Spring arrived this week! What is old is new…think mushroom-garnished ham and cheese crepes culled from April 1970 Gourmet Magazine recipes to adapt and adopt as a signature dish. Usually, I use leftover holiday ham in the filling, but this year I couldn't wait. I’m planning to serve these crepes for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Easter Brunch with chilled asparagus and a seasonal fruit bowl.
Breakfast, luncheon or dinner, you’ll receive kudos for your effort. Did I mention that they freeze beautifully for planning ahead for events or spur-of-the-moment entertaining? Schedule a few hours for losing yourself in this meditative culinary project; et voila, you will have about 30 crepes. Caution! You must let the batter rest two hours before engaging in the rhythm of pour, sizzle, tilt, swirl, flip, slide and stack. You could also mix the crepe batter the night before, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When you are ready, beat the batter well with a wire whisk until smooth. Or, prepare the batter the same day, making the filling while you wait.
Ham and Cheese Crepes
7/8 cup all-purpose flour (one cup minus two tablespoons) plus 1/8 tsp salt whisked into flour
3 large eggs
2 tblsp. melted butter, preferably in the frying pan
1-1/2 cups 1 percent milk
2-3 tablespoons additional butter for cooking crepes
One at a time, beat eggs into flour and salt using a wire whisk; poke dough through wires if necessary. Whisk in melted butter. Vigorously beat in milk until the mixture is smooth. Let stand for two hours before using! While batter is resting, prepare the crepe filling.
1-1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup flour
3 cups 1 percent milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
8 oz. Swiss cheese, grated
8 oz. ham, shredded or finely chopped
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
Mushroom slivers to garnish
In a large saucepan, melt 1-1/2 cups butter; stir in flour with a whisk, cooking for two minutes. Gradually add scalded milk while stirring mixture. Beat until thick and smooth, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add ham and cheese; mix well with a wooden spoon. Season with cayenne pepper.
When ready to make the crepes, heat a heavy 5-to-6-inch frying pan over medium high heat. Brush with about 1/8 teaspoon butter until sizzling. Pour a generous tablespoon of batter into pan; tilt and swirl until batter evenly covers the bottom. Cook 20-30 seconds; loosen edges. Crepe should be light brown and easily flipped with a spatula. Brown the second side. Slide onto a wire rack. Repeat. Stack as the crepes cool.
To assemble, spread a generous tablespoon of filling on crepe. Roll up and place in a lightly greased pan or baking sheet. Drizzle melted butter over all. Dust with Parmesan cheese and garnish with slivers of fresh mushroom. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, and cooled later. (Cook’s note: the original recipe called for whole milk. There is no loss in flavor when lightened up.)
The Culinary Corner is special to The Cambrian, and appears on the third Thursday of each month. Send recipes and questions to Consuelo Macedo and Nancy Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.