Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crepe Sunday: A Day without Tempeh

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A great chunk of my childhood was spent wrestling with chickpeas, brown rice and nori shavings. Macrobiotic breakfasts, macrobiotic bagged lunches and macrobiotic family dinners. I’d negotiate at elementary school lunchtime with my milk money for anything with an ounce of sugar or with a smidge of trans fat. My woes are illustrated in a well-worn family tale. One day my father invited one of his students for dinner. The student was very interested in partaking in a gourmet macrobiotic meal, something for which my mother was famous. Said student oohed and aahed over the grilled tempeh and sesame seed laced short grain organic brown rice festooned with a dollop of lentil stew. “I could eat this for hours and hours,” she exclaimed. To which my 9 year old smart ass responded, “And you’d be spending a commensurate amount of hours on the toilet.”

Sunday mornings, however, saw a decided change in culinary course. My mother made crepes. With white flour. And eggs. And whole milk. And butter. And maple syrup. On the most sacred of crepe mornings, she’d break out a jar of Nutella to dollop upon her tender French pancakes. Oh blessed day of tasty goodness, I was a happy girl for a few minutes on that day of rest.

Crepes are simple yet can fail due to technical error. Making the batter is effortless, just put

1 cup whole milk

½ cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla (I use 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, which is a lovely way to add vanilla beans and that wonderful vanilla fabulousness to anything)

4 tablespoons melted butter

a tablespoon of agave syrup
into a blender.

Blitz until combined. I follow Alton Brown’s rule to let the batter rest for a bit in the fridge to dissipate bubbles but what I’ll often find is that the batter isn’t fluid enough. It should pour from the blender rather easily and you should be able to quickly swirl the batter around the pan to create an even layer of batter over the hot pan. So I’ll just pour in a bit of extra milk to loosen it up. I melt extra butter, around ¼ of a stick, and coat a warm pan with just enough to make the surface glisten but not so much that there’s butter floating about. It’s critical that the pan is warm so the batter moves about easily to form an even layer. I cook crepes just between low and medium heat, never allowing the bottom to brown. And I don’t flip. I just make sure that the batter is cooked through by poking at the crepe to make sure there’s no moisture left. Fold gently onto a plate and add a dash of maple syrup. If you’re the crepe maker, you’ll likely not have much time to partake in your own creation. You’ll be a slave to the pan and batter but rest assured the recipients of your buttery crepes will be forever thankful to you for such a lovely Sunday morning treat.
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