France

Cooking with Toddlers: Crepes

I had never eaten a crepe before I met Jimmy…I think.  Considering that I went to France after I graduated from high school, that seems improbable, but since I vividly remember eating my first escargot but have no memory of eating a crepe, it must be true.  Thanks to their heritage, his family celebrates Candlemas Day in the traditional French way by eating crepes.  Three and then four generations of family would gather in the kitchen at his mother’s or grandmother’s house, watching deft hands expertly flip the thin, golden pancakes.  Eventually, the “kids” (me, Jimmy, his brother, and his sister-in-law) would take a turn at flipping the crepe high into the air and catching it in the pan.  The first time I flipped a crepe, I was scared to death because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the family, but I succeeded.  I also remember my sister-in-law snarkily correcting a grammar mistake I made at one of these events before she decided to pretend to like me (Think I can hold a mean grudge? That incident was 15 years ago!).

Once the crepes were ready, we descended on them like vultures, topping them with Nutella, powdered sugar, jam or nothing at all, rolling them up and gorging on them.   One crepe was carefully placed on the highest surface in the kitchen to stay there until next Candlemas Day for good luck.

Over the years as the “kids” moved away, we didn’t get together to celebrate Candlemas Day as often.  In 2001, Jimmy’s grandmother sent us the recipe for crepes, and I started making them a few times a year.  Because of Mum’s death this year, I thought crepes would be a meaningful, appropriate recipe for me and Daniel to make as we continue our culinary explorations.

Since liquor is used in the recipe, these crepes are dessert crepes.  If you want savory crepes, omit the liquor and prepare as indicated.  This recipe makes a lot of crepes, and they are easily stored in the freezer or refrigerator.   As usual, Daniel loved helping make the batter (he really loved the flour!); he would not eat one even when tempted with Nutella filling.  That was ok with Jimmy since he was able to eat them all 🙂

Oh! Look at the flour! It goes everywhere if I blow on it!

 

Stirring the batter

 

Taking his job very seriously!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp rum or grand marnier (I always use grand marnier because I like the citrus flavor)

Directions

  • Place ingredients in blender or bowl in the order in which they are listed
  • Blend for 2-3 minutes
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • Oil an omelet pan or small saute pan and heat on medium-high
  • Place no more than 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and swirl it around so it spreads out
  • Once the edges begin to crisp and the batter is setting, gently flip it over.  It should be a light golden color
  • Place the finished crepe on a plate, pour in more batter and continue

 

Almost ready to flip

 

Since the hallmark of a crepe is its thinness, don’t be afraid to mess up when cooking them.  Even though I’ve made them for years, I still ruin the first 2 or 3 crepes (at least) before I get in the groove.  Experiment and figure out what works best for you.  This recipe is very versatile, and crepes make a great base for many other recipes.

 

Done! Ready to cool and eat!

 

Escargot, S’il Vous Plait

snail, garden snail (Copyright http://www.copyright-free-pictures.org.uk)

Doesn't he look yummy?

 

Today’s prompt for NaBloPoMo:

If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

As I thought about what I would choose for my last meal – steak? crab cakes? chicken parmesan? boeuf bourguignon? – I decided that whatever I chose must at minimum meet this criterion:

  • I don’t have to prepare it myself.

Because really?  If it’s my last meal, I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking it.

That criterion opened up new possibilities as I considered what would be a must-eat that I didn’t have to prepare.

And I decided on escargot.

Yes, I know that escargot means “snail.”

Escargot is awesome. Out of the shell, cooked escargot looks like a piece of mushroom albeit a slightly chewy mushroom. It has a flavor, but it’s subtle; usually, the way it is prepared lends the primary flavor.  And that’s the beauty of choosing escargot: although I’m not too squeamish to eat them, I am too squeamish to prepare them.  I’ve heard my French grandmother-in-law’s tales of traipsing out to the garden and plucking snails for dinner, and that’s just a bit closer to my food than I need to be.

I’ve had escargot at chain steak houses that aspire to be higher class than they are (each escargot encased in a melted butter bath and a crap-ton of melted parmesan).  I’ve had escargot in the shell for which I had to use the utensil that looks like a giant eyelash curler to extract the meat.  Fortunately I never had a situation like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman but escargot really are “slippery little suckers.”  I’ve had escargot in France.  I’ve had escargot in North Carolina. If I see it on the menu, I’ll likely order it.

The best escargot I ever had was at a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia.  Not exactly the escargot capital of the world, n’est-ce pas? However, this dish delivered.  It was an appetizer of escargot and bowtie pasta in a lemon-garlic-butter broth.  I think there were capers as well.  The warmth of the butter, the sour zest of the lemon and the spice of the garlic elevated that humble snail to something divine.   Drool.

If I’m planning my last meal, I need to think of a few more courses (hey, might as well splurge, right?), but at least I know what my appetizer will be.