1/26/2006

Crepe Recipe and Learning Metric Measurements

Crepes are easy, quick and extremely versatile. If you have children, you should learn to make them blindfolded. They freeze well; they can be stuffed with anything: savory, sweet or eaten as a finger food. They can be stuffed, rolled and sliced into lovely pinwheels and served with champagne for elegant entertaining. Have I convinced you yet?

Now, let’s get something straight, right away. When I refer to crepes, I’m talking the French kind. You know, thin, flat, almost one-sided babies. The kind you can eat at a crêperie for an astronomical price and still leave the establishment with a I-m-no-full feeling. Mais oui, that crepe. For some of you, you might call these pancakes (namely the Brits). For you others… I don’t know.

As an American, pancakes, once known as flapjacks, is thicker, fluffier kind of crêpe. It is to be eaten with maple syrup, butter and the occasional link sausage or fried bacon. If cannot be stuffed, rolled over or served with smoked salmon and cream cheese!

This is an important point because this entry ties into yesterday’s entry about metric measurements versus American measurements.

When I came to France 13 years ago, I was pure American. I couldn’t demonstrate a centimeter or 40 g. of flour to save my life; I was all about American measurements: cups of this, a teaspoon of that… Easy, if you have the official measurements which do exist and are used religiously by many Americans.

I decided to make stuffed crepes, pinwheels, for my first “reception”. I had found the recipe in a woman’s French magazine and the photos looked luscious.

Not understanding the measurements nor what real crepes were, I kind of just mixed the milk, eggs and flour together and found myself with my Dad’s pancake batter. Feeling a bit doubtful, I heated my skillet (I just grabbed an old, scratched one) and poured out a ladleful of the batter.

It took the nice thick form of my Dad’s perfect breakfast pancakes (in diameter it was only slightly wider than a hamburger!). I started to panic. How in the world would I be able to stuff this thing with herbed cream cheese, fresh spinach leaves and smoked salmon, roll it up and slice it into 12-15 pinwheels? If I even tried to roll it, it would have cracked and broken off into two pieces.

Mind you, over a dozen people were coming for this thing and I didn’t know what to do. Thank goodness my then-to-be-future-husband was on his way back to work (it was lunchtime) and he asked what I was making. After I told him, and he looked at the batter, the pancake in the skillet and a fit of laughter that brought him to his knees, (honestly, I thought he’d never stop laughing), he looked at the recipe, added about 2 liters of liquids, tossed out the pancake, found a slick and smooth skillet and got down to work.

The batter was very, very thin. He spread it out quickly over the entire surface of the skillet and it cooked on one side within 30 seconds. He detached the sides with a spatula and flipped it over using his fingers (after having washed them bien sûre!). Within 10 minutes, he had made a dozen of these babies and was just getting started. He explained the difference between centiliters and milliliters and was well on his way to attack the whole “Using the best type of skillet” for crepes when he looked at his watch and realized he was light for work. (Whew! Saved from a lengthy discourse there!)

Long story short, this was my first real encounter with metric measurements. I’ve learned from this cooking flop. While I don’t have that original recipe, I do have a killer crepe recipe.

I’ll come back with more recipes using crepes now that January is on its way out and February is just around the corner. You see, as the Galettes des Rois leaves us (January event), the Chandeleur is on February 2. A strange French tradition that might come close to Americans observing a ground hog to see if winter is over or if we’ll have 6 more weeks of it! And the whole tradition has to revolve around food, n’est-ce pas? I mean this is France.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

where's the recipe..??

3:31:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Witek said...

Your description of the origin of CHandeleur is exceptional! we will use it, translated into French, at our next meeting when we celebrate La CHandeleur. your description has great depth. Yours, Gloria Witek sfdjewelry@gmail.com

3:59:00 AM  

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