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Crêpier

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Every man's man has to have at least one thing he cooks -- something he brags about and is known for, at least in the family. My dad made "hash" which was a mixture of corned beef hash from a can, pan fried leftover baked potato from the night before, and sometimes, onion. Many men are known for their waffles or their pancakes, and some are known for their Sunday fry ups. Well, let me tell you about the moment I knew I would make crêpes my signature dish.

Crêpier

Savory Crêpes

Around six years ago, I attended a Bastille Day up in Bethesda, MD, and there was a crêpe stand. I had eaten a metric tonne of jambon et fromage crêpes while I was in Paris, but this was a time when I was living with Martha Stewart. I owned Wüsthof knives and a Kitchen Aid mixer and a couple Cuisinarts. I eyed stainless All-Clad at one point more than I was eyeballing Porsches. So here we are, Michelle "Martha" Nolan and I, at a phalanx of crêpe-makers. Crêpiers. They used austere steel pans and floppy flexible spatulas. And they took ladles of runny batter and poured them into sizzling blackened bare steel pans.

I went out to William-Sonoma and bought a pan, a spatula, and a book, Crepes: Sweet & Savory Recipes for the Home Cook, which is battered and broken but has served me very well over the years even though I basically use only one recipe from it, which is the recipe for the savoury crêpe. With that simple recipe I have hosted parties, I made desert, breakfast, and dinner.

I have wooed women and have made friends. I have also impressed based o­n the simple formula: people love seeing someone do something masterfully. I make crepes masterfully.

Seasoned carbon blue steel crepe pansOver the years, I have bought many a crepe pan. I love to season them, use them for a couple months until the steel attains a natural non-stick surface, and then give them away to friends as gifts. People love them, although they rarely use them. After they are thoroughly seasoned they are beautiful and timeless. When they are seasoned, they are never again washed with soap. Grime and gritty bits are rubbed off with salt and a brush.

Then I buy more. I recommend the 9 1/2" Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Crepe Pan, which is the one you should get. When you bring it home, scrub it well with soap and hot water, to remove the protective surface. Then put it o­n the range under high heat to dry it off. Next, pour some olive oil into the pan when it is dry and turn off the heat. Pour enough in to coat the bottom of the pan. Turn o­n the oven to 350F. When the oils cools, take a rag or a tea towel and rub the entire pan with the oil. Put the oiled pan in a 300F-350F oven for about an hour. Be sure to let the pan cool before touching it. I suggest using olive oil, but other people recommend peanut oil and the traditional way way to use lard, which I will surely try next time out. Don't buy a blue steel pan, I am not pleased with them. Get the pan I recommend above and you should be good to go. Good luck and I will include my favorite and only recipe below for your enjoyment.

Savory Crepes

Gruyère cheese crepe on a seasoned carbon blue steel crepe pansThese versatile, multipurpose crepes, and the variations that follow, are great for savory fillings. Keep a stack o­n hand in the freezer for unexpected guests. The crêpes will quickly defrost at room temperature, then separate with ease.

It takes just 2 or 3 teaspoons of butter to coat the pan for a batch of crepes. A paper butter wrapper with a small amount of butter o­n it is a fast way to achieve this. For health reasons, if you prefer you may use 2 tablespoons canola, safflower, or olive oil in the savory crepe batter instead of melted butter, but the flavor will be slightly different. Oil may also be used to coat the pan, but butter is preferable for its browning effect.

2 large eggs 1 cup milk 1/3 cup water 1 cup all-purpose flour, preferably bleached 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 or 3 teaspoons butter for coating the pan

In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, milk, water, flour, salt, and the 2 tablespoons melted butter for 5 seconds, or until smooth. Stir down and repeat if necessary. Or, to mix by hand, sift the flour into a medium bowl and add the salt. Whisk the eggs until blended, mix in the milk and water, and whisk this mixture into the flour and salt; stir in the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (though 2 hours is preferable) or up to 24 hours.

Seasoned carbon blue steel crepe pansGently stir the batter if it has separated. Heat a seasoned 6- or 7-inch nonstick crêpe pan over medium-high heat until hot. (Use a 9- or 10-inch pan for larger crêpes.) Coat the pan lightly with butter, lift the pan from the heat, and pour in 2 or 3 tablespoons of batter for a 6- or 7-inch pan, or about 1/4 cup for a 9- or 10-inch pan, tilting and rotating the pan to coat the surface. Cook until almost dry o­n top and lightly browned o­n the edges, about 1 minute. Loosen the edges with a metal spatula and flip the crêpe over using your fingers or the spatula, then cook the other side for about 15 seconds, or until lightly browned. Turn the crêpe out o­nto a clean tea towel to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, wiping the pan with butter as needed and stacking the crêpes as they are cooked.

For serving immediately, cover the crêpes with aluminum foil and keep them warm in a preheated 200 degree F oven. For serving later, wrap them in plastic wrap in quantities intended for each use and slip them in a self-sealing plastic bag. Refrigerate crêpes for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 2 months.

Herb Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe and add 1/4 cup minced fresh chives, basil, or flat-leaf parsley to the batter while blending it. Or, for pale green mixed-herb crêpes, use 1/2 cup mixed minced fresh chives, green o­nion tops, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, marjoram, and basil.

Sun-Dried Tomato Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe and add 1/4 minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes to the batter while blending it.

Plate full of savoury crepes made of refined wheat flourBlue Cornmeal Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup blue cornmeal.

Buckwheat Galettes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup buckwheat flour.

Corn Flour Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup corn flour (which is more finely ground than cornmeal).

Cornstarch Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup cornstarch and add 1/8 teaspoon baking soda.

Garbanzo Flour Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup garbanzo flour and 1/2 cup chestnut flour.

Chestnut-Garbanzo Flour Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup garbanzo flour and 1/2 cup chestnut flour.

The perfect crepe breakfast with Gruyère cheese and Sriracha sauce and coffeeWhole-Wheat Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup whole-wheat flour or 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour, or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour.

Chestnut Flour Crepes: Follow the savory crepe recipe, but replace the 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup chestnut flour.

Reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved. Nutrition Facts Makes eighteen 6- or 7-inch crepes,

Facts per Serving Calories:52 Fat:2g Carbohydrates:6g Cholesterol:28mg Sodium:46mg Protein:2g Fiber:0g % Cal. from Fat:35% % Cal. from Carbs:46%

Source: Crepes: Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Home Cook

Dec 15, 2004 12:00 AM