Irish chef and lifestyle writer, Cliodhna Prendergast began her journey with ingredients in the kitchen of her family's country house hotel in Connemara. With her passion for cooking ignited, Cliodhna enrolled at Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery School. She later went on to become Head Chef at Delphi Lodge on the Mayo-Galway border - sourcing and cooking using fresh, seasonal produce.
Alongside Imen McDonnell, Cliodhna founded Lens & Larder as a way to tell the story of food, whilst staying connected and inspired to the land. Their food photography workshops bring together a roster of ingredients, chefs, producers and people, all set in immersive landscapes of the forest and the sea.
As an avid forager, Cliodhna often cooks outdoors with wild ingredients on the West coast of Ireland where she lives with her family. Cliodhna's fresh smoked pine syrup is served over a stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Cliodhna prepares her festive breakfast over a campfire in the woodlands near to her home in Connemara. This Time to Make recipe can be recreated either outdoors or at home in the warmth of your kitchen.
For the Syrup
An empty square metal biscuit tin
6 small sprigs of fresh pine
For the Pancakes, to make 8-10 medium pancakes
100g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
A heaped teaspoon of sugar
Crme fraiche or thick natural yoghurt (for serving, optional)
How to make your biscuit tin smoker
Use an empty biscuit tin with all contents and paper removed. Punch nine holes in the lid - a corkscrew works well on most tins, otherwise a nail and a hammer will do the job.
For your fuel, use a generous handful of very small dry twigs, wood shavings or sawdust, and place these in the tin. Take a piece of wire mesh 4-inches wider than the tin, and fold the sides down 2-inches to sit inside the tin.
Smoking the pine
The secret to smoked pine syrup is to use both fresh and smoked sprigs. Avoid over smoking, otherwise this can result in an acrid and overpowering flavour. Any edible pine will do, I like to use spruce. But avoid yew at all costs, as this is very poisonous.
Light the fuel, and then extinguish the flame allowing it to smoulder. Place the mesh on top. Lay three sprigs of pine on the wire mesh.
Cover and allow to smoke gently for about five minutes. If you feel the fuel may have stopped smoking, either relight or place over a gas hob until it starts smoking again.
After five minutes there should be a lovely but light smoky aroma coming from the pine. If any of the pine has blackened or burned a little, simply snip it off and do not use.
Making the Syrup
Clip the smoked and fresh pine into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl. Cover with just a small amount of boiling water, about 250mls should suffice. Allow to sit overnight for the water to become fully infused with the flavour of the pine.
The next day, strain off the liquid and keep, and discard the pine. Measure your remaining strained water and add the same ratio of sugar. For example, for 100ml of water use 100g sugar. Bring the sugar and water to the boil, simmer for 3-4 minutes to reduce, and allow to cool.
Pour into a sterilised bottle. This will keep on the shelf for about a month, but once opened it must be kept in the fridge!
This is a simple recipe for pancakes which are deliciously seasonal when eaten with your smoky pine syrup!
Mix the sugar, salt and flour together and make a well in the centre. Crack the egg in the middle and whisk in half the milk to form a stiff batter. Then add the rest of the milk.
Allow to rest for a while, 20 minutes or so, preferably in a fridge.
Cooking the pancakes
Heat a pan on a medium to high heat. Pour a teaspoon of oil on the pan and rub around with a piece of kitchen paper.
Pour about a tablespoon of batter at a time onto the pan, in batches. You may fit two or three on the pan at a time, depending on the size of the pan.
When lots of little bubbles rise to the surface, flip the pancake over with a palette knife or spatula, and cook on the other side for a minute or until golden brown.
Lift off and keep warm in a tea towel while you cook the others. Serve as quickly as possible with smoky pine syrup, and perhaps a spoon of thick yoghurt or crme fraiche!
Images courtesy of Cliodhna Prendergast.
We hope you enjoy this Time to Make recipe. If you do make some pancakes, please share some pictures on Instagram using the #TOASTtimetomake. We would love to see.