Bonjour and welcome. I wish I could tell you that spring has sprung in Minnesota but alas it has not. Just this past weekend, I watched in horror as two feet of snow fell over 24 hours.
Looking through Great-aunt Helen’s recipe boxes for a dish to make for this post, I did not look for warm-weather fare. That said, I’m done with soups and roasts and hotdishes and the like. What then?
A gift of a box full of Helen’s papers from my mom has sat under my desk for over a year and I finally decided to dig through.Much of what I found highlighted her time spent in Great Britain: The Degas catalog from the 1952 Edinburgh Festival. A guide to Ludlow Castle, described as “one of the most romantic Castles in Britain.” Playbill from Daphne Laureloa, “a new comedy by James Bride” at Wyndham’s Theater. Program from a Coronation (as in Queen Elizabeth II) Performance of Hiawatha at Royal Albert Hall. And so on and so on. What a time she must have had geeking out on British culture. Her stash is precious and priceless and pretty much took by breath away.
But England wasn’t the only country represented in this pile. Helen’s passport had pages of stamps from her time spent abroad. And it was clear that she sought out culture no matter where she went.Two of the most stunning examples were a beautifully drawn program from the Grand Ballet de Monte-Carlo and an elegant magazine-like booklet from her viewing of Othello at Théatre National de L’Opéra in Paris, France (though it apparently was performed ” en Italien”). These beauties, with their glossy pages and glam photos, make playbills and programs of today look a bit shoddy.
At first glance, Helen’s recipe collection is neither glossy nor glam, though we’ve seen before than she had surprises hidden within the 3×5 cards. Guacamole, Brazilian Rice, and a fun pineapple drink called the Chi Chi are no big deal now, but these recipes certainly must have stood out at least a bit in their day. I’d like to think the same of her recipe for Crepes. Perhaps she first enjoyed them in France?
Admittedly, you don’t need this recipe for crepes. Anyone can go online and find any number of recipes for these paper-thin pancakes. I’ve made them before myself, but was curious about Helen’s recipe. For starters, she lists ingredients but no method.Making the crepes didn’t seem overly mysterious–pour batter into a pan, then cook both sides. Fill with something fun and bon appetit.
But I still had to guess on pan size (used 8-inch cast-iron), preparing said pan (melted about 1 teaspoon butter before pouring in batter), and amount of batter per crepe.After starting with 1/4 cup, then reducing to 3 tablespoons, I ended with 2 tablespoons batter for each crepe as I wanted the crepe thinner than what I was getting. Helen’s recipe struck me as a bit eggy, which was confirmed by studying other recipes, most containing more flour and fewer eggs.Making the crepes was easier than I’d expected, at least with this batter. After pouring in the 2 tablespoons batter, I swirled the pan to coat, then cooked over medium or so heat before carefully lifting a side and flipping. When it was cooked through, it slid onto a plate and was filled and topped with fruit and whipped cream. Omitting the vanilla would make for a savory crepe well-suited for fillings such as ham, cheese, etc.
These crepes reminded me more of a thin and light omelet than they did floury pancake-like crepes, though they were still tasty. That better crepe recipes are out there (and better crepe-makers as well), I don’t doubt. But this is Helen’s recipe; it represents her life and her travels. In this, it has no equal.
Merci beaucoup and Bon Appetit! is where I will leave you. Please return next week for a wish of Salut! as we sip what may be a French-inspired cocktail to accompany Helen’s crepes.