Well folks, it’s time for guest post number two by yours truly, Peter. I’m going to be talking about something that I’ve made numerous times over the last few years, always with wildly varying degrees of success: crepes! Now, I’m no Frenchman, so what follows is probably going to upset many of our friends over in la France, but probably not enough to drive anyone to murder, so I press on. Over the years, I have found that the secret to crepes is… well, if I knew, my success wouldn’t vary so wildly. There are a couple things that help: using a hot enough pan, being dexterous enough to flip them with minimal damage, and–since this is of French origin, after all–plenty of butter. (Though those of you who knew me in the past will be happy to hear that I have dramatically scaled back the amount of butter I use.) Finding the right pan temperature has always been a matter of trial and error for me–on the electric stove at our last place it was exactly at 5 (of 10), while on the gas range here it’s closer to 3. The type of pan plays into it as well: a solid cast-iron skillet at the same temperature as a thinner non-stick pan will transfer more heat to the batter (and cool less) immediately upon contact and thus may seem to be hotter (that’s science, folks). As for the dexterity, well, that’s just practice. I usually dual-wield a thin spatula and a fork, but I’m not too sure it helps me–and really, a crepe that has fallen apart still tastes just as good.
Speaking of taste, let’s talk about crepe fillings. The traditional favorite of mine is lemon juice and powdered sugar, but there are so many more. On the sweet side, we have jams, jellies, preserves, chocolate, chocolate sauce, nutella, syrups, sliced fruit, chopped fruit, mashed fruit, whole fruit, and anything else you can think of… including any combination of the above. If you want to go the savory route, well, you probably have to be a bit more careful, but as long as we’re being honest (and we are, aren’t we?), I’ll come out and say that I’m really not an expert in that field. Though tonight we had a sauteed onions, baby garden greens, and cheese combo that was pretty darn delicious.
Speaking of baby garden greens, Anna wants me to tell you that we enjoyed the first fruits of the garden with this meal. (And by fruits, I mean vegetables.) We call them bok chard, because they look like both swiss chard and bok choy (actually China Choy Chinese Cabbage from Seeds of Change). Furthermore, as these are the result of a thinning and are thus immature, they are baby bok chard.
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup flour (+ 1 tablespoon (give or take) of sugar if you know you’re going to make sweet crepes)
(additional butter for cooking)
Whisk together the wet ingredients (all but the flour) and then whisk in the flour. (It actually does better if you sift in the flour but I’m too lazy to do that.) Let the batter sit for 5 to 30 min (in the fridge is good) to get the air bubbles out and to hydrate and break up any clumps of flour. Unlike standard American pancakes, you want the batter to be without clumps as you are going to get it real thin. Then cook the crepes: get the pan pretty darn hot, then add in a sliver of butter (or more, if you like) and pour in 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of the batter (depending on the pan size) and tilt the pan in ridiculous looking circles to get the batter as thinly spread as possible before it sets. Let it cook for anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes (depending on batter thickness and cooking temperature) until it’s golden-brown on the bottom and then do your best to flip it over. Adjust the resulting mess until it’s relatively flat again and cook until it’s brown on the other side. Then remove to a plate and repeat until the batter is gone. (Depending on your pan and batter you may or may not need to add more butter.) Fill/coat/smother the crepes with whatever you decide, and enjoy!