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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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.