& COOKING ARTICLE
traveling through northwestern France especially
in Brittany, but also in Normandy every town
or village seems to have at least one crêperie.
Not the sidewalk stands as found on the streets of Paris,
but a real come-in-and-sit-down restaurant. And just
as one walks into a pizzeria in other parts of France
and orders a basic pizza with a multitude of possible
combinations of toppings the same is true with
ordering a crêpe at one of these restaurants.
Whether the menu lists the possible combinations generically
or with fanciful names for each possibility, the customer
can choose to have a crêpe as the center of a
full meal, a simple snack, a luscious dessert, or a
combination of the above.
fancier restaurants in France, a crêpe may be
used to package exotic fillings with the crêpe
tied with a piece of chive or leek to form purse-like
bags or folded to form faux ravioli. At the three-star
Restaurant Georges Blanc in Vonnas, small blini-like
crêpes made of potato are served as a side dish.
The preparation is purported to originate with the chefs
grandmother. (Theyre quite nice for sopping up
come in both sweet and savory forms. A selection of
each type is presented in this article. The savory crêpes
can make a complete, simple meal when served with a
simple salad on the side, or make great snacks. Some
of the fancier savory preparations are suitable to serve
as a first course in a larger meal.
sweet crêpes are usually served for dessert, but
they are often suitable for snacks.
are usually made out of all-purpose wheat flour, buckwheat
flour, or a combination of the two. Other flours are
also used on occasion to achieve a certain taste or
effect, but these crêpes are less common. On occasion,
the term crêpe will be applied to
other preparations served in the form of a crêpe.
each of the recipes presented in this article contains
its own crêpe batter recipe, the preparation of
the batter is essentially the same. The dry ingredients
are mixed together. The egg is then thoroughly mixed,
using a wooden spoon or spatula, with the dry ingredients.
This creates a stiff paste. The liquid ingredients are
then slowly added to this paste to first loosen it,
and finally to dilute it to a batter consistency. At
this point, I usually switch from a wooden spoon to
a whisk to speed up the mixing. When mixed, the batter
is allowed to rest so the flour swells completely. Before
using, it may be necessary to dilute the batter further
because sometimes it will thicken as it rests. This
method of preparing a batter is in contrast to the manner
of preparing a standard American pancake batter where
the dry ingredients are added to the wet ingredients
and everything is mixed together.
crêpe batter recipe is only a guide. The consistency
of the batter will vary with the weather, age of the
flour used, and time allowed for resting. With a little
experience, it is possible to judge the consistency
after the batter has rested and to dilute it with a
little water, milk, or cider, depending on the recipe.
One way to judge the batter is to make a test crêpe
to see how thick the cooked crêpe will be. This
can also be helpful for the beginning crêpe chef
to judge the proper heat to use for cooking the crêpe.
the recipes presented, various size crêpes are
required. These can easily be prepared in nonstick frying
pans or with a pan designed specifically for crêpe
preparation. These crêpe pans are available with
a nonstick surface or with a plain surface that requires
seasoning. If youre lucky enough to have a real
French, gas-fired crêpe stove thats
even better. However, I would avoid the self-heating
gadget-type crêpe pans popular in the 1960s because
they are designed for making only one size of crêpe.
turn a batch of batter into crêpes that are consistently
the same size, I use a ladle for adding the batter to
the crêpe pan. Restaurant supply stores sell inexpensive
portion control ladles that make it easy to consistently
create the same size crêpe. For a 6-inch diameter
crêpe I use a 30 ml (1 oz) ladle; for a 7-inch
diameter crêpe, a 60 ml (2 oz) ladle; for a 10-inch
diameter crêpe, a 90 ml (3 oz) ladle; and for
a 12-inch diameter crêpe, a 120 ml (4 oz) ladle.
youve ever had a crêpe from one of the many
sidewalk crêpe stands in Paris, youve seen
the batter spread on the cooking surface with a wooden
squeegee. For most home use, this device is too large.
Ive found that a plastic scraper can be used in
a similar manner to produce the same effect. I use the
narrow end of the scraper to spread the batter to the
size of crêpe that I plan to make. This is especially
helpful for larger crêpes. With small, thin crêpes
it is often sufficient to tilt the pan to spread the
batter. Thinner batters are easier to spread by tilting
than thicker batters. The Paris vendors often use a
wooden spatula for flipping the crêpe. I have
found that when using a nonstick pan, it is only necessary
to lift one edge of the crêpe with a plastic spatula
so I can lift the whole crêpe with my fingers
and flip it. The crêpe is hot, but not too hot
I stated earlier, judging the proper heat to use for
cooking the crêpes comes with experience. The
telltale sign I use to know when to flip the crêpe
from the first side to the second is when the edges
start to crisp and brown slightly. When making a particular
crêpe batter for the first time, it helps to prepare
a little extra batter so the first one or two crêpes
can be used for adjusting the heat.
this article has made your mouth water too, then visit
Peter's web site
and look under the Archive section for this article
where you will find the links to other egg recipes.
article comes from the web site of Peter Hertzmann,
la carte. This is one of the finest web sites I have
most of us are keen amateurs who love to dabble, Peter
is truly dedicated to the pursuit of his interest in
and love of cooking. If his web site was to be published
as a book I would be first in line to buy a copy!
is à la carte about? This is best described in
Peter's own words:
obsessive. All my life, when something interested me,
I became obsessed with it. I learned all I could about
it. I lived it! .
. . Ive been obsessive about food as long as I
can remember. I am now obsessive with French cookery
- its preparation, materials, history, politics, and
learn more why not visit the à la carte web site
Peter Hertzmann Inc, 2001
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