Our family eats pancakes for dinner on Shrove Tuesday. You may know it as ’“Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras.” “Gras” is French for fat and “Mardi” is French for Tuesday. However you say it, it’s a time to indulge because it’s the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the season of fasting and abstinence. Pancakes are the traditional food of Shrove because they use up all the foods that are forbidden during Lent…fat, butter, sugar and eggs.
This year we’ll celebrate Shrove New Orleans-style with Bananas Foster Pancakes. For the pancake recipe, I always defer to the granddaddy of them all, James Beard. For the Bananas Foster topping, I’ve created a quick and easy version of the classic.
From James Beard’s American Cookery
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup melted butter or oil
Combine all the dry ingredients and sift into a mixing bowl. Combine the eggs, milk, and butter and stir into the dry ingredients until the large lumps disappear. It is wise to remember that as this batter stands, it thickens. If this should happen while you are baking the cakes, add a little more milk, stirring it in with a wooden spoon or spatula. To bake, pour the batter on a hot, lightly greased griddle. The cakes should be about 4 to 6 inches in diameter. They are ready to turn when bubbles form and break and the edges seem cooked. Turn, and brown lightly on the reverse side.
Bananas Foster Topping
2 firm, ripe bananas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and quarter the bananas lengthwise and cut them into 2-inch lengths. Set aside. (The bananas will turn brown if you cut them ahead of time.)
In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and stir in the sugar and cinnamon until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds, creating a caramel sauce. Add the banana pieces and toss for a few seconds until they’re completely coated with the sauce.
Spoon a little or a lot over each stack of pancakes and serve immediately.
Eat, drink and be merry because Lent begins at the stroke of midnight. On Wednesday we’ll wear the ashen cross on our foreheads and fast for 40 days until Easter. Nicky, our five year old, claims he’s giving up sushi. That’s a California boy for you.
In the meantime…Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the Good Times Roll!
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