The Crêpes of Roth (and Bialas!)

When Gil and I visited Quebec City last July, I toured the city on foot during the day while he was working. My very first stop was the year-round farmers’ market down along the water. It was July, so produce was abundant and I ate my fill of flavorful wild blueberries and local cheeses, but once I tried Marche ou Crêpe, my breakfast for the week was decided. No tourist trap, this; it was out of the way enough that I never ran across huge crowds, plus I enjoyed a delicious crêpe each morning that sustained me through a day of climbing the hilly, winding streets.

Since then, I’ve tried my hand at making crêpes from time to time without much success — my sad little pancakes tear or fold over on themselves, inevitably imperfect thanks to my substandard technique — so when Kasha suggested a cooking/shooting play date around the theme of crêpes, I jumped at it. If you don’t know Kasha, she’s the brilliant mind behind The FarmGirl Cooks, one of the faces of Bialas Farms at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market and, as it turns out, a crêpe-maker extraordinaire. So we got together last Thursday and I think I’m still stuffed from the occasion. I contributed some Cajun and Creole fillings, while Kasha made ALL THE CRÊPES along with a savory and a sweet filling. Here’s how it went down.

Mushrooms — I sautéed shallots in butter until they were soft, then caramelized thinly sliced mushrooms in the pan, added a little thyme, salt & pepper, and a touch of cream to finish it off. Once we assembled the crêpe, it seemed a shame not to drizzle it with truffle oil, which was a good call.

Ham & Cheese — Kasha made a scrumptious bechamel loaded with jarlsberg, which went perfectly with a slice of ham. Folded into a little pocket and baked until everything was warm and gooey, this was easily my favorite of the bunch. (Gil’s, too, once he sampled everything Thursday evening.)

Cajun Shrimp — This was a play on shrimp & grits, minus the grits. I essentially used this Emeril recipe, though I didn’t really measure ingredients, and swapped out the red bell pepper for celery. I used much less broth than called for, too, just because such a loose filling would’ve made it impossible to eat. Over the weekend, I combined this leftover filling with the crab filling to make a stuffing for trout, which was excellent. Do try it sometime. (And I highly recommend Emeril’s recipe for Cajun seasoning included at the bottom of the shrimp & grits page. I make it without salt so I can season my dishes as much as I want — which is generally a lot — without turning them overly salty.)

Crab — My dad makes an awesome crab filling for stuffed peppers which I thought would be excellent here. Unfortunately, the lump crab meat I bought wasn’t nearly as good as the stuff he gets back home, but it was still quite tasty and very simple to make. Just sauté minced shallot in butter until soft, add a little flour to make a blond roux, then pour in heavy cream or half-and-half and cook until thickened slightly. Add crab and simmer until warmed through and the flavors mingle, then season with salt & pepper or Cajun seasoning to taste. I topped the crêpe with a sprinkling of paprika to fancy it up for the camera.

Grapefruit Curd — Kasha’s inspired creation. Instead of the more typical lemon curd, she played around with grapefruit, and accented it with tequila whipped cream and lime zest. Like I said, INSPIRED.

Bananas Foster — Because you can’t have savory Louisiana-inspired dishes and not finish with this. Again, I didn’t really follow a recipe, but melted brown sugar and plenty of butter in a skillet, then added bananas cut into quarters (halved lengthwise, then halved again crosswise). I flipped them a few times until they were softened, then added some spiced dark rum to the pan and let it cook down a bit. It would’ve been criminal to waste the leftover whipped cream from the grapefruit curd crêpes, so we repurposed it as a topping here instead of ice cream. You could always use the traditional banana liqueur in the recipe if you have it, then add rum and flambé the whole thing, but I have a distinct fear of flambé and a pantry lacking banana liqueur, so we went the easier route.

Naturally, I paid the price for eating so much gluten, but it was worth it to me. I’ll work on a good gluten-free crepe sometime (not just buckwheat) and will post it here once my technique catches up with my imagination. It could be a while, though. Just saying.

Be sure to check out Kasha’s take on the day at The FarmGirl Cooks. And bookmark her site. You’ll learn something new everyday, I promise.

a few outtakes after the jump

Shrimp & Andouille Crêpes

Crêpes with Chocolate-Strawberry Jam & Whipped Cream

Bananas Foster Crêpes

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