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Friday, August 6, 2010

Blueberry Crepes

French delicious:

I had a dream I was in Paris, riding in a beautiful luxury car down an avenue in the late afternoon. A colonnade of champagne fountains arched streams of bubbly, ebbing down the pavement as we drove up hill amid beautiful gardens. At the top we got out and stood looking down on a twisted, gray medieval Paris in the distance with its snaky, winding Seine just visible in the sunset. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But, what I remember most were the mango trees, ripe and dripping with fruit, happily growing in the little grove on the hill top. And that was Paris. Needless to say I've never actually been to the city of lights; I think that is for the best

Be warned, these crepes are in no way pointedly traditional. In fact, any Frenchmen worth his chevre would snub these little delicacies immediately. A sweet crepe is often made with wheat flour in France and parts of Europe; ours will be using plain un-bleached all-purpose flour. I've also added a little cinnamon and vanilla extract which makes these decidedly sweet treats. But, the texture and delicacy of flavor evoke everything a good crepe should or could be: quick, versatile, filling.
  • Omit the vanilla and cinnamon and cook the crepes in butter. Fill with scrambled eggs, slices of ham and a melty, creamy cheese or anything else you're craving.
The French often enjoy a good crepe, eaten hot from a street vendor, with just a little powdered sugar or that chocolate-hazelnut spread that is so good I don't dare mention it here. These crepes will be filled with a juicy, gooey blueberry sauce thickened with cornstarch, but I decided to make it optional in case you don't have it or don't care to invest in it (disclaimer: your sauce will be thinner). Try the sauce over waffles, angel food, pound cake, ice cream or cheese cake. I added finely chopped crystallized ginger (about $3 for a small bag) but other nice variations would be:
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon, orange or even lime zest
  • replace the water with fresh orange juice
Notes: Luckily, you don't need any fancy tools to make a basic crepe. A small non-stick frying pan works perfectly. Add a little butter the pan and pour in a few tablespoons of batter. The trick is swirling the pan as soon as the batter hits the surface. Be gentle and accept that the first crepe probably won't turn out. And, if it does, the second one surely won't. Don't be discouraged; put that crepe in it's place (ie. your stomach).

Grocery List:
Cornstarch (optional)


Basic Sweet Crepe (makes 6-8):
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons milk (2% or better)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Whisk the egg, water, vanilla, cinnamon and milk in a big measuring cup (this makes it easier to pour).
2. Sift the flour and salt. Add to the egg mixture, whisking until smooth and combined. Refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.
3. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add a small slice of butter. Whisk the crepe batter until combined again (it should have thickened slightly).
4. Pour a few tablespoonfuls into the pan and swirl until the batter coats the bottom of the pan. If it appears too thick add a little water to the remaining batter and whisk.
5. Let the crepe cook for a minute to a minute and a half. Slip the edge of a knife under the crepe and lift it, flipping the uncooked side down and cooking for another 30 seconds to a minute. Try not to let the edges get cracked and papery.
6. When the crepe is cooked, remove it to a plate with waxed paper. Let it cool. Store crepes between sheets of waxed paper in the fridge for up to 2 days or (recommended) use immediately.
Blueberry Sauce (makes about 3/4 cup):
1 cup blueberries, fresh
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup cold water or juice

1/4 cup cold water 1 teaspoon corn starch, optional

1. Place blueberries and sugar (according to taste) in a saucepan. In a small bowl mix together the corn starch and cold water (1/2 cup water total if you're using the corn starch). If you aren't using corn starch just add 1/2 cup cold water or juice to the berries.
2. Turn the berries to medium heat, stirring constantly. When the berries begin to burst and the sauce thickens continue cooking for another 2 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick add another tablespoon of water or juice until you get the desired consistency.
3. Add any flavorings you like (lime or lemon peel, candied ginger etc.). Serve warm or store in the fridge.

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