10 Pancakes From Around the World

The humble pancake, the flat cakes that are loved so much we named a day after them. Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, was originally taken up as an opportunity to get rid of all forbidden foods for Lent. You’ll be glad to know, we aren’t the only nation with a fondness for pancakes.

Having been around for 30,000 years, people from around the world have mustered up countless ways to perfect their pancakes. Here’s our top picks to help you avoid the same old crêpe this Pancake Day.

American Pancakes

Going one further than us Brits, Americans have actually dedicated the whole of February to be the month of pancakes! Eaten for breakfast and made with buttermilk, the American pancake is cooked with baking powder making it thick and fluffy and is often served with butter and syrup.

Denmark: Aebleskiver

Homemade Aeblskiver Danish Pancake
Aebleskiver is a traditional Danish pancake, traditionally served around Christmas and accompanied by a mug of mulled wine. Small and spherical, Aebleskiver is prepared in a special frying pan and moulded to create the round shape.

Chinese Pancakes – Chong you bing or Scallion Pancakes.

Fried chinese pancakes served with salad leaves with tea and cho
Not the sort you’d expect with your Peking duck, these pan-fried pancakes are a savoury option made from dough rather than batter and have a distinctly chewy texture. With a handful of spring onions thrown in for good measure, they’re often served with a side of soy dipping sauce.

Russian Blinis

Small, thick pancakes, made with buckwheat flour and yeast, they’re usually topped with sour cream and fish. More of an upmarket pancake, the Blinis is sometimes topped with caviar and served as an appetiser.

Austria: Kaiserschmarrn

Austrian Kaiserschmarrn with apple sauce
Very thick and custardy, the Kaiserschmarrn is fried in butter and torn into bite-size pieces. Served with nuts, raisins and apples, Austria named their pancake offering after their Kaiser, Franz Joseph I, who was renowned for his love of the dish.

Greece: Tiganites

Dating back to the sixth century, Tiganites – a typical thin pancake traditionally topped with honey, cinnamon and yoghurt – are still a popular breakfast throughout Greece. On the island of Corfu, there’s a religious festival where the pancakes are served in honour of the island’s patron Saint Spyridon.

Germany: Dutch Baby/German Pancake

Big dutch pancake
Looking more like a Yorkshire pudding than a pancake and the size of a dinner plate, the Dutch baby is usually seasoned with vanilla and cinnamon and dusted with fine sugar. It’s baked in a cast iron skillet, cut into slices and served for breakfast. Knives and forks are optional.

Poland: Naleśniki

Homemade cottage cheese with orange juice and pancakes
The Polish version of the blini is rolled and filled with sweet or savoury cheese. A sweet, homemade cottage cheese is a popular filling with a mix of sugar, farmer’s cheese and an egg yolk thrown in too.

Netherlands: Pannenkoeken

Pancakes and Bacon
Pancake restaurants are popular with families in Holland so you can imagine their pancakes are some of the best you can find. They tend to be rather large and great for a good appetite as they measure around 30cm in diameter. A particularly popular choice of filling is bacon and stroop, a thick, molasses-like sugar syrup. Delicious.

France: The Crêpe

And finally, of course we couldn’t leave out the crêpe! Originating in Brittany, the crêpe is a thinly cooked pancake traditionally served with sweet fillings such as chocolate and fruit. How about mixing it up a little? A traditional French savoury option is cheese and sautéed vegetables or you can even treat yourself to a flambéed option with an indulgent boozy orange sauce.
Will you be trying something new this Pancake Day? Or will the sugar and lemon suffice? 
We also head off to New Orleans to celebrate Pancake Day in style by joining the ‘Fat Tuesday’ or Mardi Gras carnival, as it is better known, on our Mardi Gras in New Orleans plus Nashville and Elvis Presley’s Memphis tour heading out on the 7th Feb 2016.

A taste of South-east Europe: Cevapcici

Walking around the streets of Mostar, the smell of wood-burning fires and food charring on open grills wafted through the air… it smelled SO good. The smell was Ćevapčići – the local dish, and I just had to try some.

There are different versions of this dish around south-eastern Europe, usually served with chopped onions, ajvar (a spicy relish made of peppers, aubergine and garlic– pronounced ‘eye-var’) and a flatbread (similar to a pitta bread) known as lepinje.
Why not try making Ćevapčići – pronounced ‘chewapchiechie’ – for yourself with this easy recipe?
To make 6-8 Ćevapčići you will need:
▪    200g Minced Beef
▪    200g Minced Lamb
▪    200g Minced Pork
▪    200g Minced Turkey
(use all of the above meats, or a combination a couple of them)
▪    1 onion, finely chopped
▪    3 cloves garlic, crushed
▪    1 green chilli, finely chopped
▪    1 egg white, beaten
▪    1 teaspoon paprika
▪    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Method 1:
▪    Mix the meat together and set to one side.
▪    Saute the chopped onions in a little bit of oil.
▪    Add the crushed garlic.
▪    Add the onions and garlic mixture to the meat.
▪    Add beaten egg white and paprika.
▪    Mix well.
▪    Form into sausage shapes.
▪    Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight)
▪    Pan fry until nicely browned on all sides
OR… even easier…
Method 2:
▪    Combine all ingredients and form into 3 or 4-inch long sausages.
▪    Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight).
▪    Cook slowly until well browned, turning often.

