Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recipe: Shrove Tuesday Ricotta Pancakes

Lent is the time for trimming the soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod. Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time. Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to say no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord we have the stamina to yes to its twists and turns with faith and hope…. Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be. – Sister Joan Chittister

Ricotta pancakes, with just a hint of allspice.

Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, making today Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday for many Christians is the start of the countdown to Easter. This period of 40 days, culminating in the celebration of the Resurrection, is a time of fasting, prayer and penance. Shrive means “to confess.”

Mardis Gras. Photo: Itinerant tightwad, Flickr ccl
That is the essence of Shrove Tuesday. It’s the last day to get rid of the temptations we may have (food-wise or other) before a period of personal restriction and reflection.

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day or Mardi Gras) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is observed mainly in English speaking countries.

For many English speaking Christians, the day is most closely associated with eating pancakes. Why, you may rightly ask. Pancakes are made of foods – sugar, fat, flour and eggs – whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent.

Carnivale parade, Rio. Photo: JACK TWO, Flickr ccl
Marid Gras, Shrove Tuesday’s hot Latin cousin, is a celebration of decadence that in some countries begins just after Epiphany and lasts until Ash Wednesday. They do it right. It’s not just one day but a whole season of “Carnivale.” Just mention Mardi Gras and images of celebrations in Rio de Janero and New Orleans spring to mind.

Easter is a calendar event that has no set date, unlike Christmas. The First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. 

Shrove Tuesday is linked to Easter, so its date changes on an annual basis. Easter itself is tied to the Jewish Passover celebration. The Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, so Easter bumps along with it.

The Easter Sunday feast is the ritual end to the 40 days of fasting self-control and pennance.

Hopefully you had pancakes last night. It’s kind of funny, because I believe the last time I ate pancakes was exactly one year ago…

Cook the first side until you see holes left by burst bubbles.
Ricotta Pancakes
Yield: 8-10 6” pancakes
1 cup ricotta
1-3/4 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together the ricotta, milk, eggs and butter and whisk well.

Mix together the dry ingredients in another bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients in 4 parts, whisking well between each addition.

Let the batter sit and rest for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook each pancake separately in the centre of the pan.

Let the first side cook until you see bubbles bursting through the top. Then flip and let cook on the other side until browned.

These pancakes will puff nicely, but because of the cheese are quite filling.


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