September 13, 2016

Get creative with crepes

Crepes are a classic of French cuisine, but they are also endlessly adaptable. These thin pancakes can deliver a huge variety of savory or sweet ingredients, making either a satisfying meal or a terrific dessert. When you master crepes as part of your culinary academy education, you can develop several versions that suit your particular cooking style and tastes.

Craft the perfect crepe
Before you can add your preferred fillings, you have to make the pancakes themselves. It takes some practice to get the consistency of the batter and the heat level just right. However, you can make the process much easier on yourself by using a nonstick pan or a properly seasoned crepe pan.

The Kitchn’s recipe for crepe batter includes flour, milk, eggs, salt, and melted butter. For sweet crepes, you may also want to mix in sugar and vanilla. Combine the ingredients with either a blender or a whisk and then let the batter rest for at least half an hour.

Place the pan over medium heat with butter or canola oil to coat. Pour in a quarter cup of batter, swirling it around to achieve an even spread. Cook each crepe for about 30 seconds, allowing the bottom to lightly brown, before flipping and giving the other side about 10 seconds. When the batter sets, slide the crepe onto a cutting board or cooling rack.

Crepes Suzette is a classic dish every chef should try.Crepes suzette is a classic dish every chef should try.

Sweet success
Sweet crepes are a fantastic choice for dessert or a weekend breakfast. For classic flavor, try preparing crepes suzette with the directions provided by Bobby Flay, which include orange liqueur and orange zest in both the batter and the sauce. Prepare the sauce by boiling orange juice, adding zest and sugar and then lowering to simmer. About five minutes later, take the mixture off the heat and pour in the liqueur, plus oranges cut into sections.

Megan Garrelts, a pastry chef at the Leawood, Kansas farm-to-table restaurant Rye shared with Bon Appetit how fruit and a little technique can go a long way to making an irresistible treat. This recipe calls for preparing the crepes with cornmeal, as well as vanilla and sugar, to achieve a heartier product. Before you make the pancakes, roast shelled pistachios in an oven set to 350 degrees for six to eight minutes. Top the crepes with the nuts, sliced pears, quartered figs, whipped cream and a little honey.

Savory options
Food & Wine suggested several ideas for savory crepes that are perfect for dinner. A dish inspired by Vietnamese cuisine features shrimp, pork and bean sprouts while other options include smoked salmon or wild mushrooms and Gruyere. As these recipes demonstrate, the pancakes provide plenty of chances to experiment with interesting flavor combinations.

If you like a little sweetness in your savory meal, try Half Baked Harvest’s approach to crepes. The filling consists of spinach, artichoke hearts, pepper, garlic and both brie and Parmesan cheeses. It’s all topped off with a drizzle of honey sauce prepared with olive oil and parsley.

For students in online culinary certificate programs, learning to make a range of crepes is a must. Once you get the basics down, you can explore many exciting approaches to these delicate pancakes.