I invited my friend Jessica over for dinner tonight and decided to try my hand at savory crepes this time. I told her we could have some Orange Bavarian Cream for dessert so it just made sense to make a Julia Child recipe for dinner too. The descriptions for crepe fillings were quite elaborate and after struggling to decide on the flavors, I opted for the simple, classic ham and cheese combo. There is a basic bechamel cheese sauce recipe that allows for other ingredients to be added so I picked up some ham and swiss cheese. The crepe batter was much like the last time (Christmas with Julia) so I just had to throw the ingredients in a blender, mix em up and set in the fridge to settle for a few hours (or in this case overnight). I also went to the store and bought a cast iron pan to cook with because Julia’s book shows 3 types of acceptable crepe pans that are all “iron” pans. I’m still not convinced I have the right equipment but this time was certainly easier than cooked with the nonstick skillet. When Jessica arrived, I had everything ready to go and we just had to start making crepes and whip up the cheesy filling. Eager to help, Jessica took on the bechamel sauce on the burner next to me as I unsuccessfully stumbled through 3 test crepes (Julia is crazy to think you only need one test!!). I don’t have much to say about the sauce making process since I was quite engaged in my crepe flipping practice (for me, jerking the pan vigorously does not loosen the crepe…). Although Jessica thought the beginning butter-flour mixture looked delicious and that adding the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time was tediously unnecessary. As I cooked the crepes, we had a plate of “test crepe” scraps and a plate of successful full circle fillable crepes. Jessica went to work filling the crepes once the sauce was done and over all we completed the recipe without destroying the kitchen, breaking the garbage disposal or flinging food on the dog! The resulting meal was a bit rich for my taste (grew up on low fat healthy food) but definitely really good, next time I’ll put more meat and maybe some vegetables in the sauce. My mom came in once the cooking was done and took the crepe scraps to make her childhood favorite “roll up pancakes”. She butters one side, sprinkles it with sugar and rolls it up. I think this would have been tastier with the “sweet crepes” batter recipe instead of the savory one I used. A subtle difference but definitely noticeable. If you’re interested in trying this recipe its a great blank canvas for whatever flavors you prefer! This was actually on the Worst Cooks in America Food Network show where they challenged the Worst Cook contestants to create their own flavor combinations for the crepe with bechamel filling. Here’s the recipe:
PATE A CREPES (crepe batter)
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
4 Tb melted butter
Put the liquids, eggs and salt into the blender jar. Add the flour, then the butter. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scraper and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
The batter should be a very light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. If, after making your first crepe, it seems too heavy, beat in a bit of water, a spoonful at a time. Your cooked crepe should be about 1/16 inch thick.
Excerpt about how to cook crepes: “Remove from heat and, holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. (Pour any batter that does not adhere back into your bowl; judge the amount for your next crepe accordingly). This whole operation takes but 2 to 3 seconds. Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.”
SAUCE MORNAY (Bechamel with cheese), 3 cups
5 Tb flour
4 Tb butter
2 3/4 cup boiling milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Big pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese
*Substitute 1/2 cup of the cheese with 1/2 cup cubed ham
Cook the flour and butter slowly together in the sauce pan for 2 minutes without coloring. Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and seasonings. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Reduce to the simmer and stir in the cream by tablespoons. Sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon fairly heavily. Remove from heat and correct seasoning. Stir in all but two tablespoons of the cheese. (Add cubed ham or whatever other ingredients you desire). Film top of sauce with milk to prevent a skin from forming.
Place a big spoonful of filling on the lower third of each crepe and roll the crepes into cylinders.