The Last Crouton – Beads of Profiteroles

The 1916 Cookbook Project:  The Last Crouton

Technically Grandpa didn’t title this recipe as a “crouton” but it is yet another soup garnish.  I found it interesting that he used choux pastry to make a garnish; I’ve always thought of creme puffs as a sweet, not savory, dish.  I also thought of them as large items requiring a fork and knife; not tiny morsels delicately floating on a plate of soup.

Reading through the thin instructions, I realized this was a recipe where I might have real, not “sort of”, success!  I grew up helping Ma make avgolemono chicken soup (greek chicken soup with lemon and egg), carefully pouring hot chicken soup broth into the raw eggs and lemon juice she frantically whisked the concoction.  We did this without ever curdling the eggs.  My tyropita (cheese pie) recipe involves whisking a raw egg into the hot cheese mixture.  I had the experience; I had the technique.  Yes, I finally found something that might be in my wheelhouse…or so I thought.

Recipe 4  Beads of Profiteroles

The translation:

In a saucepan put a glass of broth, water, a piece of butter the thickness of half an egg. Bring this to a boil. Remove from the heat and add enough flour to make a tight paste. Next add three eggs, one after the other, mixing well. Knead the dough and make small, chickpea sized, beads. Bake them in the oven.

Once again I was facing a recipe with no real measurements, no temperatures, and no estimated cooking time.  Heck, this time he didn’t even define what type of broth.  Chicken? Vegetable? Beef?  I wondered – had the printer charged by the letter to publish the book?

What I Did:

Guesstimate of the ingredients:ingredients for profiterole beads

½ cup beef broth
½ cup water
2 Tbs butter (½ oz butter = 1 Tablespoon)
1 cup flour ( 135 grams)
3 eggs (put each in a separate container to make adding them easier)

I combined the beef broth, water, and butter in a saucepan as directed and brought it to a boil.  Actually, I put the broth and water in a pot, forgot the butter, added the flour, realized why I shouldn’t have forgotten the butter and started over.

Next I removed the boiling mixture from the heat and started adding the flour, gradually mixing it in until the entire cup of flour was evenly combined with the hot, wet ingredients. dough before adding egs So far, so good. Finally I mixed in one egg at a time into the hot mixture.  (The first dough picture is before I added the eggs; the second, after.)  I did this slowly and never stopped mixing at a furious rate.

dough with eggs

Next I had to make the beads.  I took a look at the dough and thought it would be a pretty darn cold day down south before I attempted to knead and roll out little beads; enter the pastry bag.  I decided to try a star tip to make something that didn’t look droppings on a tray; I’m not very good with a pastry bag.

profiterole beads before baking

True to fashion, I used a Silpat so I can’t tell you if you would need to grease a baking sheet if you were putting the dough directly on it.   This went into a 400˚F oven for a while (yes, I forgot to write the time down; 20-40 minutes, I think) .  The result was a golden, crisp, light puff of air.  I could see how these would be a great addition to a consomme.  Of course, you could also do what we did and simply eat them as though they were M&M’s.

IMG_4577

My Conclusion

Would I make this again?  Probably.

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?   Definitely.

How would I modify it in the future?  Compare other profiterole recipes to get better ideas about consistency and cooking times.  Add a definite flavor such as an herb or spice.

1496 recipes to go.

Perfection as the enemy of the good

Aside

It’s over a month since my last post and I have several posts sitting in “draft” status.  Yes, I am guilty of pursuing the illusion of perfection at the expense of good.  I’m addicted to the “Save Draft” button.  I can’t help myself; it’s a congenital affliction that has kept me from finishing more than one project over the years.  The sad truth in the case of my blogging is that my posts are mediocre at best; pursuing better-than-just-okay is probably a better way to spend my time.  So I promise to get back on the “click Publish button” wagon today…well, before I go to bed…uh, we better just say “this week” and leave it at that.

Croutons Souffle

The 1916 Cookbook Project:  More Croutons

Croutons souffle.  Souffle?  Really, Grandpa?  I approached the third recipe in Grandpa’s cookbook with a bit of exasperation – the third, but not the last, crouton recipe.  Yes, there’s one more after this one.  Still, not one to give up easily I moved forward with “Croutons Souffle”.
finished croutons souffle

You may remember when I started this project I mentioned that a cookbook from the early part of the 20th century is very different from today’s familiar volumes.  Imagine opening up a book today and seeing a recipe written like this:

Make a stiff dough with a glass of milk, two eggs, a little lard, and flour. Cut the dough into small rectangular pieces and bake in a moderate oven. Use on consommes and other soups.

