Starting from the 60’s, Hamlyn produced a series of cookbooks with the title 500 recipes for… The bulk of the series was written by Marguerite Patten, a food writer and author who rose to fame in post-war Britain. She, along with Elizabeth David, Claudia Roden and, our very own, Madhur Jaffrey was one of the food writers credited with changing the dowdy face of British cooking.
Amongst the other authors of the series is Catherine Kirkpatrick. I have not heard of her before, nor have I been able to find out anything about her. The recipe, however, is inspired by her Macaroni & Cheese Pancake recipe in 500 recipes for Egg and Cheese.
Many of the other recipes in the book (and the series) are hopelessly quaint and out of date. I really can’t imagine anyone except a Parsi Caterer or a Regimental Mess cooking up Curried Eggs, Cheese and Haddock Pie or Spaghetti a la Russe.
I suppose, though, at the time these books were published that the readers saw them as a gateway into making exotic foods. However, given that most of the recipes call for very simple ingredients and the instructions are not more than a few lines, they served as quick recipes for working women. Many of the recipes are for one-pot dishes and for easy savoury bakes and simple puddings.
While it’s unlikely you’ll find these titles on the shelves anymore (except perhaps on the streets, or second-hand book stores) I can imagine that these quaint post-war British recipes found some resonance with anglicised Indian women, like my mother, who grew up under the Raj. They were, I hazard to guess, as exciting and exotic for her as they were for British women.
My own recipe has very little in common with the original.
2 tbsp dry macaroni
1 tbsp flour
4 tbsp grated cheese of your choice (you can use a single cheese or combine two like gruyere and emmenthal or cheddar and gouda)
3 tbsp milk
pinch of salt, pepper and oregano
butter to fry
Cook the macaroni in salted water till done.
Meanwhile, mix the flour with the cheese till it coats the cheese and the shreds of cheese are separate and not clumped together.
Pour in the milk and stir together with a fork till you have a thick paste of dropping consistency. If it’s too thick add a little more milk, if too watery some flour.
Once the macaroni is done, drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
Stir it into the batter. Let it sit for a few minutes so that the batter can fill up the macaroni tubes.
Heat up a pancake pan on a medium-high flame.
Grease a ½-inch high,10-inch diameter ring mould and place it on the pan. Put about a ¼ tsp of butter in the centre of the mould.
Lower heat and drop the batter in spoonfuls, making sure to spread it evenly.
Cook for about a minute and a half or till it is firm underneath. (If it’s sticking to the ring, separate gently with a sharp knife.) Flip over and cook for about a minute.
Serve plain or top with sour cream and smoked salmon.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Makes 2 pancakes