SPEND LESS, EAT BETTER: Crepes Make Elegant and Easy Summer Meals
A bird in hand.well, you know the rest.
For the cook this also means an ace in the hole: either prepared or ready-to-prepare food to thwart the "Nothing to eat. Let's order" impulse.
My ace is a jar of crepe batter.
I presume the haute cuisine image evolved from flaming crepes Suzette -- the tableside dessert produced by French restaurants during the 1960s.
So besides being easy, nourishing and cheap, crepes have panache.
You can wrap a crepe around almost anything for an impressive light lunch, entre or dessert. My regulars include crepes rolled around asparagus, paper-thin slices of ham and an interesting cheese, ice cream (topped with chocolate sauce) or fresh berries.
Does that sound elegant or what?
First the simple crepes: Mix 2 eggs, cup milk (any strength), a scant cup water and 2 tablespoons melted butter or regular stick margarine in the blender. Add 1 cup flour and several shakes of salt. Blend until smooth. Pour into jar and refrigerate at least an hour.
Amounts can be doubled, of course.
You'll need several heavy 7-8 inch non-stick inch skillets, preferably with almost straight sides and flat bottoms. A wafer-thin flexible metal spatula (available in cooking shops) helps. Rub skillets with butter or spray with oil and heat medium-hot. Pour a tiny bit of batter in each skillet; swirl around to coat evenly. Cook about a minute. Turn and cook another 30 seconds. One side should be a delicate, lacy brown the other uncolored. Slide out of pan, stack on plate and repeat, rubbing skillets with butter every few crepes.
Crepes can be reheated, covered, in the microwave but be careful: 20 seconds is enough.
The temptation is to eat them straight from the pan, which is OK, too.
Another myth: the necessity for a rich cream sauce inside or over. For spinach crepes, cook fresh spinach and squeeze dry. Stir in several tablespoons of reduced-fat cream cheese until melted -- or several tablespoons of reduced-fat cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup. Spread on warm crepes, fold or roll up, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and pop into oven until hot. The soup trick also works with chopped shrimp or sauted mushrooms.
For an impressive make-ahead crepe dessert, mix a 16-ounce container of low-fat ricotta with 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, a teaspoon of grated orange or lemon zest, a few drops of vanilla and a beaten egg. Place a dollop in the center of an 8-inch crepe and fold envelope-style. Place packets seam side down in a buttered baking dish; cover and refrigerate until needed. Then, bring to room temperature, brush with melted butter and bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Uncover and return to oven for 10 minutes. Stir berries (one variety or a mixture) in a saucepan with a teaspoon of water until softened and bubbling. Sweeten to taste, cool and spoon over warm cheese crepes. Or top with ripe peach slices.
So much for the fancy French image.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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