Yeah, that’s a detailed recipe (not). And lard. This is the first time I have lard in the house.  I don’t have anything against it; my mother never used it and I always have vegetable shortening in the house. Still, Grandpa’s recipe calls for lard and I’ll use it; at least this time, anyway.

Recipe 3  Crouton Souffle

What I Did:

Guesstimate the ingredients:croutons souffle ingredients
8 oz milk
two eggs
3-4 cups flour
¼ cup lard

I mixed the eggs and milk in a small bowl.  As soon as I did this I realized I was going to need a lot of flour; a lot of flour means a lot of dough.  I wasn’t thinking and should have gone with one egg, 4 oz of milk, etc.  Oh well, error number one.  Next I put 3 cups of the flour in a large bowl and cut in lard.  Gradually I mixed the liquid into the flour, adding more flour as needed to make a stiff dough (I used 4 cups this particular day).  Working the dough I suddenly understood why Ma said her father’s hands were like ham hocks; large, muscular, and very strong – no Hobart mixer when he made doughs!

combining dry and wet ingredientsOnce the dough was ready I rolled it out to about 1/4” in thickness and cut into small rectangular pieces.

dough rolled out

To me “moderate oven” is 350F so I baked in a preheated 350F oven for about 40 minutes.  Surprisingly these puffed up a bit giving them more of a  pillow like shape. They stayed pale; only the bottom browned; nice and golden I might add, the way Recipe 2 was supposed to turn out.   They were tasty, if a bit bland, and had a lovely texture.

finished croutons souffle

Experimentation:

I took some of the dough, rolled it out thinner, and used a smallish round cookie cutter to cut it up. I pierced it with a few times and baked in the 350F oven. Cocktail crackers!  Since the dough is so bland I should have added a topping (poppy seeds, sea salt, sesame seeds, crushed dried garlic, or similar).  Adding herbs and spices to the dough to make flavored croutons and crackers should work well, too.

croutons souffle crackersPlaying around I tried baking a few with salt and no piercings; they puffed up!  Of course, if I had been thinking, I would have realized this would happen.  The croutons puffed up, right?  Now I understand why crackers always have perforations in them – to keep them flat.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the puffs (thought I did, but I don’t) but you should definitely try making them.  Puffed up they reminded me of a crisp pocket pita.  Flavor the dough and you would definitely have a tasty snack (I didn’t say “healthy”; I said “tasty”).  Perforated or puffed, this is an easy to make recipe that’s a nice accompaniment with cheese and cocktails.

Try it out and let me know how you modified the recipe and what you think.

My Conclusion

Would I make this again?  Absolutely.  Why would I make crackers when there are so many excellent ones on the market?  Simple – to say I followed Grandpa’s recipe.  So my cousins and I can actually taste something he might have made for us.  We grew up hearing all the stories but never had the opportunity to actually experience his cooking (he died long before any of us were born).

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?  Definitely.

How would I modify it in the future?    We liked these even if they were bland.  Remember they’re a garnish for soup.  They would need salt and seasoning if made as a snack or cracker. 

Only 1,497 recipes to go.
I’m an idiot.

 

Simple bread croutons I can’t make

The 1916 Cookbook Project:  More Croutons

The humble crouton. This recipe seems idiotically simple but it makes sense that it’s in Grandpa’s book. Remember the year is 1916 and his audience are people from a very different culture; croutons are a Western idea. There was no internet, not every home had a telephone, nobody carried a smart phone. The purpose of his book was to teach his audience how to cook for the American palate, not the Greek one.  After a less than auspicious start with the Royal Croutons, I was relieved to see the second recipe in Grandpa’s book involved good old fashioned bread.  I’m so naive.

Recipe 2  Bread Croutons

The translation:

Cut thin slices of bread in small square pieces and fry with butter until golden. Use for cream soups.

So simple, right?

