Thursday, September 30, 2010

Crepes for every soul

I love crepes! I grew up near the Alcace region in Germany where crepes are quite common. I've therefore, been eating crepes since I've been a little girl. But as far as I am concerned, no matter which way you slice it or dice it, everyone loves crepes. I've never met a single person who hasn't loved them. You can make them for breakfast, dinner, dessert or even a midnight snack - and the beauty of it all is, that they are super simple and easy to make. I feel like there is a crepe for every person in the world because you can make whatever topping moves you at the moment and create your very own custom crepe.

When I went to Hilton Head to visit SB's family (along with my own) I made crepes for breakfast and they were a huge hit. My mom and I were the first ones to wake up one particular morning, so we decided to go on a little adventure and look for a grocery store to get all the ingredients. Well, to make a long story short, it took us longer to find the store than to make the actual breakfast for everyone! But after 8 U-turns and many miles driven way too far, we finally found and conquered a grocery store.

The crepe recipe I use I get straight out of the Pillsbury cook book:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl by hand or electric mixer. Rest the batter for a few minutes so that the air bubbles have a chance to settle. Heat a little non-stick pan to a medium heat, melt a little butter or veggie oil (I also like to use Pam - makes life so easy!) in the pan. Try to stay away from olive oil - it has too strong of a flavor and will overpower the crepe. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan. Spread the batter quickly by swirling the pan. After a minute or so check the bottom side of the crepe for a lightly golden brown color and flip it. Play around with the heat a little. Usually it takes me 2 crepes to get the temperature of the pan just right. This recipe makes about 20 crepes. As far as the toppings go, you can top it with really anything your little heart desires. When I am making this for other people I generally make at least one savory and a few sweet option. Typically I will set up all the toppings buffet style and everyone can help themselves.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Sliced Black Forest ham and sliced Swiss cheese (melt it in the pan and then roll it up and serve)

  • Mascarpone (or cream cheese / butter / ricotta cheese) with jam

  • Mascarpone (or cream cheese / butter / ricotta cheese) with sugar or cinnamon sugar

  • Sweetened mascarpone (or cream / ricotta cheese) mixed with lemon or orange zest and topped with sliced, sugared strawberries (or any other berry or fruit of your choice).
  • Whipped cream with melted Nutella
  • SB's personal favorites: with peanut butter and my mom's homemade blackberry jam or just nutella!

They are so succulent and amazing my mouth is watering just thinking about them!!!

Happy eating!!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crust making demystified

After and extended hiatus I have finally returned to the world of blogging - and it feels so good to be back! As much as I love love LOVE blogging I got momentarily swept away by work, family, friends and all the other beautiful intricacies of life. I'm sure you all know what that sometimes feels like.

I however, come back bearing good - wait, let me take that back - GREAT news. During my sabbatical, if you will, I have become and American citizen! YAY! Wooohoooo!!!! It has been such a long, windy and sometimes challenging process that it still hasn't quite sunken in yet. There were definitely times I thought this day would never come. After being here for so long I have always felt like an American deep down inside but for it to be finally official feels pretty darn incredible!

Me outside the courthouse in New Haven, about to be sworn in :)

Now that I have shared some of my good news with you, back to the food. Even though I've been gone for a bit, I don't want you all to think that my blog has become crusty. So I thought it would only be appropriate if I dedicated this entry to crust - pie crust to be specific. And in keeping with the theme, is there anything more Americana than pie??? Now, I know that crust for some can be sort of a mystery. I used to feel that way too, but I discovered it doesn't have to be. I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network one day and saw that she was using a food processor to make her pie crust. I had never tried that before and thought that it looked easy enough. At that point I had nothing to lose - all my other methods were less than desirable. Well, lo and behold, it was easy breezy! I have since then used this recipe a bunch and it has always come out beautifully. I use it for all kind of things: pies, tarts and chicken potpie to name a few. I use it all the time to make tarts because it is soooo easy and super delish! So here it goes:

For the crust:
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Pulse a few times to mix the dry ingredients together. Then add
  • 12 tablespoons of very cold butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup of shortening
Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour 1/2 cup of ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I have found that I could keep the dough in the fridge up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes enough dough to cover a 13" by 18" cookie sheet, or 3 open-faced pies / tarts.

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes I roll it out, butter a pie dish and line it with the dough. For the topping, I have used anything from peaches, plums and apples. For my go to tart I use about 3 tablespoons of my mother's blackberry jam to cover the bottom of the crust. I then slice enough plums and peaches to cover the jam in a scalloping manner. I then take about 3 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle it on top. I have also used this recipe without any jam and it came out just as delish. When I use apples for this, I like to use cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top.

To finish it, I top the tart with about 6-8 tablespoon of cubed butter before it goes in the oven at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Baking times will vary depending on how ripe the fruits are and what kind you are using.

I know it seems like a lot of instructions - but trust me this is easy breezy and your guest will be so impressed. Top it with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and you are golden!

Happy eating!!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slice of Heaven

Image from (not the described pizza below)

Over the past year and change, SB and I have gotten into the tradition of going on date night once a week. Or at least we try. With our schedules being exactly the opposite schedules, and our intermittent travel, that's easier said that done. SB, being the hard worker that he is, works A LOT and I usually work when he doesn't work. See what I mean, it can get complicated. But having said that, that is pretty much everyone's story. Isn't it? Life just gets busy. And somehow as times goes by, life only gets busier, schedules get fuller, and days somehow run out of hours faster than usual.

But I strongly believe that it is important, that no matter how crazy life gets, to stop every once in a while to smell the roses. And that's what SB and I told each other when we first started dating. That no matter how far along we were in our relationship, we would never take each other for granted. We would always make each other a priority and create opportunities to show how much we truly appreciate each other, how lucky we are to have one another. Sometimes that's on a Friday, sometimes on Saturday, but if it has to be a Monday or Tuesday or any other night - so be it.

Well for our date night this week we went to Mario Batali's OTTO. I had been dying to go there forever. To top it off, my friend Linds had recently told me about this pizza there that she has been addicted to. So the decision was made - OTTO it was. I don't like being in the dark about things, especially when it comes to food. When we headed to the restaurant, I never went with the intention in mind to blog about it. Let's be honest, it's Mario Batali's place. He simply rocks. I mean he's an Iron Chef! How can it be bad right? So do we really need me to tell the world how good he is? I didn't think I needed to because it would just be stating the obvious. Well - I am going to anyway, because I can't keep it inside! It was AMAZING! Mario Batali: you're a GENIUS!!! I bow down to you. I might even kiss the ground you walk on...

This pizza that is on the special menu, is TO DIE for!!!! I wish I had brought my camera and notebook with me so I could share the details with you. I didn't bring them because I wasn't going to blog about it (!) - such an amateur move. (Never again will I go anywhere unprepared!!) I believe it has mozzarella cheese, sliced black truffle, some sort of diced cured meat and a sunny side up egg on top of it!! It is outrageously fantastic, ridiculously delicious, mind-blowingly satisfiying and every other superlative I might have left out! Pleeeeaaaasssseeee - go make yourself a reservation and get yourself a slice of HEAVEN!!!!!

Happy eating!!

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