The first time I ever had a crepe was my sophomore year of high school, in the second year of my attempt to learn French. We were celebrating a French holiday, although which holiday I don’t recall. Laid out on a table were crepe fillings, both savory and sweet. At the end of the table was a portable burner were the crepes were to be made in a small, thin crepe pan, blackened from years of use. I watched my teacher pour the thin, cream colored batter into the pan and gently swirl it, making the perfect thin layer. As it cooked the smell of butter filled the room as she delicately pulled back the edges of the crepe, before flipping it over. She made crepe after crepe, piling one atop another, all the while telling us the history of this French delicacy and how to enjoy it. At the end of class she handed out a recipe that included not only the ingredients, but instructions on how to make them at home.
A few days later, I attempted to make crepes of my own in the small kitchen of our house. It’s a bit of a long, frustrating tale so let me just say that my crepes turned out nothing like the romantic versions of my teacher. Out of an entire bowl of batter I think I may have managed to make only one successfully.
Many years later I still find that making crepes is a lesson in patience. I almost always botch the first couple before I remember to slow down, take a deep breath and let go. The key is to wait until the edges begin to pull away from the pan. Then gently run a knife or spatula underneath to loosen it before flipping. Slowing down and remembering these steps I am always rewarded with a successful crepe.
Last year I made crepes for our midday Easter meal. I wanted something different, light and versatile. We had a sweet filling of chocolate hazelnut spread and fresh berries that my boys loved. There was also a savory filling of gorgeous spring vegetables that I threw together in a skillet for a quick sauté, topped with basil pesto and shavings of parmesan cheese.
Whole Wheat Crepes
makes 8-10 crepes
1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water to thin, if needed
Additional melted butter or oil for skillet
Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat a skillet using medium heat, lightly coat with melted butter to prevent sticking. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet. Tilt pan in a circular motion to coat surface evenly. Cook crepe for 2-3 minutes until edges are pulling away from pan and cooked side is golden brown. Loosen with spatula and flip to cook other side.
Extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
handful of snap peas or 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
1 box sliced mushrooms
2 generous handfuls of spinach
2 teaspoons thyme, leaves removed from stems
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic, leeks, mushrooms and asparagus. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until leeks are tender and asparagus begins to turn vibrant green. Add in peas/snap peas, thyme and handfuls of spinach. Continue cooking until spinach is just beginning to wilt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add filling to crepes will still warm topped with basil pesto and shaved parmesan.