Reading Jane Austen and Cooking Crepes

From 20 May, 2012

The only thing I love more than a classy night out, is an extra classy night in. Recently, I have taken the notion that being able to make a crepe, an authentic, beautiful, perfect crepe, would just about complete my culinary existence.

Up in Portland, my friends and I are quite spoiled when it comes to crepes. Suzette’s Creperie is among several darling little crepe establishments. (The Crepist is one that quite intrigues me, though having a name less romantic than “Suzette’s”). Set in an old carriage house, Suzette’s is the essence of Friday night nostalgia featuring classic movies such as Some Like it Hot and Casablanca. Decadent crepe creations rush back into my mind as I write this, and my desire to make my own crepes deepens. Suzette’s features a delicious chocolate indulgence made with nutella and strawberries that cannot be rivaled. Shamefully, my chocolate obsession has kept me from branching outside of this particular crepe, but once you find a good thing, you don’t let it go! Perhaps one day I’ll try another one.

But yesterday was the day I made my first crepe. Like an adoring parent, I loved and praised even the ugly ones as “unique, and special.” My very own, darling crepes. Here’s the recipe I drew from:

Giada De Laurentiis’ Crepes:

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 10 cubes

Directions

In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt. Blend until the mixture forms a smooth batter.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt 1 cube of butter in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of batter and quickly tilt the pan to form an even coating of batter on the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, until set and slightly browned. Using a heat-resistant spatula, carefully loosen the sides and gently flip the crepe over. Cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining batter and butter, stacking the crepes on top of each other on a plate as they are ready. You should have 8 or 9 crepes total.

A few production photos.

Now a note on “gently flipping the crepe over.” DO NOT BE FOOLED! This is a bit of a pain in the ass. First of all, I may have burned off a finger print or two, and secondly, one does not know heartbreak until he/she has seen a torn or crumbled crepe gently weeping in the center of a nonstick skillet.

But, after one or two rounds of sadness, a beautiful crepe is to be had. After my first perfect flip, I literally air guitar-ed in celebration, it was a magical moment for me.

I made several alterations to the recipe. To the batter, I added a healthy dose of cinnamon (because I adore the captivating aroma), and I made a filling of mangoes, cinnamon, and strawberry balsamic vinegar. Yes, sounds a bit strange, but trust me on this one, it was delicious. Top it with a dollop of cool whip, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and voila!

To continue my classy evening, my mother and I went for a long walk around the neighborhood with the idea of watching the sun set from atop a ridge on the far end of the community. Many hills and bug bites later, and with not so subtle encouragement stemming from my popcorn fixated mind, we turned back and settled ourselves down to continue our Jane Austen masterpiece theater film tour. Last night was part one of Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey the night before. I’ll tell you what, I simply cannot get enough of Mr. Tillney! So much so that I’ve picked up Northanger Abbey to read. I think I’ll go read some now. Happy crepe-ing!

Continue reading

French Macarons

I’m not going to pretend that I am some fantastic cook, but I can boil water, I can make decent guacamole, yeah…

Anyway, when I was home for my Spring Break I decided that I would “up the ante.” What’s up Martha Stewart?

French Macarons: I’ve been obsessed with these little beauties ever since my return from Paris last May. They can’t be that hard to make, right? Continue reading

2013: A quest for cranberries

It was on Christmas day that I had my first taste of my Mom’s new Cranberry Salsa. It may seem odd to end a year with a post about searching for cranberries, but stay with me. After tasting this gloriously sweet-with-a-dash-of-spice dish, and I immediately found myself craving it when it was gone. The next day I went to Raley’s, the local grocer…no cranberries.

“Hehe how odd. Obviously, I am not the only one with a taste for cranberries. Either that, or a lot of people are naturalistics with UTIs….likely the former.”

No matter, we went to Walmart the next day. NO CRANBERRIES. With each failure, my perceived future pleasure of delicious salsa was heightened.

