When we hear the word crepe people tend to associate it with the French Crepes Suzette and may think it is so complicated to make. Crepes are not so much complicated to make, they just take practice. And crepes can be used in so many different ways.
The misconception about crepes is that you need a special piece of equipment and only a master chef can make them. It does take some practice, patience and no fear, but the only mastery you need is of your own kitchen. Though my dream is to own a crepe maker one day, until then I use a nonstick skillet, either 8” omelet pan or 10” pan for a larger crepe. When making crepes, you usually throw away the first few you cook while getting the heat regulated and the technique down. The nice thing about crepes is once you get into the groove you can make a whole bunch at one time. When the crepes cool, separate them with a piece of wax or parchment paper and do stacks of 10. Wrap the whole stack with plastic wrap and then freezer paper. Now you will have crepes on hand and you’ll be prepared for that impromptu dessert or what ever your heart desires to make. You can keep the crepes in the freezer for up to 2 months. ( But I am sure you’ll use them up before that time)
Crepes Suzette is probably the most famous crepe dish in the world. In a restaurant, a “crepe suzette” is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests. They are served hot with a sauce of sugar, orange juice, and liqueur, usually Grand Marnier. Brandy is poured over the crepes and then set on fire.
The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter, Henri Charpentier (1880-1961), in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England. According to Henri Charpentier, in own words from “Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:” “It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste. The Prince ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup.”
Crepes have so many different faces and every ethnic culture has a version of this lovely thin pancake. I remember as a child, we were watching an old Cary Grant movie and they were having Crepes Suzette. My dad commented “ I did not realize we were eating high-class as a child” You see his mother, better known as Bubba, would often make these thin pancake and fill them with fresh cream and fruit or homemade jellies or brown them in butter and pour syrup over top. * note if you read my easter post, you know my dad’s parents were from the Ukraine.
Crepes can come in many different shapes and sizes and filled with sweet or savory Ingredients. They can be an appetizer, an entree, a sandwich, or a dessert. My sister, Mary Ann, makes homemade manicotti using crepes, a recipe she learned from her mother in-law, Rose Brunetta. When I was on a school sponsored Culinary Tour in Italy, we made a dish stuffing crepes with chicken, artichokes, and cheese. We then topped it with a Tomato Vodka Cream sauce, more cheese and baked it. It was delicious!
My cousin’s wedding reception was saved by the Crepe. The week of Scott and Sara’s wedding, there were terrible storms with flooding and power outages. When they arrived to the venue for the reception, they were told that their wedding cake had not been delivered. The chef and banquette manager told them that they would set up a crepe station for dessert at no extra charge. They had an array of fresh fruits, Ice cream, sauces and yes, they even make the famous Crepes Suzette. I don’t think anyone missed the wedding cake.
Crepes themselves have simple ingredients and inspire endless amount of enjoyment!
Below is the Crepe recipe I brought back from Taormina Italy from our class with Chef Carmen
FOR ABOUT 15 CREPES
· 4 ½ oz 00 Flour ( you can use All Purpose)
· 1 cup milk
· 3 eggs
· 1 oz butter (unsalted)
· 1 pinch salt
· 1 tablespoon Cognac liqueur
· 2 tablespoons melted butter
In a small saucepan, melt the butter without letting it brown. Then remove it from the heat and let cool.
In the meantime, whisk together the flour, eggs and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and liqueur and whisk together until you have a smooth, fairly dense batter. At this point, add the milk slowly while whisking. You should have a smooth batter without clumps. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Heat a non-stick pan or crepe griddle. Once hot, brush the pan with the melted butter. Use a ladel to add enough batter to cover the entire pan. Try to make the thickness even across the pan.
When the crepe begins to separate itself from the pan, flip the crepe quickly using a spatula and cook the other side. Once you have cooked both sides, place the crepe on a kitchen towel or on paper towels. Continue making crepes until you have finished the batter. Let cool slightly before filling.
Crepes can be kept in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, for 2 days.
The crepes can be frozen and kept in the freezer for 2 months.