It’s summertime! Well, sort of. It’s early June, and while I know technically, summer doesn’t start this year until June 20th, but…technicalities, schmechnicalities. I have made the switch to no socks/flip-flops only, and the air conditioners are in the windows. It’s summer.
Come on, people, you know this game! What do we do in the summer with our food? We grill it and stuff it in crêpes! What do we grill? Vegetables!
*arooo? humina whaaaa?*
Here is where I confess that I am secretly part communist (though many of you could argue that that isn’t quite the secret I might imagine it to be): I’m actually not a huge fan of grilled meat. I don’t know…maybe I’ve had one too many scorched mystery meat burgers or questionably-cooked bits of chicken to allow myself to let go of my outdoorsy-style food issues. Face it, people: watching Grill It! With Bobby Flay can only do so much to help a situation. Any situation. And French food usually equals win, particularly when the food in question are delicate, totally nommy, superthin pancakes whose ingredients can be manhandled so they can be sweet or savory, dinner or dessert.
I’ve mentioned my love for the food item that can multitask. So not kidding. So, so not kidding.
I like buckwheat crêpes because they’re deceptively hearty, even though they’re thin and delicate and lovely. You just can’t eat a ton of them, unless you join some kind of belly buster competition…though the food of choice for events such as those tend to be hot dogs rather than vegetable-stuffed crêpes so chances run pretty high that this won’t make your list of problems to address. Not gonna lie, they take a while to complete–the batter has to rest, and each crepe has to be individually cooked–but they’re delicious and so worth it in the end.
First up: Batter!
Mix your ingredients. Much to my surprise and chagrin, I actually really like and always use Rachael Ray’s recipe, which you can find here. I know it’s de rigueur to pick on The Rach and for a long time I didn’t do any picking because I used to kind of like her. But then I saw her recipe for Late Night Bacon and could barely control my rage. She’s getting paid a bajillion dollars (or is it a kabillion?) to post a recipe stoners have instinctively figured out since the invention of the microwave? For shame, Rach. For shame.
You don’t have to mix the ingredients in any particular order. However, you do want to make sure the melted butter is still melty, but has cooled enough, so it doesn’t “cook” the eggs when they make contact, lest you have scrambled egg bits in your crêpe. You want smoooooooth, not lumpy. And really quite thin. I used buckwheat honey here because nyah, I had it, though it can often be a little too pungent to cook with on a regular basis. If you don’t want to buy buckwheat honey, regular honey is just fine.
Next? This goes in the fridge. Cover it and stick it in there and forget about it for at least an hour, and longer if you can. While it’s chilling and doing its thing, start working on your vegetables.
The beauty of a summer vegetable crepe is you can, really, use ANY vegetables you’d like. Do you want to use corn? Use corn! Asparagus? Sounds great! Tomatoes? Yum. Yesterday, I used onions, yellow squash, green beans, and okra. Cleaned, prepped, and on the grill. In the interests of full disclosure, most veggies were tossed with garlic oil, salt, and pepper. The okra was also tossed with a little bit of smoked paprika, but you can totally leave that off if you neither have it nor care for it.
Then grill your veggies. I cooked them while the batter set up, and figured I could toss them in the microwave if I felt they needed to be reheated. This is pretty straightforward: grill = on, veggies = on top of that. I have a cast iron stove top grill that stretches over two burners, partly so I can still grill in the winter and partly because I’m the girl mosquitos love the most, so standing outside in the early evening surrounded by food smells is like a horror movie for me.
A word about okra, for you haters in the room…yes, when you cut it, it produces a mucilage, which is another word for glue. I understand this triggers the innate fear that once it gets on your fingers you’ll get stuck to the kitchen countertops, where you will perish, sad and alone. Blah blah blah, whatever. It can be a little slimy, this is true. It also tastes incredibly “green” and fresh and delicious, and is a welcome addition to my table whenever possible. And cornmeal-okra fritters are so good they’ll knock you out. Go for it. But I digress. Back to dinner.
Next up: Crêpes!
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but you don’t need any fancy crêpe pans or batter spreaders or anything. This is what you need:
I like to use my cast-iron pan for this but any flat, reasonably large (10″ or wider) pan will do. Measure out your scant (as in, not quite full) quarter-cup of batter, grease up the bottom of your pan (you can use olive oil if you don’t prefer butter, like I did), and go for it. Roll the pan with your wrist, in a circle, so you even distribute the batter in a thin, even layer.
Notice how it’s starting to bubble up a little and get sort of crispish around the edges? It’s getting ready to turn. So gently…gently…get your standard-issue, nothing spendy pancake turner underneath your crêpe and give it a mighty flip.
Repeat until your batter is all cooked up and you’ve got a beauteous stack of deliciousness, just waiting to be filled with more nommy things. Lay each crêpe down on a piece of waxed paper so they don’t stick together, and then just peel off the wax paper as you eat to get to the tender crêpey goodness underneath.
Before I carry on even more poetically about the majesty that inherently resides in a crêpe, I’ll just move on to how it’s finished. Which, really, is pretty simple.
Stuff it full of food.
Here’s the finished product, served with a lovely tossed salad and some braised shallots. It’s on a bed of DIY ricotta cheese which I just made for the first time with organic whole milk, and I’ll never make it with non-organic milk again because it was just that much better. When you make this, be ready to feast, because you won’t want to stop eating.
It’s more time-consuming than difficult, people, and they’re so very, very good. Give them a try. And no matter what you do…Enjoy!