What I Did:

Two slices of english muffin bread with crust removed and cut into cubes. Coated the bread croutons in panbottom of a cast iron skillet (the one in the picture was his) with butter, tossed until golden. Add more butter as needed. I used about two tablespoons.  Here’s the kicker – it’s not so easy to get evenly golden, not burnt, little pieces of toast.

My second pass:

A slice of english muffin bread (a weakness of mine from Delicious Orchards, Colts Neck, NJ) cut into cubes, tossed in 1 T melted butter mixed with 1t poultry seasoning, salt and crouton ingredientspepper to taste. On to a cookie sheet and top with grated cheese. Bake in a preheated 350F oven, baked for 15-20 minutes.croutons with cheese
finished cheesy croutons

My Conclusion

Would I make this again?  Yes.

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?  Not so sure about the first try; definitely not with the second try. 

How would I modify it in the future?   I would use the oven.  Toasting is so much easier in an oven.  A non-stick skillet on a low flame might work as well.

No peasant croutons here; they’re “Royal”

The 1916 Cookbook Project Starts

It was a dreary Labor Day here in New Jersey when I finally started translating my grandfather’s cookbook.  What was I THINKING??  The first chapter is on soups.  One hundred thirty-eight recipes.  Ironically the first recipes aren’t soups at all; they’re croutons for decorating the soups.

I have many cookbooks that belonged to my mother and what I find interesting is how cookbooks evolve over time.  Today’s cookbooks have precisely measured ingredients listed in the order of use; photographs to guide us and numbered steps to walk us along.  Often they even include the amount of prep, cooking, and rest time involved.  Go to the internet for a recipe and you have the added benefit of comments from people around the world who made the recipe before you.  How they adjusted it; what worked and what didn’t.  A cookbook from the early 20th Century doesn’t necessarily include those nice lists and definitely doesn’t have step-by-step photographs. Some recipes might be only a couple of lines because you learned how to do something earlier in the book.  Food processors, stick blenders, and other small electric appliances were never mentioned.  Chop, slice, dice, knead, whip, and puree were all manual skills.  Grandpa’s book is of this sort.  Although it technically has 1,500 recipes, many are only a few sentences long.   Now put such a cookbook in another language and then give it to me to translate.  This could get ugly fast.  Still, I committed to this project and I’m doing my best even if it gets me committed.

Royal Croutons on Soup

Recipe 1  Royal Croutons

The translation:

Separate the yolks of 6 eggs and joined them with half a glass of milk, and beat well with wire then put in a skillet greased with butter. Then put two whites in a saucepan as the yolk. Whites in one of two colors it saucepan lightly green (have no idea what that sentence was all about). When prepared the three pots you put them inside in a pan with hot water in the oven and allow about twenty minutes to coagulate the egg whites. When you remove them from the oven let them cool and then and then chop into small square pieces like dice backgammon.  These three colors, white, green and yellow are the Royals crouton,which will need for soups and soup.

What did I get myself into??

What I Did:

Decide that I didn’t need to use half a dozen eggs; two would do.Royal Croutons Ingredients
Buttered three small ramekins to use as pans.
I separated two eggs, keeping the two whites in two separate bowls. The yolks were beaten with the milk and put into one of the ramekins.  Next I put one of the whites in a second ramekin. Now for the green eggs. Green eggs; really? Dr. Seuss kept flashing through my head each time I read this recipe. Green had me stumped. The word, “prasinada”, kept coming up as a town in Greece; I’m confident grandpa didn’t mean for me to add a town to the eggs.  I decided to add chopped herbs, in this case parsley, to the last egg white. I mixed in the parsley as well as possible and put the glop in the third ramekin.  The ramekins were then set in a pan of water and put in a 350F oven until they solidified; about 28 minutes.Ramekins for oven

Once completed I carefully lifted each one from its ramekin onto my cutting board.  This was not as easy as it sounds; part of the eggs stayed in each.  The yolk was more of a soft custard that crumbled as I tried to cut it.  Baking in the oven created a clear skin that was very difficult to cut through. I tried using my smallest cookie cutter which, unfortunately, is a delicate snowflake.cutting board mess  The picture on the left shows the mess on the cutting board; the final product floating on a plate of chicken broth is at the bottom of the page.

My Conclusion

Do I think I made something reasonably close to what he meant?  Yes.

Would I make this again?  Yes.

