If you think a crepe is pretty much like a pancake, you’re in for a surprise. The thin, light French “street delicacy” is at its best when serving as a savory shell for cured meats, eggs and cheeses — but I’m getting ahead of myself. Making crepes at home is remarkably easy, and somehow more elegant than flapjacks. Plus, as any Parisian will tell you, the beauty’s in the filling. Of course, a Parisian would also tell you that you can’t make proper crepes without a crepe pan. Feel free to do it anyway.
Sift the flour, salt and optional sugar together and set them aside.
Mix the eggs, milk and optional vanilla, then add them to the flour mixture, mixing well.
Keep stirring until small bubbles rise to the surface, then add the butter.
Some recipes recommend letting the batter stand for a little while. I usually give it at least a few minutes to “make friends,” after which I usually can’t wait any longer.
Lightly oil a flat skillet or griddle, and heat it on medium.
When it’s fully heated (test it with a drop of batter), drop 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan. Twist and turn the pan to spread the batter as evenly and thinly as possible.
Let it cook for a minute or so, until browned. Flip and cook 30 seconds on the other side.
Here you’ve got two main options: savory or sweet. And may I just say that, while almost everyone knows that a banana-and-chocolate crepe is divine, few have indulged in the splendor of Gruyere cheese, ham and egg. Get creative and try new combinations; you won’t be sorry.
For sweet crepes, add slices of any type of fruit, then sweeten with honey, sugar, whipped cream or chocolate. Add lemon juice, Grand Marnier or amaretto to intensify the flavor, and if you’re feeling adventurous, pop in some mint, basil or another fresh herb. Cottage cheese evens it all out and adds a little protein. Fold your sweet crepe in half twice to create a triangle, and sprinkle it with powdered sugar.
Get creative: Try this balsamic strawberry filling.
For savory crepes, start by sauteeing mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onion or other flavorful veggies. Add them to the crepe, and top with bacon, ham, turkey or chicken. I even ate frankfurter crepes one time in Toulouse. Top with a layer of cheese (Gruyere, chevre, Jarlsberg and Swiss are all outstanding), and if you’re feeling especially festive, add a sunny-side-up egg. Once again, don’t skip the herbs and spices, particularly black pepper. Fold the edges of your crepe inward, creating a flat square with a hole in the center (for the egg to peek out).