Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ricotta Part Four: Crepes

A few weeks back some friends and I went out for dinner to a restaurant that specialized in crepes.  They were so good that a few weeks later we went back again!  Ever since then I have had crepes on the brain.  Are they hard to make?  Could they be made healthy?  Is it possible for crepes to be "everyday nutrition"?

I think that I tried to make crepes once back in high school after learning about them in french class.  I would venture to say that they didn't turn out well and perhaps I spent a lot of time cleaning my mom's kitchen of crepes gone wrong.

Knowing that savory crepes are usually filled with some combination of cheese, meat and vegetables I thought I would give it a try again and use some of my ricotta, yes, I still have quite a bit left!

So I started out with a simple batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

To make it healthier I used a reduced fat butter.  Mix everything together with a wire whisk (or whisk attachment in your mixer) for 4 minutes.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Because there are eggs in the batter it will puff up if it is used right away, something that we want in pancakes but not crepes.

The recipe called for brushing the hot non-stick pan with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter for each crepe.  I did this, cringed slightly at the amount of fat that I was adding, but figured it was necessary to avoid having to use a brillo pad  later.  WRONG!  The first crepe turned out horrible, it was impossible to flip and completely broke apart. 

So into my mouth (no sense in wasting batter!) it went and I started over. 

This time I decided to trust my nonstick pan and added no butter, which ended up being the best method and the healthiest!

I poured 1/4 of a cup batter into the center of my hot non-stick ungreased pan.  I then swirled the pan immediately so that the thin batter covered the bottom. 

About 30 seconds later it appeared to be done.  I ran my spatula around the edge of the crepe and flipped it.  You know that the crepe is ready to be flipped when you pick the pan up, shake it and the crepe moves back and forth on its own. 

A quick flip with the spatula, about 20 second on the other side and you are done.  Seriously, so much easier than I thought it would be.

Now for the fillings.

Filling # 1: Chicken and Mushroom

1 can of prepared cream of mushroom soup
1 cup cut up cooked chicken breast
1 cup diced portabello mushrooms

Put all items into a sauce pan and cook until thickens slightly.

Now build your crepes.  Spread each crepe with a few tablespoons of ricotta and lots of the chicken and mushroom mixture. 


Roll and serve drizzled with some of the left over filling.

Just like in a french restaurant, right?  :)

And now for dessert...

Anyone who knows me knows of my sweet tooth so this meal would not be complete without a few sweet crepes as well!

Filling # 2: Raspberry Chocolate Crepes

Spread each crepe with 2 tablespoons of ricotta, add raspberries, drizzle with melted chocolate chips, roll, drizzle with a little more chocolate and enjoy!

While these seem indulgent remember that:

1.) We used reduced fat butter
2.) Additional butter wasn't needed to make crepes in a non-stick pan
3.) Creamed soup was used for crepe filling instead of higher fat sauces
4.) The majority of the filling ingredients (chicken breast, fat-free ricotta, mushrooms, raspberries) are healthy
5.) This recipe makes ALOT, 4 dinners to be exact, and saves really well.  I kept the crepe batter and fillings in little containers in the fridge and pulled them out when I was ready for a quick dinner or snack.

So to answer the questions above... NO, crepes are not hard to make, YES, they can be made healthier and DEFINITELY, they are part of everyday nutrition!

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