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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Buckwheat Crepes

The first time I ate crepes was about a decade ago. I was was at a very upscale French restaurant for dinner and ended up ordering the crepe with cheese and spinach. While it was tasty, I couldn't eat more than a fourth of it because it was just too heavy. So, I was a bit put off by crepes after that experience. I didn't order crepes again for  a while.  The next time I tried dessert crepes. These were delicious and had fruits fillings. I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, I was never motivated to try making these at home.


All this changed after a visit to Montreal. There was a shop there selling amazing ice cream and crepes. We ordered the desert crepes there and I noticed that there was something different about the crepes. They didn't seem like they were made of all purpose flour and had a great texture and taste. They didn't get chewy even when they had cooled down as all purpose flour ones do. We enjoyed the crepes so much, that I finally asked the person making these what was different about these crepes. This was when she told me they also had buckwheat flour in addition to the all purpose flour. I had never heard of this grain before and I looked for it as soon as I cam back home.

I experimented with the recipe and was able to create one which tastes the same as the one we had in Canada. Once you have the crepe batter ready, you can use it to either make savory or sweet crepes.


Ingredients
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 all purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence (necessary for sweet crepes. optional for savory ones)
1/4 tsp salt (if using to make savory crepes. do not add for sweet crepes)
2 tsp sugar (if using sweet crepes. do not add for savory crepes)


Method
Melt the butter. Put all the ingredients together in the blender and pulse a few times till the batter is well mixed. The batter is ready to use.


The key to making good crepes is to have them be very thin. For this just enough batter to cover the base of your non-stick pan in a thin layer. You may have to make a couple to figure out how much batter you need. I generally need one large layer for a 12 inch skillet. Heat your pan and coat it with a little oil. You can either use a spray or a paper towel dipped in little oil.  Oil is needed because you don't want to heat an empty non-stick pan.  Once the pan is hot, pour the batter using a ladle into the pan and swirl the pan around in one direction to coat the base of the pan. Since the pan is hot, you will not have enough time to use a spatula to spread the batter before it starts cooking. So it is important to swirl it fast enough to spread it around.


Cover the pan for a minute or so. Remove the cover and check if you can easily move the crepe. If so, flip the crepe over and cook it on the other side for another minute.

This is the basic technique to make the crepe. Stack the crepes on top of each other.




You can stuff it with any stuffing you want. Desert crepes can be stuffed with a combination of berries, banana,  sweetened cream cheese or nutella. You can stuff crepes with savory filling of spinach and ricotta cheese. Last time, I made a stuffing of fresh mozarella, spinach, basil and tomato.  This was based on the caprese salad. The crepe was delicious.

You can be creative and try out different options.


Tips
Always use a non stick pan. Do not apply oil after the first crepe. Since oil is applied to the pan surface before the first crepe is made, this crepe may not spread well. You can heat your oven to 200F and keep the stacked crepes in it on a wire rack to keep the stack warm.
The batter will last for a couple of days, if refrigerated.
If you are making savory crepes, and do not want to taste the egg, you can add some spices like a mix of oregano, basil and rosemary or any one of these spices to mask the egg taste. If you decide to add vanilla, reduce the amount you add because vanilla essence makes the crepes smell sweet. 

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