when it’s summer my dates are all off. i thought this past wednesday was july 15, hence my planning our french-inspired menu on that day thinking it was bastille day. apparently the french don’t even call it bastille day anyway (in the same manner that we americans don’t often say independence day), so we “celebrated” the fourteenth of july on wednesday the fifteenth, and since we’re not even french i don’t think we offended anyone. c’est la vie.
i often make crepes because they are really one of my favorite desserts, and i am lucky enough to have a good cast-iron crepe pan, albeit small. my favorite crepe is smothered in nutella filled with strawberries and/or bananas and topped with fresh whipped cream. there’s nothing better in my book. i think i ate about ten of those in my one week in paris.
since i’m trying to expand my cooking horizons i thought i’d try a savory crepe this time, and i chose the ficelles picardes (or a ham, cheese, and mushroom filled crepe from picardy). now mind you, this isn’t a come-home-from-work-and-make-dinner dish. this dish takes time. it’s not difficult by any means, but when you have one crepe pan it’s not a quick venture. you can, however, make the crepes a day ahead and then the filling the next. other than waiting for the batter to rest and then cooking the crepes, things move along nicely. the waiting definitely requires patience, which i am working on.
the bechamel sauce is very easy to make. just make sure to mind it the whole time so it doesn’t clump up. if you do, the sauce is creamy and smooth and oh-so-delicious. since i don’t eat meat i made my crepes sans ham. it was definitely a hit with my husband and myself. not so much for our little one, although he thought that a crepe with strawberries and cream was pretty awesome.
ficelles picardes (ham, cheese, and mushroom filled pancakes from picardy)
from blinis & crepes by camille le foll
for the pancake batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water, or beer
3 T. melted unsalted butter
for the filling:
8 oz. mushrooms
3 oz. unsalted butter
pinch of grated nutmeg
scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups milk
2 T. sour cream
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
10 slices cooked ham
salt and pepper
to make the pancake batter:
put the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center.
beat the eggs in a bowl and add the milk. pour this mixture into the well and whisk the ingredients together, combining them thoroughly. thin the batter down with as much of the water, or beer, as necessary and add the melted butter. allow the batter to rest for an hour.
if the batter thickens after resting, add a little milk. this quantity will make around 10 pancakes (not too thin).
to make the filling:
clean the mushrooms and slice finely. melt 2 T. of butter in a pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms, and toss until cooked. season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of grated nutmeg.
to make the bechamel sauce, melt 2 T. of butter in a small pan, add the flour and mix thoroughly. cook on a low heat for 1 or 2 minutes and pour all the milk into the mixture in one go. whisk vigorously and continuously until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth and velvety. cook gently for a minute or two. add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute. remove from the heat and add the sour cream and grated cheese. season with salt and pepper.
preheat the oven to 350 F. place a slice of ham on each crepe and cover with a layer of the mushroom sauce. roll up the crepes and align tightly in a greased ovenproof dish. dot with the remaining butter and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.