Saturday, June 8, 2013

Simple Crepes + Breakfast Crepes with Mushrooms, Spinach, & Eggs

It's a long weekend here in Sydney, with Monday off for the Queen's birthday. (Not QE II's real birthday, mind you, but her commemorated birthday date in Australia... except for Western Australia. Commonwealth holidays can be confusing!) So we're enjoying a beautiful, crisp, sunny 3 days' break. Planning to walk down to the beach this afternoon, then maybe head into the city tomorrow to read all day and sip coffee at a café.

To kick off the weekend yesterday morning, the hubs suggested trying out a new crepe place that just opened around the corner from us. When we lived in London's beautiful village of Hampstead, just a few stops up from the city centre on the Northern Line, we used to indulge a little too often in the famous creperie stand on Hampstead's high street. Some weekends, the line (queue) would be a block and a half long, everyone waiting patiently while the two French cooks inside the tiny metal stand churned out savory and sweet crepes. They were folded into big triangles and given to patrons to-go in triangle-shaped cardboard wrappers with a fork and napkins, and cost only a few pounds each. While they poured batter and skimmed the flat wooden paddles across the crepes to make them huge, thin, and crispy, the cooks chatted back and forth in French, reaching across each other to grab cans of ratatouille, heaping spoonfuls of sautéed spinach and fresh shredded cheese, or big spoonfuls of Nutella. Every time we ate a crepe, standing in the little laneway just behind the cart, that little corner of Hampstead felt like our own authentic mini-break to Paris.
Hampstead Creperie @ SouthernSpoon Blog, via GourmetTraveller88
I hope they serve crepes in heaven. Beautiful pic of the
Hampstead Creperie in London from Gourmet Traveller 88.
We haven't had a crepe since we moved to Sydney's north shore from Hamsptead almost two years ago, so this new creperie around the corner looked enticing. But when I had a glance at their (small) menu, I was taken aback by the prices. For one crepe! Sydney is notoriously expensive (ranked as the 3rd most expensive city in the world this year by The Economist Intelligence Unit), but this was just silly. I suggested instead that we make crepes at home-- how hard can it be? One of my college roommates used to make them all the time, without any of that fancy equipment: the big, flat, crepe griddle, the long wooden paddle to smooth out the batter. So we did. And they were easy, incredibly delicious, and we got a whole half dozen of them for a fraction of the cost of just one at the recently-opened creperie.

Breakfast Crepes with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Eggs @ Southern Spoon Blog
Delicious breakfast crepes with mushrooms, spinach, garlic, cheese, and an egg. 
This is an easy, fool-proof crepe recipe that can be used for savory or sweet fillings, serving as a main course for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Your imagination is the limit for turning a stack of crepes into a creative meal or gorgeous dessert. Keep a few in the freezer and warm them up in the microwave for a quick start to a meal or a tasty snack. Below the simple crepe recipe, I've given the method we used to make some spectacular breakfast crepes, full of sautéed mushrooms, garlic, spinach, topped with melted cheese and a fried egg. These were filling and truly delicious, and could easily serve as a main course any time of day.
Breakfast Crepes with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Eggs @ Southern Spoon Blog
Crepes in the morning: breakfast bliss
My next crepe mission: to make the mouth-watering crepe cake from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Be fearless and try your hand at crepes!

Simple Crepe recipe @ Southern Spoon Blog
Simple crepes. Super easy, and ready to serve as a base for creative breakfasts, dinners, or desserts.

Simple Crepes
makes 6 crepes
adapted from Cooking Light

1 egg
1 cup milk (I used skim, any fat content will do)
2/3 cup flour (I used 1/3 cup whole wheat and 1/3 cup wholegrain spelt flour)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (or buckwheat, wholegrain wheat, or wholegrain spelt flour)
pinch of freshly ground sea salt
oil for coating pan to cook crepes (I used extra virgin olive oil)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and milk until combined. Add the flour, flaxseed, and salt, whisking to combine. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for 15-30 minutes while you prepare your fillings.

To cook the crepes, heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Coat with a thin film of oil. When the pan is hot, pour a scant 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the centre of the pan, lifting and tilting it in a circular motion so that the batter spreads out into a wide circle. Set the pan back on the stove top and cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the crepe can be easily moved around the pan with a spatula and is golden brown on the bottom. Flip the crepe over and continue to cook for another 30 seconds to one minute, until golden on both sides.

Set the cooked crepe on a plate and cover with a paper towel, square of parchment/baking paper, or wax paper, and repeat with remaining batter. Make sure to layer the cooked crepes with a paper towel or similar so that they don't stick together as they cool. To keep them warm as you're cooking the entire batch, place the cooked crepes in a pre-heated 100C/215F oven. Serve warm with your choice of filling. (See Breakfast Crepe recipe suggestion below). Or just go with Nutella, always a winner.

* Storage Tip: Store cooked crepes, layered with paper towels or parchment paper or wax paper, in a freezer-proof bag in the freezer. To use, reheat crepes in the microwave until warm.

Breakfast Crepes with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Eggs
Serves 2 (multiply ingredients as required)

2 cooked crepes
extra virgin olive oil for the pan
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups baby spinach leaves
pinch of freshly ground sea salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs

Heat a thin film of extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until they begin to turn golden around the edges. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the minced garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the spinach, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

Turn the oven broiler (grill) onto medium-high. Lay the two crepes on a large baking sheet. Distribute the mushroom/spinach mixture over the crepes, and top each crepe with the shredded cheese. (Save the sauté pan for the eggs). Place the baking tray in the oven about 5 inches from the heat source at the top of the oven, and crack the door open an inch or two.

While the crepes are in the oven with the cheese melting, make two fried eggs. Return the sauté pan to medium heat, add a thin film of oil, and cook the eggs sunny-side up: until whites are opaque but the yolks are still runny. Keep an eye on the crepes in the oven to make sure they don't burn. (If the crepes are done before the eggs, turn the broiler off and move the baking tray to the middle of the oven so that the crepes stay warm).

To serve, place each crepe on a plate and top with a fried egg. Serve open-faced, or fold the crepe in half to keep the filling warm. Serve immediately.

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