How would I modify it in the future?   First, I would use  a non-stick skillet with a lid on a very low flame.  Baking in the oven created a skin that was difficult to cut.  Next, I would either use no milk or no more than a teaspoon for two egg yolks.  Lightly season the egg to compliment the soup it will float on.  I might even make cutouts to decorate a platter.

Royal Croutons on Soup

Confessions of a Dishaholic

I’m a dishaholic.  There; I’ve said it.  It’s a genetic defect from my mother.  The symptoms start innocently enough and then next thing you know, you can have a sit down dinner for more than sixty people, not that you would have enough chairs and flatware for half as many people.  Looking through the cupboards I realize I can almost tell my life through dishes.

GoldtrimPlatterSmThis platter is the last vestige of the “everyday” dishes from my childhood.  We used them in Queens and then in New Jersey.  In 1979 they were joined by Pottery Barn dishes after my Aunt died.  Those dishes are no longer with us, either.  They were plain white coupe dishes and I loved them.  Through the years I would look for the identical dishes only finding similar but not the same ones.  I remember going to the original Pottery Barn store in New York with my Aunt; it had racks and racks of dishes.  I miss her.

NoritakesmThen there were my mother’s “good” dishes, a Noritake service for twelve.  This set harkens back to days before I was born.  It has two sizes of platters, open and covered vegetable bowls, bread plates, salad plates, soup plates, individual vegetable bowls, and more.  I look at these and am transported back to so many holiday meals; house full of family, friends, music, and laughter.  What I’ve always liked about this set is the gravy boat; yes, the gravy boat.  The under dish is attached to the boat.  If only other companies would do this!  As I got older and started cooking I would pull out the dishes for Sunday dinner.  Why keep them only for company?  Who’s more important than my family, right?  I still have these dishes, plus a couple of extra serving pieces I picked up online at Replacements Limited.

During the late Seventies/early Eighties, we purchased our first microwave oven.  It was a behemoth of a creature, large enough for the small turkey that we would never cook in it. This had the unintended consequence of requiring us to purchase microwave safe dishes. The microwave safe set ended up being “Dad’s luncheon set”.  It is a reddish transferware pattern that he liked.  He thought of it as nice for everyday or having friends for lunch (my parents were big on entertaining).Transferwaresm  This is a service for six that now resides in a cabinet next to my microwave.  Some years later we found complimentary rimmed soup plates (different brand) so we have six of those, too.  Over the years a bread plate broke, although I don’t know when or by whom. For those of you keeping track, we are now up to a total of eighteen place settings minus one bread plate.

Greek Easter was always a big event at our home, complete with a spring lamb roasting on a spit and 24-40 people in attendance for a sit down meal.  This meant a mish-mosh of tableware but the company was great and the food delicious.  One day, for reasons I cannot remember, Dad and I were at the local Macy’s near the dish department where we meandered into the clearance area.  Would you believe we found two big boxes of service for twelve, in the same pattern, of china (made in china) for more than 50% off? EasterDishessm Lightbulb!  Easter dishes!!  I even found small wine glasses at Ikea (twenty-four, of course) to make the set complete.  These sets included serving pieces, too.  Now we would have a lovely table set for twenty-four people; perfect.    Platters, serving bowls, salt and pepper shakers, creamer set, were all included.  I still don’t know how they fit everything into the boxes or how we got them home in a Ford Escort.  I discovered a china outlet in St. Augustine, FL, where I picked up additional pieces – demi-tasse cups, extra cake plates (because we used them for dessert and appetizers), extra serving pieces.  Some have a different brand name stamped on the bottom but they’re the same.  My guess is a factory in China makes them and puts your brand on it.  Yes, I still have these and no, they cannot go into the microwave.  Actually I have all pieces except one cup.  During our kitchen remodel my china was stacked on rolling racks in the dining room.  Although I had told hubby to not roll the racks containing the china, he did.  A cup fell.  It broke.  He looked sheepish and contrite.  I didn’t say a word.  Place setting count?  Forty-two minus one bread plate and one cup.

