This week, I have been enlightened ... for better or worse. A magical IM from Paris on the Upper West Side invited me to a Shrove Tuesday supper of crepes. I'd fallen in love with their amazing wonderfulness in France. During my Parisian wanderings I often stopped to gaze into creperie windows, watching the masterful technique using giant pans and crepe squeegees (see photo). It looked so easy, but something about it was so daunting...
But thanks to the Shrove Tuesday crepe feast, I've realized how easy they are. Sweet crepes and Bretagne-style galettes (savory, made with buckwheat flour and cooked with salty butter) were on the menu, along with a host of possible fillings. For the galettes: Hickory smoked bacon, Emmental cheese, melty leeks, and mushrooms sautéed with sage. For the sweet crepes: apple/pear/rum compote and rhubarb/blood orange compote. It was, perhaps, one of our most satisfying meals ever.
Completely obsessed for the next few days, I purchased some buckwheat flour from International Grocery on 9th Avenue between 40th and 41st. I found a galette recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini (a wonderful Parisian blog and the first place I go when researching French recipes), and went to work. Realizing I really should invest in a scale (the rest of the world weighs dry ingredients), I converted the measurements and tweaked the amounts to guess at a half-recipe, since I was just cooking for myself. I ended up with:
Galette Experiment #1
(makes 7-8 crepes)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup regular wheat flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
Bretagne or Norman-style salty butter
(today's filling, melty leeks--see below--and goat cheese)
Put all ingredients into a blender or bowl. If using a blender, pulse lightly until well mixed. If using a whisk or fork, beat until blended. Place batter in refrigerator for at least two hours, but overnight is definitely best (the batter takes on the quality of a true galette the longer it rests).
Heat a crepe or frying pan over fairly high heat, then add a liberal amount of salty butter to coat. Stir batter to make sure it's mixed again (the flour will settle a bit while resting), then pour a ladle-full into the pan, tilt and move pan to coat evenly. Cook until bottom is nicely browned, then flip. Top with ingredients of your choice (they will warm up while the second side cooks). When the bottom's nicely browned, fold and serve hot.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
Thoroughly wash leeks (dirt often hides between leaves, so keep an eye out while chopping). Slice the white and light green portion into strips that are about 1 inch long by 1/2 inch wide (save the green parts for a stir fry). Heat butter into a sauté pot or pan with a lid. Add leeks and sauté until they begin to wilt. Add the stock or water, cover, and cook for about 30 min (until the leeks are very well done and look "melty"), checking occasionally to make sure they're not sticking or burning. If there's liquid remaining, cook uncovered until it evaporates. Serve with anything--in a crepe, as a bed for fish, etc.