In this menu, the crepe batter should be made first, as it should rest 20 to 30 minutes before using it. The fillings for the savory crepes[ and dessert crepes can be assembled within 30 minutes but the crepes themselves should be made to order in front of your guests — let them try making one themselves! Cooking the crepes to order provides entertainment for your gathering and includes your friends in the fun of preparation.]
- Basic Crepes:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup brandy, optional, use additional milk if you omit it
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- White Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to your taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 pinches
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream, eyeball it
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, 8-ounce brick
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 cups broccoli florets, available pre-washed in produce section
- 2 boxes chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
- 1 pound thick sliced baked ham from deli counter, chopped
- 12 ounces cooked lump crabmeat, available fresh in plastic tubs at fish counter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
- 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Dessert filling:
- 2 (16 ounce) cans pitted black cherries
- 1 orange, zested
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 rounded tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons warm water
- 2 jiggers Kirsch or Amaretto liquer
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for dusting
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
For the crepe batter, combine flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add eggs milk and brandy to the well and whisk to combine. Stir in melted butter. Cover batter and set aside for 25 minutes.
For the white sauce, cook butter and flour 2 minutes over moderate heat in a preheated medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and season sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Simmer over low heat 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and heat sauce through, another 5 minutes over low heat. Turn burner to warm and stir sauce occasionally to avoid a skin forming. Whisk in a little milk if sauce thickens too much to ladle.
To assemble fillings, place cheeses in small bowls with serving spoons. Cook broccoli florets in simmering water or in 1 cup of water in the microwave for 3 minutes on high. Drain and place steamed broccoli in a bowl. Defrost spinach in the microwave oven and drain well. Transfer drained spinach to a kitchen towel and wring to remove any residual liquid. Fluff spinach with finger tips and set into a small serving dish. Place chopped ham into a bowl with serving fork. Drain and separate lump crab meat and place in a serving dish with a seafood fork.
For the bacon and mushroom filling, heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and bacon and saute 3 minutes. Add chopped shallots and sliced mushrooms. Season the filling with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes until mushrooms are just tender. Transfer filling to a serving bowl.
To make the dessert filling, drain cherries over a saucepan to catch the juice. Heat the juice, orange zest and cinnamon to a bubble over moderate heat. Combine cornstarch with water and stir to the hot juice. Remove the cinnamon stick. Allow sauce to thicken then stir in cherries and Kirsch or Amaretto and keep sauce warm over very low heat. When your are ready to serve dessert, place filling in crepes, wrap and brush with melted butter. Top crepes with powdered sugar and serve.
When guests arrive, allow them to help make their own crepes to order. Crepes should be made in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with just enough batter to coat. Turn the crepes with a toothpick or a very thin spatula.
Possible combinations for fillings: cheese or cheeses melted into white sauce with broccoli and/or spinach, warm white sauce with crab, ham with cheese or ham with cheesy white sauce, cheese with bacon mushroom filling, etc. The fillings are only limited by one's taste buds.
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