Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making Low-Carb Fun: Crepes!


Before I left my job, it seemed like I had a huge list of fun things I wanted to do. In those days before baby thoughts took over my brain, I was still very food-obsessed.
Here are some examples of my ambitions:
- Learn HTML and make a website (um, who was I kidding here?)
- Work on a cookbook (I ordered a lot of how-to books that I still haven't read, but they look pretty on the shelf)
-Learn how to make bagels at home (I don't know who I thought would eat all these bagels, since I'm alone most of the time, and now I am not allowed to eat them anyways!)
-Learn to can my own fruits and vegetables in the summer, especially tomatoes (yeah, maybe someday when I have someplace to store all that stuff, because there's no space left here!)

These things quickly ceased to matter.

However, there was one thing on my "learn-to-cook-it" list that has resurfaced: crepes. In my recent search for low-carb foods to keep things interesting, I notice crepes, or variations thereof, keep popping up. So I grabbed Bittman's (Vegetarian) How to Cook Everything book, and sure enough there's a section on crepes and their cousin, blintz (blintz being similar and more eggy).

I'm sure there are ways to make them even more low-carb than I did, maybe by adding extra egg, or thinning with milk. I saw one variation using ricotta cheese. But I started with the basics, and followed the recipe, since I didn't want to experiment my first couple of tries.

I'm not going to go into detail about how to make crepes. You'll get better instruction looking to other blogs, videos and articles. I am still no expert - probably not very good at it at all! But I kept an open mind and low expectations and was pleasantly surprised with my novice results. No one in this house is a crepe connoisseur, so "not bad" was totally acceptable. It will take practice.

After making a stack of basic crepes using half unbleached flour and half whole wheat flour (about 12g of carbs each), I filled them with cooked vegetables and goat cheese for a savory dinner. They turned out pretty good, and just two made a decent serving with a salad on the side.

Eggplant Portobello Crepes with Goat Cheese (recipe below)
For breakfast the next morning, I warmed the crepes and filled them with fresh fruit, topped with Greek yogurt for protein, and a little cinnamon to make things interesting. Bonus: cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar!

Cool fruit crepes filled with fresh pineapple and strawberries, topped with cinnamon and a side of Greek yogurt.

And yet the next morning, I took 5 minutes extra to simmer some peaches and blueberries (with a couple teaspoons of water) for hot filled crepes. No need to add sugar, the fruit is sweet enough on it's own. 

Warm crepes filled with fresh, cooked, peaches and blueberries
So you see, once you figure out the crepe part (and a real crepe pan helps - I borrowed one), the options for fillings are endless. Once you have the basics down, you can experiment with different flours, ratios of egg-to-flour and batter stir-ins like sugar or vanilla for sweet crepes, or herbs for savory.

Eggplant Portobello Crepes with Goat Cheese
Fills 6 crepes
Begin 1-1/2 to 24 hours ahead of time


Crepes (makes 10):
2 T melted butter, cooled
1-1/4  C 2% milk
2 large eggs
½ C all-purpose flour
½ C whole wheat flour
pinch of salt

1-2 T butter for cooking

Filling:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 small portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 small/medium eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/4” thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
white pepper (or black)
red pepper flakes
salt

4 oz chevre goat cheese

For Crepes:
 (begin well ahead, at least 1-1/2 hours before serving)
1. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender. Refrigerate for 1-24 hours. I brought mine to room temperature (about 10-15 minutes) before cooking.

2. Make a work station near the cooktop by setting out batter, ladle or measuring cup, butter, a large plate to hold cooked crepes, and 10 squares of wax paper to separate them.

3. Heat nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat and coat the bottom with butter. 

4. Pour 1/8 C batter in the center of the pan and swirl it to evenly coat the bottom. After 15-30 seconds, when the top of the crepe is dry, and bottom is just starting to brown, flip using a spatula and your fingers. Cook another 10-15 seconds until slightly browned and remove. 

5. Place on a plate with waxed paper between each crepe.

For Filling:
1. Salt the eggplant on paper towels and let it set about 10 minutes. Rinse before cooking.

2. In one skillet, heat 2T oil and add onions. Cook over medium/med-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden. Season with a pinch of salt.

3. In a second skillet, heat 2-3T oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, and then add eggplant. Cook a few minutes and season with a pinch of white pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook over low heat about 7-10 minutes and everything is tender.
Place filling across lower 1/3 of crepe before rolling

Assemble the crepes:
Lay each crepe flat on a plate and place the filling near one edge,  covering about 1/3 of it. Spoon a few onions, then a spoonful of eggplant and mushrooms, and a few crumbles of goat cheese. Roll the crepe up starting from the filling and set aside. Repeat.
 
Serve warm, or microwave the crepes about 15 seconds to reheat, if needed.








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