Sep 30, 2009
Bakespace International Taste Tour- Crepes!
For this months "Bakespace International Taste Tour", we decided to do crepes. Although I had of course heard of crepes, I had yet to attempt them myself. I dunno, they've always kind of looked intimidating to me for some reason. So I did a bit of research, then turned to youtube to obtain some general direction. I was so relieved when I found these two adorable gals, name melded "ME" (that would be, "Molly and Ellery"). They did this video for a school project and a fine job indeed! Working as a team, Ellery precisely measures and mixes the crepe batter, while Molly demonstrates how to correctly pour, swirl, and cook the crepe. They've even included the "bloopers" at the end, so be sure to watch it all the way through.
I was so impressed with their culinary skills, I thought, geez, if Molly and Ellery can do it, why can't I? While I didn't use the exact recipe as Molly and Ellery did in their video (and I didn't have the fancy crepe pan that they did), I was inspired to come up with a couple of tasty versions of my own, that surprisingly, did indeed pass as crepes. In fact, according to hubby, they were pretty darn tasty.
I created two versions; one being a savory crepe stuffed with Italian Sausage, peppers, onions and cheese and topped with Marinara Sauce, and the other being a sweetened dessert crepe, stuffed with bananas, pastry cream and Nutella. But before the stuffin' could commence, I had to tackle my fears and get the crepes done.
Basic Crepe Batter
1 C milk (plus 2-3 tbsp if necessary)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 C flour
dash of salt
Gently warm the milk and the butter in a saucepan or heat in the microwave. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then create a well. Place the two eggs into the well and begin whisking, pulling in a bit of flour at a time until a paste is formed. Next, start whisking in the milk mixture, pouring a little at a time, until eventually all of the milk and flour is incorporated, creating a smooth, lump free, thin batter. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of milk (I did) in order to get the right consistency.
Note: If you want a sweet crepe batter, just add in 2 Tbsp sugar with the flour and salt, and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the milk mixture.
Alternatively, you could just throw the whole shebang into a food processor or blender, mix it all up at once and call it a day. However, then you'd just have to wash the extra dishes, and besides, I was feeling particularly confident and French pastry chef like (sans the accent)...so I mixed it the fancy way. ;) Ok, next, most recipes instruct you to refrigerate the batter for at least half an hour. Some tell you to use the batter immediately. Well I tested both methods, letting one batch rest in the fridge, and used one batch right away, and quite frankly, I couldn't tell the difference in texture.
I didn't have a crepe pan, plus, I knew I wanted to fold/roll my crepes "burrito" style, so I used my large 12" Teflon coated pan. Be sure the skillet is set on med heat and hot before you begin. Hold the pan up in one hand, while you ladle in only just enough batter to swirl and coat the bottom of your pan size. Let the crepe cook until the top goes from shiny to dry and the bottom is lightly browned. (only takes a few minutes) Then I used a pliable,heatproof, flat spatula to loosen the sides then gently flip over and recenter the crepe in the pan. It all sounds complicated but actually it was kind of fun.
When done, slide your crepe onto paper towels, or parchment paper, and allow them to cool before stacking them. Now I was ready to get the sauce on to allow it to simmer while I made the filling. I don't really measure for this, but here's the jest of it.
1 C roasted tomatoes, chopped (I make my own, but you could use canned crushed tomatoes)
1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning (I use a blend of oregano, basil and thyme)
1 Tbsp of sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
drizzle of olive oil
salt to taste
On medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil, only for a few minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and season with salt to taste. Heat until mixture starts to bubble, then reduce and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, I used about 5 Sweet Italian Sausages (brats), squeezed them from their casings, and browned the sausage. Drain on paper towels and crumble. Next I added onion and peppers to the pan and cooked until just soft. Add back in the sausage and keep warm. At this point, I was afraid of my crepes getting soggy, so I left it as is. Hind site, I could have added in just a little bit of the marinara sauce to the sausage filling.
Next, I spooned some of the sausage mixture into each crepe and sprinkled on some grated (fresh) mozzarella. I tucked in the side and rolled them up (burrito style) and placed them into a 13x9 glass baking dish.
I spooned some of the marinara sauce over the tops, again, being careful not to use too much so that the crepes wouldn't get soggy. Then I sprinkled with more mozzarella and a bit of Italian herbs. I baked it in a 375F oven for only about 20-25 min, only enough for the cheese to melt. I served the rest of the marinara sauce on the side. I must say, it was a huge hit. We all loved this dish. The texture of the crepes were perfect and the flavors, well, ya just can't go wrong with a pepper, sausage and onion combination, right? The only change I would make is, as mentioned, mix a bit of the sauce in with the filling.
Ok, so next it was time for dessert. I made the sweet version of the crepes ahead of time, when I was making the savory ones. I just wrapped them and put them in the fridge until it was time to put them all together. For the filling, I loaded up a zip lock baggy with Nutella, cut off one little corner and pipped it onto the crepe. Then, I had every intention on making a pastry cream from scratch, really I did but I totally cheated and took the easy route and spooned on an instant vanilla pudding (much to the fam's horror and disbelief). I won hubby back over by slicing a banana, then rolled it up. Topped them with more heavenly Nutella and some whipped cream.
They were absolutely awesome, if I do say so myself. However, I WILL go through the trouble of making the pastry cream next time. My snobby taste buds felt cheated and the instant pudding fell a little "flat" and was well....blech. Crepes deserve better. But hey, at least the Nutella made up for it, for sure!
So a huge hug to my bakespace buddies for once again, turning me on to something I wouldn't otherwise have tried. A huge thanks to Molly and Ellery as well, for giving me the confidence to give crepes a whirl...or should that be "swirl"?
Now, jet on over and see what my beeps were able to come up with. To continue the International Taste Tour, use the clickable map below to visit their websites and see what other crepes my buddies are cookin'! You can either click on the names at the left, or click on the fork and knives in the map, then click on the pic to view their recipes and blogs. If you're interested, head on over to the bakespace.com forums and join in on the fun!