Leave the Cevapcici in the fridge overnight before cooking.
Leave the Cevapcici in the fridge overnight before cooking.

And now, for the ajvar:
▪    5 red peppers
▪    1 medium aubergine
▪    3-5 cloves garlic, crushed
▪    1-2 tablespoon vinegar
▪    1 teaspoon paprika
▪    Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the ajvar
Preparing the ajvar

▪    Cut the aubergine in half, length ways.
▪    Please peppers and aubergine cut-side face down in the oven until the pepper skins start to blister and go black.
▪    Place blacked peppers in a bowl and cover with cling film to let them steam.
▪    When the aubergine is soft in the middle, scoop out the flesh and discard any large seeds. Mash or chop it (depending how chunky you’d like your ajvar) and mix in the garlic.
▪    Once the peppers are cool, peel off the blackened skin and chop finely.
▪    Add this to the aubergine and garlic mixture, then add the vinegar, paprika and salt and pepper.
▪    Serve chilled.
Spice it up: add chopped chillies if you’d prefer it to have a bit of a kick!
Serve your Ćevapčići with chopped, raw onion, ajvar and flat/pitta bread.
Ćevapčići served with ajvar, onions and pitta bread – just the way I tried it in Mostar!
Ćevapčići served with ajvar, onions and pitta bread – just the way I tried it in Mostar!

Have you tried Ćevapčići?
Try this recipe and let us know how you get on.

A Moroccan Tagine Recipe

Moroccan Tagine Recipe – Lamb with Orange and Chickpeas
A tagine pot is a unique type of ceramic or clay cookware which is designed for slow cooking and is popular in Morocco.
The bottom of the tagine is a wide, circular, shallow dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top is distinctively shaped into a rounded dome or cone and is designed to keep the moisture in.
Typically, tagine meals are a rich stew of meat, chicken, or fish, and most often includes vegetables or fruit, salted or preserved lemons, giving a unique flavour and then served on a bed of couscous, rice or bread.
Traditionally, you arrange the food and the meat in the middle and you pile the vegetables around it. You then put the lid on and leave to cook slowly over a charcoal stove (or in a conventional oven to you and me).
What you’ll need
Preparation time 25 minutes, plus overnight soaking (unless you buy already soaked chick peas in a tin like I do)
Cooking time 2 1/2 hours

225g (71/2oz) chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (unless you buy ready soaked chick peas)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground turmeric
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1.5kg (3lb) shoulder of lamb, trimmed of all fat and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
¾ Pint of lamb stock in boiling water
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
12 pitted black olives, sliced
½ lemon squeezed juices
½ orange squeezed juices
6 tablespoons chopped coriander
Salt and pepper

How to cook – the easy way
Combine all the ingredients above into the tagine and stir well. You can brown off the lamb and onions first if you wish but for ease I just put them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze in the juices of half a lemon and half an orange.  Only stir in half the coriander, using the remainder to garnish.

It’s so easy to do and looks amazing when presented in the middle of your table of guests.

Croque Monsieur: just another toasted sandwich?

To you and I, it’s a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. But over the Channel, it becomes Croque Monsieur. Like so many other things, it sounds so much better in French, doesn’t it?

