Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mushroom Crepes

Crepes! Of course we must have crepes while Jim is in Paris! Though, it dawned on me last night that our attempt to have dinners which match Jim’s trip to Europe is actually off by a day. We had our first meal, Croque Monsieur, when he was actually still on the plane en route across the Atlantic. And last night as the kids and I sat down to eat our crepes, Jim had actually departed Paris at the end of his workday and was already in bed for the night in another country. Ah well.

I made the batter for the crepes and the mushroom filling after dinner on Monday, and have to be honest when I say how little effort the prep work required. When Tuesday rolled around to actually cook the crepes, I was fully prepared to ditch the first several as I learned how to get the right technique, but after this first one which didn’t have enough batter to coat the pan, the rest of them came out perfect. PERFECT. I’m still a bit awed. Some lessons I learned along the way: 1) my 1oz scoop was the perfect size for measuring the right amount of batter into the pan. 2) If I watched closely, I could see exactly when it was time to turn the crepe because it is so thin, the shiny batter became matte when it was ready.

Now comes the funny part. Spencer climbed into his seat while I buckled Charlotte in the high chair. On the table was a lovely pile of crepes alongside a fragrant filling of shiitake mushrooms. I looked at the two plates, and realized that I was not actually sure the proper way to combine them! I could only remember eating a crepe one time before - at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas after taking break from playing craps, which was actually taking a break from playing hockey, and that crepe was a monstrous size, filled with gooey chocolate, folded in quarters on the plate and topped with whipped cream and more chocolate. But, thinking more about it, I don’t believe I’d ever order savory crepes in my life. Now that I have lived more than half of my years in Texas (gasp) I did what came naturally – placed the filling down the middle of a crepe, rolled it up, and handed one to each kid to eat with their hands like a taco. Spencer took a bite and commented “Oh mom! Did you realize it was going to taste this good?”

For dessert, simple chocolate crepes were made by zapping mini chocolate chips on a crepe in the microwave for a few seconds before spreading with a butter knife and rolling up. Shortly, I realized that the spreading step is not necessary as rolling them mashes the warm chips just fine. I had planned to convert the remaining batter specifically for dessert purposes by adding a little sugar and vanilla, but I mistakenly mentioned that it would be for chocolate crepes, and once I said the word “chocolate” I needed to deliver the goods to the table asap!

So, it turns out that crepes are easy to make. Who knew??

Mushroom Crepes
Crepe batter recipe followed exactly, and filling inspired from Mushroom Crepe Cakes

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
Butter, or spray, for coating the pan

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients (excepting the butter for coating the pan) and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling.

Mushroom filling:
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 lb shiitake mushroom, cleaned & chopped
1 large onion, diced
1/3 C milk
3-4 oz shredded Gruyere
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and sweat the onion. Add the mushrooms and additional 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add the milk and reduce by half. Add the cheese and melt. The consistency we're looking for is similar to that of a potpie.

Note: The crepe batter recipe will yield about 20 crepes, and the amount of mushroom filling will fill about 10. Increase filling if desired, or use remaining crepes for a dessert application.

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