Food For Thought: Nancy Crepes Out

Jun 14, 2017

It was buckwheat all the way down. 

While Nancy Leson was whipping out a batch of buckwheat crepes in Edmonds this past weekend, 39 miles to the south I was mixing the sponge for the next morning's sourdough buckwheat flapjacks. 

Background and recipes below the fold.

Nancy was introduced to the crepe at an early age.

"The first time I ever had a crepe was in high school when my French  teacher invited all the kids over to her house and made them for us," she said.

My love for buckwheat pancakes goes back even further to the childhood weekend breakfasts my mom made with Aunt Jemima mix, subtly seasoned with Chesterfield ash.

A word about buckwheat: that's just what it's called.  In fact buckwheat is in no way even related to wheat.   Now, on to the recipes.

Buckwheat Crepe Batter (adapted from the "Balthazar Cookbook," makes about 8 crepes)

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons melted butter (plus more butter for frying)

Sift the flours and salt into a bowl. Whisk in the eggs and milk, then add two tablespoons melted butter and mix until smooth. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or, even better, overnight).

Heat an 8- to 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan then blot the butter off gently with a paper towel. Take the pan off the heat and pour a quarter cup of batter (my 2-ounce ladle is handy for this) into the center and quickly tilt the pan, moving it in a circle to cover the surface completely with batter.

Return the pan to the heat and cook until the edges begin to brown and the center begins to “dot” with air bubbles (about a minute or so). Run a spatula gently around the rim then lift the crepe with your fingers and turn it over. Cook for an additional 20 seconds or so, then turn it out on a dinner plate or linen cloth to cool. Repeat the process until you’ve made all the crepes — or make half the crepes and save the leftover batter for the next day.

You may fill the crepes with whatever strikes your fancy. I like to grate some flavorful hard cheeses (I’ve had great good luck with a mix of Parmesan and aged provolone), chop some ham, fold the filled crepe into an envelope, then fry it in a bit of butter, turning once, until the cheese melts – about a minute or so.

(Note: You can keep these warm in a modestly pre-heated oven if making one or two at a time.) And I really, really, like making blintzes from buckwheat crepes — using a mix of fresh fruit and cottage cheese — then frying those “envelopes” in butter until the blintz crisps up nicely.

I adapted King Arthur's Sourdough Waffle recipe, my favorite for years, swapping half the AP flour for buckwheat.  I used a rye  starter for the sponge and let it ferment overnight.  Next morning's results looked nuclear. 

Batter up!
Credit Stein / KNKX

"Flattest mouse I ever saw."
Credit Stein / KNKX

"Sure, my brother's dead, my mother's insane.  Let's have a crepe." – Jennifer Donnelly