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Food and Drink / Column

A retro meal gets a makeover

Crêpes can star in any meal or serve as dessert. And — gasp! — they can be made healthful.

Dorothy Grover-Read’s culinary talents can be found on her blog, “The New Vintage Kitchen” (vintagekitchen.org), billed as “[a] Vermont innkeeper’s collection of classics reimagined for today’s kitchen.” Her column regularly appears in The Commons’ Food & Drink section.

BELLOWS FALLS—While the humble crêpe has fallen in and out of fashion through the decades, I have observed eyes lighting up whenever they are served, whether as part of a simple supper or an elaborate dessert.

I have several recipes: my mother’s, my mother-in-law’s, and my own recipe, which I’ve fiddled with over the years to make them (I’m whispering now...) healthy.

By swapping out the white flour with a white whole-wheat flour, substituting canola oil for the melted butter, and using low-fat milk, you can serve these crêpes up to your family with much less guilt.

The makeover crêpes are every bit as tender as white flour crêpes, and they have a slight nutty flavor.

What I like best about this dish is that everyone can pick their own filling! My grandson loves his with cheese or something savory, while his sister has the sweet tooth and prefers hers with fruit and yogurt.

Crêpes keep for several days in the refrigerator, and they freeze nicely as well, so you can have some on hand for a quick meal. The meal need not be breakfast! We love them for a simple supper as well, or, perhaps a ladies’ lunch stuffed with something special, like smoked salmon, or creamy seafood and mushrooms.

You can fill these with just about anything! I’ve included a few quick suggestions, but let your imagination take the lead. In my book, they never go out of style!

Crêpes

In your blender, place:

¶3 large eggs

¶{3/4} cup milk

¶{1/2} cup water

¶1 cup white whole-wheat flour

¶3 Tbsp. canola oil

¶Pinch of salt

Process just until well combined, 20 seconds or so. With a small spatula, remove any flour sticking to the sides. If you are not using a blender, whisk well.

Let the mixture set for {1/2} hour while you prepare fillings. The batter is best if you make it the night before, and doing so will save you time in the morning. This gives the flour and liquid a good chance to get acquainted.

To make the crêpes, heat an 8-inch omelet or crêpe pan; non-stick works best, but a seasoned cast-iron pan is good, too. The pan I use is non-stick and 8 in. on top, but the bottom is 6 in., so that is the size of the crêpes.

Heat the pan over medium high. Brush with canola oil, and add the batter with a 1{1/2}-ounce ladle, or a little more than an eighth of a cup; it should be thin enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a little tilting and twirling around. If not, add a little more water.

You can use a larger pan if you like, adjusting the amount of batter you pour in. After you make a few, you’ll get the feel of both the amount to use and the heat setting of your stove.

Let the crêpe cook for 1 minute or so, until set. There should be no wet batter on top, and it should shake easily in the pan with the edges loosened.

Turn the crêpe when slightly browned, and cook it for another 30 seconds or so. Flip it out so the first browned side will be presented when rolled or folded; it always presents better than the second.

Depending on the filling (recipe to follow), either roll it up, or fold in half over part of the filling, then fold again into a triangle.

Mushroom, Spinach, and Shrimp Crêpes with Gruyère

After you have made your crêpes, set them aside, covered.

The shrimp are optional but recommended. You can also swap out another green, such as Swiss chard.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, devein, and cut in half:

¶1 lb. medium shrimp

Set them aside.

In a large skillet, over medium high, heat:

¶2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Once hot, add:

¶1 onion, sliced

¶10 ounces mushroom of choice, sliced

Sauté until the vegetables are all tender. Add:

¶3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed

¶1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, or {1/2} tsp. dried

¶2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

¶1 carrot, ribbon sliced with a vegetable peeler

¶Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté for 1–2 minutes, then add to the prepared shrimp:

¶8 ounces damp baby spinach

Stir everything together, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted and the shrimp has cooked through.

Fill the crêpes with 1–2 Tbsp. of the filling, and top with:

¶8 ounces Gruyère cheese, divided among

Roll up the crêpes, or fold into halves and then triangles, and serve as is. Or, place in a casserole dish, top with more cheese, cover, and place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese in nicely melted.

Nutella and Strawberry Crêpes

This is one of the quickest and easiest desserts if you have the crêpes all made! You can use any fruit that goes well with chocolate and nuts, such as orange segments, fresh cherries, a super sweet pineapple, or bananas.

To each crêpe, spread {1/2} of the inside with:

¶1 Tbsp. Nutella or other hazelnut and chocolate spread

Top this with:

¶2 or 3 strawberries, chopped

Fold the crêpe over, and fold again into a triangle.

Sprinkle with:

¶Powdered sugar

And top with:

¶A few more strawberries, sliced

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Originally published in The Commons issue #547 (Wednesday, February 5, 2020). This story appeared on page C1.

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