Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crepes, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways...

Unless you live under a rock, you've eaten (or at least seen) the finicky french food known far and wide as crepes; filled pancakes for the fancy. If you've ever tried to make them, chances are you've ended up with lumpy, deformed rubbery discs coated in sickening amounts of powdered sugar. I made them this morning, and it wasn't pretty. But they are fast, and much easier than pancakes. Really, I promise.
I've tried my fair share of recipes, and found that they are all, pretty much, exactly the same. What matters is the way you bring them together. Put down the whisk and step away from that bowl slowly. For lump-free batter, try building it in the blender! Here's a recipe I found online (with a few modifications, of course): And don't be intimidated by the long instructions, it's mainly my snide remarks ;)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1. Pull out your trusty, somewhat dusty blender or food processor. Dump in the flour and eggs, and pulse until you get what looks like a big ball of yellow dough.
2. Slowly, slowly, open the chute, cap, whatever you have, and pour in the milk and water while the machine is running. (for you blender types, high speed, and for the food processor fans like myself, just turn it on)
3. Once you've got a homogenous batter going, add the salt and butter.
4. Get your favorite 10" nonstick skillet, and lightly grease it with cooking spray. You could use butter, but there's plenty in the crepes. Put it over medium high heat, and add about 1/4 cup of the batter, moving the pan until it is coated completely. If it's a bit small, that's okay.
5. As soon as the edges begin to dry and lift away from the pan (about one minute, but it could be longer or shorter depending on your stove), flip the crepe and let cook for about 30 seconds.
6. It should slide right out of the pan at this point, and all you need to do is get it onto a plate. If I can find my camera USB cord, there will be picture instructions on how to fold it into a cute little triangle without burning your fingers clean off.

Looking for something sweet? Or is savory more your speed? For sweet crepes, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla to the batter and top with powdered sugar and fruit. If you have nutella, you have the world's best crepe filling. For savory, blend in some fresh herbs. Anything but rosemary will do, it's just too pointy.
Now, go forth and cook! This fussy french food isn't just for restaurants. In my book, the less thought that goes into cooking first thing in the morning, the better. If you don't like my method, make something up yourself. I'm always open to new ideas :]
To fold into neat little triangles:
1. Have a plate with a paper towel on top standing by as you cook the crepes
2. Slide the crepe onto the plate, centered more or less on the paper towel like in the picture (It doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to be a half sheet. In fact, the big squares are better)
3. Pinch the top of the paper towel, and fold down so that the crepe folds with it
4. Unfold (the food will still be folded), and fold in the other direction
5. Here's the novel part: you can lift the paper towel and use it to transfer the deliciousness to the serving plate. Yum!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mad Chefs Anonymous

I'll be the first to admit it; I can't spell anonymous. Without my spell checker; the world could, possibly, explode. But I digress; we've all had those days. You know what I'm talking about- the ones where you're cooking something new (or just really good) and then feel like you could bite someone's head off if they dare to step foot in your kitchen?
The anxious staring at those evil little blinking numbers of the timer (or even worse, one of those clockwork egg timers crawling along their little circle with no concern for your sanity), and pacing back and forth in front of the stove. Then comes the wonderful satisfaction of pulling off a perfect recipe and slowly, very slowly, eating your edible masterpiece, and the sighs of relief from everyone else in the household. I know it happens to me, and thus begins what is essentially a written record of what happens when you let a crazy teenage girl loose in a kitchen. I don't have a fancy culinary degree, there are no articles under my name, and I have never set foot in a restaurant kitchen. But I love food, and in my opinion, that's good enough. And let's face it: Is there anything better than making something really great and being able to answer those burning questions of "This is delicious- who made it?" with "I did. How is it?"
Hello, ego boost. :]
(Yes, I use smiley faces. What's wrong with that?)