Safeway, no cranberries.
Sprouts, NO FLIPPIN’ CRANBERRIES!!
“What is this new devilry?” My brows furrowed as I panned the scene.

This exceedingly simple and surface struggle hit me as the tangible translation of the year in question, 2013. My resolution for the past year was broad, definitely not a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time oriented). “Go make the things you want most happen. Just do it.” And I’m happy to claim great success.

What did I want?
Skydiving–> umm…because badass
Travel somewhere AWESOME–> Hello Paris and Amsterdam
Do something to make yourself proud–> Does a marathon count? What about a Spartan Race?
Do something cool for someone else–> Bridesmaiding? The act of making the bride as happy as possible.

These, my friends, were my cranberries. They were the things I had wanted for years and years. And through sheer determination I got those cranberries. In both instances.

Back to today, the cranberries were finally obtained at Whole Foods. The recipe follows:

CRANBERRY SALSA

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 clove garlic crushed
3 green onions thinly sliced with greens
3 limes juiced
½ C sugar
1 jalapeno pepper diced small
½ C chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil cranberries in water for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Add other ingredients. Serve with “scooper” chips

And that’s all she wrote. Stay tuned for 2014 Resolutions!

The Wolfgang and I

The Wolfgang and I

This, my friends, is a story about bread.

I’m sure you can imagine my fascination with this culinary staple. It can be the simplest of concoctions encompassing only flour and water, or it can be something much much more. An addiction so strong that no matter how determined you are to avoid excessive weight gain you cannot resist the siren call of glucose-induced ecstasy that is bread.

“I can avoid eating carbs if I wish, but to give up bread entirely, that is a rare gift.”

Well put Aragorn, well put. Now onward! Today’s recipe, my official initiation into the breadmaking world, is a hearty, nutty, texture rich vessel for carrying peanut butter, regular butter, jelly, jam, hummus, cream cheese, nutella. Dare I utter the sinful word again? Nutella….

And seriously, the combinations for bread are endless! Banana bread, blueberry muffins, corn bread, challah bread, bread bread bread bread ahhhhhhhhhh!

Wolfgang Puck, renowned celebrity chef and the winner of the “who wants to name their first child after me” gameshow that I just imagined (seriously, step aside Simon Cowell) created this particular loaf of bread. Here’s the treasure map, destination: deliciousness.

1 1/3packages (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
3cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon honey
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups rye flour
4.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups chopped walnuts
1.5 cups chopped pecans

Instructions for Pecan and Walnut Bread Recipe

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.
Place the remaining water, the honey, both flours, the salt, rosemary or thyme, and butter in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for about 5 minutes. Add the dissolved yeast and continue to knead in the mixer for about 10 minutes. Add the walnuts and pecans and continue to knead until the nuts are thoroughly combined. The dough should come together neatly in a ball.
Cover the mixing bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes at room temperature, or until it approximately doubles in volume.
Knead the dough briefly by hand to remove an air pockets.
Butter and flour three 9 by 5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough in three parts, shape each into a 9-inch cylinder and place them in prepared pans. Let the loaves rise in the pans for about an hour, or until they at least double in volume.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Bake the loaves for about 20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and continue baking for another 25 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool.

Note: Makes three 9-inch loaves

I didn’t have any pecans, so doubled up on the walnuts. I also added dried blueberries, TASTY LIFE!

I couldn’t contain my gasp and look of astonishment when I saw how much the bread had risen.

We only have two bread pans, so I braided one loaf and fashioned it into a little ring, adorable, though a bit more difficult to slice. It was that or fashion it into a dinosaur! Perhaps I made the wrong choice? These loaves came out GORGEOUS! I was seriously in love when the nutty aroma began to waft from the oven to where I sat. I think I could really get into baking bread in the morning, there’s not much else to do at 6:30am! And it was so easy! Can’t wait to try more of Mr. Puck’s recipes!

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