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I Like Crepes

Updated: May 3



I love crepes! I’ve been making them since I was 7 or 8 years old and today I want to share the joy of making crepes with you. Because they are fun to make and fun to eat and although you might associate them with French cooking they are found in many cultures. There are street side crepe vendors in almost every part of Paris and in every French town or village. Depending on what region of Italy you visit, you might see crepes rolled into tubes like cannelloni, layered like lasagna or spread with chocolate hazelnut cream (nutella) or jam. You may even find them as Scrippelle (wet crepes) in Abruzzo filled with grated cheese, rolled up and served over hot chicken broth.


Scrippelle ‘Mbusse

In Italy crepes are called crespelles. In Eastern European cultures they go by various names and variations; palacinky, palacinche, blintzes or blini. Some might say pancakes and tortillas are a form of crepes (although the ingredients and style of making is much different). Pannkakor or Swedish pancakes are a hybrid of a pancake and a crepe. The hallmark of a well-made crepe is a soft, almost wafer-like disc as delicate as a vintage handkerchief. The name crepes is derived from the Latin crispus, meaning curled, as spreading the batter onto a very hot flat surface for 30 to 60 seconds results in a slightly crisp edge with a surface that bubbles up to look like the craters of the moon. The humble crepe can be dressed up in all manner of ways, but it essentially remains the paper-thin delicacy it has been since the Middle Ages.


Because crepes are associated with French cooking they are often considered a high maintenance dish, unattainable by the average home cook. That's just not so. With a good batter recipe, the proper pan and a little practice you can be making crepes like a pro. Crepes are a great dish for stress-free entertaining because crepes can be made in advance and fillings prepared before hand as well. Many fillings are as easy as opening a jar.


Crepe fillings can be either sweet (jams, fruit or pastry spreads) or savory. In Florence there is a famous savory crepe, crespelle all fiorentina with a filling of spinach and ricotta cheese, covered in bechamel sauce with a few splashes of tomato sauce to stain the top. Some of you might remember the Magic Pan, a famous creperie in the ’70’s known for its variety of fillings including seafood in a cream sauce, curried chicken, beef Bourguignon, ratatouille, cherries jubilee and of course Crêpes Suzette, served with a sauce made of caramelized sugar and butter, orange juice, zest, orange liqueur and brandy flambéed at table side.


Here is our favorite recipe for a basic crepe batter and some sweet and savory fillings that make our crepes among the best thing I ever ate.


Basic Crepe Batter


Makes about 12 8-inch crepes


Ingredients

2 eggs

2 cups milk

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 T melted, unsalted butter plus 2 extra T for cooking the crepes


Method

In a blender or food processor blend together the eggs and milk adding the flour until mixture forms a smooth batter (no lumps). Add melted butter and process until butter is incorporated and batter is smooth. Batter can be sieved if needed. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. Cover the batter and allow it to rest or about an hour. Batter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Blend before using.


It is important to use a proper crepe pan, not just a skillet, griddle pan or fry pan. The proper pan should be about 10 inches in diameter with a hard-anodized surface for high heat distribution. Heat distribution is important to ensure perfectly made, perfectly brown crepes.



It need not be expensive pan but it must light enough to handle easily to allow for control when swirling the batter by tilting the pan to evenly cover the bottom with the thinnest layer of batter. Don’t coat it too thickly, pour the batter slowly while tilting the pan and swirl to spread. Cook over medium-high heat and look for small bubbles to form on the surface of the batter as the edges slightly brown. That is a sign that it is time to flip the crepe. It will only take a minute or two to finish cooking the other side. If your first crepe is not done well you may need to adjust the heat and/or the amount of batter which should be just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Be sure to lightly coat the bottom of the pan between crepes, brushing it lightly with melted butter.


My pan of choice is the * Cuisinart 10-Inch Crepe Pan, Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard Anodized, Black, 623-24. It gets high marks for heat distribution, quality of material, durability and is easy to clean. About $25.00


If some of your crepes do not turn out don't despair. Follow this Northern Italian recipe from Italy's Trentino Alto Adige to make a traditional dish of the region. According to culinary folk lore Emperor Franz Joseph had asked his cook for a crepe. The cook not paying close attention, by mistake, made it too thick and overcooked. So the cook cut the crepe into squares, served it with jam and sprinkled it with powdered sugar trying to disguise the mistaken crepe calling it the "omelet of the emperor".


Crepe Recipes and Savory Fillings


Magic Pan's Seafood Crepes


5 tablespoons butter, divided 

3 tablespoons flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/8 teaspoon cayenne 

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 

1 1/2 cups half-and-half 

1 tablespoon dry sherry, optional 

8 ounces cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise 

1/2 cup cooked flaked crabmeat or lobster 

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped 

10 crepes 

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 


Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in flour, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg, cooking and stirring until bubbly. Add half-and-half and stir until thickened and smooth. Stir in sherry, seafood with liquid and eggs until blended. Fill each crepe with about 2 tablespoons seafood mixture. Roll up and place in a shallow baking dish, close together, seam side down. Spoon any remaining seafood mixture on center of crepes. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; drizzle over crepes. Sprinkle with cheese. Heat in preheated 350 oven for about 15 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Serves 4.


Chicken and Mushroom Crepes


Ingredients

6 prepared crepes

2 roasted chicken breasts cut into 1 in. cubes

1 tbsp butter

4 sliced leeks, white parts only

2 ½ cups sliced mushrooms

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

coarse sea salt and pepper to taste; paprika

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp chopped parsley plus more for garnish


For the béchamel sauce

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 1/3 cup milk

1 clove minced garlic

coarse sea salt and pepper to taste


Method

For the filling. In a large skillet melt the butter, add the leeks and cook until soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste and freshly chopped parsley. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.


For the béchamel sauce. Melt the butter in a pan as butter begins to foam add the flour, whisk together until a paste begins to form. Slowly add the milk, whisking until combined. Simmer mixture until smooth and thickened. Then add garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Fill each crepe with 2 tbsp of the mushroom mixture and 2 generous tbsp of chicken. Ladle 2 generous tbsp of béchamel down the center of each crepe. Roll crepe and place in a buttered baking dish. Drizzle more béchamel on top of each crepe and sprinkle with gruyere cheese and paprika. Bake at 350F for 10-12 mins until cheese melts then place under the broiler1-2 minutes to brown. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serves 6.


Sweet Fillings - Spread and roll


Delicate jam filling with a subtle sweet, floral flavor and enchanting aroma of passion fruit, strawberries and rose petals. 



Spead with Nocciola  - Nutella's culinary cousin. 




The combination of the delicate crepes with the creamy and nutty pistachio filling is irresistible.




*this post contains an Amazon affiliate link which may earn a commission for purchases made at no additional cost to you.


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