Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crepes Milanese

Doesn’t this dish just sing out “Spring”? Well, the recipe grabbed my attention when I skimmed an old Sunset 2002 Recipe Annual. I’m a lover of crepes in all presentations; flat stacks of crepes, folded dessert crepes, rolled savory crepes, simple crepes, elegant sauced crepes, filled crepe purses… they are all good.

Then there’s the attraction of vegetables and eggs paired for breakfast or brunch, or lunch, or a light, late supper. I’ve already carried on about breakfast hash with eggs and braised kale with eggs, so it’s no surprise that asparagus and eggs would appeal as well.

This might be a girlie thing, or maybe it’s just me. RL would rather have oatmeal or cold cereal instead of eggs-plus-anything for breakfast, so this isn’t a regular item in my galley. That’s too bad, because it is delicious and looks so scrumptious on the plate. Crepes Milanese must wait for guests, or my solo dining pleasure.

Crepes are simple to make, and make the cook look so accomplished. They freeze and hold well, so I make a large batch for spur-of-the-moment use. Flambe some fruit for a quick crepe dessert. Saute wild mushrooms to fill crepe purses for an appetizer. Fill one with brie and fig jam for a heavenly snack. The list goes on.  

   Crepes Milanese
based on a paperback, Sunset Recipe Annual 2002
Yields: 2 individual servings

2 large crepes or 4 small crepes**
2 thin slices prosciutto (about 1/4-oz each)
2 large eggs
6 to 8 asparagus spears, rinsed and tough ends removed
3 Tablespoons shredded parmesan or asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Butter 2 shallow ramekins (4x6 inch ovals or 4 to 5 inch rounds). Gently fit 1 large or 2 small crepes,dark side up, into each ramekin; the edges will extend over the rim.
Lay a slice of prosciutto smoothly over each crepe.
Crack an egg into a small bowl; then being careful not to break the yolk, slide the egg onto the prosciutto. Repeat for the second ramekin.
Set the ramekins in a 10x15 inch baking pan for easier handling. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven just until egg yolk is softly set, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large frying pan, heat 1 inch of water over high heat until it boils. Add asparagus and cook until barely tender when pierced, about 4 minutes depending on thickness of the stalks. Drain.
Divide the cooked asparagus equally between the two ramekins, placing spears beside the eggs. Sprinkle with the cheese, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

To take this dish over the top, ladle on a splash of hot pepper hollandaise before serving.

Crepes, a Basic Recipe
Yields: 15 6-inch, 12 7-inch, 8 8-inch crepes

3 large eggs
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
About 2 Tablespoons melted butter

1.  Use a blender or food processor to whirl the eggs, flour and milk until smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary. You can whisk it by hand, but it is very  tedious that way.
2.  Choose a crepe pan or flat-bottomed frying pan and prewarm it over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot brush the bottom lightly with melted butter.
3.  Before the butter browns pour a premeasured amount of batter into the hot pan; quickly tilt and swirl to coat the bottom. A crepe spreader works wonders here, but I don’t own one. For smaller 6-inch or 7-inch crepes, use about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of batter for each crepe. An 8-inch pan will handle 3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons of batter per crepe.
4.  Cook until the edge is lightly browned and the surface looks dry, usually 30 to 60 seconds.
5.  Run a wide metal spatula under the crepe’s edge and shake the pan a bit to make sure that the crepe is loose. Use the spatula to turn the crepe over and brown it lightly on the second side, about 5 to 10 seconds. Slide the crepe onto a flat plate, or tip the pan to release the crepe.
6.  Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking crepes on top of each other as you finish each.

1.  If the pan temperature is just right, the crepes will set up at once, forming tiny bubbles on the surface. If the pan is too cool, there won’t be any bubbles; increase the heat slightly.
2.  Tradition has it that the first crepe will be a throwaway, so don’t panic if it tears.
3.  The batter for thin crepes has the consistency of whipping cream. For thicker, puffier crepe whip the egg whites and fold them into the batter.
4.  Place a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe as you stack if you are cooking crepes ahead of time. This will make them easier to separate later on. They will hold in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
5.  Wrap a stack of cooled crepes with plastic wrap or store in a ziploc bag to freeze. Be sure to bring crepes back to room temperature before separating and using.

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