I began learning the French language in 6th grade, and continued all the way up through college, declaring a minor in French. I learned how to make crepes in high school, and often brought them to French class parties, separated between layers of waxed paper, layered in one of my mom's large Tupperware containers. We would smother our crepes in strawberry jam and Nutella, or fill them with chocolate mousse, and finish them off with whipped cream and powdered sugar. French club would sell crepes at the school's winter carnival, cooking them "to order" with our teachers' electric crepe pans. (I still kind of want one of those ... I loved flipping the domed griddle over, dipping it in the cake pan full of batter, and turning it back over just in time to flip the paper-thin, expertly browned crepe, ready to be cooked on its second side.)
I have long since lost my ability to read, write, or really even speak the French language, (tragedy, I realize ... a skill I could one day regain, if I so chose -- right up there with my ability to read bass clef,) but my love for crepes remains. Strange that I have a tendency to forget about crepes, isn't it? However, last night I remembered these beauties work just as well in savory pairings as in sweet. I had picked up a bunch of asparagus at the farmer's market, we always seem to have some cheese, butter, and eggs hanging around, and there was some milk lingering in the back of the fridge for too long, about to expire. Sounds like the makings of an excellent dinner!
Crepes with Asparagus and Cheese
yield: 12 to 16 crepes, depending on size
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick,) melted, plus more for the pan
2 cups + 2 tbsp milk
steamed asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, and/or sautéed spinach
shredded cheese (Gruyere would have been amazing, but cheddar was what we had on hand)
1. Make the crepe batter. You can whisk all of the ingredients together vigorously in a large mixing bowl, or alternately, blend the ingredients using an electric mixer or blender. (I used my blender -- this works really well. You will get a beautifully light, bubbly, perfectly blended batter. I had to pause a couple times in the blending and scrape down the sides -- sometimes lumps of flour get stuck.)
2. Preheat a nonstick frying pan or crepe pan over medium to medium-high heat. You want the pan hot enough to brown butter on contact, but not so hot that it burns.
3. Make yourself a butter "crayon" with an extra half-stick of butter --
(Yes, that's a technical term. Ha.)
4. Use your butter crayon to lightly butter your preheated pan.
(If it's especially hot in your kitchen, which it was in mine last night, you may need to stick your butter crayon on a plate in the fridge in-between uses, or you'll end up with a puddle.)
5. Pour in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of crepe batter, depending on the size of your pan. Pick up the pan, tilt and swirl, until you get a thin, even layer of batter covering the pan.
6. When the first side of the crepe begins to brown and look "lacey," flip and cook the second side. (I find a long silicone spatula works well for me; use whatever works best for you!)
7. After the second side browns in spots, flip it back over and sprinkle cheese down the middle. Allow the crepe to cook for just a few more seconds, to help melt the cheese.
8. Transfer the crepe to a plate, fill with asparagus, and fold!
You can choose to garnish with more cheese, sautéed mushrooms in their juices, a sprinkling of chopped fresh chives, or if you are feeling really indulgent, hollandaise. :) (Wouldn't that be tasty!?!)
9. Continue cooking until you have used up all of your crepe batter, re-buttering the pan before adding more batter each time. (Or, if you are feeding only one or two people for dinner, cook all of the crepes and fill only the last four.) Pile up the crepes on a plate in-between layers of parchment or waxed paper (otherwise the butter you cooked them in will solidify in storage, glueing your crepes together forever,) cool, then cover and refrigerate. Crepes reheat beautifully in a warmed skillet or even the microwave! (I have also had good success freezing them -- just get them wrapped really well in plastic wrap and sealed tightly in a Ziploc bag, otherwise you'll end up with dry, crispy edges upon thawing and reheating.)
What are your favorite crepe fillings? Although I love them savory, as we enjoyed them for dinner last night, I love them more leftover the next day, cold from the fridge, smeared with homemade strawberry jam, folded into quarters, and dusted with powdered sugar. (Ahem ... second breakfast, anyone?)