Monday, February 22, 2021

Crêpes S’il Vous Plait

The French Crêpe ~ Impressive, delicate, yet durable
Thick or thin, small to large, every country has a version of the pancake. The most elegant and glamorous of them all is the French Crêpe. These lacy, pliable rounds are delicate yet durable, easy to make and impressive to serve. They can be an appetizer, main course or dessert. They are a magical way to re-create leftovers into an impressive dish.

The marvelous fact about crêpes is that they are a perfect cook-ahead food. They keep in the fridge separated by wax paper and wrapped in plastic for 2 days and when frozen, they keep for 2 months. Thaw frozen crêpes totally and they are ready to be filled, sauced, heated if called for and served. *It is not advised to freeze filled crêpes. Best of all, you cook the crêpes when you want, at your leisure, with no one breathing over your shoulder!

To make a thin and delicate crêpe you need a good pan. It must be heavy enough to distribute the heat evenly, hold the heat and light enough to handle with ease. The many choices may seem bewildering, but any well-made crêpe pan will do the job. There are essentially two kinds of crêpe cookers. The first is the conventional skillet type, in this category are classic stainless steel pans, copper, non-stick and electric ones. The second is a bottom-dip pan where the pan is first heated, dipped in a bowl of batter then inverted over a heating element or flame. Once you have chosen a pan, follow the manufacturer's directions for seasoning the pan or preparation if any is required. Practice with your new pan. The better you know your equipment the more useful it becomes.

Assemble your mise en place; a shallow bowl of batter for the bottom-dip method, a ladle or small pitcher for the skillet type pan. Have oil, a pastry brush, cooling rack or cotton tea towel and wax paper squares to place between finished, cooled crêpes.

Follow any of the ‘Basic Folding Techniques' below, roll or fold crêpes so the best side, the one cooked first, shows. For the performing cook, a 'finishing pan' will be needed to flambé food. The finishing pan is large, flat, beautiful and heat proof. To flambé, gently warm the spirit to be burned, so the alcohol will ignite easily but be certain that it does not come to a boil or all the alcohol will be cooked off and there will not be any flames to dazzle your guests. Never pour the spirit directly from the bottle into flaming sauce. The fire can follow the spirit into the bottle and cause more of a spectacle than you bargained for!

  • Let the batter stand for an hour or more after you have mixed it, before frying the crêpe. As it stands, the starch in the flour absorbs liquid, making more tender crêpes. Batters that sit will thicken slightly; dilute them with a little water to the consistency of heavy cream.
  • Always have your crêpe pan heated to a point where a small amount of water dropped on the pan will bounce and dance about. If the pan is either too hot or too cool, the batter will not adhere.
  • Grease the pan well with coconut or avocado oil between crêpes.
  • Remove pan from heat to add the batter. Pour 1½-2 oz. batter directly into the center of the pan, and then quickly roll the pan about so that the batter covers the bottom. If the batter is too thick add a teaspoon of water at a time. If crêpes have a ‘lacey’ look, add more flour.
  • Cook briefly until crêpe starts to brown on bottom. It is not necessary, but you can turn over and cook a few seconds on the other side, or slip it under a broiler for a moment. Slide onto a tea towel or cooling rack. Continue until all batter is used.
  • Cool and use immediately, or stack with wax paper between each crêpe. Wrap well and refrigerate for later use or freeze wrapped in plastic.
Crêpes offer infinite opportunities for improvisation; in the crêpe batter, the fillings, toppings, sauces and folding techniques you use. Sophisticated diners and kids alike will love the elegant yet simple crêpe!


CRÊPE ROLLS- spread filling on each crêpe and roll tightly from one side, to form a cigar shape.
CORNUCOPIAS- cut the crêpes in half. Place filling to one side and roll into a cone shape.
CLASSIC FOLD OR ENVELOPE- place filling in the center and fold the two sides over the center.
CRÊPE POCKETS- begin with ‘Classic/Envelope Fold’ then tuck the two open ends into the crêpe.
TRIANGLE FOLD- spread filling on half and fold in half to cover, then fold in half again to form a triangle.
DOUBLE STUFFED TRIANGLE- place filling on one quarter and fold in half, place more filling over the previously filled quarter and then fold in half again to form a double stuffed triangle.
STACKED OR LAYERED CRÊPES- place filling on one crêpe then top with a second, place filing on that one, add another and proceed to desired height. Serve by cutting in wedges.

Basic Folds - left to right ... Rolls, Cornucopias, Envelope, Pocket, Triangles

BASIC CRÊPES                    Yield: about 12 crêpes
This recipe can be varied to suit the filling. For example, if you are serving a curry inside the crêpe you can add a touch of curry powder to the batter. Flavorful chicken or beef stock can be added for all or part of the milk. 
2 large eggs
1¼ cup milk
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Beat eggs well, add milk, flour and salt. Beat to a smooth batter then blend in melted butter. Let batter stand for 1 hour for more perfect crêpes. To cook, see ‘Secrets to Success' above.

Fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream and Maple Syrup

DESSERT CRÊPES           Yield: about 12 crêpes
If you are using fruit or berries inside the crêpes, add a bit of orange zest to the batter and 1-3 Tbsp. liqueur as part of the liquid.
1 recipe ‘Basic Crêpes’ (recipe above)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Prepare ‘Basic Crêpe’ batter, whisk in sugar and vanilla. Let batter stand for 1 hour. To cook, see ‘Secrets to Success’ above.

CHOCOLATE CRÊPES    Yield: about 12 crêpes 
I have used this recipe for years, from the Food Network~Laura Calder’s ‘French Food at Home’. Stuff these crêpes simply with sweetened whipped cream and fresh summer berries or sliced bananas. Serve with ‘Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce’ (recipe below).

1 Tbsp. butter
1½ oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

In a small saucepan combine butter, chocolate and milk and heat to melt. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Add vanilla stir, then add flour. Beat in chocolate mixture. Let batter stand for 1 hour. To cook, see ‘Secrets to Success’ above.
CRÊPES NEPTUNE                  Yield: 12 crêpes – 12 appetizers
One of my signature recipes... The addition of minced dill and lemon zest to this crêpe batter is a delicious alternative for seafood fillings. Scallops, lobster or salmon also work well in this recipe.

1 recipe ‘Basic Crêpe’ batter (recipe above)
1½ Tbsp. minced baby dill weed
Zest of 1-2 lemons
2 Tbsp. butter
4 scallions, chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, cut in quarters
½ cup dry Sherry, divided
1½ Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
8 oz. crab meat
8 oz. shrimp meat
1½ cups Béchamel sauce, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12 lemon twists and sprigs of baby dill for garnish

Prepare ‘Basic Crêpe’ batter, whisk in minced dill weed and lemon zest. Let batter stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Melt butter in a medium sauté pan. Add scallions and mushrooms, sauté but do not brown. Add ¼ cup Sherry and thyme, simmer over medium heat until reduced by one third. Add crab, shrimp and 1 cup Béchamel sauce. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.

Cook the crêpes. Divide seafood filling between 12 crêpes, roll each tightly into a ‘Crêpe Roll’ and place in a baking dish seam sides down. Thin remaining ½ cup Béchamel sauce with Sherry to desired consistency, drizzle over rolled crêpes and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot through and lightly browned. Garnish with a lemon twist and a sprig of dill.

FRESH MUSHROOM CRÊPES           Yield: 8 crêpes – 4 servings
Crimini mushrooms are also known as brown or Italian. They are young Portobello mushrooms with a hearty, earthy flavor, tan to dark brown with smooth tops.

1 recipe ‘Basic Crêpe’ batter (recipe above)
1½ Tbsp. minced fresh thyme or sage
3 cups sliced fresh crimini mushrooms
¼ cup scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup thick Béchamel sauce
½ cup grated medium Cheddar cheese
¼ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. grated Gruyère cheese
Sprigs of thyme for garnish

Prepare ‘Basic Crêpe’ batter, whisk in minced fresh thyme. Let batter stand for 1 hour.
Sauté mushrooms and scallions in butter until tender. Stir in Béchamel and cheddar cheese, add wine. Spoon mixture into crêpes then use the ‘Triangle Fold’. Sprinkle with Gruyere cheese and broil for 2 minutes. Garnish with sprig of thyme.

Crunchy, caramelized hazelnuts layered between delicate crêpes, served with a rich chocolate sauce… an elegant dessert!

10-12 ‘Dessert or Chocolate Crêpes’ (recipes above)
8 oz. hazelnuts
2 tsp. avocado oil
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
Coarsely chop hazelnuts and heat in oil. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and stir until well caramelized. ‘Stack Crêpes’ with caramelized nuts between each crêpe. Distribute nuts to the edge and lightly press down each crêpe before adding the next layer. Drizzle a small amount of sauce over the stack. Cut crêpe stack into 6 wedges and serve with warm ‘Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce’.

Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce         Yield: about 1 1/4 cup
This sauce when served warm is a decadent, liquid ganache.

¾ cup whipping cream
9 oz. top quality dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tsp. instant Espresso powder
3 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur

Combine cream and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted. Dissolve Espresso powder in liqueur and add to chocolate mixture until well combined.Drizzle over dessert crêpes, cake or ice cream

Until next time ... Bon Appétit ... stay healthy, be safe, wear a mask and take good care!
Photos by Sally Rae
Recipes by Sally Rae
Chocolate Crêpe Recipe by Laura Calder