Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crepes, crepes, & more crepes

Crepes were one of our family traditions when I was growing up, on the table for New Year's Day, birthdays, report cards, and other special occasions. My mom has a dedicated crepe pan for the job, and because of that, perhaps, it took me many years to make crepes part of my routine as an adult, because they just didn't taste the same without the four-decades-old plug-in round skillet. (I'd bought one that was similar, but unfortunately not temperature-adjustable, and it was merely adequate.)

Corin changed that in a hurry, because he loves him some crepes. I had much more opportunity to test different methods of cooking and finally found the perfect alchemy after I inadvertently adjusted the original recipe. (It had never crossed my mind that they were coming out too doughy and thick because I have only whole milk in the house, not skim — until one time by accident I started making crepes and had only 3/4 cup of milk available, and attempted to make up the rest with water and some powdered sugar to compensate for the lactose. It was better than any batch I'd previously made.)

Here's my recipe if you wish to attempt:

Ingredients for 16-18 crepes (can be easily doubled if necessary):
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup cold water
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unbleached flour
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup melted butter

1) Mix all ingredients in the order given. Let sit 15 minutes.

2) Heat a nonstick, sloped-sided 8-inch pan at just past medium heat on the stove. (I use setting #6 on my electric stove for the first two or three crepes, then turn it down to #5, exactly medium, thereafter. I have no idea what that temperature is, though, so you'd have to experiment.)

3) Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop, get it about 3/4 full, and pour into hot pan toward one side. With the other hand, immediately begin tipping/swirling/shaking the pan to let the batter coat the bottom of the pan. Make sure the batter gets up the sloped sides to get crispy edges. (This is a hallmark of the family crepes that at was at last able to duplicate with the right pan.)

4) Once the edges are crispy (1-2 minutes), flip crepe over and cook another 30 seconds or so. Either serve immediately to a table full of hungry family members at a table stocked with breakfast fillings, one crepe at a time, or you can set crepes in a stack to keep warm as you make a dinner filling on the stove and then served the wrapped crepes to your family.

Here are just a few ideas for fillings that we enjoy:

• Corin's current favorite is just powdered sugar in the middle and rolled up.

• Amanda's favorite is Nutella spread inside. (My family decided that Nutella combined with fresh fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, was a new top choice.)

• Our family favorite growing up was Lingonberry preserves (once a rarity we had to stock up on on our biannual trip to Maine, now available at IKEA and our local supermarket).

• Bananas with maple syrup. Most fruits and most syrups will work in some combination.

• I'm weird and sometimes like them folded into triangles with crumbled bacon inside. I like the soft/crispy contrast.

• On the dinner side of things, asparagus cooked in bĂ©arnaise sauce is simple and delicious.

• This past year we had Thanksgiving dinner wrapped in crepes — turkey and rice casserole with added green beans, mushrooms, and crispy onions, topped with cranberry sauce.

• Mushrooms with cheese is also quite easy and gourmet.

• Avocado, tomato, chicken and pesto makes a nice treat.

• Use your imagination and run wild — crepes pair with so much!

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