I ate my first crepe in 1999. My two friends and I were sophomores in college and, during winter break, we took a jaunt across the pond to be complete idiots in London. For a week and a half, we drank tall pints of cold beers and huddled around kebab shops after the pubs closed at night. We stifled giggles while chatting with a man in the breakfast room of our hostel who wore nothing but a sweater as pants, his twiggy calves shoved into the sleeves with the nubby, cable-knit turtleneck dangling under his crotch, as if it were totally normal to substitute bottoms with tops as nonchalantly as one might put socks on either foot. On the day we were supposed to see Parliament and Buckingham Palace, instead we ran around Notting Hill looking for a house with a blue door while yelling “I’m just a girl … standing in front of a boy … asking him to love her!” Repeatedly, I might add.
It was a glorious trip. (Also, I’m pretty sure my poor mom’s eyes are bleeding right now, because she probably still thinks I had a “marvelously cultural and life-enriching experience.” Sorry, Mom. It was marvelous, but none of the latter.)
Anyway, because we were pinching our pennies for more important things like beer and late-night meats on sticks, for lunch one day we found a crepe cart offering just the ticket for starving yet elitist ne’er-do-wells like ourselves. I’d heard of crepes before but never had one, and so with my limited pence I ordered a suzette, the simplest kind with just a smattering of powdered sugar and squeezes of fresh lemon juice. My first revelation: crepes are just really thin pancakes. My second: I can see myself having a long relationship with them.
Fast forward to present day, where, seven months into our existence here in the DC suburbs, there’s crepes happening on a regular basis at our house, especially whenever we have friends coming over. My family discovered the CucinaPro Cordless Crepe Maker a few years ago when my sister Angel took my parents and other sister to a crepe party. The hosts set up several of these little griddles set up and an array of toppings. Since then, my family always has a crepe morning the day after a big meal, whether it’s Thanksgiving postmortem or right after we’ve run a 10K and roasted a pig.
Making crepes with the CucinaPro is easy. I use Alton Brown’s foolproof crepe batter recipe, but I have to triple this recipe to have enough batter to feed a party of 10-12. I make the batter first thing in the morning to give it time to settle. The key to a good crepe is the lack of air bubbles in the batter, and there’s usually a fair amount of froth capping the batter from having to swirl all of the batter ingredients in a food processor.
The batter, as you’ve probably surmised by now, is really just a conduit. Much like a waffle or pancake, which can transform from just another flour-based cake into a magical creation smothered in chocolate, nuts, fruit and syrup, crepes are only as good as the toppings that are layered onto it. Unlike a pancake or waffle, the thin, delicate weight of a crepe allows for two wonderful developments in the world of turbo-eating (which is what I call taking out a whole load of food and just eating and eating and eating). First of all, crepes are thin enough that savory ingredients can also get neatly bundled up around a semi-crisp layer of carbs, resulting in a flavor explosion of meat, cheese and veggies akin to a sandwich without the bulk. Secondly, the thinness of crepes allows for the consumption of multiples. This is important to turbo-eaters like myself because it means I can eat lots of different kinds of crepes without having to tap out early and mourn my inability to try all of the different toppings available.
I always make a smorgasbord of toppings. At our last crepe morning, I deep-fried some cornmeal oysters. We had smoked salmon and prosciutto and goat cheese and shredded Comte cheese. I mixed up some whipped cream, which sat smugly in a bowl next to four different types of fresh berries. There was fresh spinach next to diced tomatoes and bacon. Of course, Nutella was there. There’s always room for Nutella.
Not surprisingly, when you have hot griddles sitting out in the open for several hours on a weekend morning along with around a dozen gourmet ingredients, things start to get a little weird. The last time our crepe morning went sideways, the hubby pulled out some leftover prime rib from our Thanksgiving postmortem dinner and started searing slices on the hot griddle of the CucinaPro.
