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Crepes: Fill, roll, eat

Sep 15th, 2012 | By | Category: Cooking, Features

by Jessamyn Tuttle

This is that time of year when there are so many good things to eat it’s hard to know where to start. Sometimes it’s fun to pick a format, like pizza or salad or sandwiches, on which you can use up all kinds of different vegetables and other toppings. One of our favorites is crêpes.

Crepe with blackberry sauce and fresh goat ricotta. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

For many people, crêpes are thin, eggy, white flour pancakes. These are very good, easy to make, and especially fun to eat with sweet toppings like fruit (or ice cream!), but the other side of the coin is the classic French galette made with buckwheat flour. My husband was introduced to these when he visited Brittany during high school, but I didn’t get to know them until we went to Paris together on an anniversary trip. The galette du jour at La Crêperie Beaubourg converted me in one delicious ham-and-cheese swoop! On a second trip, years later, I ate a buckwheat crêpe stuffed with egg, onion jam and rings of tripe sausage, while my husband enjoyed one with red peppers, soft cheese and ham. For dessert we shared a white flour crêpe with salted caramel ice cream and caramel sauce. It became clear that you could put just about anything into a crêpe.

Now we make nearly all of our crêpes at home with buckwheat flour. We really enjoy setting up an informal dinner near the stove with crêpe batter, cheese, wine, and lots of fillings, then eating the hot crêpes as they come out of the pan. We particularly like to do this during autumn mushroom season (crêpes are amazing with fresh chanterelles) but they’re also wonderful with spring vegetables like asparagus. Usually what we do is pour in the batter, flip it when one side is done, then get the cheese on to melt before adding other toppings. If you like eggs, you can slip a yolk onto the hot crêpe, fold the edges over and cook it until done but still runny. If you’re serving these more formally, you can cook the crêpes, adding toppings in the pan, but then fold them over and arrange them on a baking sheet, keeping them warm in the oven to serve all at once.

You can serve white flour crêpes with savory fillings, of course, but they’re excellent with any kind of fruit or sweet topping, or (our favorite) turning them into blintzes. For this, just cook the crêpes on one side and flip them onto parchment or a baking sheet, cooked side up. Add a spoonful of filling (usually ricotta or cottage cheese with raw egg, sugar, and vanilla), roll them up into neat little packages, then fry them in butter until hot through. With fresh blackberry sauce or maple syrup, this is one of the best breakfasts in the world.

The recipes make enough crêpes for two to four people depending on fillings and sides.

White flour crêpes

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/3 tsp salt

1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1 scant cup milk

1 1/3 Tbsp oil or melted butter

more butter for frying

Directions

Whisk up the crêpe ingredients  or toss them in a blender. The batter should be smooth and quite liquid, like heavy cream.

Heat a bit of butter in a crêpe pan or small nonstick skillet and ladle in just enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until the pancake just begins to pull away from the sides, then flip and cook until the underside is slightly golden. Serve.

Suggested fillings for sweet crêpes: ricotta, whipped cream, berries, peaches, chocolate, Nutella, bananas, ice cream, caramel sauce.

Buckwheat crêpes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (you can substitute white flour for part of it if you want)

2 cups water (approximately)

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

butter or oil

Directions

Measure the flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add the water in a stream while whisking, mix in the eggs and salt, and continue to whisk furiously until the batter is smooth. Check the texture of the batter: it should fall off the whisk in long ropy strands, not thick globs. If it seems too thick, whisk in a bit more water. We’ve found that having the batter a little too thin is better than having it a little too thick.

Let the batter sit for an hour, if possible (you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it, just let it come back up to room temperature before using). Whisk again just before cooking.

Heat a crêpe pan or medium nonstick skillet with a bit of unsalted butter. When the pan is hot, ladle in just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan. Let the crêpe cook until it slides easily in the pan, then flip it. Add cheese or egg now if using, and cook until the underside is lightly browned. Add the remaining toppings, fold the edges of the crêpe over and serve.

Suggested fillings for buckwheat crêpes: sautéed mushrooms, cheese (Gruyere is excellent), scallops in cream sauce, smoked fish, prosciutto or ham, egg, steamed asparagus, greens, or any leftover vegetable.

Jessamyn Tuttle lives in Mount Vernon, and thinks about food far too much. You can find more of her writing and photography at www.foodonthebrain.net.

Published in the September 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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