I was schooled in classic French cuisine as the gold standard in culinary school. Still, I am an Italophile myself, admittedly preferring the Italian way of doing most things over the French way -- when you're able to tell the difference, that is (in reality, that's only about half of the time). But I'll readily admit that the French have contributed many amazing things to the world, not the least of which is French food. They've given us a number of dishes that no one else, in my opinion, has been able to equal or improve upon, items like: cassoulet, choucroute garnie, beef tartar...escargot with butter and parsley, pissaladiere, salade nicoise...chocolate mousse, the croissant, the baguette, and bread and patisserie in general. If you're not familiar with any of the dishes I mentioned, look them up, and then go eat them. The sooner the better.
As for savory crepes? Well, there's the famous beggar's purse: a small crepe filled with creme fraiche and caviar, tied with a chive, made famous by the Quilted Giraffe restaurant in Manhattan. I made a version of those crepes at a recent pop-up dinner (Chanel 'beggar's purses'). Of course savory crepes are great as breakfast or brunch dishes. They're great "containers" for eggs and ham and cheese, a very French trio indeed.
And the Italians eat savory crepes in place of pasta, sauced in a casserole in favorite comfort food dishes like crespelle alla fiorentina (crepes filled with a ricotta and spinach mixture, rolled, and sauced with some besciamella and/or tomato sauce, and baked in the oven like lasagna). They can be stuffed with anything, really -- sauces, pasta fillings, meats and cheeses, vegetables and more vegetables. The crepe is like a blank canvas, and on this basic, gorgeously light and thin pancake, we can create whatever we decide we'd like to eat, or to celebrate. It's all up to you, to us. Vive la France! Vive la crêpe!
1 cup AP flourPinch of salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
2 TBSP. melted cooled butter, plus few tablespoons unmelted
-Combine the flour, salt, and milk and beat with a whisk until smooth.
-Beat in the eggs and stir in the melted butter until blended.
-If time allows, set in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the batter to rest.
-Place a small non-stick skillet with shallow sides over medium heat. When a drop of water skitters over the surface before evaporating, add a pat of butter.
- Ladle about a tablespoon of batter into the pan and swirl it around quickly and evenly so that it forms a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. (Pour excess batter back into the bowl if there is any).
-The batter will dry pretty quickly. When the batter is no longer a liquid on top, in a minute or less, turn the crepe and cook it on the other side for 15-30 seconds. The crepe should brown only slightly and not become crispy. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- To serve savory crepes, fill with any combination of vegetables, cheese, ham, etc. Fold and roll. They can be eaten as is, or arranged side-by-side in a baking dish and covered with brown butter, or besciamella sauce, or tomato sauce, or any sauce you’d like.
- To serve sweet crepes, fill with jam, honey, ricotta cheese or mascarpone cheese, nutella, chocolate, fruit, whipped cream – in any combination. Or simply sprinkle with sugar and a bit of fresh lemon juice.
- Alternatively, one way Italians serve crepes is to roll them up and slice them (like a basil chiffonade), then open them up and have a kind of crepe pasta – which can then be tossed with any kind of sauce.