Monday, August 23, 2010

Parisian Crêpes


Although considered a national dish of France, crêpes are becoming ever more popular in the United States... you just have to know where to look! If you have ever been to Paris, France, Montreal, or even the Paris hotel in Las Vegas, then you understand what it feels like to wake up every morning knowing that there will be numerous crêpe stands at your disposal.  Sadly, unless you live in those locations, you have to actually search in order to find the savory dish.  Fortunately for you though, I have quite an obsession with crêpes, so once I returned home from my trip overseas, I had to embark on a journey to not only find an amazing French restaurant that served crêpes, but to also learn how to create them myself!

Thanks to Julia Child's, the process of making crêpes is fairly simple and they taste just as delicious as if they came straight off the boat from France! There are two versions of the recipe below that are just slightly different.  I have tried both and love both.  It is merely about how many crêpes you want to make. 

Recipe 1 Ingredients: Makes about 15-20 Crêpes

-1 cup flour
-2/3 cup cold milk
-2/3 cup cold water
-3 large eggs
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3 tablespoons melted butter
-Butter or oil for greasing pan
Recipe 2 Ingredients: Makes about 25-30 Crêpes
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1 cup cold milk
-1 cup cold water
-4 eggs
-1/2 tsp salt
-4 tbsp butter
-Butter or oil for greasing pan
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl or blender.  Blend until all ingredients are completely mixed.  If flour sticks to the sides of the bowl then scrape it back down and blend again.  If you are in a rush, you could make them right away, but it is best to cover the batter and let it sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  The batter will be very thin but should still lightly coat the outside of a spoon.  If your batter it too thick, then just simply keep adding a little water until it reaches the right consistency. 
To cook, lightly... very lightly... grease your pan and let it simmer on medium heat.  Take a large spoon or about 1/4 of a cup to scoop out batter portions.  Pour the batter in the middle of the pan and then immediately tilt the pan around until the batter has completely spread over the bottom.  You have to move fast because the batter will begin to cook as soon as it hits the pan. 
Once the batter has spread over the surface of the pan, begin to shake the pan forward and back and side-to-side. This allows the crêpe to loosen up and slide around the pan.  After about 60 seconds, the crêpe will be ready to flip.  If you do not have butterfingers like me, then you can toss the crêpe with a swift flip of the pan.  However, since I always manage to make a mess out of nothing, I prefer to flip my crêpes with a spatula. Once the crêpe has been flipped, the other side will only take about 15-20 seconds to cook.
This is what the crêpe will look like immediately after coating the pan.  Your first few crêpes will mostly likely be trash worthy, but do not get discouraged.  You will grasp the technique very quickly. 


Once you flip the crêpe, make sure it is a light brown as shown in the photo to the right.  After cooking the other side for about 15 seconds, slide the crêpe off of the pan and onto a dish to cool.  They will cool quickly. Depending on how long you wait, you may want to warm them up again before eating.  It only takes 5-10 seconds to warm them. 
Once the crêpes are all made, it is time to dress them how you like and eat up! Not only can Crêpes be served at any time in a given day, but they can also be served in numerous ways, such as cinnamon and sugar, ham and cheese... and of course my favorite - Nutella.  Because I was in the mood for the unhealthiest breakfast, I decided the other morning that I was going to create a "loaded" crêpe for myself.  I smothered on the nutella, a handful of strawberries and bananas, and coconut.  Once I folded up my crêpe, I topped it off with whipped cream. Yum! Okay, so maybe it is not the unhealthiest breakfast in the world, but it would certainly cut years off my life if I ate that every morning. 

Now that you know how to make the mouth-watering French pancake, you can explore some of the crêperie's that are in the New England area.  I was so pleased to be able to find these eateries, because like most people, sometimes I just want someone else to do the cooking for me! 

The most notable restaurant that I have to highlight is the Café Mirabelle in Portsmouth, NH.  Located in the beautiful and historic downtown Portsmouth, Café Mirabelle promises to prepare you a most luscious French meal.  The chef and owner, Stephen Mayeux, originally a Parisian man himself, opened up the restaurant with his wife, Christine.  They live above their restaurant and devote themselves to making sure that customers experience with them are both welcoming and satisfying.  

The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant will make you feel cozy and warm.  It is like a home away from home.  Perfect for couples, you will be sure to make it beyond your first date if you dine here.  If you are not looking for a "couples" place, fear not, because Café Mirabelle offers a little something for everyone.  They have a liquor license and offer a "young" wine and drink list, as they like to say.  The owners will also accommodate parties up to 40 people.  So if you are looking for a quaint place to host your rehearsal dinner or shower, this is the restaurant to call upon. 

As for the food, words cannot describe how tasteful and beautifully prepared the dishes are at Café Mirabelle.  Since this particular post is focusing on crêpes though, be sure to eat breakfast here.  Their entire breakfast menu is comprised strictly of crêpes! There are so many choices that I usually have to order a few different ones so I can sample them all.  Their nutella filled crêpes are of course my personal favorite since I have an intensely large sweet tooth.  Sadly though, they are not always open for breakfast so you will have to call ahead of time.  However, even if they are not open for breakfast, they do still offer a smaller selection of crêpes on their dinner menu. 

For any more information about dining or cooking classes that Café Mirabelle has to offer, visit their website: http://www.cafemirabelle.com/index.html

For some other local crêperies, you can also visit: 

Paris Crêperie - Brookline, MA
La Crêperie Arrow Street Crêpes - Cambridge, MA
Mr. Crêpe - Somerville, MA
Gimmie Crêpes - Peabody, MA

These are also just a few photos from my most recent trip to Paris! 









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