French Crêpes: Make the Takeout
Delicate, whisper-thin pancakes enveloping perfectly melted cheese and ham; or, for dessert, light, gently sugared crêpes Suzette, aflame with orange liqueur and cognac—French crêpes are elegant at the same time that they’re amazingly simple to make.
Born in Brittany, the crêpe took its native France by storm and then jumped the pond to become an American favorite. In the 1970s, crêpe pans were all the rage, and it seemed that anyone who wanted to add a “continental” touch to their dinner party made sure something folded into a crêpe was on the menu.
The love affair has endured. Walking down a Paris street today, you’re bound to run into crêpe makers pouring their thin, eggy batter into cast-iron pans, swirling it around for just minutes, before adding, say, spinach and mushrooms or orange butter and almonds. And in American restaurants, from bistros to shopping-mall food courts, the crêpe remains a graceful alternative to the big old sandwich.
Instead of heading to the local bistro or crêperie, why not say “bonjour” to homemade crêpes. A classic (which is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner) is this Ham and Cheese Crêpe recipe. All you need is a good 6″-7″ nonstick skillet (it’s so much easier to flip and remove the crêpes), and eggs, salt, milk, flour, and butter for the batter. Some chopped ham, good Gruyère cheese, and tomatoes create the delicious filling.
This recipe says to let your batter rest for 10 minutes. You can also chill the batter: Julia Child used to recommend refrigerating for 2 hours (“to allow the flour particles to swell and soften so that the crêpes will be light in texture”).
The key is to create just a thin film on the bottom of the pan—more than a quarter-cup of batter will make a too-thick pancake. One minute on the first side, about a half-minute on the other. Voilà! You can make them ahead and stack them between layers of waxed paper, then reheat them in a covered dish in a 300-degree oven.
Make tonight fabulously French with these crêpes recipes: