Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ode to Breakfast

Breakfast. My favorite meal of the day. The one I could never do without. The one that I like to make most. The source of one of my favorite childhood memories. 

Sunday morning breakfasts: Leanne Hansen and Will Shortz are doing the puzzle on NPR, sun is streaming through the kitchen windows, there is a dog laying on the floor, and I'm begging either my mom or dad (depending on which breakfast item I am going for) to prepare a morning feast. 

My mom is a master of french toast. To this day, I cannot replicate her technique. Crusty french bread, real maple syrup. Heaven. 

But it is the crepe of which I'd sell my soul for. This is my dad's domain. And a good assistance activity for kids because they can perform the special pan acrobatics required to get the batter evenly distributed. [Did I just recommend that kids should be the ones to handle heavy, cast iron frying pans, filled with hot liquids? Dear lord.]. 

Anyway, we called them Swedish Pancakes and, as I learned today, the difference between Swedish Pancakes and crepes is that SPs have sugar added while crepes rely on the eater to add the sugar. Personally, I add sugar to both stages, while my parents tend to avoid adding them at either stage, often preferring fresh fruit in place of jam. 

Regardless, here is the recipe I use for Swedish Pancakes/Crepes:

3 eggs
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 stick o' butter [salted/unsalted, doesn't matter]
1/4 tsp salt
1 can evaporated milk (whole is best [duh] but you can use skim, if you really need to]
1 tsp sugar

First, wash your hands. For the full count of Happy Birthday [You know: "Happy Birthday to you, Happy...sing the whole things while washing those hands. Out loud, preferably]. Making crepes (at least in my house) involves lots of touching of the food when cooking. Such is life.

In a medium mixing bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Add milk and then slowly sift in flour, whisking all the while. Add eggs, salt, and sugar. I'll often throw in a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Coat a frying pan with butter and drop about a 1/4 cup of batter into the hot pan. Lift the pan and rotate in a circle until the batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan. The crepe is done on that side when little bubbles appear around the edge (see photo) and the batter is no longer wobbly. A little brown is ok. Using your hands (or a spatula, but trust me, it's harder this way), flip the crepe over and cook for an additional 30 seconds or so. Remove the crepe from the pan and place it in a warm over. Repeat.

When you have a nice stack of tasty crepes, remove them from the oven and serve them with [homemade] jam or fresh fruit. I prefer to make a line of jam down the middle of the crepe and then roll it up like a carpet, starting at one end. Then it's easy to cut bite-sized bits with your fork, or as I did as a kid, pick the thing up and chomp on the end like a giant cigar. Much to my mother's extreme displeasure. 

And fortunately, my memory is rather selective and I've blissfully forgotten all those sugar-induced tantrums that each of those tasty crepes probably inspired.