Tag Archives: crêpes

Breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert

13 Sep

In my experience, grad school introduces heightened drama into the least suspecting of adult lives. For those of you pursuing an MLIS or other graduate degree, I offer the following antidote: breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert. Here is how it’s done.

First, assemble friends. In my time of need this summer, I was lucky to have two fabulous fellow librarians-in-training at the ready to lend a hand (and share the spoils) in this important mission.

Next, set the table. Despite being students on a tight budget, we had some lovely placemats at our disposal, plus a stand-out bowl from Anthropologie, which we used to hold our grapes. Note how these contribute to the final spread:

Crepes, fruit, ice cream

On to the breakfast, crêpes or pancakes being my preferred choice. If you’re without a favourite recipe, I recommend my grand-maman’s crêpes or Williams-Sonoma’s Blueberry-Buttermilk Pancakes. Whip them up and keep them warm while you tackle the ice cream, or prepare both in tandem with your pals.

Crepes cooking
In order to create a homemade version of the treat you thought you simply loved but are about to discover you can’t live without, I suggest that you beg for, borrow, or buy an ice cream maker. You’ll need to freeze it for a full 24 hours before pouring the combined ingredients into it. Sound high-maintenance? Trust me, it’s worth it. Beyond the unparalleled taste of homemade ice cream, there’s the thrilling process of watching liquid ingredients slowly transform into this beloved standby of comfort foods before your very eyes thanks to the freezing and mixing mechanisms of the maker.

Here’s a breakdown, with visuals:

1) Prepare the fruit and other ingredients (we relied on a simple recipe for Strawberry Peach Ice Cream that came with the mixer, using both puréed and chopped fruit for added flavour and texture)

Preparation of ice cream ingredients

2) Pour the combined ingredients into the frozen ice cream maker

Pouring the ice cream mix into the mixer

3) Mix the ice cream, slowly and gradually (oh, the suspense!)

4) Monitor the texture, which will indicate when the ice cream is ready to be served

Ice cream frozen to perfection

Then comes the best part…

Eat.

Crepes

Observe how goodness wipes badness away.

Eat some more.

Ice cream

Count your blessings.

Repeat.

♥ ♥ ♥

With special thanks to Aliya Dalfen and Judith Logan

Crêpes that conjure

17 Jul

It may come as no surprise to you, given the focus of this blog, that my favourite scene during the entire first season of True Blood revolves around food.

When leading lady Sookie loses her grandmother to the show’s mystery predator, she has no time to grieve in the chaos that ensues. Early in the episode, a particularly pushy visitor mistakes her grandmother’s last piece of pecan pie for just another post-funeral snack. Sookie rushes over, snatches the pie, and clutches it to her chest with a vehement “that’s gran’s pie” as an empathic friend shoos the imposing neighbours away. Much later, in the episode’s final scene, Sookie sits quietly at the kitchen table, alone for the first time since her beloved gran’s death. As an instrumental version of the funeral song swells in the background, she slowly devours the very last slice of the very last pie her grandmother made, and finally weeps.

I thought of the power food has to evoke not just memories of a person but the whole sensory experience of that person. I thought of my own grand-maman and wondered which, of all the foods she has nourished me with, would most evoke her. It was a tough call, but in the end, her crêpes won out.

Crepes de grand-maman

The thing about these crêpes is that they aren’t crêpes in the strictest sense of the word; you don’t spread the batter to distribute it evenly, resulting in a paper-thin crêpe that you can then roll and stuff with fillings sweet or savoury. They aren’t pancakes, either; not nearly as thick and floury as your average flapjack. No, they fall somewhere, deliciously, in between. Their spongey goodness gives you something substantial to chew on while proving light enough to heap with toppings if you choose. Enjoyed the way she serves them, with real butter and maple syrup, they are pure perfection. I’ve never found anything like them outside of my grand-maman’s kitchen.

Never, that is, until I saw this episode of True Blood and missed her so much that I called her up and had her recite the recipe to me over the phone. I proceeded to replicate the steps I’d watched her perform on countless occasions over the years and brought her to me in the best way I could. Interestingly, it isn’t just the finished product, it’s the whole ritual of preparation that conjures up the presence of people who’ve taken us into their hearts and homes and cooked special foods just for us. The emptied yoghurt container filled with freshly made batter awaiting preparation is almost as satisfying to me as the crêpes themselves.

Beyond the fact that I’ve hoarded these thoughts since the first season of a show that’s now well into its third, I share this to illustrate one of the reasons I most love cooking and baking. When we take the time to prepare food for each other, especially recipes that we’ve honed according to our own tastes and those of the ones we love most, we give each other something to hold on to in a world of things that come and go.

Bon appétit!

Crêpes de grand-maman

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

4 eggs

3 tbsp butter

¾ cup milk

¾ cold water

Method:

1.     Melt butter on low.

2.     Combine dry ingredients and sift into a medium-sized bowl.

3.     In a large bowl, beat the eggs then add the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk together.

4.     Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and beat until smooth (3 minutes with hand blender or cake mixer).

5.     Let batter sit, refrigerated in a covered container, for at least 1 hour.

6.     Cook in a non-stick or buttered pan on medium high until bubbles appear across surface of crêpe. Flip and cook until underside is golden brown.

7.     Keep cooked pancakes in a covered casserole in the oven at 200 F to keep moist and warm while preparing the rest of the batter.

8.     Serve with butter, maple syrup, fruit, etc.