Sunday, September 30, 2007

Parisian Crepes

Crepes are classic Paris street food. After burning calories getting intentially lost in the winding streets of the great French city, I've often found a creperie with a corner window that slides open to take the hungry tourists' orders. Sometimes I'd choose savory with "oeuf, fromage, et jambon" (egg, cheese and ham), sometimes sweet with Nutella and banana, always with buerre, "oui, merci", I'd say, as they put a large pat of butter on the hot steele under my crepe. They'd wrap the filled pancake in paper after folding it into a cone for a hand held edible treat. I'd walk down the street, butter dripping down my chin (one time even onto my jacket) as I continued on to discover even more.

When I want to relive these memories, I whip up a batch of crepe batter and fill the thin pancake with egg, ham, and some good and strong tasting, easy melting cheese. I recently used a 4 year aged white cheddar that my parents brought while visiting from Wisconsin- it was delicious.

I find a hand whisk is the best tool to use to first blend the dry ingredients, then whisk the egg into the melted butter, and then lastly to blend all the ingredients together. By using the method below of combining the egg and the butter first, you prevent the butter from solidifying when trying to blend it into the dry ingredients along with the cold milk.

Parisian Crepes

1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or 1 teaspoon Diamond Kosher Salt)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups milk
optional: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (for dessert crepes)

Mix together in medium mixing bowl or batter bowl the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Microwave the butter in a measuring cup or small glass bowl just until melted. Add the eggs to the melted butter and whisk until combined. Add this egg and butter mixture to the dry ingredients along with the milk. Add vanilla if making sweet dessert crepes. Whisk until smooth.

If planning on cooking your fillings in your crepes, have them ready to go before you start the next step. For my savory crepes, have eggs, sliced ham and grated or sliced cheese on stand-by.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour enough batter to coat the bottom of the hot pan, swirling to spread the batter. If using a 12 inch skillet, this will be about 1/2 cup. For dessert crepes, I would use a smaller pan. Cook until the batter appears solid and the underside is just starting to brown. Slide a large spatula under the crepe and flip it over.

For my favorite savory crepes, immediately crack one egg onto the cooked side of the crepe. Salt and pepper the egg to taste, then spread the egg around, breaking the yolk, to cover the crepe. Add the siced ham to one half the crepe on top of the egg and the cheese to the other half. When the egg is almost fully cooked and the cheese is starting to melt, flip the cheese-covered half over the ham and brown the outer side of the crepe to the desired depth. When fully cooked and heated through, crease the folded crepe down the center, folding in half again so the semi-circle is now a cone shape. These can be kept warm in the oven until ready to eat.

If planning to fill the cooked crepes with prepared fillings, cook until the other side is browned and then stack the cooked crepes separated by waxed or parchment paper. Fill with desired ingredients and roll or fold burrito-style.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Click for article: 4 major popcorn makers to drop toxic chemical

When you think about it, it's really amazing how the food industry has taken something as simple to make as popcorn and basically contaminated it by packaging it for the convenience of making it in a microwave. Some added oil, chemical flavorings, and a microwave, and Voila! you have fake butter flavored freshly popped corn. The fake butter flavor is now feared to cause cancer. I can't say I'm surprised. That stuff has no similarity to butter or even margarine for that matter. It doesn't take a genius to realize there is nothing natural about it. I suppose now people will be wishing they hadn't sold their popcorn poppers on that rummage sale so many summers ago.

For those who have forgotten how to pop corn the old fashion way, all you need is heat and corn. If trying it on the stove top, add a little oil along with the unpopped kernals. Keep a cover on the kettle and shake it continuously so the corn doesn't burn. Take it off the heat when the corn stops popping. If you'd prefer to follow a recipe, you're in luck: I found this one for "Plain Popcorn" on epicurious.