This week I have mostly been teaching myself to make crêpes… and not taking enough pictures of them to share with you.
I was asked quite a while ago to do the catering for a Punk Night at my local community hall, the Trinity Rooms in Stroud. Until a week or two before the event I had had absolutely no inspiration as to what I was going to do… and then I went to France. At the Youth Hostel where we stayed there was a chap making fresh pancakes each morning on a specially designed electric hot-plate; they smelled delicious, were fun to watch being made, and gave me the inspiration I needed. One trip to a French supermarket later (I adore French supermarkets!) and I had procured my new toy – a Tefal Crêpe-maker. Hurrah!
Needless to say, I needed quite a lot of practice before I was prepared to make them for people I didn’t know; my lodgers and neighbours weren’t complaining though!
I took the batter recipe from the Tefal instruction booklet which was fantastic (as you would hope) and then had fun coming up with yummy fillings.
- 250 g sifted plain flour
- 0.5 litres of milk
- 3 eggs
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter (I used rapeseed/ canola oil)
Put the flour into a mixing bowl and gradually beat in the milk until you get the consistency of single cream. Then gradually beat in the three eggs, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of oil or melted butter. It is best to leave the batter to stand for 1 to 2 hours.
It took me a little while to master spreading the mixture onto the hotplate and I’m not entirely sure how to explain it other than ‘practise makes perfect’ – sorry! Your friends and family won’t complain about you practising though! I did get much better at it once I started brushing the hotplate with oil every couple of times – dip a clean but unloved tea-towel or some kitchen towel into oil (preferably rapeseed/ canola) and then swoosh it around the hotplate quickly. Also the hotplate came with a small ladle, two of which is supposed to be the correct amount for a crêpe, and I found that it was too slow and it cooked before I could spread it out; it became a lot easier once I had started using one of my own ladles of the correct volume.
The sweet fillings are pretty obvious; Nutella (do I have to say ‘other brands are available?!), lemon and sugar…
A slight variation on a theme which was truly delicious was Nutella and raspberries, I also had one particularly decadent crêpe where I chopped up a big dark-chocolate coated praline onto the crêpe and allowed it to melt – mmmm…
The savoury filling presented a bit more of a challenge. What I needed was a traditional crêpe filling (cheese and cream sprang to mind – sorry vegans!), which tasted impressive but was also very easy to prepare in advance for a lot of people. I experimented with a couple of different ideas as to how to make a really good creamy and cheesy filling which I could easily put together ahead of the event.
What I came up with (which I’m sure has been done before, but nonetheless I am proud of myself for ‘making up’) is a combination of Crème fraîche, grated cheddar cheese (in approximately equal measures) plus a generous amount of Herbes de Provence and some freshly ground black pepper. Mixed herbs or oregano could also be used in lieu of Herbes de Provence. I then prepared very finely chopped mushrooms and bacon which could then be added to the savoury crêpe if people wanted it; this made it a very good way to cater for both vegetarians and non-veggies.
I added the cheese mixture and other savoury bits to the crêpe while it was still on the hot plate and then folded it into quarters, the cheese quickly melted into the Crème fraîche to make a beautiful instant cheese sauce.
Delicious! The feedback from Punk Night was pretty good too!