Hello, friends! This was going to be my Mother’s Day post. Then we bought a house (!) and moved (!!) and yes, we still have crates and cartons everywhere and nothing is quite in the right spot yet. But, but – we are exuberantly joyful! Deeply thankful! And we want to share our crepes with you! Even though this post, like my peonies, has languished. So let’s pretend that you’re still looking for something brunchy, or maybe just something delicious to make your morning extra good. Let’s also pretend that all my ramblings about motherhood and creating a world we imagine coalesced into something readable. We’ll just have to read it later. But crepes – those I can give you right now. Okay? Okay.
I’ll be back on Friday with a lentil salad that will possibly blow your mind, and then we should be on to our regularly scheduled programming for the rest of the summer.
(Just promise to ignore all the boxes in the background. Please.)
I should mention that the boys made me gifts that I smile each time I see. Measuring cups (by Lucas) and a flower vase (by Jacob). Arguably the best part is that my dear frazzled husband, ushering them through the pottery studio on the sly, was perhaps thinking about some projects at work while he helped them paint, or perhaps just trying to make these gifts do double duty: whatever the case, the pieces are signed lovingly on the bottom, and then dated (by Daddy) with Mother’s Day 2014. And that is enough to turn my smile into a full on belly laugh, every time. I love those three.
Like my guys, these crepes are the bees knees, the business, the boom in my dynamite. Details are below, and we have been enjoying them all manner of ways. A photo essay, to illustrate:
A belated Happy Mother’s Day, to all the moms out there, and to everyone who has ever nurtured something, or helped it grow, or held it close, or brought it to be. We have within us the power to create the world we imagine: I celebrate that with all of you today.
Every-Day Crepes (for Mother’s Day 2014!)
Adapted from my friend Natalie and Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook
My friend Natalie has a professional cooking background, three bright and busy boys, and a perpetual smile on her face. You get the sense that even in the midst of parenthood and its craziness, she is generally up for anything. I was at her house at 7:30 AM recently, helping prep for yet another school fundraiser she was hosting, and Natalie offered me a crepe. It was fresh-that-minute from her stove top. It smelled insanely good. How on earth was she making crepes – delicate! Vanilla-kissed! Piping hot, with a faint sparkle of sugar and a jammy smear of strawberry preserves! How on earth – with half our school fundraising team swarming around her house? Are you kidding me? “Come on, I make these at least once a week!” She scooped more batter into the pan, tilted it smoothly, and hurried to get one of the hundreds of cookbooks that line the office behind her kitchen. “They are easier than pancakes! They are SO EASY!” I took a bite of the crepe, and then another and another, and then I took a picture of the recipe. The next morning I sent a triumphant text message: they are easier than pancakes! And way more delicious. Now I’m hooked.
two four! weeks of regular practice, my crepes are not remotely perfect. They are all a little different – some lacy edged where I run batter too thin. Some thick-edged, where I glop it too thick. Some dark on one side and light on the other. Some extra buttery, some with holes where I flipped them awkwardly or tore them with the edge of my spatula. (By the way, I use the fish turner that Kyle got me last year. Totally acceptable tool for crepe turning, no matter what the experts might tell you.) But each one is perfect, too, because each one gets devoured, and each one makes my house smell the way I always wish it would – like vanilla and warmth and deep sweet goodness.
And now you can make these easy, imperfect, delicious treats too. Trust me, please, because – I make them at least once a week. They are easier than pancakes, honest truth. I have even made a savory version, omitting the vanilla, and used it to wrap leftovers in for lunch. Fantastic. (BHSers: anyone remember Crepes a GoGo? Because, that is totally what is happening around here lately!)
Note: the original recipe makes ~8 crepes, and uses only all-purpose flour. This version is a one-and-a-half batch, for ~12 large crepes, and uses 1/3 whole wheat flour. The original recipe calls for mixing all ingredients for 10 seconds in a food processor to make the batter, but I found that a whisk-and-bowl worked very nicely and made for easier cleanup. The original recipe also calls for dark rum, but at Natalie’s suggestion I use vanilla instead. (And I think the vanilla is what makes the unspeakably delicious smell.) Your call!
1 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of salt
270 ml milk (that is, 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
Butter for the pan
Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Sift the flours into the bowl through a fine mesh sieve or a sifter. Whisk just until blended (but make sure it is smooth).
Use an 8 or 9 inch skillet (I have been using cast iron, but my friend Natalie uses a nonstick – cast iron works well but is a little heavy on the rotation). Melt 1 generous teaspoon of butter over medium to high heat. (Note for my fellow cast iron users: I start my pan over medium high and gradually reduced the heat, so by the third or fourth crepe I have a low flame but the pan is still plenty hot. The butter should sizzle and bubble but not burn.) Add a scant 1/4 cup batter to the pan, tilting the pan to spread it thinly across the surface. It shouldn’t be too thin, but should cover most of the skillet surface. Cook for about a minute, or until it has golden edges and is set enough to flip. Flip the crepe over (easier than you think!) and cook the other side until just done.
Fold the crepe in half or in quarters with your spatula, and put it on a plate. (The folding helps it stay warm, and makes it a hand-held breakfast, ready for dunking in your favorite compote. If you are planning on filling it, you can fill it in the pan and then fold.) You can sprinkle the faintest dusting of sugar over top if serving straight up or with a sweet sauce – my kids love that little crunch and dazzle.
So: some of you are already crepe-making pros and don’t need my encouragement. For the rest, I want to emphasize that this whole process is shockingly easy and quick. Had I not seen Natalie do it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but it is actually much faster than making pancakes for breakfast. And your house will smell like heaven. Like, Polly’s lemon-cake good. Vanilla and butter and sweetness and just – home.
For serving: jams, compotes, marmalades or curds … fresh fruit, ricotta, honey …. go savory with breakfast meats, eggs, cheddar cheese, refried beans …. Or, like Kyle, repurpose a hodgepodge of last night’s leftovers by wrapping them in a crepe. You really can’t go wrong. (But you might want to skip the fairy dusting of sugar if you are planning a savory filling.)