This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday – Mardi Gras – Shrove Tuesday – or, as it’s known here in England, Pancake Day.  Traditionally, it was the last day you could indulge in all the stuff you weren’t allowed during Lent – things like eggs and butter.  So, one of the ways cooks around the land would use up the last of what was in the larder was to make pancakes, big stacks of crepe-like pancakes sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar.  Or filled with caramelized apples.  Or layered with ham and cheese.

However, my favorite way to observe Shrove Tuesday is with blinis.  Fluffy buckwheat silver-dollar-sized pancakes with a layer of creme fraiche, smoked salmon, chives, a squeeze of lemon, a grinding of black pepper and a few capers scattered around the plate.  Doesn’t that sound like a gorgeous, indulgent way to start Lent?

This is a reduced-fat recipe from Gordon Ramsey’s Healthy Appetite – so, feel free to drop a few f-bombs in Gordon’s honor while you make it.

Buckwheat Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 egg whites

Sift the flours with the baking powder and sugar, then set aside.  In a measuring cup, mix the milk and olive oil.  Then, in a last bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff.  Because you never want to add liquids to leavening agents like baking powder until you’re ready to rock and roll, get your pan or skillet hot (I prefer using non-stick so that I don’t have to use butter – the pancakes come out lovely).  Anyway, when your skillet is ready to go, use a whisk to quickly mix the milk and olive oil into the flour mixture, making sure there are no lumps.  Then, carefully fold in the egg whites until they are fully incorporated and the batter is nice and light.  Use a large soup spoon to drop onto the hot pan and cook about a minute on either side. 

How can you tell when they’re ready to flip?  The bubbles will look “set” when they’re ready to be turned, then the pancake, itself, will feel springy to the touch when it’s done.