My son Mac is engaged to a wonderful young French woman named Cindy who happens to be a pretty expert crepe maker! I asked her to come over this Sunday for brunch to show me the secret to making the best French Crepes. The deal was that she would make the crepes and I would make the inside part. She had quite a challenge because I did not have a real crepe pan, but we ended up with some very nice crepes anyway! (guess what I want for Christmas..)
Crepes are really just a very thin eggy pancake which can be filled with various ingredients. They are very versatile because you can use them as a main dish with savory ingredients, or as a dessert with sweet ingredients such as fruit.
Here are the basic crepe ingredients:
- 2 cups of wheat or white flour (or buckwheat which is gluten free)
- 4 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
- 2 TB. of butter
- a pinch of salt
- 2 TB. sugar (only if using it just as a dessert crepe)
First mix together the flour and eggs in a large bowl. You will have a thick consistency.
Next add the milk to thin out the batter. This will make it into a much thinner batter. ( somehow I missed taking a photo of this step)
Melt a few TB. of butter in a “nonstick crepe pan” – if you have one. (If not, use a skillet as we did, although they can stick and sometimes it takes a few imperfect crepes to get it right!)
Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter into a crepe pan. Swirl and tilt the pan around until the batter evenly fills the pan. Cook over medium heat until golden brown. Use a spatula to gently lift the edges and flip it to the other side. Cook for another minute.
The crepes can be stacked on a plate and covered with foil or a towel in a warm place until needed.
Next comes the inside part. I decided to make a “fall themed” savory crepe in keeping with the season. I admit it was a little “Americanized” and had a bit of a Thanksgiving theme to it. (I guess that is on my mind these days). I am pretty sure this was not a traditional way to serve crepes, but they did taste pretty good! You really can try any savory combination you like, although I think “traditional” savory French Crepes often use ingredients like grated cheese, ham and eggs.
- 1 delicata squash unpeeled
- 2-4 shallots
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cranberries (I used half of them for the sweet crepe later)
- some fresh minced herbs (I used a trio of thyme, rosemary & sage)
- a small container of creme fraiche (or sour cream if you can’t find it)
- Thinly slice the delicata squash. (The peel is tender so you don’t need to peel it) Saute this in a skillet with a few Tb. oil or butter. After it is golden brown, remove it from the pan and saute 2-3 thinly sliced shallots. When that is golden, do the same with 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries. Add 1 – 2 Tb. of maple syrup to the cranberries and simmer until soft. Set aside.
The Herb Sauce:
- 2 Tb. of butter
- 2 TB of flour
- 1/3 cup of half & half
- salt & pepper
- minced herbs
To make the sauce, melt the butter over the stove and stir in the flour. Mix until smooth and then slowly add the half & half. Season to taste. Set this aside to pour over the filled crepes.
Now you can assemble your crepes. First I spread some creme fraiche on each crepe. Then I arranged some of the squash, shallots, cranberries and herbs over that. (You can add poached shredded chicken or turkey to this if desired).
There are various ways to roll a crepe, but I tried the “fold-over” method on these to show the ingredients better. Drizzle some of the herb sauce on top and garnish with fresh herbs and more cranberries.
For our dessert we used the same crepes, but filled them with caramelized apples.
Saute slices of apples and some cranberries in a skillet with a little butter until golden brown. (Let sit on one side to brown – do not turn too often). Add 2 TB. of maple syrup to lightly sweeten.
Spread the crepe with creme fraiche, and top with the carmelized apples and some chopped pecans or walnuts. Add a dash of cinnamon.
This time I tried another method of folding the crepes by folding them in fourths. Before serving, I drizzled them with caramel sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt.
They were so good that I tried them a different way for dinner! This time with a few more cranberries and folded in half.
I will definitely be making more crepes! There are endless ways you can serve them if you use your imagination.