Posted by Mira | Posted in Finger Food, romantic recipes | Posted on 16-01-2011
Anyone can take a date on a picnic but if you don’t have the right goods, then you’re already without a paddle. Although winter’s inclement weather is often a deterrent to outdoor dining, these recipes are guaranteed to remind you of the warmth and sun that’s soon to come. My name is Michael Zhao and over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing you to all my favorite picnic recipe ideas starting with one of my favorites.
Today’s recipe is for what is quite possibly the most romantic food item known to man. I am of course referring to le crepe. I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, straight, gay, or anywhere in between; everybody loves crepes. In fact, we love them so much that we’re willing to shell out anywhere from $5-$8 for one from a professional creperie (i.e. what it costs for a quart of milk, a bag of flour, a dozen eggs, and a bag of sugar). “Wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “that’s all the ingredients for making crepes…” You’re damn right it is! Laymen tend to look at the crepe and think to themselves, “Wow, that’s so delicious and delicate, there’s no way I can make that on my own!” Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that people are by and large wrong most of the time. My hope is that after reading this recipe, you’ll never spend a single penny on overpriced crepes again.
The first time I felt like trying to make crepes was in the seventh grade. I had been spending the afternoon at a friend who I wasn’t particularly fond of. He kept on going on about how awesome he was at cooking and went on to say, “I can even make crepes!” At that point I thought to myself, “well if he can do it, then I sure as hell can as well.” So I went home and made a gigantic mess of my kitchen. This however, did not deter me (my parents on the other hand…), instead I tried again once their anger had subsided and sure enough, it worked beautifully and I’ve never had issues since. The following ingredients list is adapted from my friend (not the aforementioned one), Peter.
1.5 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter (optional)
Butter for greasing pan
*I never use this list. The way I think about it is 1 egg for each cup of milk, and 3/4 as much flour as milk. Plus a bit of all the rest of the fixings to round it out. If you know the ratios for a recipe, you can use it for any occasion!
Wide and flat frying pan
Wooden/bamboo spoon/non-slotted spatula (like for rice)
Spatula, preferably long
Yields 10-20 crepes (depending on size)
Like for almost any batter, put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk/sift together to mix. While stirring, add in milk until completely combined. Then mix in eggs until just incorporated. Overbeating the eggs in any recipe yields tough, unappealing results. Mix in the vanilla and melted butter if using and your batter is complete. It should be about the consistency of a melted milkshake, still a little viscous but very fluid. If it is too runny, it’s probably not an issue but if it’s too thick, you must add some milk or water to thin it out. Otherwise, you’ll end up with fat crepes, and no one wants that.
The most difficult part about making crepes is to get them as thin as possible without having them tear on you. This may seem impossible to do without one of those fancy shmancy crepe griddles and a crepe paddle but it’s actually really easy. All you need is a little bit of butter, a nonstick pan, and a wooden spoon/spatula. The key is to keep the pan from getting too hot. Thus you can spread the batter all over the flat part of the pan, optimizing thinness and as a result, deliciousness. It varies from stove to stove but anywhere from medium-low to medium heat can work. When your pan is hot enough, melt enough butter to coat the bottom. After the initial foaminess of the butter dies down (and before the butter browns), pick up the frying pan with one hand and get a ladle of batter with the other. With reasonable speed, pour the batter into the center of the pan. Then spread out the batter by tilting the pan. If further spreading is necessary, use the spoon/spatula to spread it further (move quickly, the batter will cook fast). Once the batter has set completely (usually no more than a minute), flip the crepe so the other side can brown. After 30 seconds, remove and set flat, on a plate. If saving for later, place in stack, wrap in foil/plastic and put in fridge for several days or freeze for weeks.
As for toppings, I prefer nutella with sliced strawberries but another good one is lemon and powdered sugar but really almost anything works. I’ve used jam, honey, maple syrup, spice-poached pears, ricotta cheese, and all sorts of sliced, fresh fruits. If using nutella, you can pre spread and wrap before leaving for your picnic. For lemon and sugar, I suggest you wait until the actual serving time for the added romantic effect.