Thursday, March 5, 2009


The Frenchies were on to something with these. Light, unleavened pancake things that can be filledwith sweet or savory fillings of any kind. I've been on a bit of a crepe kick since reading about one that Michael Symon did at Lola - a corn crepe batter with red and green bell peppers and scallions in it, with a duck confit filling, topped with cheese and his own barbeque sauce. Now damn that sounds good!

There are a couple different ways of making them. You can use just a regular saute pan with a tiny bit of fat in it - or some people use these handy crepe makers:

You pour a little batter onto it, spread it around like in the picture, flip it, fill it, and serve it. I've had them made this way and personally, I think they come out overcooked and dry. But maybe it was just the guy that made it. There's also another kind of crepe maker, that works as a reverse saute pan:

Dip what looks to be the bottom of a saute pan into the batter, let it sit for about ten seconds, and voila! Peel off a fresh crepe.

When it's made with buckwheat flour instead of wheat flour with a savory filling, according to both Culinaria France and Wikipedia, it becomes a "galette." But I thought a galette was a pastry, filled with fruit with the edges just barely coming up? Like this thing here?

Well, apparently I'm wrong. It's both. A galette can be the crepe made with buckwheat flour with a savory filling or various types of flat, round, or freeform crusty cakes.
Crepes Suzette are probably the most widely known. The story goes that it was the favorite dish of King Edward VII, the British king. At the turn of the century it was usual to spend winter on the Cote d'Azur. The Prince of Wales, who was a great admirer of France, invited Suzette, a pretty French woman who he was courting, to eat with him. When the crepes were brought to the table for dessert, the orange liqueur next to it was set on fire by mistake. With great presence of mind the chef served the crepes, folded twice, as a new creation. The prince was enraptured and christened the flambeed egg pancake with the name of his charming companion.

Crepe batter should be smooth, so a blender is a good tool for making it, but a whisk will suffice. It should also rest for a couple hours in the fridge, then let it get back to room temperature before you start cookin'. The resting process allows the gluten to relax as well as expand and absorb moisture, so you won't get tough crepes. The end result will give you a lovely light and thin crepe. Teflon is usually not exactly my favorite thing, but from what I hear they work well for this.

King Arthur Flour's Parisian Street Vendor Crepes
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla (only add this if you're making a sweet crepe)
If you're not throwing it all into a blender, follow their method:
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another, smaller bowl, beat together the milk and eggs. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in about half the liquid mixture. Blend well, then add the remaining liquid and stir until fairly smooth. Stir in the butter. Cover and let sit for at least one hour.
Heat your pan until it's medium-hot. Wipe the bottom of the ban with a bit of butter (a paper towel works well). Pour a scant 1/3 cup of batter into the bottom of the pan, pick it up, and swirl it so the batter covers the bottom of the pan. Cook until the bottom begins to brown and you can slide a spatula under the crepe. (Or, you can just flip it like a pancake!) Cook briefly on the other side and place on a warm plate.

This recipe makes a LOT of crepe batter (of course it is just my boyfriend and I) - I would suggest cutting it in half unless you've got a big family or company. If you're making a big batch, you can toss them onto a sheet tray in a low oven (around 200F) to keep them warm till serving. I used some of my leftover batter the next day and it worked just fine. Keep in mind, you can play around a little bit with the recipe - add a little cinnamon to the batter for that apple filling, or substitute beer instead of milk for your braised pork and cheese filling.

The filling: The French love their Nutella. They have reason's delicious. Try spreading some Nutella onto the crepe, add some sliced banana, and hit it with a little sift of powdered sugar before enjoying. Add berries and yogurt. Make a sauce to go along with it. Whatever you like.

I mixed some ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) with the juice of a lemon, and added powdered sugar till it tasted sweet enough, plus about 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla. I used this and strawberry yogurt as my filling. Success!

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