan whilst making the pancakes therefore, melting, crisping or caramelising your toppings of choice. Cooking order depends on what topping I use; for melty cheese I add sliced or grated cheese immediately after I flip the pancake and let it rest with a lid over the pan. For most other toppings I place them in the pan first and then add batter. Honestly, I have not perfected flipping those properly so they usually end up a delicious pancakey mess:
Light brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over some butter, studded with thinly sliced apple
Thinly sliced banana, depending on your pan this too will require some butter or coconut oil
A golden, small stack of deliciousness


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

New blog, new style, new hotspot.

New hotspot: Oproer Brewpub

Designed for men, child & woman friendly, vegan.

So welcoming!

Oproer Brewpub, a completely new concept in this neck of the woods as a small-scale brewery where you can drink, eat and be merry. Of course in the States, local breweries have been doing this for donkey's years and after our experience with Lagunitas in California, we'd been craving a similar set-up for a few years now. But is that finally here? No, it's not, but in this case that's not really a bad thing. Already being a completely foreign concept to Utrecht, Oproer continues to be a foreign concept in the world of brewpubs, taprooms and beer gardens. How do they manage to still be innovative in a world that already has so much variety? One word: veganism.

Veganism?? Yes, I can hear everyone who's ever been pushed by the "vegan agenda" exclaim in irritation but don't worry, that's not what I'm here for. And neither are the Oproer guys. Their goal is to change the stereotypical idea of beer+meat=true love and make their world friendly and accessible to everyone. No agenda, no judgement, just a great evening spent with friends and family, even the kids! Because let's face it, that's what I am here for: to let you know about all the amazing places you CAN bring your kids along with you and still enjoy a great time.

So, let's list it up for Oproer:
Ample space to manoeuvre a pram
High chairs
Kid's toys
   +Baby toys
✓ Free parking
✗ Not actually easily accessible for a pram because of stairs at the entrance 
✗ No changing table

Kids' amenities:

Let's start with a point of preparation if you have a kid with nappies: there's no changing table. Though I'll add a yet to that one as they are a new place and I'm sure it will soon become a necessity. In the mean time, just make sure you don't forget to bring your own changing mat!
Moving on, as listed, this space has a lot of room: great, but stairs at the entrance: not so great. Luckily, the stairs are really wide and it's only six or so steps so easy enough to lift your pram up them if necessary.
The owners have been very conscious about there further set-up and children with a little play area and two high chairs that they're likely to offer you as soon as you sit down but you can always ask for them. The kids' area is surrounded by ample space for active runners and has some good toys and colouring supplies for the calm watchers with an added bonus of there even being a baby appropriate toy or two. Great!
Excuse my shitty shot of the kids' table.


Let's face it adults, we're here for ourselves too and could there be a more "adult friendly" place than a brewery? I think not. 

The selection of beers here may not be extensive, about six home brews and one alcohol free import from Germany, but there seems to be a good variety of flavour so you're bound to find something you like. Don't like beer? Don't worry, I don't either but they certainly have delicious soft drinks. Check them out at the bar as not all of them are on the menu but my favourite is and that's the apricot-almond flavour. Sweet, refreshing and reminiscent of almond cake. The non-alcoholic beer is great too, but you really can't go wrong with the Deutsche Reinheitsgebot. The other beers I will leave up to your own personal tastes because like I said: I'm not a beer drinker.

As for the food I will tell you this: If you eat just one thing here, let it be the seitan wrap. Hot damn that thing is delicious! Meaty seitan, garlicky sauce mmm... that thing hits the spot! As for my food don't, I think the Supplì breaded rice and lentil balls are a waste of your time. Very dry on the inside and the sauce was it's only redeeming quality, such a shame in an otherwise wonderful selection of dishes. Dessert seems to change weekly but I can only judge the apple crumble which we all found to be overpriced but still good. We wouldn't spend our money on it again, but I think their dessert this week (oproer beer chocolate cupcakes with vanilla and whisky ganache) sounds like the stuff of dreams and exactly what should be on their menu all day, every day! I will be there this week to taste them and horribly disappointed if they don't have them. Oproer, you've been warned.
The dish that you must have: seitan wraps.

 Overall experience + accessibility:

Yes. Oproer is so much yes. 
Three out of four ticks off my baby wish list and a solid eight out of ten points for the food and drink. The ambiance is amazing and especially kid friendly if you're there when they open at three o'clock because it's still super relaxed. Really gives you time to take in your surroundings and appreciate all the brewing equipment. On the downside, coming in early means having to wait a bit for the kitchen to set up but it's well worth the wait and you'll have good drinks to keep you satisfied during your wait.

As for accessibility, check, check and triple check! Free parking, you can (quite literally) roll off the train and there's a reasonable space for bikes if you don't mind not being able to place your in a rack. Keeping in mind that this is the Netherlands and everybody does everything on the bike, they may want to look into the possibility of placing some bike racks in the future but for now they have a nice long wall to prop bikes up against. Mint.

So, excited yet? If so then run on over to:
Oproer Brewpub
CAB-Rondom 90A
3534 BE Utrecht
The Netherlands

Open Wednesday through Sunday from 15:00-23:00