When my husband and I met we each owned homes, fully furnished homes, so we didn’t need anything when we were getting married.  Still, we needed to put something on a register because we knew we were getting gifts even if we said don’t give us gifts.  We picked dishes so we would have every day dishes that were neither his nor mine.  I wanted either artsy or tailored; he wanted classic.  He preferred thin china dishes to thick stoneware ones.  We ended up with Royal Worchester Howard Cobalt. HowardCobaltsm These cannot go in the microwave.  We do use them for everyday and entertaining.  I started thinking I could build up this set and get rid of the Easter dishes; my Mother started buying us place settings for our anniversary until we were up to fifteen place settings.  Eventually I changed my mind and decided I could get plain white microwavable dinner plates to compliment the blue and white ones when setting out a buffet.  Place setting count? Fifty-seven minus one bread plate and one cup.

Yes, dear reader, I have fifty-seven place settings (minus one bread plate and one cup).  This doesn’t count the extra pieces, like the four microwavable cereal bowls from William-Sonoma, or the four microwavable cereal bowls from Crate and Barrel.  Or the six white coupe dinner plates that can go into the microwave (yes, I finally found them!) and their matching sandwich counterparts from Crate and Barrel. Coupesm Or the Reindeer mugs, serving pieces, appetizer plates, and cake plates from Pottery Barn that I use each Christmas.  It also doesn’t count the myriad of platters and other serving pieces.  If I were setting up a buffet I could actually set out sixty-three dinner plates.  I could set up a lunch buffet with over eighty salad-sized plates.  I think I could set out well over a dozen platters, too, but I still have to count them.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sixteen melamine dinner plates and their smaller companions for outdoor use; I don’t use them for indoor buffets so they’re not included in the dinner or small plate counts.

Now that I have the white coupe plates, I want to get rid of my red transferware set as well as the Easter set.  The problem?  How to sell them?  Who wants service for twenty-four minus a cup?  Still, I would like to get rid of them; that would bring me down to a mere twenty-seven place settings, thirty-three dinner plates.  That’s not a lot, right?

Sunday Brunch continues…

Yesterday I went over my crepe recipe; today, as promised, I am posting my omelette in a cup recipe.  What I like about it is that the “cup” is edible because it’s actually a crepe.  My friend Jackie loved it; the dogs sulked because they couldn’t have it.  It really is quite simple and looks great.  It’s also ideal for a holiday brunch buffet.  I still haven’t attempted to remake the pineapple cups mixture but promise to do so soon.

finished egg cups

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp baking powder (makes for fluffier eggs)
finely sliced scallion, shallot, or chives
grated zucchini (I use the very large side of the grater box)
carrot ribbons (I use a vegetable peeler)
fresh ground pepper
optional – fresh herbs
4 cubes feta, preferably “authentic”, i.e., made with sheep’s milk
grated parmesan
chopped parsley for garnish
4 crepes

shredded vegetablesPre-heat the oven to 350F.
Line four large muffin forms with one crepe each and set them on a baking sheet.  I like to first line the sheet with a Silpat “just in case”.  Whip the eggs with the milk and baking powder in a large bowl.

combined ingredients

prepared cups for ovenMix in the grated vegetables, pepper, and fresh herbs of your choice (I decided against herbs this particular time but often use tarragon). Portion the egg mixture equally across the four crepe cups.  Make sure the vegetables are evenly portioned out.

Place a cube of feta in each cup and cover the top of the eggs with grated parmesan.  Put the cups in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes increase the temperature to 400F and continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes.  The edges of the crepes will turn crisp and a dark golden color.  The eggs are done when they are puffed and the cheese has formed a light crust.  Remove the eggs from the forms and place on the plates; garnish with the parsley.  The cups might start to wrinkle/scrunch a bit near the bottom but that is okay.  We like the combination of the slightly moist crepe on the bottom and the crisp, dry crepe on the top.  You can also experiment with first baking the crepes a few minutes in the cups to dry them a bit before adding the eggs.

finished egg cups

The 1916 Cookbook Project

I’ve mentioned in the past that my grandfather, specifically my mother’s father, was a chef. What I haven’t told you is that he wrote a cookbook about american cooking in 1916, in greek, for greek restauranteurs here in the US.  It was actually quite well-known in his day.  The family legend is that after WWII my mother’s one brother decided to ride his motor cycle back east from California (he was a submariner in the Pacific).  My uncle rarely, if ever, paid for a meal during that trip.  He would walk into a diner or restaurant, mention his father’s name, and that was it – the owners wouldn’t let him pay.  I don’t know how true the story is (the not paying part; he did serve in the war on the Trigger Maru and did ride his bike cross-country) but it’s a nice thought.

