Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Good Food, Good Friends, Good Gosh, Let's Eat

"That was the best that we've eaten from this book." M said to me after he'd done all the dishes following our crepe gathering. (That's right, he did all the dishes. I do so love him.) There were a bunch of people over at my place to sample crepes on Monday January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. day since most of us had it off or were going to work later in the day.

11 people gathered around our dining room table. There is something in my genetic code that stresses that I should cook for lots of people. I think that J feels the same way. Why else would we cook 5 recipes of crepes all in one fell swoop? (Shakespeare either created that phrase or made it popular in Macbeth, 1605, who knew? The people at did.)

The crepe section of RLB's Cake Bible -- actually there isn't really a section, but they are all placed in the same chapter -- starts on page 110 and proceeds through page 118, there are Chantilly Crepes. The Crepes Suzette, Lemon Crepes Suzette, Lemon Creme Illusion Crepes all start with one recipe of the Chantilly Crepes. The Chocolate Velour Crepes with Orange-Apricot Sauce are unto themselves as they are a chocolate batter, well, duh.

Rule #1 Measure twice, cut once. Important in carpentry and equally important in baking. Originally we were going to quadruple the recipe for Chantilly Crepes. Luckily we checked to see if the blender would hold that much. It doesn't. So we only doubled it. Again, as in the past, doubling is so much easier than halving a recipe.

It never occurred to me to use corn starch for anything other than sitting in the cupboard taking up space, waiting to be used in gravies, the occasional Chinese style sauce or lemon meringue pie. Who knew it could be so useful.

The Chantillly Crepe is one of my favorite types of batter. Put all ingredients into a blender, blend and you're done.

I've never made crepes before. I'd always thought I wasn't too good with pancakes, but given Carb Fest '08, and this crepe extravaganza, I realized that I'm pretty good at crepes. Each and every one of the Chantilly Crepes ended up being perfect. I didn't have to throw out the first one, it was great. (A bit too much butter in the pan, but hey, it looked good and really after all the butter cream we've consumed, what's a touch more butter really going to do?) Light and lacy, I did have to fight my desire to create pancake style or Swedish pancake style crepes. While some may have been too thick, they were all firmly in the crepe family.
Pan shot - a thing of beauty.....

This is the staging area, just before the
pan sauces appear and all Hell breaks loose.
You try flambeing in public. That is legal isn't it?

The Crepes Suzette were light and airy, and the sauces, both the traditional orange, and the lemon (both pictured below) were exceptional. As K said, "I can see why these are so popular".

(Orange) Crepes Suzette

(Lemon) Crepes Suzette

The Lemon Creme Illusion were the most amazing things. You create the crepes and fill them with the Lemon Creme Illusion (RLB pg 266). It's a Light Italian Meringue and lemon curd. It is a creme that is a bit loose. More like a sauce in its own right. Once filled, the crepes are placed in an oven and baked until they are lightly golden, puffy and way delicious. A light sprinkling of powdered sugar was all that was necessary.

Lemon Illusion Crepes

Sadly, none of the Chocolate photos came out. And, by the time we realized this, all of them were gone. The Choclate Velour Crepes with Orange -Apricot Sauce were changed a bit in the making of them. We realized, about half way through the creation of the crepes that neither of us had picked up the apricot preserves. You can almost hear my shrill, panicky tones, "Quick what are we going to do? The people will be arriving soon. Can we send K out to get some? Have someone bring it with them?" Janet, ever the calm one in the kitchen said, "Hey, I brought some of the Raspberry sauce that RLB has had us make for previous recipes." (It is by far our favorite sauce we've made in this whole experiment -- so much so, that we've made it three times.) So, we substituted the raspberries for the Apricot, because both J and I like raspberry and chocolate together, and because that's what we had!

The chocolate crepes were a bit trickier to cook than their Chantilly counterparts. But again, these crepes are a dream to make. You can see then filled and folded just before saucing, above. The fuss was really in the timing. This time, J and I decided that we'd start earlier so our hungry guests don't have to wait too long to get to the table. At carb fest, we were off by a lot. With the crepe party, we were only off by 1/2 an hour. Each time we'll get closer to the exact timing. And, that is really my major kitchen flaw, timing. Either the food is ready way too early and cold or it's not ready in time and people are chewing off their own arms in hunger. This time, luckily no arms were chewed during the making of this meal.

After it was all served, Santiago (our infant brunch guest) had eaten an entire crepe, and The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz was being finsihed, J turned to me and said, "You know, I really did like the chocolate crepes best."
Now that is noteworthy.

1 comment:

kevin said...

I liked the stuffed crepes best, followed by the Suzettes with orange and lemon. The chocolate ones were my least favorite, though everything was good. (Are crepes like pizza, is there's no such thing as a bad one?). Overall the whole spectacle was amazing, though conversation lagged for a bit as our collective maws were filled with sweet, carby goodness. The extent of my help was to be Keeper of the Bacon at the table, and I took this role seriously. Umm, bacon.