Crepes

Crepes are one of those mysteries of life. It takes a bit of practice to get them right, but having a good base recipe and the right tools definitely helps the process along. While I have a favourite crepe stand at the Saturday market here in Belfast, it’s quite satisfying to make a bunch of them at home. I have three recipes for crepes: the standard, the savoury, and the sweet. They’re all variations on the same basic ingredient list, and there aren’t really any changes in the preparation.

A note on picking the right pan: Some dishes don’t really care what pan you use. Crepes are not one of those dishes. They’re French. They’re snooty. Pick a pan that is heavy, as this will provide good heat distribution. Look for the “shoulders” of the pan to be steep for pretty, round crepes, and for the sides to be short and flared out for you to flip it easily. Your crepes will love you for it, or, at least, tolerate your existence for long enough to provide a tasty meal.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter (plus a bit for the pan)

Hardware:
Crepe-approved pan
blender
refrigerator
spatula and additional flipping tool (a cake-frosting knife works really well if you happen to have one of those lying around)
covered bowl for early preparation storage, if you wish
cutting board
stove
large plastic sealable bags for storage, if you wish

Standard preparation:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and place on pulse setting for 10 seconds. Allow the batter to sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour; it will keep for up to 48 hours. You can leave the batter in the blender glass if you wish, or you can pour it into a covered bowl. The method really doesn’t matter, but it is important to let it rest so as to allow as many bubbles to escape as possible. Fewer bubbles mean fewer tears.

Heat your pan and add butter to coat the surface. Pour one ounce of the batter into the centre of the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip over. Cook for another 10 seconds and then lay flat on the cutting board to cool evenly.

Continue the process until all the batter is used.

Crepes can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for a few days or the freezer for a couple of months. Make sure you allow frozen crepes to thaw lying flat before trying to separate and use them.

Savoury crepes:
original recipe +
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped herbs, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.

Sweet crepes:
original recipe +
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons liqueur (whatever flavour you would enjoy)

Yetenet’tere Zeyt

Yetenet’tere zeyt is an Ethiopian spiced oil. The recipe calls for olive oil, but I accidentally used vegetable oil the first time I made it. The olive oil definitely makes for a better end product, but any type seems to work. I used it to make my favouriteĀ lentil soup*, but it’s great as a marinade base for meats, a dressing for mixed vegetables, or the beginnings of a salad dressing. Add some of your favourite spices if you want, such as red pepper flakes or a bit more garlic.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon chopped ginger root
2 cups water

2 cups olive oil

Hardware:
saucepan
mortar and pestle (or something else you can use for mashing)
metal spoon
stove
sieve or cheesecloth for straining
glass jar with tightly-closing lid

Directions:
Mash garlic and ginger into a paste. You can choose to leave it a bit thicker, but the flavour will not be as strong.

Heat water and oil in saucepan on medium heat. Stir in garlic, ginger, onion, and basil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until all the water evaporates. (A tip from me: the oil will be sitting on top of the water. If you smell the oil beginning to cook, the water has evaporated. If you are paying close attention, a little bit of cooking the oil won’t hurt it.)

Allow the oil to cool. Strain the oil with the sieve/cheesecloth into a glass jar. Close tightly, adding a piece of plastic wrap inside to seal more tightly, if necessary. Store in the refrigerator.