In the summer of 2010, Mateja and I did a whirlwind tour of Europe, visiting seven different countries and seeing countless monuments, landmarks, and works of art (many of which fit into all three of those categories). We also experienced some of the
finest most authentic dining the continent had to offer. We ate pizza, pasta, and gelato in Rome; we treated ourselves to a veritable feast of seafood in Dubrovnik; we tried (and loved) the schnitzel and bratwursts in Berlin; we devoured the bangers and mash in London; and, under the most famous, most brilliantly-lit structure in the City of Lights, we had “Crêpes au Oeuf, Fromage, Jambon”.
Making this dish yesterday for a lazy Saturday brunch, it was impossible not to be flooded with memories of our time together in Paris. Though some aspects of the city left much to be desired (the waiters were as rude as the stereotype suggests, for example), we had an amazing time. We went up the Eiffel Tower, sat on the steps of Montmartre, perused the halls of The Louvre and Museum D’Orsay, and even trekked out to Versailles (where we inadvertently fell asleep on the palace’s famous grounds out of fatigue).
With limited means, we didn’t experience the finer side of French cuisine – but that’s not to say that what we ate wasn’t delicious. We did enjoy a few meals in reasonably-priced restaurants (hence the interaction with Parisian waiters), but we also nourished ourselves via bakeries and street vendors. My favourite of the latter was a little operation just across the street from the Eiffel Tower. Not only was it very interesting watching the whole crepe-making process, but it tasted absolutely amazing. I honestly can’t think of a better memory from our visit to Paris than the night we took a river cruise along the Seine, disembarked in front of both the Eiffel Tower and the street-side creperie, and then devoured our savoury crepes (and two 5€ bottles of wine we bought off the street) on the Champ de Mars grounds.
I absolutely love when food evokes such strong, happy memories; I also love when said food is easy to make. Though I’d never attempted crepes before, I was mysteriously inspired to make them yesterday morning. I probably saw a picture of some online while still half asleep, and only my subconscious self noticed. Regardless of how the thought was placed in my head, I’m very glad it was. Not knowing even the basics of crepe-making myself, I turned to a very reliable source: The Joy of Cooking. Using its basic savoury crepe recipe, and looking online for techniques on how to complicate things with my three savoury ingredients, I came up with a game plan.
Suffice to say, it went well. By my third attempt, I had worked out the kinks in the batter-pouring, pan-twisting, crepe-flipping process, and was ready to try the egg-cracking, cheese-melting, crepe-folding latter steps. Even without specialized equipment (simply a large frying pan and a spatula for me), they turned out highly presentable and delicious. In case you’d like to try them yourself (which I asbolutely recommend), here’s the recipe:
Ham, Egg, and Swiss Cheese Crepes
- 300-400 grams Swiss cheese, grated
- 200-300 grams Black forest ham, sliced thin
- 8-9 large eggs
- salt and pepper
- butter for greasing
For the crepe batter*:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water, lukewarm
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the crepe batter, and blend until smooth. Let batter sit for half an hour, covered. Once batter has had time to sit, give it a quick stir before proceeding.
- Heat up a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan, and use a spatula to evenly distribute over entire surface of the pan.
- Remove frying pan from heat just long enough to pour ~1/3 cup of the crepe batter into the frying pan, quickly twisting and turning the pan to coat entire surface with a thin layer. Return pan to heat.
- Allow crepe to cook for 60-90 seconds, until underside is slightly browned and the crepe pulls away nicely from the pan with the aid of a thin spatula. Flip the crepe (you can very carefully use your hands for this part) to cook the other side.
- Once the second side is cooking, get started on the toppings. Crack an egg directly into the middle of the crepe, and using a fork, carefully scramble and spread around the entire crepe. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper to the egg, as desired.
- When the egg has set, place the shredded cheese on one half of the crepe and allow time to melt.
- When the cheese is partially melted, add a few slices of ham, placing them directly overtop of the cheese.
- Fold in half along the diameter separating the two sides of the crepe, and once more to obtain a quarter-circle wedge.
- Remove from the pan, and repeat the process until all ingredients are depleted. There should be enough batter for 8-9 crepes, so portion out the meat and cheese accordingly.
* crepe batter ingredients taken from The Joy of Cooking
Makes 8-9 crepes
Anyways, until next time, bonne chance et bon appetite!
*************** (Post updated 05/03/2015)****************
In an attempt to finally get a picture accepted by FoodGawker (I still don’t understand what they mean when my photos are declined for being taken at “awkward angles”) and to treat Mateja on a lazy Sunday morning, I threw together another batch of crepes. This time I attempted to make them slightly healthier with whole wheat flour and tomatoes, and instead of Swiss cheese and ham, I used roasted turkey and havarti. The result was delicious – a little bit grainier, but in a way that simply reminds you that you’ve made a healthier choice.
I wrapped them up in parchment paper, to-go style, like the crepes we had in Paris. These went straight into the fridge, though, as we were stuffed from the first two that I made (they’re super filling). I took these outside for some natural light, but in the midday sun, it was actually too bright (a surprise for a guy who usually gets around to taking photos at dusk). This update is all about the pictures, though, so here they are: