Before I start talking about crepes, let me just say that I still love pancakes. I do. Fluffy buttermilk pancakes dotted with butter and drizzled with syrup, with a side of bacon you can dip in the leftover syryp — hard to beat.
But sometimes I’d rather have crepes. Maybe because they’re more versatile. I may be an adventurous eater, but I still don’t want mushrooms, cheddar or white sauce on pancakes. But wrap a wafer-thin crepe around that, and stand back.
However, breakfast crepes are fun too. On this past lazy Sunday morning we made a batch filled with some leftover ricotta cheese and preserves. It’s just a tad more time consuming than pancakes, but kind of fun. It would have been more fun if I had remembered to pick up some sparkling wine Saturday so we could have sipped Mimosas while cooking.
Apparently, my forgetfulness has become noticable to friends and family. I received four — four — magnetic memo pads for Christmas. One is, not so subtly, shaped like an elephant, with a giant “Don’t Forget” message on top. The refrigerator is plastered with them. And two had “sparkling wine” written on them. I guess the point is, you have to tear them off and take them with you when you go to the store. But I usually forget to do that…
Anyway, back to crepes. You need a few essential ingredients for them. A great pan is the most important. I’m not talking about those fancy crepe pans that cost as much as one of the new Fiats Jennifer Lopex apparantly drives around New York just so locals can dance around it.
I’ve made crepes in cast iron frying pans, which are too heavy to swirl, and aluminum pans that cook them way too fast. What you need is an eight-inch non-stick pan of medium density. Works like a charm.
Then you have to plan ahead. Even though the batter is a snap to whip up, it needs to go in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, so you get that dense, rubbery texture crepes require.
And, that’s about it. You’re going to use your fingers to flip the crepe. Just slide it around in the pan until a part of it extends over the pan, grasp it gently with both hands and flip quickly.
The filling is up to you. Nutella is always right. Peanut butter and jelly? Yes. Pimento cheese? Yes. Chopped up leftover steak or chicken, vegetables? Yes and Yes. Heck, crepes are just as good with no filling and topped with whipped cream.
Crepes with Ricotta Filling
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
2 tsp. vanilla
Mix filling ingredients together and set aside. The filling will remain lumpy.
For crepes, put all ingredients in a blender or bowl of electric mixer. Blend thoroughly until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.
Turn oven on low and place an ovenproof plate on top rack. Have another plate for rolling and bowl of filling ready near stove.
Heat crepe pan over medium-low heat. Add a smidge of butter and swirl. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into pan and swirl to cover entire bottom in a thin layer. Cook about one minute, when you see the edges start to brown slightly. Slide crepe around until you can grab an edge and flip it with your fingers. Cook about 45 seconds. Slide crepe onto plate, spoon a line of filling down one edge and gently roll crepe around filling. Place on plate in oven. Repeat until all crepes are made. Place crepes on serving plates and top with sifted confectioners sugar.