What is a crêpe (pronounced with a hard “ep”, not “ape”) and where did it come from?
A crêpe is a feather-light, thin pancake that originated in France. A staple in France, crêpes are sold in restaurants, creperies and from street vendors all over the country. Paris, especially, has crêpe carts in neighborhoods serving up a quick lunch or snack on the go. Think of hot dogs served from street carts in our country or street tacos in Mexico.
The humble crêpe can be filled with savory fillings like creamed chicken, spinach or ham and cheese; sweet fillings like Nutella, lemon and sugar or berries and cream. It can be dressed “to the nines” infused with orange liqueur and brandy, then flamed creating the famous dessert, Crêpes Suzette. Monday is National Crêpes Suzette Day.
The French staple is not just a diverse and inexpensive meal, but also has cultural significance. In France, February 2, is know as “les jour des crêpes,” a day when families enjoy crêpes together.
How did crêpes and crêpe making come about at Central Christian Church? The March meeting of Disciples Women found itself without a luncheon hostess. Fearing disappointment from the women of the church, Ken took the duty of a pastor a step farther and offered to literally feed the flock.
Ken prepared and served lunch to the ladies. Most were familiar with Ken’s culinary skills (he is twice winner of the annual Central Chili Cook-Off) but the March diners were really wowed when he finished the luncheon with strawberry filled crêpes, topped with crème and shaved chocolate.
The March lunch was the inspiration for Saturday morning’s “hands-on” cooking class.
Several batters were used in preparing the crêpes and a variety of toppings and fillings, both sweet and savory were served to accompany the finished product. Strawberries and whipped cream, Nutella, blueberries and crème fraiche along with Russel Church’s savory filling of mushrooms, spinach, leeks and thyme.
Following the class everyone sat down to a brunch of coffee, juice, eggs, bacon and the star of the morning’s menu— crêpes.
Alton Brown’s Foolproof Recipe.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
Martha Stewart’s Simple Crêpes
1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 T unsalted butter, melted
In a blender, puree flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, and butter until smooth, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 1 day; stir for a few seconds before using.
Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium. Lightly coat with butter. Quickly pour 1/4 cup batter into center of skillet, tilting and swirling pan until batter evenly coats bottom. Cook until crepe is golden in places on bottom and edges begin to lift from pan, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Lift one edge of crepe with an offset spatula, then use your fingers to gently flip crepe. Cook on second side until just set and golden in places on bottom, about 45 seconds. Slide crepe onto a paper towel-lined plate.
Repeat with remaining batter, coating pan with more butter as needed, and stacking crepes directly on top of one another. Let cool to room temperature before using, wrapping in plastic wrap and refrigerating up to 5 days, or freezing up to 1 month.
What better way to say “Happy Mother’s Day” than to gather in the church kitchen sharing cooking skills and enjoying brunch together.