I am in dire need of comfort food. Seriously. I can’t take anymore reality this week.
My most beloved comfort food is not mac n cheese, or pizza. It’s the humble crepe. I have many fond memories of dining at an old chain restaurant called The Magic Pan – which was an all-crepe restaurant. And my first real restaurant job was at the Two Sister’s Creperie in Los Altos California. (I was the dishwasher – most important job in the kitchen!) But it has been ages since I made them, so I decided to give the family a treat. They prefer them filled with sweetness, like jam, Nutella, bananas and chocolate, or a dollop of chocolate mousse. But not me. I’m a salty bastard, and prefer my crepes oozing with ham and cheese, creamy spinach or spicy sausage. Come to think of it, I like them plain too – straight out of the pan – or cut into chiffonade and used instead of noodles in a plain broth, as in the antiquated Consommé Celestine. Yup, that’s me. Old and plain.
I have a great flat French iron crepe pan that I boosted from some restaurant I worked at once. They make beautiful crepes, but beginners might prefer a non-stick skillet. Chefs differ on whether or not its necessary to cook both side of the crepe by flipping. I am a flipper, unless I have to make thousands of them, in which case … that is way too much effort.
Crepes will keep for a day or two in the fridge, and they freeze great too. Use them for wrapping up your favorite sweet or savory filling. See below for Crepes Suzette.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
zest of 1 orange
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Let butter sizzle, and cook until solids sink to the bottom to toast and blacken. Remove from heat, add vanilla and zest, and set aside to cool.
- Combine cooled brown butter, eggs, flour, milk, water, salt in a blender, and mix to the consistency of thin cream. Refrigerate 1-3 hours.
- Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon butter, let it sizzle, then add enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Cook, swirling the pan, for 1 minute. Flip and cook the other side another minute, until golden brown. Turn out onto a plate, and repeat with remaining batter.
For Crepes Suzette, beat together 4 ounces of softened unsalted butter and the freshly grated zest of 2-3 oranges. Spread a thin layer of the butter on the inside of crepes, sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, then fold into quarters. Melt a tablespoon of orange butter in a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon sugar and 4 folded crepes, and cook until golden brown and caramelized on each side. When done pour 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur) cook briefly, and ignite. (Use a match or tilt pan slightly to ignite with gas flame.) Serve immediately.
I am continuing my campaign against everything “Pumpkin Spiced.” My strategy is to provide actual pumpkin foods, which I adore.
If you read the last post, you are now ready to graduate from homemade noodles to homemade stuffed pasta. Congratulations!
The first time I heard of these raviolis, they sounded kinda gross to me. I grew up knowing pumpkin only in pie, and the idea of a savory application was super-weird. But I was raised right, so I kept my opinions to myself, and I tried them. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and the squash family.
The sweet creamy texture of roasted squash is so perfectly paired with browned butter and sage – the two flavors melt together in my mouth like … like butter. To top it off, these ravioli are finished with a crumbling of an amoretti cookie or almond biscotti, a stroke of genius that I can only attribute to a culinary savant. Whoever you are, I am not worthy. Make this filling first, and let it cool while you make the fresh pasta recipe from last week. Invite all your friends over for a autumnal feast, then make them do the dishes.
1 pound pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 recipe pasta dough
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
3-4 leaves fresh sage
3-4 amoretti cookies or almond biscotti, crushed
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 450˚F. Toss cubed squash with olive oil, bay, and thyme, and spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes. Stir squash occasionally for even browning. Cool completely.
- Transfer cooled squash to a food processor, and blend. Add eggs, cream, salt and pepper, and process to a smooth puree. Set aside.
- Roll out 2 sheets of pasta dough to the thinnest setting of your pasta machine. Brush one sheet with water, and use a teaspoon to place equal mounds of puree, about 2 inches apart, down the length of the sheet. Lay the second sheet of pasta directly on top of the first, and press around the mounds of pumpkin to seal the dough. Us a cookie cutter, pastry wheel, or knife to cut out the ravioli, and set them aside on a baking sheet dusted lightly with semolina. (Do not overlap moist, fresh ravioli). Repeat with remaining dough. Scraps of dough can also be easily re-rolled.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat melt butter with sage. Let butter foam, then let the solids sink to the bottom and brown before removing the pan from the heat. Set aside.
- Bring a huge pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add raviolis carefully. The raviolis will sink to the bottom, and slowly make their way back to the surface. When they come back up, in about 3-4 minutes, they are done. Drain them well. Return the brown butter pan briefly to the heat to re-warm, then add drained ravioli. Toss to coat, then serve with a sprinkling of crushed amoretti, and a dust of Parmesan.