The name comes from the French verb croquet which means ‘to crunch’ and the word monsieur which is French for ‘mister’. So, in English, a ‘crunchy mister’ it is! Now you can’t tell me that sounds better than its French translation!
According to some accounts, the Croque Monsieur was created by accident when French workers left their sandwich tins on hot radiators, which melted the contents. Whether it’s true or not, it makes a good story! The Croque Monsieur is said to have made its first appearance in Parisian café menus around 1910, when the sandwich was made with Gruyère cheese and thinly sliced ham. Over the years, the ‘croque’ has seen a few transformations, with the most familiar being that of the addition of mustard and béchamel sauce.
On any visit to France, you’ll no doubt see the Croque Monsieur making a regular appearance on café menus, along with its ‘female’ counterpart: the Croque Madame. So why not bring a little bit of France to your own cuisine? Just follow this simple recipe.
(Serves 2)
▪    4 slices of white bread (crusts removed)
▪    8 thin slices of ham
▪    Dijon mustard
▪    Grated Gruyère cheese
▪    Butter, softened
▪    1 tbsp plain flour
▪    Milk
Preheat the grill to high.
To make the sauce:
•    Put a large knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat.
•    Stir in the flour, a bit at a time, to make a paste.
•    Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until smooth.
•    Simmer until thickened but still smooth.
Note: To make your sauce extra tasty, remove the pan from the heat and add a large handful of grated cheese to your béchamel sauce, then return to the heat and stir the cheese in until it has all melted.
•    Season and add nutmeg, if desired.
•    Keep the sauce warm while you prepare your sandwiches.
To make the sandwich:
▪    Toast one side of the bread under the grill.
▪    When lightly toasted, turn the bread over and spread mustard on the un-toasted side.
▪    Add sliced ham and grated cheese to two slices and return to the grill until the cheese has melted.
▪    Place the remaining slices of bread on top, mustard-side down, to make a sandwich.
▪    With the sandwiches on the grill tray, spoon on the thick béchamel sauce.
▪    Return to the grill until the sauce is bubbling.
▪    Serve immediately.
Et voila!

Watch out for the bubbling cheese!
Watch out for the bubbling cheese!

This took me around 15 minutes to prepare (and around 3 minutes to eat!). Be warned though: the bubbling cheese has a tendency to weld itself to the roof of your mouth on contact. But it just tastes SO good, you just want to eat it!
So, IS Croque Monsieur ‘just another toasted sandwich’? I think not!
There are many other versions of this truly magnifique dish… dipped in egg and lightly fried; without mustard; without the sauce; with sliced cheese rather than grated; with cheese on top as well as inside… Give it a try and let us know your favourite!
P.S. if you want to turn the ‘Mr Crunchy’ into its female version, just add a fried egg to the top!

Traditional Dutch Stamppot Recipe

Traditional Stamppot recipe

The traditional Dutch Stamppot recipe is a very popular recipe in colder months of the year. It is a combination of root vegetables and mashed potatoes. The Dutch Sausage topping really brings this dish together. Go on give it a try.

What you’ll need

  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 of a turnip
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 2 lbs potatoes
  • ½ lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb butternut squash
  • 1 lb green cabbage
  • ¼ cup of butter (add more dependent on taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs of Dutch sausage (Chorizo works well)
  • Optional Cashews

How to cook it

After washing and cutting the vegetables, chop the onion. Peel and cut the potatoes, with the butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, turnip and the sweet potatoes.
Using a large stock pot, place the vegetables in water, this should be brought to boil and simmered for 15 minutes
During this time you can cook the Dutch sausage to the packaging requirements
Once the vegetables are tender they need draining for mashing, then season with salt and pepper to required taste. This is when the cup of butter is added and mashed
Now add the Dutch sausage to the top and serve
For a real taste of Holland why not take a look at our Dutch tours available with Leger Holidays.
The image is courtesy of Flikr user – Incase

Delicious Falafel Recipe

Falafel was officially adopted as the national food of Israel. In recent years, it has lost a bit of its popularity, although is still quite ubiquitous.
These are small fried balls of mashed chickpeas, usually served inside pita bread.
This recipe will allow you to experience this amazing dish from the comfort of your home.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas (or 16oz can of chickpeas)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil for frying


How to cook it

Soak dried chickpeas in a bowl overnight in cold water (don’t do this if using canned Chickpeas)
After draining the Chickpeas, place them in a pan of water, and bring to boil.
After boiling them for 5 minutes, let them simmer for an hour on a low heat
Once again drain and allow cooling for 10 minutes
Now add them to a bowl with Garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper.
Before adding flour, mix it all together, until a thick paste is achieved.
Once paste is achieved, make small balls with the mixture and slightly flatten
Then finally fry them in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-8 minutes)
For more information abour Israel or to take a look at our Tours of Israel visit our website
Image courtesy of Flikr user yummyporky

Easy Traditional Christmas Mince Pie Recipe

Christmas at home isn’t for everyone as some like to escape on our Christmas holidays, but for you guys at home here is a very festive recipe which will allow you to make 12 mince pies. These with our Classic Mulled Wine Recipe from last week are perfect together.
What you will need to make 12 Mince Pies:

  • 300g Short crust Pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Granulated sugar
  • One jar of 400g jar of mincemeat

