Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crepes and Fire

A few weeks ago I went to a cooking class with the subject "Sweet and Savory crepes." Some of you may know or guess that I like crepes. Especially ones like this:

Photo by swperman on flickr

Some of you might even know that I have made crepes before. But I'm sure none of you will be surprised to learn that I jumped at a chance to take a crepe class, for free (with LOTS of samples.)

We started out the day with sweet crepes. We were shown how to make several different sauces and the crepes themselves. Then we moved on to savory crepes. Stuffed with chicken and cheese and drenched in sauce ("to prevent them from burning") and then thrown under the salamander. We even made a cake with layered crepes and custard and, I believe, nutella. This was topped with a thin layer of white sugar and then we got to blow torch the top of it. This was very similar to a favorite dessert from when I was little, pancake pie. (Although that recipe didn't involve a blow torch.) The recipe was from a book called Pancake Pie by Sven Nordqvist (translated from the original Swedish). The plot, as described on amazon is "Despite many difficulties, a farmer named Festus is determined to celebrate his cat's birthday by baking a pancake pie." The book includes a recipe. Basically one makes crepes and layers them between alternating layers of fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The result would look like this:

Photo by Sheila Steele on flickr

Back to the cooking class...We were wearing plastic gloves, flipping crepes with our hands, and having a good time. Little did I know the best part. We got to play with more fire. This is something that my brother was a specialist in back in the day. I wish I had a picture, but imagine something like this. Campfire, failed attempts to roast marshmallows because the flames were never allowed to die down to coals, completely intrigued six year old...

Photo by zen on flickr

The mixture that becomes the sauce for the crepes involves mixing brown sugar and butter and then some sort of alcohol. Grand marnier, peach schnapps, raspberry liquor. But if you use a gas stove and the right twist of the pan, after adding the alcohol you can flambé the sauce. Like this
Photo by cogito ergo imago on flickr
Everyone was pretty impressed with the flames I got on mine. It was just about the coolest thing in the kitchen. (Or, the hottest thing rather.)

From an email to my mom:
The crepe class was one of the coolest things ever because we got to flambé. Basically we threw booze in our sauce and then used the gas cook top to light it on fire. One of the highlights of my summer, most definitely. I don't think I'll be able to convince Ben that I should try it at home ;)
I am writing this now because tomorrow I'll get to help the sous chef serve up crepes to the public. (er...semi-public?) I think the crepes are pre-made and so we'll be making the sauces and serving. I went by last week (the first Wednesday after the class) to say that I wasn't going to be able to make it, but that I would come this week. She said she had a stack of aprons waiting.

If you don't hear from me it could because I went a little crazy with the flambéing. Or it could be because I have to go and socialize and network tomorrow night. Assuming things go well, I'd be up for showing off my skills in other locations as well. You just might want to have a fire extinguisher handy.

Photo by ziggiau on flickr


Simon said...

I love crepes. Especially with nutella. Although the best crepe I ever had were with lingonberries. It was some kind of Swedish thing. It might not technically have been a crepe, but it had all the properties of a crepe, namely being flat, sweet, and delicious. I don't know where to get lingonberries outside of Sweden, but my goodness they are delightful.

Katie said...

I LOVE crepes with nutella! (Ok, so I basically love anything with nutella.)

You can buy ligonberry jam from IKEA. It is awesome. They also probably have it at Wegman's. Lingonberry jam is especially delightful with swedish meatballs.