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Dorothy Dean presents: Crepes offer blank canvas for flavors and textures

Crepes are versatile, with options from breakfast through dessert. (Audrey Alfaro / Audrey Alfaro)
Crepes are versatile, with options from breakfast through dessert. (Audrey Alfaro / Audrey Alfaro)

The thought of making crepes can be intimidating. But in actuality, they’re easier to make than pancakes.

Just think of them as thin pancakes. Thin pancakes that are simpler to prepare.

Crepes consist of five ingredients commonly found in your kitchen. Throw them all in your blender, press pulse and the batter is done. No multiple bowls or sifting required. Though, the batter does have to rest for an hour, but it can also be made two days in advance.

The one thing that can be tricky is spreading the batter thin and evenly enough in the pan. This is done by holding the handle of the pan and moving your wrist in a circular motion, swirling the batter around the surface of the pan until it’s well coated. This wrist-batter dance can take some getting used to. The first few are always oddly shaped, and I write them off as taste testers. But once you get it down, you’ll be on a roll. Or should I say, swirl?

Crepes are so versatile you can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The possibilities for fillings are endless.

They’re basically a blank canvas for flavors and textures.

For breakfast, I like to add spinach into the batter before blending it and fill them with ham, Swiss cheese and scrambled eggs. For dinner, these are excellent stuffed and baked. My favorite is chicken with ricotta, mushrooms and spinach, topped with bechamel sauce. And these are awesome for a dessert bar. By adding sugar to the batter – along with either cinnamon, cocoa powder or lemon zest – you can transform these crepes into heavenly vessels for an array of toppings.

Sweet or savory, crepes open up a world of deliciousness.

Basic Crepes

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Butter, for coating the pan

Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse for about 10-15 seconds. Put the crepe batter into the refrigerator for 1 hour to allow bubbles to subside. This will keep the crepes from being rubbery and also from tearing when you cook them. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

Over medium heat, add butter to a small nonstick pan to coat. In center of pan, pour about 1/4 cup of batter and pick up pan and swirl to coat evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until top looks dry and edges start to pull from pan. Run spatula along entire edge of crepe and flip. Cook for 1 minute more. Slide crepe onto plate and continue making crepes until batter is gone. Stuff, spread or stack crepes with filling of your choice. If not using immediately, you can stack cooled crepes in zip-top bags. They will keep in the refrigerator for several days, or can be frozen for up to two months. To use frozen crepes, let them thaw on rack then carefully pull apart.

Variations

Savory Crepes: Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs to the egg mixture. Spinach or sun-dried tomatoes can be added as well.

Sweet Crepes: Add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the egg mixture. 2 tablespoons of liqueur can also be added. Kahlua is my favorite to add.

Chocolate Crepes: Add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.