Monday, February 21, 2011

Crêpes! Yes... I must be in France now

For the next five months (or so) I am going to try to share as many French recipes as I can from my fabulous host mom Estelle "la fameuse," but here is the big disclaimer: these will not always be exact recipes... They WILL be, however, very much from scratch, very organic, and very bio friendly! because she is amazing like that... They will also, of course, be very French!

So! We went on vacation to the southern French Alps last week (... yes, my life is tough like that) and between snowboarding lessons with my very cute "monitor" we ate AMAZING meals by my host mom and dad. Fondue with 4 kinds of cheese from the Alps, some crazy thing where you melt cheese and ham almost like fondue and then pour it over boiled potatoes, Pear Tarte, Caramel Creme, Marble Cake, and a bunch of peasant food that I don't remember the name of but left me scarred as I know I will probably never find it again. Yes, it was all that good.

But in the spirit of everything Jordan and I learned in High School French class - Crepes come first!!

Actually, I am starting with this because it is SO unexact, and I need to give in to the fact that I will not be able to post exact recipes for the next little while... I suggest trial and error...


There are two kinds of batter (as far as I can tell): Sweet and savory. It is easy, though, because the only difference is really sugar... unless you add fancy stuff like almond extract.

In Bretegne, the area famous for Crepes, savory crepes would be made with "blein noir," or black flour, but we didn't bother.

In a food processor:
2 eggs (give or take)
~200 g flour
~250 g milk
a few Tbsp melted butter

For sweet add some sugar, possibly some rum? yes. extracts, anyone?

The batter should be really thin, but it seems this recipe is really forgiving. Add some more milk if its too thick, and some flour if its too thin. If all else fails, you will simply have thicker or thinner crepes depending on your batter and your preferences.

The batter should be made a few hours beforehand and normally, when having a whole meal of crêpes each crepe is made individually so that they are hot, filled according to individual preference, and oh so fresh as you eat them, returning to the stove to make your second, third (and in my case) fourth and fifth crêpes.

Heat your crepe pans (yes, I think they are necessary) with medium high gas heat (i don't suggest electric stoves).

Tip: Instead of melting butter on the pan for each crepe, throw a big chunk on in the beginning but wipe it up with a paper towel. KEEP THIS GREASY PAPER TOWEL and rub down the pan with it each time you start a new crepe.

Ladle a good 3/4 a cup or so of batter onto the pan, then pick up the pan and whirl the batter till it covers the pan evenly. Add more if needed. You don't actually need that crazy spreading method with the wooden stick that the street vendors use.

It will bubble a little. Use a wooden utensil to pull up the edges, watch it bubble till you see some browning, then flip.

Add fillings, fold it onto itself as desired, either in a log or into a pizza slice, as desired.

Enjoy. Makes a crap-ton-o-crepes

Crepe ideas (mostly stolen from vendors on the road):

Savory: Ham, cheese, and crack an egg and let it cook before folding it onto itself to eat, sauteed onions

Sweet: of course, nutella, bananas, jellies and jams, or for the grandest of all options, melt some butter while still in the pan and sprinkle sugar on top, allowing it to melt before removing from the heat.

And yes, we ate a meal of the savory variety, followed by sweet crepes for desert.

Here is what happens when you don't add enough batter to the pan...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

La Crème au Caramel

La Crème. Yes, I know "cream" just means fatty milk in English, but its a whole category of desert here! Something between pudding and custard, it seems, depending on the amount of eggs and flour.

1. Wisk together one heaping tablespoon of corn starch and 1 egg

2. put 100g raw sugar in a sauce pan (or just any slightly deep, silver pan) on low-med heat and let it melt

3. pour in 1/2 liter milk. The cold milk will make the sugar (now caramel) harden on contact, so you have to stir for a little while, waiting for it to melt into the milk

4. Let the milk and sugar mixture cool down to almost room temperature and wisk in the egg/corn starch mixture

5. Reheat, stirring frequently until its hot and a little bit foamy around the edges. (if you don't let it heat/cook a bit here it probably wont firm up into crème, maybe more of a pudding at that point?.)

6. Allow to sit for a bit, refrigerate if you need to, enjoy.

*For Vanilla Crème, use 80g vanilla sugar, skip the melting of the sugar and add "a stick of vanilla." I have no idea who sells vanilla in sticks, but Estelle says its better than vanilla extract. Caramel is really just burned sugar, so you're skipping that part and adding vanilla flavor.