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Cheap and Good: Crepes Three Ways

crepes1For everyone who lined up to read some sort of Julia Child Meets Aunt Toby at The Jumping Frog, I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed — the three different ways do NOT include anything French.

Sort of the cooking version of “I didn’t have sex with that woman.” Sorry. My bad.

But, typical for me. I discovered using crepes when I wanted to make baked manicotti and didn’t have any manicotti. Remind me to tell you about the time I wanted to make Szechuan Duck and only had turkey legs.

Substitution, people!!!

Crepes are not really pancakes in the way that we know pancakes in the United States. Our pancake have a leavening agent in it to make the pancakes rise and get all puffy and thick. The big stack. Crepes are really simple and have much more in common with pasta than with pancakes because there is no leavening agent in it and it is simply flour, eggs, and a little water, milk or a combination of the two. Pasta is simply flour and eggs with perhaps a little water. Think of crepe batter as liquefied pasta.

There are sweetened crepe batters for dessert use (if you feel the need; I use the same batter for everything); regular unsweetened ones for main dish and vegetable use. All we are talking here is batter poured into a hot greased pan, twirled around so that it goes up the sides and cooks all thin, flipped out and onto a plate. Fill with something, pour some sort of sauce on top and serve. Crepes are a great way to use up leftovers in the fridge – you can put anything into crepes: seafood in a white or cheese sauce, chicken, meat, vegetables, vegetarian stuff – you name it. Just remember that crepes really don’t have a whole lot of flavor of their own – so make sure the fillings and sauces are complex and flavorful so that the dish doesn’t end up bland.

crepes3How to Make Crepes: You know, if making crepes were as difficult as people think it is, then performing cold fusion on your kitchen table would be possible. Seriously. Here is a great demo on making crepes. My only area of differing is that I use a cast iron enameled omelet pan; this chef uses a pan with Teflon™ on it. A major difference is that if I dropped that pan onto the chef’s foot – he’d feel it for a month. That pan weighs a ton and when I use it, I try to switch hands for every crepe because it makes for better muscle development in both arms that way. Here’s the demo – watch the swirl part – that’s the business end of crepe making (besides getting the pan HOT). Chef Todd Mohr Makes Crepes

Here is my crepe recipe:
1 cup of cold water
1 cup of milk (any type will do)
4 large eggs
¼ cup of olive oil (the type labeled “for sautéing and baking”)
2 cups of all purpose flour (I used 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of cake flour)

Combine water and milk
Put the eggs and the olive oil into the mixing bowl and beat.
Alternate flour and the water milk mixture until you have a thinnish sort of batter – like the quality of thin cake batter. NOT LIKE PANCAKE BATTER.
Let sit to allow the flour particles to soften up.

Watch the video and do what the chef does. If you use a regular omelet pan, you will need to heat it up and then at the last minute, put in a pat of butter. Don’t heat up the butter in the pan – it will take too long and burn.

Make all your crepes and put them on a plate. Do NOT put the plate into the oven, ok?

Here are three different and totally non-French ways to use crepes (I realize that this puts me on the other side from the folks who insist on things like the fact that champagne can only come from France, but go along with me here – knowing how to make crepes and do stuff with them opens whole new vistas in terms of quick meals at home), in order of the meal:

Appetizer crepes:
Sliding little cooked vegetable and cheese filled crepes is a very nice appetizer – and just filling enough to hold people through cocktails so that they won’t hit the table like a bunch of starving Rombovians. Great combinations:
Winter squash with a little nutmeg
Steamed broccoli with cheese
Black beans, cooked with major garlic and onions, smooshed up, with or without a little cheddar cheese

crepes4Main Dish crepes:
There is nothing that you can’t put into a crepe. The fillings used in the appetizer crepes can be expanded and used in larger crepes for main dish crepes. Other great fillings include everything from chicken, fish, tuna, seafood, beef, left over anything. Here’s a tip: Any recipe that calls for tortillas or pasta – you can basically work it around to a filling for crepes. Here’s our version of Enchiladas Suizas:
6-8 crepes
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons of taco seasoning OR:
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
1 small can of diced green chilis
1 cup of shredded cheese such as Monterey jack or Munster
Sautee the chicken in a little olive oil, sprinked with the spices or taco seasoning. Set aside.
In the same pan, sautee the onion (if you need more oil, add a little oil), add the can of tomatoes and diced green chilis.
Cover the bottom of a baking dish with the onions/tomatoes/chilis (I do this in an electric fry pan as a one dish meal, but you can bake it in the oven too)
Put 2-4 pieces of the chicken in a crepe, put a pinch of the cheese on top and roll up. Put into the pan. Finish up all the chicken and crepes.
Cover the crepes with the rest of the onions/tomatoes/chilis and sprinkle the cheese on the top.
Bake for 20-25 min. in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is all melted. If you use an electric fry pan, put the heat on 300 and once it’s bubbly, it’s ready to serve.

crepes2Aunt Toby’s Cannoli Crepes.
I LOVE cannolis. But the part I like the best is the filling..I hate the deep fried shells. So here is my version of a cannoli, made with crepes.

Make your crepes (this recipe will make 5 crepes with a LOT of filling in them).

Cannoli filling. You can actually buy cannoli filling in some groceries now. I prefer to make my own – it’s simple to do.
2 cups of ricotta (I use whole milk but part skim will work also). If it looks sort of loose, then put it in cheese cloth or a strainer and let it drip for a while.
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp. Of orange or lemon zest
1 tsp. Of almond extract

Chocolate glaze and garnish:
½ cup of chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons of water
Slivered almonds for garnish

Make the filling:
Whip up the ricotta with the powdered sugar, zest and extract and put into the fridge to chill.

Make the glaze:
Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof dish and microwave for 2 minutes, 1 minute at a time, keep checking. Once it starts to melt, add the butter and zap again for a minute. Take out and mix it up with a spoon. It will be thick – add the water until it gets more like a glaze. If you need a little bit more water, that is ok.

Put a good big spoonful of the filling in the middle of the crepe and roll up. Do this until you have finished all the crepes. If you have extra filling, put it in a sealed container and put into the fridge.
Once you have all your filled crepes lined up on a dish, pour the chocolate glaze over the top and garnish with almonds. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

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  1. Lea says:

    Now I’m hungry….

  2. WolfSong says:

    Yep…makes a girl hungry. Maybe for breakfast tomorrow…have a craving for potato pancakes though, perhaps I’ll make both.

  3. Ashley says:

    I hadn’t thought about using olive oil in a crepe batter. Love the cannoli recipe!

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