How to make them:
Preheat the oven to 200C – 400F or Gas mark 6. Place a baking sheet in to warm it up (to help cooking the base of the pie)
Start by rolling out the pastry. Make sure it is nice and thin, around the a cm thick. Keep an eye out for thin areas as the more even the pastry the better they will bake as if it is too thin they may burn before the rest of the mince pie has baked.
The next step is to cut out the bases for the pies; there should be twelve of them no bigger than 7cm in radius. These will then form the base of you mince pie once placed in the tray. Once these have been done you can start adding the mincemeat (about a tablespoonful)
The next step is to cut out or stamp another 12 circles for the lids. These will be used as the lids for your mince pies. A little brush of milk or water on one side will help them stick to the base so ensure the wet side is face down. These will then need a gentle pinching around the edge (a folk is perfect).
This is where the egg comes in. Brush a little over the top of the pies and sprinkle with caster sugar.
Now make a little hole in the top to stop the filling from boiling over.
The pies are now ready to be placed in the oven for around 15-20 minutes or until a nice golden colour.
Most of all Enjoy!
Image courtesy of Flikr user – NickJWebb

Classic Mulled Wine Recipe

With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas Markets, comes the festive smell of Mulled Wine. This week’s recipe is going to show you how to make your very own winter warmer.
What you will need to make this Classic Mulled wine:

  • Bottle of red wine
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 dessertspoon whole cloves
  • 1 dessertspoon whole allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • 3 Cloves
  • A Bay leaf
  • 1 large piece of Orange Rind (without the pith)
  • 1 large piece of Lemon Rind (without the pith)
  • Add sugar until required taste is achieved

How to make it:
Place a saucepan over a medium heat; add the red wine, both cinnamon sticks, lemon and orange rind along with the cloves, Nutmeg and of the allspice. Warm through but do not bring to boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar and taste once dissolved. Add more sugar if necessary until desired taste is achieved.
Leave this on a low heat for 20 minutes to let the combination of ingredients and flavours mix well into the wine.
This is now ready for serving; it goes great with a mince pie.

Image courtesy of Flikr userChatirygirl’s

An Easy Greek Moussaka recipe

Today we are looking at making the traditional Greek dish Moussaka, there are various ways of making this dish but we have gone with Aubergines and a lighter topping but more are available. The inspiration for this dish came after one of our Directors went on our Greek Islands Cruise and told us about how amazing the Moussaka was in Santorini, Greece.
What you will need to make this traditional Greek Moussaka :
About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines, large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz (75 ml) red wine
Salt and ground black pepper
For the yogurt topping you will need:
150ml Greek yogurt
1 medium egg, beaten
50g feta cheese
25g grated parmesan
How to cook it
Pre-heat your oven at 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas 4
First you need to get rid of the high water content and concentrate the flavor of the aubergines.
Dry fry the Lamb until Brown and remove the fat from the lamb before layering into the Moussaka.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in to a frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.
Add the minced lamb back in and mix in the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and mix.
Cook for around 20 minutes
Prepare the yogurt topping –
Put the yogurt with half of the cheeses along with the beaten egg and add ground pepper.
Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then add the meat over the top then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the Moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.
Cover with the topping mixture and add the remaining cheese and bake in the oven at 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas 4 for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.
Stand the Moussaka for around for around 25 minutes before serving this will assist in retaining the shape when you serve it.
Serve the Moussaka with a green salad and crusty bread
Image courtesy of Flickr user – avlxyz

Tasty Mexican BBQ Chicken Enchilada Recipe

This cheesy, saucy, BBQ chicken dish is a great alternative to fajitas for those tortilla wraps lurking in your cupboard! Plus, it’s a great dish to prepare ahead of time and then bake when you’re ready.
Our recipe below will take about an hour to prepare and cook and should serve four.

What you’ll need

2 finely chopped onions
1 finely chopped garlic clove
3 diced peppers
Mexican spice mix (Old el Passo or Discover packs are fine).
A large jar of passata
8 tortillas
350g BBQ flavoured, pre-cooked chicken
1 chopped red chilli
75g grated cheddar cheese
BBQ sauce

How to cook it

  • Pre-heat your oven to around 160°C.
  • Add a glug of olive oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan and throw in your onions, garlic, peppers, chilli and a pinch of your spice mix. Cook until soft.
  • Pour the passata into your pan along with the remaining spices. Simmer over a medium heat for five minutes.
  • Lay out your tortillas and place a small amount of chicken into the middle of each. Top with your tomato and vegetable mix, a small sprinkling of cheese and then roll them up and place into an oven proof dish.
  • Once all 8 of your tortillas have been added to your dish, pour the remaining tomato and vegetable mix directly on top of the tortillas.
  • Squeeze over a good dollop of BBQ sauce and your remaining cheese.
  • Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese and tortillas are golden.

Freshen things up

If you would like to freshen your dish up a little try adding some crème fraîche to the top of your enchilada’s and serving on a bed of lettuce. This will ensure your enchilada’s aren’t too stodgy but are still delicious!
Image courtesy of flickr user acererak