buckwheat pancakes with a (part-foraged) summer filling



In Brittany, where I spend a lot of my writing time, the speciality is krampouez, or galettes de blé noir, which is buckwheat crêpes. I love these, and they are so easy to make.

Buckwheat is not a grain but the seed of a plant in the sorrel/rhubarb family, so it’s gluten-free too.

It’s very satisfying to gather one’s own fresh organic vegetables and cook them just minutes later. It’s equally satisfying to forage for wild food.

I’ve done a lot of foraging over my adult life (long before it became trendy!), from the hedgerow foods and the dye-plants I’d gather, baby daughter slung on my chest, on the North Devon coasts and in the woods in my early incarnation as spinner, dyer, knitwear designer and knitter, to the autumn-turning-winter we spent in a campervan on the coast in Les Landes, southwest France, where we lived on chestnuts, berries and mushrooms, with shellfish for the non-vegetarians (my ex-, now late, husband and my toddler daughter).

Because it’s foraging season, in this recipe I used fat hen (chenopodium album; photo above) and wild sheep’s sorrel in the filling in mine. The fat hen was self-seeded in my squash and courgette bed (it likes disturbed ground and is common on eg waste areas), and I’ve deliberately left it to grow as the pigeons have taken all our chard, and this is a good chard or spinach substitute. (I think it’s ‘lambs’ quarters’ in America.) Fat hen is highly nutritious, and is also a dye plant. You can use spear-leaved orache as well; this is atriplex rather than chenopodium, but is the same family. (Worth buying a really good photographic guide for identification; I use Roger Phillips Wild Flowers of Britain book.) Obviously you can use spinach or chard instead.

An equally good substitute would be rock or marsh samphire; also plentiful this time of year in certain places, usually near the coast.

If you include a few leaves of foraged sheep’s sorrel, do be sure not to mistake one of the wild arums, like cuckoo pint (‘lords and ladies’) for sorrel – get a good ID.

Since they’ve gone nuts, I have to include courgettes from our abundance of them (and oh! those beautiful yellow flowers that the bees love! – See below.)

But vary the filling as you like – it’s good with creamy mushrooms, ratatouille, mashed avocado with seasalt, tabasco and finely-chopped nuts and yeast flakes, or garlic-sautéed courgettes with onions – and any number of other fillings.

For the galettes for two people (two small ones each):
4 heaped tablespoons buckwheat flour
8-12 tablespoons water, added gradually and beaten well
half-teaspoon salt
half-teaspoon+ of any, or combinations of, tagine spices, turmeric, cumin seed, mustard seed

For the filling:
A big handful of spinach or chard, washed, destalked, torn up – OR fat hen/orache/samphire, plus sorrel
2 courgettes, sliced
bunch parsley, finely chopped
3 or 4 leaves mint, finely chopped
clove garlic, finely chopped
grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
a little olive oil
juice of half a lemon
(Coyo coconut yogurt if you want to use it)

First make your pancake mix. I make mine fairly thick as they’re less likely to stick, and I use a small cast iron frying pan (about 8 inches bottom diameter in old money).

Sauté the courgettes in a dash of oil on a low heat until soft. Throw in spinach, chard, or fat hen, garlic, and herbs. Lid the pan and let it all wilt gently. Add the other ingredients, turn heat right down.

The secret to a successful pancake is a) proportions (roughly twice as much water as flour, or a little more than that), and b) the pan. Smear a heavy-bottomed pan with a very little oil and heat till smoking. Test it with a drop of the mix. If it sizzles, it’s ready. Pour a ladleful of the mix in, and immediately tilt the pan so it covers the bottom. After about a minute, turn the heat down slightly. Let it cook (but don’t burn it) for two or three minutes, until a knife slipped under the pancake will easily lift it. Then flip, and cook for another minute or two,

Hope you like it as much as I do. Let me know!

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