A crepery in your kitchen

13th January, 2010 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Dinner crepes filled with chicken, ham and mushrooms. Dessert crepes filled with caramelized bananas, topped with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Every so often I get involved in a food conversation that inspires me to track down whatever it was we were talking about. This tends to happen if it’s something I haven’t had in a while and is hard to find locally. Most recently it was crepes.

Crepes have had a large following in Europe for centuries with limited penetration in this country. Crepes seemed to be solidly in the category of Food One Should Not Try At Home. In reality, crepes are extremely easy to make and can even be prepared in advance, up to a point. They are essentially an omelette with enough flour added to make them into a pastry.

Crepes are a lovely thing for any cook to have in their repertoire, they cook up in an instant and can be served at any meal. Fill them with fresh fruit and jam for breakfast, with a seafood salad for lunch, sauteed mushrooms with white wine for an appetizer or ham, spinach and cheese for a light dinner. A dozen or so can be layered with jam and fruit and sliced like a cake. Because a crepe goes from batter to finished in about 45 seconds, it’s a nice dish to make while entertaining a crowd. Sort of an edible party trick.

When embarking on crepe production, the two things to keep in mind are to have all your ingredients and equipment at hand before beginning and to accept the fact that the first two crepes of any batch will have be scrapped no matter what you do. Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and Alton Brown all had to trash the first two crepes. Assume the deities of pastry demand their due and move on.

Once the first two crepes have been sacrificed, it’s a simple matter of keeping the pan at an even temperature, pouring the batter and flipping them out.

Crepe batter is extremely thin and the crepes should be on the small side the first few times they are attempted. Flipping them can be a little tricky, as larger crepes can tear easily. This is also a good time to use a non-stick pan and a rubber spatula.

Pour about 1/8th of a cup of batter into a hot saute pan, swirl and rotate to cover the bottom of the pan. When the batter is set and the bottom of the crepe is slightly brown – lift the edges to check – carefully flip it over and brown the other side. Turn out onto a plate and repeat with remaining batter. If the crepes will be served immediately, keep them in a low oven until it’s time. If they are being made in advance, wrap well in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. They can be reheated in the oven or in a pan before filling and serving.

In Europe, crepes are traditionally eaten on Candlemas, February 2. The belief was that if you could catch the crepe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air with your left hand and holding a gold coin in your right hand, you would become rich that year. If anyone manages that successfully, please let me know.

For crepes
Makes 12 small crepes

1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for brushing pan

(If making sweet crepes, leave out the pepper and parsley.)

Make crepes:
In a bowl whisk together egg, milk, butter, and parsley until combined well.

Add flour, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Heat a 6-to-8 inch crepe pan over moderately high heat until hot. Brush pan with oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Remove pan from heat.

Stir batter and half fill a 1/4-cup measure with it. Pour batter into pan, tilting and rotating pan quickly to cover bottom with a thin layer of batter, and return any excess to bowl. Return pan to heat and loosen edge of crepe with a spatula.

Cook crepe until underside is lightly browned. Turn crepe and lightly brown other side. Transfer crepe to a plate. Make more crepes with remaining batter, brushing pan lightly with oil as necessary.

(Crepes may be made 1 day in ahead and chilled, stacked and wrapped well in plastic wrap.)

Savory Filling
1/4 cup cooked chicken, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely diced ham
1/4 cup mushroom, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated swiss cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in a saute pan. Add chicken, ham and mushrooms. Toss to coat and heat through. Arrange everything in the center of a crepe, top with cheese and parsley. Roll and serve warm or at room temprature.

Sweet filing
Sauce

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

4 to 5 bananas
cinnamon
berries, pecans, or more banana slices for garnish

In a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, rum, butter, heavy cream, and in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Slice a banana; arrange half of the slices down the center of a crepe and drizzle with a little of the sauce and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar; roll up and place on a serving plate.

If desired, sprinkle with a few berries, extra slices of banana, or pecans. Drizzle the crepe with more rum sauce and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Repeat with remaining crepes and bananas. Makes about 8 crepes, depending on size.

Posted on: January 13, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast, Dessert, Dinner

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