Once upon a time in our nearby community of Bryn Mawr, there was a high end kitchen appliance store with an adjacent kitchen stuff store that was also a cooking school for amateurs—a national chain oddly enough called Viking. It had nice kitchen equipment that we would occasionally browse for fun (the small stuff, not the outrageously expensive appliances) and even purchase an item now and then, but one Christmas a thoughtful and generous sister-in-law gave us a gift certificate to use for a cooking lesson there. It took a long time for us to actually follow through and use that certificate, by which time we had to add a chunk of cash to afford an event for two—"Date Night in Paris." We were about 7—some couples and a single, and the chef—and it was great fun. The menu had 7 items (they give you a complete recipe document to take away at the end, besides getting to eat the food) but bob only remembers the entree "coq au vin," which is French for chicken boiled in wine, and the dessert: crêpes suzette. Technically the full title was "flambéed crêpes suzette." The chicken dish was notable because you pour an entire bottle of decent red wine into the pot, which means the price per serving is jacked up a bit by the economics of alcohol, and we even made the recipe at home at least once later on, it was good, but for some reason evaporating off all that drink that could be put to more effective direct use must have been enough of an ambivalent impediment to prevent many recurrences of the execution of the dish. So back to the crepes, which turned out to be a threshold removing event for ani. If you've never done this flambéed crêpes suzette thing before, you don't realize that not only is it pretty easy, but the payoff is high. A simple delicious dessert that not only does not overwhelm you in the land of supersized dessert portions (after all it is French, they have a reputation for getting food right, especially portion size), but it makes a great impression for guests at a home dinner, not to mention that flaming kitchen stove action which it pretty dramatic, and the remarkable taste without loads of sugar and fat that often characterize American desserts (like bob's cheesecakes).
So ani with practice became a relatively expert crepe maker and flambé-er until one university social event when the subject came up in dinner chatter with a faculty wife and we promised a crepe lesson to put her over that crepe threshold too. Except that it took more than a year for that to come about as well. For which event we bought her an excellent new 9 inch nonstick crepe pan better than our traditional 8 inch nonstick pan that we (okay, ani) had been using all along, and an equally excellent thin silicone spatula that was perfect for loosening up the crepe around its border to flip briefly to cook the up side. The dr bob team traveling cooking school (delegated to team member ms_ani) did the event at the target wife's home after her lovely dinner with friends (including us) and realized that the new technology made it even easier to produce exceptionally thin good quality crepes, so we purchased one soon afterwards for our own use (that is, for ms_ani, one crepe expert in a kitchen seems to be enough). And we seemed to be having more crepes after this culinary intervention than before as a result. Testifying to the positive benefits of philanthropy: be generous to others and it will come back to you (sometimes).
Then along came a wedding shower. What to get for the prospective bride? Already living with her intended groom, so they probably had all the essentials already. So as beneficiary of all this crepe making, and liking to think of himself as the idea guy for the cooking team, bob decided Karina needed to acquire the crepe skill. A present that would have lifelong consequences. Like the king of garlic presses by Kuhn Rikon which had reached the crazy price of 40 bucks by then, but well worth the price for its unmatched quality of performance and elegant stainless steel design. Which ani contributed to the decision for the total kitchen package gift of crepe pan, spatula and garlic press. It was a female only event, so bob was excluded, but okay, traditions are hard to change.
One trick we learned from our cooking lesson that is invaluable is to have a plastic squeeze bottle for the crepe batter. After letting it rest a bit in the fridge, you just squeeze out a portion over the base of the pan to start each crepe. Makes it so much easier. One of those was in the gift pack as well. We had gifted this cheap trick to Mary (see above) a year before a mutually agreed upon cooking team workshop could be arranged, as a catalyst for action. But it was ready for use when we arrived and made all the difference. A silicon brush also facilitates adding a minimal amount of butter to the nonstick pan.
All this chatter about how easy this is from someone who lets his partner do all the work is probably not very convincing to someone who is only reading these words without going through the light bulb moment of an actual workshop event. Too bad, because this is really good and easily made a part of one's kitchen skill toolbox. So we will probably have to follow through with Karina and offer her a lesson at her home (in return for her offering us a free meal of course). Looks like it may take a while to finish this story. (We move slowly.)
|2 egg recipe||3 egg recipe|
|3/4 c||1 1/8 c||whole milk|
|3 oz (generous 1/2 c)||4.5 oz (generous 3/4 c)||unbleached all -purpose flour|
|2 T||3 T||unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for pan|
|2 T||3 T||granulated sugar|
|1/2 t||3/4 t||fine salt|
|1 T||3/2 t||cognac or orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)|
|sauce:||(enough for either size recipe)|
|1/4 c||orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)|
|1 T||orange zest (about one medium orange)|
|1/4 c||freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)|
|1 stick (8 T)||unsalted butter|
|4 T||granulated sugar|
|confectioner's sugar (for garnish)|
|optional but effective garnish:|
|fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or some combination|
|8 x 8in, 4.5 x 9in||12 x 8in, 9 x 9in||crepes (serving: 2 per person), leftovers keep well in the fridge|
|4 x 8in, 2 x 9 in||6 x 8in, 4 x 9 in||servings|