“Voila!” he exclaimed with a flourish as he lifted each meaty hunk from the griddle with the chopsticks he was using as impromptu tongs. The reactivated meat was juicy and triumphantly medium-rare. He’d picked only the rarest bits for his hacked use. “Instant bulgogi!”
My family, rejuvenated by this newfound use for the CucinaPro, clamored around the steaming griddles, poking fingers at the prime rib to get at the best parts. A new process was invented: sear meat, remove from griddle, wipe clean, dip griddle in batter and make crepe, top with seared meat. Repeat.
Korean barbecue aside, one product of these never-ending afternoons of griddle play is that we’ve developed some interesting new combinations for crepes, three of which I’ve posted here. I’m not sure of many things in this life, but one thing I know is that when it comes to these three combos, you can’t go wrong.
Alternatively, you could just get the CucinaPro for your small-scale meat searing needs. I hear it’s great for that, too.
Note: I was not paid or provided with a CucinaPro Cordless Crepe maker in exchange for writing this post. I just really, really like to make crepes.
- 6 large eggs
- 2¼ cups milk
- 1½ cups water
- 3 cups flour
- 9 tablespoons butter
- Nonstick cooking spray
- In a small saucepan with a heavy bottom, melt butter over medium-low heat.
- In a large food processor, add butter, milk, water and butter and pulse for 5 seconds. Pour half of the liquid mixture into a large pitcher.
- Add flour and pulse for 10 seconds until well blended.
- Pour the blended mixture into the pitcher and stir a few times to incorporate. Pour as much of the batter that will comfortably fill the food processor without overflowing and pulse again for 5 seconds.
- Pour the re-blended mixture back into the pitcher and stir a few more times, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour but ideally for 2-3 hours.
- If using a cordless crepe maker, pour enough batter into the dipping tray to dip and coat the griddle with batter. Cook the crepes according to the crepe maker instructions, coating the surface with nonstick cooking spray as necessary.
- Makes enough crepes to serve at least 10 adults.
- Note: cook time is per crepe.
- Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/crepes-recipe.html?oc=linkback
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups shredded Comte cheese (power move: use chèvre)
- 1 2-pint container of fresh shucked oysters in their own liquor
- 1 pint buttermilk
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Canola oil, for fryer
- Pour buttermilk in a small glass bowl.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour and cornmeal until well blended.
- Remove oysters from liquor, gently wiping them along the sides of the container so that the oysters drain from their liquor but are not dripping.
- Place all of the oysters in buttermilk.
- One at a time, remove each oyster from the buttermilk, wiping them again along the sides of the container to drain.
- Toss the oyster in the cornmeal mixture and place on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet until all of the oysters are breaded.
- In a heavy cast iron pot with high sides, heat canola oil over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Fry the oysters in batches (around 6 at a time) until the crust on the outside turns golden-brown, approximately 90 seconds.
- Remove oysters and let drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Return oil to 350 degrees and fry the next batch.
- Prepare crepes (either using a cordless crepe maker or a crepe pan). While the crepe is slightly set but not yet completely cooked through, sprinkle surface with shredded cheese and cook until the cheese is slightly melted. Top with fresh raw baby spinach and let the crepe and spinach cook together so that the spinach wilts slightly. Lastly, top with oysters and fold crepe over.
- Serve immediately.
Note: the method for frying oysters is based on this Garden & Gun recipe.
- 1 crepe (recipe above)
- ¼ cup blackberries
- powdered sugar, to taste
- Nutella, to taste
- optional: ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- Cook crepe in pan or using cordless crepe maker.
- Smear Nutella on crepe and garnish with blackberries, powdered sugar and lemon zest, if using.
- Die with delight.
- 1 crepe (recipe above)
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons mild, creamy goat cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly minced jalapeno (seeds removed)
- Prepare crepe using pan or crepe maker.
- While crepe batter is slightly set, add dollops of goat cheese to allow to melt slightly.
- Remove crepe from pan and top with prosciutto and jalapeño.