30 January 2012

What happened to the pancakes!?

My husband loves pancakes!  It's no surprise why - as he makes delicious whole-wheat cinnamon pancakes.  Every so often, he gets the urge and treats us to a pancake breakfast with a smorgasbord of toppings - homemade jam, crabapple jelly, local honey, the ever-present Québec maple syrup, and for him, pure,unadulterated, nothing-but-nuts peanut butter we get in bulk.  To my knowledge, the only breakfast he likes better than pancakes is burritos (and that's for a different post).

So imagine my curiosity when he decided to make something else for brunch Saturday morning.  We weren't having company over, and we had all the time in the world.  It could have been a grand biscuits-and-gravy morning, something more Mexican-themed, or pancakes.  Instead, he pulled "Julia Child" off the shelf, and a while later I heard the blender running.

We usually work together in the kitchen, but when he is whipping up breakfast, I tend to settle in with a cup of something hot, and do some idea-snacking on blogs or the BBC news website.  Which is exactly what happened.  Eventually, a sample, fresh off the pan, waltzed in and melted in my mouth.  It was light-weight, supple and loaded with buttery "mmm....".

C r ê p e s !

We ate our fill of them, slathered with rhubarb jam, filled with peanut butter and honey, and wrapped around a drizzle of maple syrup and home-canned peaches.  We maxed out the toppings options, and even tried fresh Parmesan cheese with a drip-drop or two of maple syrup.  Every one was divine, delicate, straight-out-of-the-pan warm, and a blank canvas for innovation.

As some readers know, one of us has a sweet tooth - he makes pancakes, crêpes, etc.  One of us prefers the savory side of breakfast, hands down, every time.  I had to try something sans sugar for the last bites, and hit the jackpot!  Hot crêpe, grated Parmesan, sprinkle of spicy mixed greens, tiny shavings of ham, fresh ground pepper, and a drizzle of left-over balsamic-mustard vinaigrette.  Ohhhh...wow!

I am not sure if he meant it, but I heard Sweet Tooth say, "I'm making crêpes, not pancakes, from now on!"  If you want in on the fun, here's the recipe.  I was told he followed to the "T", which is advisable - it was the first time.  NOTE: The key "ingredient" is a good pan or other cooking surface - you may be sorely disappointed without it.

Bon appetit!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking (pg.190)
Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck
For about 20-25 crêpes, 6-6.5 inches in diameter

Pâte à Crêpes (batter) Ingredients

  • 1 C. cold water
  • 1 C. cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 4 T melted butter
Mixing Batter
  • Put liquids, eggs, and salt into blender.  Add flour, then the butter.  
  • Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute.  If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber spatula and blend 2-3 mores seconds.  
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  (Okay, not quite to a "T" - we did't wait.)
NOTE: The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.  If, after making your first crêpe, it seems to heavy, beat in a  bit of water, a spoonful at a time.  

Cooking Crêpes
  • Materials: iron skillet or crêpe pan with 6 1/2-7 inch diameter bottom; oil or pork fat
  • Rub skillet with fat or brush lightly with oil.
  • Set over moderately high heat until pan is just beginning to smoke. 
  • Immediately remove from heat, and pour a scant 1/4 C. batter into middle of the pan.  Quickly tilt pan in all directions to run batter all over bottom of pan in a thin film.  Pour an batter that does not adhere back into the remaining batter.  Should take 2-3 seconds to do all of this.
  • Return to heat for 60-80 seconds, then jerk pan a bit to loosen edges of crêpe.  Lift edges, and if browned, flip quickly.
  • Cook for another 30 seconds, until nicely browned.
  • First crêpe, test crêpe - check the consistency of the batter, the amount you need for a crêpe, and the heat of the pan.  Your cooked crêpe should be about 1/16th inch thick.
  • Our large non-stick skillet has sloped sides (like a shallow wok), and worked quite well for this, without any oil.
  • Crêpes can be kept warm prior to serving (use warm setting of toaster oven or oven), or cooled and re-heated for use later.  According to the recipe, crêpes can even be frozen and thawed with no loss to texture!


LisaKona said...

Wonderful! You are both so cute!

M said...

Ahhhh... Bienvenue dans le monde réel ! :)

Avec un titre pareil, je n'ai pas pu m'empêcher de venir jeter un œil. Il existe en fait autant de recettes de crêpes que de Français (et convertis) sur cette planète. C'est d'ailleurs ce qui fait la beauté de la chose !

Il te manque en revanche le point le plus important : le sauté de crêpes. Et oui, pour suivre scrupuleusement la recette des crêpes à la française, c'est n'est pas simplement d'un basique retourné de crêpes dont il s'agit... Il faut garder beaucoup d'élasticité dans le poignet pour donner une belle ampleur au mouvement, afin que la crêpe jaillisse en une belle parabole avant de retomber délicatement dans la poêle. Évidemment, une belle poêle en fonte (bien qu'idéale pour assurer la cuisson parfaite des crêpes) n'est pas recommandée pour les mous du poignet. Les meilleurs spécialistes réalisent des triples sauts périlleux sans problème (parait-il que le goût de la crêpe en ressort encore amélioré).

Quelques petites notes : si l'on veut rendre la pâte moins riche, ton homme peut sans problème enlever 1 œuf et remplacer le beurre par une cuillerée à soupe d'huile (mais les Bretons, référence en la matière, insisteront pour dire que le beurre, c'est la force, à condition qu'il soit salé). Tu peux aussi remplacer tout ou partie du liquide par de la bière, pour avoir des crêpes très légères ! L'ingrédient ultime se trouve être l'eau de fleur d'oranger : 2 cuillères à soupe et tes crêpes auront un je ne sais quoi de dépaysant... (pour varier, tu peux aussi utiliser du rhum ou du Grand Marnier...).

Et pour les amateurs de mets salés, je ne saurais trop te conseiller de préparer des galettes bretonnes (les Bretons, référence en la matière, te diront qu'on ne mange pas du salé sur une crêpe...). C'est encore plus simple à préparer : 1 œuf, 250 g de farine de sarrasin (blé noir), 1 cuillerée à café de sel, 70 cL d'eau, tu mélanges tout et c'est prêt ! C'est exceptionnel recouvert d'une tranche de jambon saupoudrée de gruyère râpé, avec une rasade de crème et du poivre... Ma préférée : beurre salé et sucre (oui, on a par contre tout à fait le droit de mettre du sucré sur une galette ;) ).

Au fait : aucune personne sensée n'attend que la pâte repose pendant une heure :D
Miam !

PS : là où ça devient drôle, c'est que ma charmante épouse a récemment fait le chemin inverse, des crêpes au pancakes, qu'elle me donne la joie de préparer pour nos brunchs du samedi :)

AnnOnandOn said...

What's this "no friends coming over"? You know...we can get there in less than 1/2 hour.

I love how you tried them with everything but the kitchen sink. :)

fruit.root.leaf. said...

Funny thing, we inadvertently did this just in time for "La chandeleur" (Candlemas), which the French evidently always celebrate with crêpes. Here's a link to more info on the holiday, if you were as curious as we were: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presentation_of_Jesus_at_the_Temple

Sarah Merkle said...

You guys are so awesome! I'm drooling over the food pics and descriptions :)

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