On some days, the food kingdom seems extremely daunting to me. There are so many ingredients, cuisines and processes that would be quite impossible to explore in one lifetime. I suppose the thought that I have yet to experience molasses pales in comparison to the hard fact that there are many out there who do not have access to basic salt and sugar for survival. It does put things in perspective. I recently read a humorous article by Shirley where she talks about being a pantry hoarder and her resolve to change that bad habit. When testing recipes, prepping food and shooting it is your daily work; it is hard to maintain a frugal pantry and avoid waste. It is the dark side of the food industry whether it be a restaurant, a food magazine, a cooking school or just a hyperactive food blog. But it is a thought that is always hovering within the grasp of my conscience making me feel guilty and a tad defeated because despite my best intentions my pantry is always stocked for a doomsday event and terrible food waste becomes imminent.
For the past few months I have stepped up my efforts to step out of my cooking comfort zone and use up more of what is lying around at home in a bid to lighten my pantry and get rid of pesky hoarding. Every now and then I will cook something with an ingredient we are unfamiliar with. We will either love it or tolerate it. We have yet to throw away something because it was absolutely horrid. So far, so good.
Remember I mentioned molasses a few paragraphs up? I have heard about molasses in recent years. I have never bought it. It has been one of those lone pantry ingredients that has managed to escape my exotic ingredient shopping binge. A few weeks ago it was sent to me in a box from Beerenberg farms. Instant panic! What do I do with it? I did love the cheeky packaging and it goaded me to open the bottle up. It read "When Val reaches for our molasses, kids run, run as fast as they can to her!" Suspiciously and gingerly I sniffed. Wet, cloying, nutty, syrupy, hearty, salty. These words ran through my mind in that instance I sniffed it. I dabbed a spoon in the jar and licked it. It tasted more savoury than sweet. I was intrigued.
A little google search revealed that molasses was a by product of extracting sugar from sugar cane. The rick dark syrupy liquid left behind is packed with iron, copper, potassium and magnesium. It is heaps better than refined sugar in your cooking and baking. It has an amazing depth of flavour and can aid in digestion. It is gluten free. I decided to flavour my morning pancakes with the molasses. I was quite sure the molasses would render my pancakes more-ish. And I was right. I served them with some pan tossed thyme apples and they were delicious. I was completely enamoured by the depth of flavour imparted by molasses.
Have you cooked with molasses before? I need more recipe ideas so I can use up my still-nearly-full-jar. What ingredient sits in a lonely corner in your pantry? I would love to know what you feel compelled to buy and try but never get around to?
YEAST MOLASSES PANCAKES WITH HERB FRUIT
A robust more-ish pancake made with whole wheat and dark molasses is a great weekend breakfast. Served with pan tossed lemon and thyme apples.
Makes – To serve 2-3
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup milk 1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
for the apples
2 red apples, cored, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
juice of half a lemon
Melt butter, molasses, milk and salt in a saucepan on low heat. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Whisk an egg in it.
Mix yeast in warm water. Set aside for 5 minutes until it starts foaming. Add yeast mixture to molasses mixture. Mix well.
Add flour. Mix with a wooden spoon and rest for 30 minutes.
Heat a crepe pan on medium. Lightly spray with cooking oil. Ladle some batter on the greased pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook pancake until it starts forming bubbles on the surface (few minutes). Using a wooden spatula, gently flip the pancake around and cook the other side until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
to make the apples
Heat butter in a pan on medium. Add all the ingredients and cook for a few minutes until the fruit is glazed and starting to turn golden.
Spoon fruit on hot pancakes and serve with whipped cream and maple syrup.
Pancake batter should be thick pouring consistency, slightly thicker than store bought pouring custard.
After heating you pan in the beginning, make sure you cook your pancakes on low to medium heat. This is to ensure that the outside doesn’t burn and the insides don’t stay soggy. High heat will do that to your pancakes.
Eliminating food waste starts at home. If you have conquered that, do have a look at Foodbank and Ozharvest. These guys do amazing work to reduce food wastage and help food become a privilege for those who can’t afford it.