Okay, I’ll admit it. Until a few years ago, I was crepe-less. I know it may be hard to believe, but I do have a somewhat valid excuse. You see, I grew up in an Irish American household where we consumed a steady diet of eggs and bacon, Eggo waffles, meat and potatoes, and overcooked pasta. (If you’re reading this Mom, 20 minutes is just a bit too long to boil spaghetti.) Crepes were never on the menu during Sunday breakfast; having a bowl of Lucky Charms was considered a gourmet treat and I was none the wiser. Little did I know what I was missing.
A few years ago I was invited to a friend’s dinner party. The night played out just like any other get together: appetizers, some wine, the main course, and then dessert. It was at that moment that my life was forever changed.
I was not sure what to expect as my gracious hostess presented me with a “crepe”, which looked to be some type of thin pancake-looking item. As I cautiously took a bite, I’m almost certain that a chorus of heavenly hosts played in the background as the flavors exploded. I began to devour (politely, of course) the combination of fried batter, strawberries, and whipped creme. WOW! How can I make this myself? What other fillings are there? From that moment, I knew I had some pleasurable work cut out for me.
For the benefit of anyone who may be unfamiliar with crepes, here are a few basic facts:
- Crepes are a type of very thin, cooked “pancake” that is traditionally made from flour. The batter is cooked on a heated surface and then filled with either sweet or savory fillings (pick your poison). They can be served for any type of meal; versatility is the name of the game.
- The word crepe derives from the Latin crispa – meaning curled.
- Crepes (actually crêpes) originated in the Brittany region of France, and almost every country has a version: Holland – flensje, Italy – crespella, Norway – pannekake, and Somalia and Yemen – injera, to name a few.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to cooking! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a cooking novice, it’s easy to make crepes in a matter of minutes. Crepes can be prepared in a variety of ways:
- Traditional carbon steel pan: For those who may favor a professional cook’s method, we like the Matfer Steel Crepe Pan – simply pour your batter and channel your inner monsieur or mademoiselle – a wooden crepe blade will help spread the batter evenly across the surface of the pan before cooking. The pan will heat quickly – be sure to keep an eye on it!
- Upside down crepe machine: If you prefer a more modern approach, the CucinaPro Cordless Crepe Maker allows you to make crepes by dipping the heated base into the batter plate. Once the ready light signals, simply turn the machine upside down and let the crepe slide onto your plate.
- Electric crepe maker: Maybe you’re new to the crepe world and want a little help for your first go-round; with the Tibos Electric Crepe Maker, crepe creation is a snap. It comes equipped with a wooden spatula, spreader, and recipe booklet, and the nonstick griddle and adjustable thermostat will have you cooking like the French in no time. As an added bonus, the 13″ diameter cooking surface makes larger crepes to satisfy even the biggest appetite at the table.
Now that the crepe has cooked, its time for the fun part! The world is your oyster, as they say, so fill the crepe with any favorite food; there truly is no right or wrong here. Your biggest decision will probably be whether to create sweet or savory crepes. Many popular savory fillings include: eggs, ham, various cheeses, vegetables, seafood – the list goes on. Common sweet fillings include: whipped cream, various jams and jellies, fruits, custard, sugar (granulated, brown, or powder), and my personal favorite: Nutella and banana.
For your next brunch or dinner party, why not host a Make Your Own Crepe event? Guests can try their hand in creating their own combinations using the batter recipe we’ve provided below. Try combining different ingredients like chicken, goat cheese and grilled asparagus for a savory dinner crepe, or peach preserves and ricotta for dessert crepes! The important thing to remember is that crepes are an open canvas, just waiting to become a culinary masterpiece.
Classic Crêpe Batter (adapted from The Best 50 Crêpe Recipes)
2 tbs. melted butter or vegetable oil
1-1/3 cups milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Place ingredients in a blender or food processor, cover and process for 20 to 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of container and process for a few more seconds. This can be used immediately or refrigerated until needed. If batter thickens upon standing, thin with a little bit of milk.
To close: Two crepes are out to dinner. One says to the other, “I’m stuffed, how about you?”