Saturday, February 14, 2009

For Valentine's Day, We got Butter

Happy Valentine's Day!

We started our celebration last night since we will be spending tonight celebrating my brother-in-law's 21st birthday.

The main point of our celebration was that we consumed 9 TB of butter.

And now the long story... I have been wanting to make crepes all week. It initially was fueled by reading about them in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living. I went to make them on Wednesday and then realized that you have to let the batter sit for 2 hours and at that point I was not about to wait 2 hours to eat. Then Thursday was the tire escapade so that left last night. I have certainly eaten crepes before (JW used to make some great ones in grad school) but never have made them. My husband however had a french exchange student stay with his family when he was younger so he claimed to be pretty good at it (indeed, he was).

Making the crepes took out 4 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cookinng book because we made 2 different fillings for them, and one of those recipes was Epinards Blanchis (or blanched spinach). I realize you don't really need a recipe for blanched spinach, but I'm counting it just the same.

Martha's article says that the first crepe invariably is always bad because the cook does not wait for the pan to get hot enough, or they don't pour enough batter in. I'm proud to say that my first crepe worked like a charm and by the end of the batter, I was flipping them in the pan. Nate got smart and took a video of it, which isn't showing off my skillz so well, since I missed the first flip.

The crepes were a lot of fun to make and even more fun to eat as they were delicious! After the crepes, we went to see Coraline in 3D. The movie was pretty creepy. I think that if I had watched it as a child, I would have had nightmares. After the movie we were still pretty stuffed, but we shared one of the heart shaped cakes I made:

This morning we used the leftover fillings in omelets, which was also a stellar idea.

Now we need to go work out.

Here are the crepe recipes, in my suggested order of making them:
Pate A Crepes (Crepe Batter)
NOTE: This is the full recipe - we cut this in half for the two of us and still had leftovers.
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
4 TB melted butter
A rubber scraper

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 - 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Epinards Blanchis (Blanched Spinach)
Blanch enough spinach to make 1 1/2 cups. Chop it.

Sauce Mornay (Bechamel with cheese)
5 TB Flour
4 TB butter

Cook the flour and butter slowly together in a saucepan for 2 minutes without coloring. Meanwhile boil 2 3/4 cups milk.

Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper and a "big pinch of nutmeg". Boil, stirring for 1 minute.

Reduce to a simmer and stir in 1/4 cup whipping cream by the tablespoons. Sauce should be thick enough to coat spoon fairly heavily. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese.

You will need to add this sauce to both of the following fillings.

Spinach filling:

1 TB minced shallots or green onions
2 TB butter
1 1/2 cups blanched chopped spinach (from above)
1/4 tsp salt.

Cook shallots or onions in butter for a moment in a saucepan. Add spinach and salt, and stir over moderately high heat for 203 minutes to evaporate moisture. Stir in 1/2-2/3 cup of the sauce mornay. Cover and simmer slowly for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Mushroom filling (this is modified - I did not add the cream cheese and egg and the original recipe indicates)
1 cup minced mushrooms
1 TB minced shallots or green onions
1 TB butter
1/2 TB oil

Saute mushrooms and shallots in butter and oil for 5-6 minutes in a skillet. Stir in 1/3-1/2 cup of the Sauce Mornay.

Your fillings are now done. Time to make the crepes!

I will type in a very abbreviated version. I obviously can't replicate the drawings in the cookbook either.

You will need an iron skillet or a crepe pan with a 6 1/2 - 7 inch bottom diameter and a piece of fat bacon or pork rind; OR 2-3 TB cooking oil and a pastry brush.
Rub the skillet with the rind or brush it lightly with oil. Set over moderately high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke.

Imediately remove from heat and pour in a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl. Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds. The jerk and toss the pan sharply back and forth to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the underside is a nice light brown, it is ready.

Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas or grasp the edges with your fingers and sweep it toward you or toss it over by a flip of the pan.

Brown lightly for about 1/2 minute on other side. Repeat until all your crepe batter is done.

Fill the crepes with the filling of your choice (we really liked combining both the mushroom and spinach) and roll and eat.

All recipes typed from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child - becuase I am lazy I did not type the complete instructions for most items.

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