Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crepe Night!

Having finished reading Julie and Julia, I had a very strong desire to make something from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My dad had occasionally made crepes when I was younger, and my mouth practically watered when I read about them. I read and reread the recipe before attempting them, hoping to avoid the difficulties Julie Powell ran into.

I shouldn't have worried.

Crepe Batter
1 Cup cold water
1 Cup cold milk (fat free works as well as any other)
4 eggs (I used 1 Cup of eggbeaters)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Cups flour
4 Tb melted butter (I used 4 Tb vegetable oil)

Put the liquids, eggbeaters and salt into a blender jar. Add the flour, then the oil. Cover and blend at top speed for one minute. If clumps of flour stick to the sides of the blender, scrape off with a spatula and blend for a few more seconds. Keep covered and refrigerate for at least two hours.

* DO make sure to warn anyone else living with you that what is in the blender is crepe batter, not a delicious smoothie. This can lead to disaster. *

Julia calls for bacon rind* to grease your pan. Julie Powell stated that she had a devil of a time keeping her crepes from sticking.

Repeat after me: "All I need is a non-stick pan."

If you have a Teflon pan or something like it, you will have no trouble at all. The crepe will un-stick itself perfectly.

Set the burner for medium heat and wait until the pan is hot. Hold the pan in your left hand and the blender jar in your right (or whatever feels comfortable), and pour in just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Crepes should be thin - Julia suggests 1/16 of an inch thick, but lets be reasonable. 1/4 cup is good to start with.

Swirl the pan around until the bottom is entirely covered in batter, and return the pan to the burner for about a minute. The edges of the crepe should begin to curl upwards, allowing you to slide a spatula under the crepe. If you are not afraid of lightly burning your fingers, it is much easier to simply grasp the crepe by the edges and flip it, rather than using a spatula. The crepe will already have cook through enough that no batter will spill. This second side will be spotted - this is the inside of the crepe, not the display side.

After about 30 seconds on the second side, you can remove the crepe from the pan. Once you get the hang of flipping and removing, you can have two pans going at once. I know this sounds scary, but you really can. They really aren't that difficult to make.

Within 30-45 minutes, depending on how experienced you are, you will have a nice stack of 20-30 crepes.

I wanted to make the entire meal based around crepes, so I had to think of three different things to do with them. For an appetizer, I decided to use a variation of a filling Julia used for her Gateau de Crepes a la Florentine.

Cream Cheese filling
4 oz cream cheese (fat free for a slightly healthier dinner)
1/3 Cup chopped white mushrooms
1/4 Cup chopped green onions
2 Tb olive or vegetable oil

Put the cream cheese in a bowl, mash with a fork.

Saute the green onions in the oil over medium heat for a minute or two, until they smell strongly on onion. Add the mushrooms, saute for one minute more.

Add the oil, onions and mushrooms to the cream cheese, mix together.

That's all you have to do - this also goes well on veggie burgers and bagels.

For the main course filling, I decided to use spinach and chicken. Dave had the idea to marinate the chicken in a salad dressing we had (Newman's Own low fat sesame ginger), and the result was quite delicious.

Spinach and Chicken filling
three chicken breasts, cubed
two large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 Cup salad dressing

Marinate the chicken in the salad dressing for 1/2 hour. Cook in pan over medium heat until chicken has browned (around 5-6 minutes usually). Add the spinach. Spinach shrinks considerably when cooked, so you may want to add more.

Very simple to make, and quite flavorful.

For dessert, I used blueberries and chopped strawberries and peaches. No sugar, just fresh, juicy fruit. Delicious.

What are your suggestions for more crepe fillings, savory or sweet? They are simple to make, and not terribly fattening. They also freeze well, so you can make a lot and simply reheat them later.

*That packet of bacon I bought and ended up not using will probably sit in our fridge until we move next year.

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