A few weeks ago I cooked for a group of amazing gals. They had scheduled a private class in celebration of one of their birthdays. The menu requested was French with the stipulation that it would also be vegetarian. It was great fun and all the ladies helped, but really rocked when learning to make crêpes. They turned out to be pros. I was particularly excited about this menu because not only do I love French grub, but was super stoked about spending Easter in Europe (Paris, specifically).
I’ve been dropping little teasers about what I’d share upon my return and it was my intention to go in the chronological order of my trip. But I’ve changed my mind. I’m still working through some re-creations of Indian dishes I loved in London. They need a bit more tweaking, so in honor of my fun group of gal pals AND the tantalizing assortment I enjoyed in France, today is all about crêpes.
Crêpes are a light, thin and eggy pancake that the French are famous for. The basic recipe I will share is a delicious yet neutral canvas for your creations, both savory and sweet.
Directions: Combine milk, eggs, oil and flour. Add salt. Makes about 7.
While you can make crêpes in any skillet, if you find that you dig making them, invest in a crêpe pan. They are available on Amazon at great prices and at Williams Sonoma as well. I prefer the de Buyer brand. It is blue steel and available in several sizes. The benefits to these pans are the uplifted handle and the cooking surface. Using them is basically fool-proof and you’ll turn out light and tender pancakes with little effort. I use my pan only for this purpose and at about $25, I don’t feel bad about that.
After you prepare your batter, here’s how you make them:
I prefer to use crêpes immediately, but you can prepare them in advance or even freeze them between sheets of waxed paper.
Now the fun begins! Customize them as you like.
I spent Easter Sunday on Montmartre, a hill-top neighborhood in the 18 arrondissement of Paris. After checking out the beautiful basilica, Sacré-Coeur, my family and I popped into a little crêperie. We were informed (at 4 p.m.) that they’d be closing in an hour, so only sweet offerings would be served. Ummm, ok.
Let this be a jumping-off point for your filling fantasies: Mom ordered Crêpes Suzette (Filled with beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, orange juice, zest, and orange liqueur on top, flambé, tableside. Fancy.) My sons each chose simpler options: lemon and sugar for one and toasted almond slivers and honey for the other. Mine was filled with a bit of chocolate and served with a small scoop of praline ice cream. Some other popular choices are ham and cheese or Nutella with fresh slices of banana or strawberry. Easy peasy.
Remember the birthday crew I mentioned earlier? For their event, I presented a savory filled crêpe which seemed to be a hit. Warm crepes were served with the following mixture. This made a delicious hors d'oeuvres, but could easily be an entrée if you served it with a light salad.
Mushroom, Spinach & Chevre Crêpes
Directions: Heat the oil in a large skillet for one minute. Add mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly.
Stir in the parsley, thyme, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for one minute more.
Reduce the heat to medium and add spinach. Cover and cook for two minutes. (you want the spinach to wilt).
Uncover & add crumbled chèvre, stirring to melt.
On a plate, place one crêpe and spoon the mixture down the middle. Roll up the crepes.
Serve as is, or place crêpes in a baking dish, top with shredded mozzarella cheese and heat in a 350 degree oven until the cheese melts.
Don't forget to post your results if you try any of my recipes!
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.