My husband finally convinced me to try to translate the book and post about it.  Try the recipes, change them for the twenty-first century, and (most importantly) have fun with it.  I decided why not, right?  I hope you’ll join me on this journey back in time.  There are some recipes that I just won’t attempt (frogs legs, for example) and others I’ll be completely in the dark about.  I will, however, post each one in order as I try to get through the book.

A Perfect Summer Sunday in New Jersey

Summer is a great time in New Jersey and one of the things I look forward to is Sunday brunch with friends.  Life and the weather have gotten in the way this year.  The weather this weekend, however, was perfect – not too much humidity, brilliant blue sky, a cool breeze to balance the blazing sun.   So, yesterday was the first time I was able to have Jackie (friend) and Mia (golden retriever) over for brunch.  So much fun!

We cooked, relaxed on the deck, ate and laughed while making sure Mia didn’t jump in the pool.  I decided to make eggs baked in crepe cups and a pot of green tea.  Jackie surprised me with a wonderful cinnamon Amish loaf (yummy!) from What’s For Dessert? in Wall, NJ, and fresh pineapple (also yummy!).  Everyone needs a friend like Jackie – kind, happy, encouraging, and willing try my kitchen experiments!

The crepes were made, and the ingredients for the eggs prepped, before they arrived.  Munchkin (my shih tzu) was close at hand to quickly “clean” the floor of anything that might fall while I was cooking (she was sorely disappointed).  Next I lined six large silicone muffin forms with one crepe each, not sure if the eggs would fit in four or six cups; four was all I needed. ( The eggs are a post in and of themselves so I’ll write about those tomorrow.)  Jackie looked wistfully at the two empty crepe cups, sighing “how sad, they’re empty”.  I looked up, saw the pineapple and we tried something new – pineapple cups.  Everything was delicious although the pineapple cups need some tweaking – I’ll write about those in detail, good or bad, with my second attempt.  Today’s topic, however, is crepes.

Crepes

I’ve loved crepes as long as I can remember; plain or stuffed, sweet or savory (savory is my favorite).  I can’t remember whether the love affair started at a french restaurant in NYC when I was kid or if it started one summer on a Greek Island a lifetime ago (crepes are very popular in Greece).  It ends up my husband also loves crepes, or what he used to call “my grandmother’s french pancakes”.  I had no idea what he was talking about until one day I made crepes and he exclaimed, “Nana’s french pancakes!”.  I had one of those “duh!” moments; why hadn’t I made the connection earlier?  Regardless, I would tweak the recipe, try different pans, until I came up with something he liked.  Hubby’s preference?  Large thickish crepes, rolled and sprinkled with granulated sugar.  My preference?  Small, thin, stuffed with blue cheese (or any cheese for that matter).  After years of using a frying pan I finally gave in and bought a large, cast iron crepe pan.  It’s actually also great for frying an egg or making a grilled cheese sandwich.  My only complaints about the pan are that it isn’t the size crepe I prefer and it’s too heavy to flip the crepes.  Last year I gave in and bought myself a smaller, classic, steel crepe pan.  Now I’m trying to make super thin, gossamer like crepes – no repeatable success yet but I’m having fun trying.  The first time I used the steel pan I discovered the flash point of butter – yup, spontaneous flames on my crepe pan.  Now I keep the heat much lower.  By the way, I wanted to repeat the flames for a picture to post but my husband refused to be my photographer.  He didn’t like the idea of intentionally causing a fire on the stove; go figure!

Crepes are easy to make, freeze quite well, and are versatile.  I can make them on the weekend then pull out some out in the middle of the week, heat them in the oven (wrapped in foil), whip up a filling for me, pull out the sugar for him, and voila’ we have dinner!  I prefer weighing the flour instead of going by volume; it give me more consistent results.  Still, I did include the volume measurement for, well, good measure.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour (216 g)
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 1/4 c milk
1/4 c water
2 Tb butter (1 oz; 28.35 g) melted
Additional butter for coating the pan
Yield:  approximately 20 6-inch crepes

Ingredients

Bring the ingredients to room temperature. Combine the flour and salt in a medium-large bowl, making a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well.  Whisk the eggs gradually incorporating the flour.

flour well with eggsAdd half the milk and continue whisking until all the flour is combined.

