crepe variations
This was not my recipe, but they awakened a fire in my belly….
a fire that can only be quenched by… more crepes (and better cheese).

Today let’s cruise through a jungle of crepe variations!

One of the single best benefits of having roommates from all corners of the world is a chance to mash up cuisines, creating new and occasionally wonderful dishes in the process.

I think modern American cooking can be defined by three broad behaviors:

1. Trading
2. Riffing
3. Recreating

No one said we collectively have great taste, but the most obvious traits of american cooking are its restlessness, exhibitionism, and willingness to experiment. As for that last one, Exhibit A: Key Ingredient… An awesome column in the Chicago Reader (Chicago’s free weekly newspaper) that has Chicago chefs dare each other to make something out of psychotic, borderline inedible ingredients. And they do it. And it’s crazy.

American society contains an embarrassment of riches in the form of cultures from all over the world. I talk about Chicago a lot when people ask me about food, because it’s such a very interesting example of mixing and matching, as well as just a all-out-amazing foodie town. Chicago’s socio-ethnic history informs modern neighborhoods in a real and visible way, and many neighborhoods exist as a living record of the last hundred years of people and cultures moving in and out of these ‘hoods. The city is both a global food experiment, and completely & utterly Chicago and midwestern in expression.

As for me? I know what I like, and I know that I’m a builder. Sometimes I get… mildly obsessed.

I periodically go on kicks where I get obsessive about one thing in the kitchen. Whether it’s sussing out the hidden preparations of that hunk of tofu, or just chopping vegetables (I looooove chopping veggies), I just like playing around. I remember one season back in Chicago where I was Captain Polenta Bake. And then there was the phase with the pizza dough. Or the bread maker episode, with all those dried fruits and nuts. Here in Vietnam, there was a brief Pancake Renaissance, and then pizzas, again, banh mi-themed this time (and after I posted that, we grilled a series on the bbq! It… mostly worked!).

So of course I’m about to tell you about how much fun crepes are!

[Disclaimer: Lejla, you were the first person to teach me how to make a crepe. You rule. Cooking party every time we’re in the same country.]

crepe variationsRecently I got a very good refresher from my roommate Antoine.

Linh, Elena, Antoine and I spent an evening making crepes (pictured above), and watching youtube videos, and they both turned out pretty great. It was the first time I’ve made crepes in years.

And sometimes you can’t unring the bell…

Just like that, I was off.

The next two weeks were full of crepes. So many crepes. So many variations. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

First, you need an awesome batter. Easy. After some experimentation, here are the two I liked the best:

crepe variations

Savory Crepe Batter

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2-3 pinches salt
Handful chopped chives
1/3-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Sweet Crepe Batter

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
2 pinches salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar (not powdered)

The great thing about crepe batter is that it will successfully keep overnight in your fridge, meaning that just a quick stir and bringing it to room temperature is all that is needed to make one or two cakes quickly.

Once you have room temperature batter (very important, or you will end up with puffy pancakes, not crepes!!), fire up a pan with a bit of butter. Get it hot and sweaty. Pour batter, about 1/4-1/3 cup, into the pan. Tilt ‘n’ Swirl to coat the pan in a thin layer. When edges caramelize and lift away from the pan, flip pancake and set for about 30-45 seconds.

If you like, add cheese/filling at this time, in a manner appropriate to your intended style of filling/folding.

Now… mwahahaha! Let’s FRANKENSTEIN THESE BEAUTIFUL PUPPIES

Experiment 1:
crepe variations

I was in the mood for sweet (my default setting is savory, so I decided to take advantage of this craving). This is a plain sugar crepe (using the batter above) with some apricot jam. It was great… and a great reminder about why I don’t eat sweet things often. Sooooo sweet! P.S. This is homemade jam that my roommate Betti’s parents brought from Austria recently… Betti is a lucky woman. Just sayin’.

Experiment 2:
crepe variations

Two things are obvious to me at this point: 1. I have a liberal take on “fry in a bit of butter” and my egg ratio was a bit off with this one. (I lack a measuring cup of any kind, so I wing it… which explains why my previous entries in the Psycho Asian Comfort Food series are so vague.)

This filling is a straight up fromage homage (SWOOSH COUNT IT).

We’ve got a savory crepe filled with edam, swiss, and light cheddar, as well as a bit of soft white cheese (Laughing Cow… it melts delightfully).

Experiment 4:
crepe variations

[Experiment 3 had too much sugar – I set those crepes on fire. Twice.]

Back to savory, after my last disaster of an experiment! I tried a different wrapping technique for this one. It’s filled with sauteed mushrooms and basil. It ended up being good, but I wasn’t happy with the presentation. It looks too much like an omelette, and hides the beautifully crispy edges. But the chives turned out great in this batch.

BTW I grow these chives on my roof! Garlic-onion.

Experiment 5:
crepe variations

Sauteed green and red bell peppers (capsicum) and laughing cow cheese. A different plating experiment, but only because I wanted to see the contents of the crepe after the last experiment.

Experiment 6:
crepe variations

Here we can see the natural culmination of our author’s mad experiments. An extra-sweet crepe batter, filled with sauteed onions, fresh green olives, and munster cheese. I just don’t know when to stop.

Thank god. It was delicious.

Experiment 7: 
crepe variations

I couldn’t really step away from this mini-obsession without busting out the mushrooms, could I? Of course not, don’t be silly! This one (with a bit of an egg-y batter) was stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, sweet onion, and bacon. It was just a regular batter – no extra sugar this time. No cheese either – it was fatty enough as it was.

People dying of starvation all over the world… And here I am, putting anything I can find inside a fancy pancake. Except tofu. Tofu in a crepe sounds like gross overkill….

Although… maybe sweet tofu and fruit… hmmm………

Got any suggestions? What do you put inside your crepes?