Have you ever made crepes? I was inspired to learn to make them after we were served them in a variety of ways in France. The batter is basically a very egg-y and thin pancake batter. It is imperative that you make the batter at least an hour ahead of time and then refrigerate it before trying to cook the crepes, to prevent them from tearing. Some recipes are also formulated for Wondra flour, which is an instant flour often used for gravies. It does not lump as easily as regular flour. The recipe I am posting today calls for regular, all purpose flour. Crepes are extremely versatile and can be used very simply by filling with jam or cheese or in more elaborate presentations. You can find whole cookbooks on crepe cookery which will give you many ideas for shaping and folding them. I have seen them shaped into little cups by placing them on an inverted muffin tin and then baked and filled. They can be filled with a ricotta filling and used as manicotti. They are also great filled with leftover ground ham or chopped chicken and some chopped vegetables such as broccoli and mushrooms moistened with a little cream of chicken soup. Just roll the filled crepes, place in a baking dish and top with the rest of the can of soup diluted with a little milk. Bake in a 350 degree oven to warm them.
Here's the recipe for the crepe batter:
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups of flour
2 cups plus 2 Tbsps. milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Heat pan and grease pan before the first crepe. (I usually run a stick of margarine or butter over the surface of the pan very quickly just for the first crepe.) Often the first crepe will stick or tear, but they improve as you go along. If your pan is old you may need to re-grease every couple of crepes. I find it helpful to use a small measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan. As you pour, tilt the pan to help spread the batter evenly--or use a neat little tool if you can find someone to make one for you! This recipe makes about 20 crepes.
I carried back a crepe pan from France one time in my suitcase, but you can also use a small curved non-stick skillet with great success.
Crepes cook very quickly so be sure to have your area set up efficiently before you begin.
On the streets in France you will see vendors making and selling large sweet crepes. They use a special wooden tool for spreading the crepe batter on the griddle. Rob made me a little tool of my own for crepe making using dowels from the hardware store!
Here are some finished crepes:
Here is one of my favorite crepe filling ideas:
Cream Cheese Filled Crepes
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. whipped topping
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
small box instant vanilla pudding
Mix the pudding with milk. Let set a few minutes. Beat cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and whipped topping then combine with the pudding. Spoon into cooled crepes. Roll up and then refrigerate in a covered container (such as Tupperware.) Separate the layers with waxed paper. Top with cherry or blueberry pie filling or chocolate sauce and nuts. These freeze well. Thaw in refrigerator before serving.
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