Mix in the melted butter.  Add the remaining milk and the water.  Make sure the milk and water aren’t cold otherwise the butter will solidify, which is what happened and you can see in the picture below.

butter solidified

Continue whisking the batter until it’s smooth.  Cover and let rest at least 30 minutes.  At this point you can refrigerate the batter overnight.

Warm the crepe pan over a low to medium low heat and coat with butter.  Ladle a small amount of batter on the pan and immediately swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  I use a 1/2 ounce size ladle and no more than two scoops for one crepe.  I usually need 1 1/2 scoops but was able to make one crepe with one scoop.crepe batter in pan  My pan makes 6 inch crepes.  Cook the crepe until the steam stops, then flip to cook the underside, again waiting for the steam to stop.  Move the crepe to a warm plate and repeat the process, using all the batter.  You can wrap them in foil and freeze them for future use.  To warm the crepes  pre-heat your oven to 350 F.  Loosely wrap the crepe stack in foil sealing the ends well.  This will allow the crepes to steam and not dry out.

stack of finished crepes

What the heck is a Greek Salad anyway?

This year I’ve made a real effort to bring my lunch to work.  It generally isn’t anything very complicated and I alway try to keep the calories down.  Fruit with yogurt, leftover grilled chicken; you get the idea.  Trying to  add some variety the other day I decided to make a salad: mixed greens, tomato, olives, salonika peppers, no onion this time (it was for work after all), a wee bit of cheese, oil, and seasoning.  Straight forward, simple, relatively healthy, easy to eat out of a plastic container. Lunch Salad showing mixed greens, feta, olives, salonika peppers, oregano, black pepper The feta and oregano got my mind to wandering (not that it takes much for my mind to wander) – what makes a Greek salad “Greek”?  I know it’s a stupid question, the answer to which won’t be some earth-shattering revelation, yet I wanted to know and still do.  I see it on menus, I see “real Greek” dressing in the supermarket but what makes it “Greek”?  Is it the cheese, the olives?  Is it the use of oil and vinegar and oregano? Was it made by some “real Greek” holed away in the basement of some factory?  I really want to know.  Is it still a Greek salad if the oregano comes from Mexico or Italy? What if salad oil is used instead of olive oil?  And what about the feta?  My guess is that most restaurants use some american made feta-like cheese made from cow’s, not sheep’s, milk.  At what point does a “Greek” salad become just a salad?  I started to ramble on about this to my husband.  He decided the car windows needed to be cleaned and headed off to the garage.  He also doesn’t eat salad, or veggies in general, but that’s another story for another time.  Back to my salad conundrum.

I grew up in a Greek-American home.  My Father was from the Athens suburbs and my Mother, although of Greek heritage, was from that exotic locale known as the lower East Side of Manhattan (NYC, not Kansas).  Thus I cannot speak to all the different regions of Greece or their subtle salad nuances.  Still, I can’t remember ever having a Greek salad like those on menus here in the States.  My mother had two interpretations of a Greek salad:

1)  “green” salad – romaine lettuce cut into ribbons, seasoned with fresh dill, olive oil, salt and pepper.  She might add some scallions and maybe some wine vinegar.  Yup, that’s all it was.  It had dill so I avoided it at all costs as a child.  Incredibly I actually found that recipe in a greek cookbook one time.; and,

2)  “tomato” salad – tomatoes, feta, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  She might add some sliced onion, preferably red, and she might add cucumber.  She never added vinegar; tomatoes are already acidic.  Growing up this was my preferred salad at home.

These are also the salads I remember from my many trips to Greece, so you can see my confusion.  I love anchovies but remember those being served on the side, never in my salad.  The brined peppers?  Nope.  Same for olives.  All those things I remember being served as mezethes -small nibbles to eat with a drink before dinner.  I looked to the internet to find some sage’s guidance without luck.  Do you know what makes a Greek salad “Greek”?  Do Italians feel the same about “Italian” salads?  Do the French make “French” dressing?  Does any of this matter if it tastes good?  Probably not.

Oh, I just looked at my watch – it’s getting late and I haven’t had dinner.
I think I’ll make a Greek Salad.