Crêpes is the first dish my grand father taught me how to make. The word itself warms my heart. Crêpes are made year around but the very special day is February 2nd (I am a little late!), also known as, Candlemas, Imbolc and of course Groundhog day. Candlemas is the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Jesus at the temple, which ritual goes back to the Hebrew tradition: Pidyon Haben “Consecrate to me every first born: man and beast the first issue of every womb is mine” [Exodus 13 1 2]. And the purification of the Virgin Mary because the purification was necessary before her and Joseph could redeem their first born. The romans were also celebrating a purification festival in February called the Lupercalia. The Lupercalias were dedicated to the god Pan (yesterday’s post as something to do with it) and were still celebrated until 492 AD when by pope Gelassius I abolished it. He replaced it by procession holding candles, to symbolize the light of the divine spirit. Also on February 2nd; Imbolc which in old Irish means “in the belly”, Imbolc celebrate the midwinter and the return of the sun. It is tradition for every candle or lamp in the house to be lit for a little while for welcoming the return of the Sun. Reverence of the snow is also a part of this celebration. The ancient Greeks were celebrating the Thesmophoria associated with the disappearance and reappearance of Persephone the daughter of Demeter Goddess of the harvest. So for all those good reasons we make Crêpes, a golden, sun shaped flour based dish to celebrate the earth and the sun.
View video to make a lump free batter:
RECIPES AND TECHNIQUES
Mix dry ingredients. In the center of a bowl make a “well”, push dry ingredients on the sides and place the eggs in the center. With a wooden spoon integrate the flour slowly. Work from the inside toward the outside. When the mixture is all smooth start adding milk slowly. It is important to let the crêpes batter rest for at least 1 hour ( 2 hours is even better) to let the flour absorb liquid very thoroughly and let ingredients really bind together.
Sweet Crêpes Batter:
2 cups Flour
1/2 cup of Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 1/2 cups of Milk
2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Rum
Keep in mind that the delicacy of the crêpes is due to their extreme thinness.
1 Use a small (non stick) crêpes pan (10 inches).
2 Melt a stick of butter and pour it in a small bowl. Warm you pan. Brush a small amount of butter all round the pan (do not ever let butter become black). You will brush the pan before making each crêpe.
3 Hold the pan slightly tilted and with a small ladle pour about 4 tablespoons of batter on the high side. Quickly tilt the pan the other way you want the batter to coat the entire bottom of the pan before thickening. You will learn this wrist movement called “le tour de main”. The thinner the coating will be the better the crêpes. At this point if you feel that your batter is too thick you can add a little milk or a little water. Mix the batter gently frequently. The first two or three crêpes are never perfect, the pans, and you, need to get “in the mood”. So do not panic!
4 Cook the crêpes at medium heat for about 50 seconds (this time is very approximate, you will have to judge for yourself). Turn it over with a spatula (a thin wooden one or a plastic one, especially if you have non stick pan), or if you fill more accomplish bang the pan a few times and flip the crêpe. This side will cook faster. Stack your crêpes on a plate, over a double boiler if you want to keep them warm.
(Use sweet batter)
2 sticks sweet butter, softened
8 tablespoons sugar
Grated rind of two oranges or 4 tangerines
1 Orange or 2 Tangerine Juice
Armagnac and Grand Marnier
Mix sugar, butter, oranges or tangerines rind and juice and mix it until smooth. A food processor might do the tick faster.
At serving time, melt 4 to 6 tablespoons of the sauce in the skillet. When sizzling hot, place 4 to 6 crêpes folded in fourth in the sauce. When they are well bathed in the sauce and warmed up, pour 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of Armagnac and Grand Marnier on top, and light a match, stir the crêpes in the flaming sauce. Keep your head back, check for loose clothing, turn the vent off because flames could be sucked. Repeat the operation for each batch.
Savory Crêpes Batter:
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 ½ cups of Milk
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Salt
Fillings for savory crêpes:
Crêpes stuffed with Roquefort, mushrooms and spinach with béchamel sauce.
3 tablespoons of butter
5 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat in a heavy sauce pan. Add 5 tablespoons of flour, move away from heat and stir briskly until smooth. Add 2 cups of milk put back on the stove, stir continually with a wire whisk to prevent any lumps. At this point you have your basic sauce that you can use for many other recipes. Example:
If you added a little nutmeg, salt and pepper and pourred it over steamed cauliflower, topped it with cheese and broiled it until golden. You have: “choux fleur au gratin”.
Today we will be using the béchamel as the “binder” for the stuffing in the savory crêpes,
1 lb Mushrooms sliced
2 Bunches of Spinach
3 tablespoons of Roquefort cheese
1 crushed clove of garlic.
Salt, pepper, nutmeg to your taste.
Sauté the mushrooms until soft and until all their moisture as evaporated. Keep them aside.
Sauté the spinach until soft and all until all their moisture as evaporated, towards the end add the mushrooms and the garlic to it. Set in a bowl, add salt, pepper, nutmeg.
Add crumbled Roquefort into your béchamel, put it back on a medium heat burner to get the cheese to dissolve, stir constantly. Transfer into the bowl with mushroom and spinach mixture, fold gently all together, taste to adjust salt and pepper. Take your savory crêpes put some mixture in, and roll it gently set on a platter.
Crêpes à la Saucisse et aux Poivrons.
1 lb Sausage meat
2 thinly sliced Onions
1 Green, 1 Red Pepper thinly sliced.
Warm up a pan with some olive oil. Sauté the meat thoroughly , Set aside. Sauté the onions and the peppers until caramelized. Mix both mixture. Salt, freshly ground Pepper. Put some mixture into the savory crêpes roll and serve with a Duxelle de champignons.
Duxelle de Champignons
1/2 LB Mushrooms chopped very small.
2 Shallots chopped also very small
1 tablespoon of Butter
1/2 cup White wine
Melt gently the butter in sauté pan. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté gently until all liquid has evaporated. Add 1/2 cup white wine and let evaporate again. Add some salt and pepper to your taste and basic Duxelle is ready. For your crêpes I would recommend to add some crème fraîche in the mixture, cook gently until the consistency is satisfactory and serve as the sauce of your sausage and green and red pepper crêpes.
To learn all the secrets of crêpes making book an entertaining Crepes Party at Voilà Nicole!