Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Eating Crespelle in time for Pancake Day

Every year since Meals with Morri began, I’ve missed two extremely important days of the year. More often than not, it would be a day later when everyone shares their take on the celebrations, and more often than not, I’d curse loudly.

But I was determined this year. I finally made it, and it came out beautifully. Finally, I was able to celebrate Mardi Gras, also known as Pancake Day!

As a kid, I didn’t eat pancakes as a way to indulge before Lent. I usually wore green, gold, and purple plastic beads and masks at school, and ate King Cake at home. Beyond that, it was just a fun way to mark the forty days before Easter. But with a food blog, I was more focused on pancakes.

There are two days that specifically celebrate pancakes during the year (as if you’d need a reason): Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, which falls on various dates depending on the year, and National Pancake Day (U.S.), which falls on September 26th. The former was historically to use up all of the indulgent ingredients before fasting. The latter is widely celebrated but is informal, kind of like someone saying:
“Hey man, we should get, like, as many people as possible to eat pancakes today.”
“Why not?”

I’m celebrating pancakes today. And upon further speculation, I realize Meals with Morri needs more pancake recipes.

Every country seems to take a different spin of what a pancake is. CK is a firm believer that pancakes and crêpes are different food dishes, and will often jokingly sigh and say, “They say pancakes, but they mean crêpes.” Personally, I think they are related: both are a flat griddled cake that varies in thinness, although he is technically right. Culinarily speaking, there is a difference between the two, and how they are eaten varies. Pancakes, thin or thick, are typically laid flat and eaten with toppings whatever ingredients you can think of. They also can have additional flavors added to the batter. Crêpes, however, can and do have toppings, but they also have fillings and are either folded or wrapped to accommodate them. Other than spices, adding anything remotely lumpy to crêpe batter will lead to a lumpy crêpe. And that's no buono.

But to celebrate being in Italy, I’ve included crêpes as part of Pancake Day. Why? Because, to me, pancakes and crêpes are family, and each country makes the dish its own unique way. Italians call their version crespelle. They appear to have the same ratio of ingredients as the French crêpe, but they have a multitude of uses I wouldn’t think to incorporate for recipes. They are baked, used much like lasagna noodles. They are cut up into slivers and put in soups. But they are also used like I have seen them prepared: filled and topped with amazing combinations. 

It's wonderful.

I’ve made crêpes twice before now, but this was a dish that CK believed I’d outdone myself with. The batter was perfectly thin and the crespelle themselves were easily flipped. There were no modifications I wanted to make on the flavor. He was right: we could do a lot of different things with this crespelle recipe. And believe me, we will.

I even made a video on my YouTube channel to show you how to make it!

I modified Manuela Zangara’s recipe for crespelle, which can be found on her food blog Manu’s Menu. The filling was the result of my asking a few of my Italian friends what fillings I should use, and someone replied by saying radicchio and cheese. Thus, radicchio and cheese.

Happy Mardi Gras (and Pancake Day), everyone! 

Crespelle with Radicchio and Gorgonzola Piccante
For the crespelle
350 ml milk
2 eggs
75 g buckwheat flour
90 g rice flour
30 ml melted butter
1 pinch salt

For the filling
1 Small red onion, finely diced
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
1 head of Radicchio longo*, thinly sliced
200 g Gorgonzola Piccante**
100 g Mascarpone
15 g butter
1 tbsp. (10 g) Rice flour

Seasoned red sauce, hot, for topping***

Heat a batch of red sauce on low heat in a saucepan, and either keep warm or set aside for later.
In a medium bowl or pitcher, combine the egg and milk to form a mixture, followed by the dry ingredients and melted butter.
Set it aside for ten to fifteen minutes.
In either a crêpe pan or a large, flat sauté pan (I used a no chemical non-stick pan), melt a small piece of butter or a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat.
When the pan is ready, lift and tilt the pan sideways.
Use a ladle to pour the batter on the lowest side and swirl until the batter covers the bottom completely.
Let the crespella (sing. for crespelle) cook until the surface dries, and then flip to cook the other side for another thirty seconds or so.
Repeat the process until all of the batter has been used up, and set aside to be used immediately or stored for future meals.
Put another sauté pan (or the pan you used to make the crespelle) on medium heat, and lightly drizzle with oil.
Follow with the garlic, onion, and radicchio; cook until soft, and set aside.
Lastly, put the cheeses and butter in a small saucepan on medium-high heat, either directly over the stovetop or with a double boiler; once melted and thoroughly mixed, slowly add the rice flour.
Bring together the ingredients, the radicchio and melted cheese as a filling, and fold the crespelle to your preferred style and shape.
Top with the warm red sauce and serve hot.
Makes 8 crespelle.

*Radicchio comes in a few different varieties, but you will mostly find what are referred to as long (like Belgian Endive) or as a head (like a small cabbage) in your local market.
**Any semi-soft blue cheese would work in this recipe.
***Red sauce = tomato sauce.

(Completely unrelated, but there are apparently parts of Russia where it’s not Pancake Day, it’s Pancake Week. Seriously, why are we not doing this?)

1 comment:

  1. So intrigued by these savory pancakes, Morri! I've always been a fan of crepes and savory pancakes, but don't make them often enough either. Thanks for the inspiration!