Introduction: Crepes: the Ultimate Versatile Dish

About: My name is Eammon Littler and I'm a college student interested in the field of engineering, robotics, and programming. 想像 (souzou) is the Japanese word for imagining, which I find myself constantly doing, and …

Crepes are a wonderful dish and I'm here to convince you of that. As a college student who hates eating at the dining hall, I cook in my dorm room every-night. My fridge is small and supermarket far, so I have to make do with a small amount of ingredients and big on variety. So my quick easy meal of choice are crepes. Make the batter from few ingredients in advance and it'll hold for a good week. Crepes are naturally thin, so low in carbohydrates, and also cook very fast. Sweet, savory, breakfast, lunch, dinner. Plenty of variety for any time of day. Sounds perfect right? Now that you know the splendors of crepes let's make the batter.

Step 1: Crepe Batter

Crepe batter is easiest made in a blender, for which I took my roommates'. Crack two eggs, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup water, a cup of flour, and a tad bit of olive oil. It all fits perfectly into an 18 oz cup. Blend the liquids first then the flour. The flour is light and full of air so you might have to blend the full cup in stages. At this point you can store the batter in the fridge and leave to sit for a while. I've used batter up to a week old, but general consensus online states two days is the upper limit. I imagine since eggs and milk hold in the fridge for a while, the batter would keep for roughly as long as they would. Try at your own discretion. I am not at fault for anyone getting sick from spoiled crepe batter.

Making an excess of crepe batter, I decided to experiment with a thickened version of the batter. Essentially becoming a thinner pancake, I added a bit more baking powder and flour for a small batch of crepe batter. This is what I used for the pizza crepe shown down below.

To cook a crepe, pour a small mason jar lid diameter amount of batter into a flat pan. If you don't have crepe spreader, which I highly recommend (I personally use this one), use a spoon to spread the batter as thin as possible. Wait for 30 seconds to a minute and lift the crepe and flip. Now fill it with your desired filling. More on that down below.

Step 2: Fillings

This took place a few days before I went home for Thanksgiving break. I needed to clear my fridge and fast. So I challenged myself to create as many varieties of fillings with the ingredients I had available. You can see them laid out on the table. Eggs, salami, heavy cream, cheese, milk, ground beef, bamboo shoots, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. When I cook, I start by looking at what I call "central ingredients" such as meats and vegetables. Pick out an ingredient and imagine what can be made from it. I won't be providing any recipes with exact measurements or specifics, rather I want you to think about the interactions between ingredients and imagine a crepe filling based on foods you've had in the past. With meat I think about maintaining the juiciness while cooking it thoroughly, spices/sauces to reduce the pure meaty flavor, and other ingredients to compliment its flavor. Tomatoes for example have a relatively higher water content meaning I have to be careful about not having too much liquid in my final filling. Greek yogurt, you'd want it cold so it doesn't liquefy and become runny, but it's a good way to bring fruits together in a dish. Eggs can be used for a sunny-side up egg topping, whipped up for scrambled egg filling, yolk for custard, egg white for a soufflé crepe variation. I'm just making stuff up, but what I mean is ingredients have potential to be a variety of things.

Cooking isn't limited to the recipes you find online, moreso the understanding of the ways ingredients cook and the flavors that arise from it. For example, I learned recently that french toasting frozen pizza is the best way to keep the crispness of the pizza as if it were fresh. Whip up an egg with a splash of milk, add salt and pepper, coat the pizza and fry on a grill. They say stale bread works best for french toast sinch the egg is soaked into the dry bread, so I experimented with a breakfast bagel after being inspired by the pizza trick. Trust me it works and the results are worth it. My other roommate keeps throwing me new things to experimenting french toasting with since it's been such a success. Enough about french toasting pizza. Back to the crepes! The next steps are a sample of my creative on-the-spot cooking.

Step 3: Korean Style Ground Beef and Caramelized Onion Crepe

Now for the fillings I ended up making. Defrost the ground beef. Cut up the onions into slices. Throw the onions into a pan (I used an instant pot) and cook until slightly brown. Onions with shrivel and become smaller as they cook so make sure to cut enough. Toss the meat in and stir to incorporate with the onions. Cook for a minute and add gochujang, oyster sauce, salt, and pepper for flavor. Serve with a side of red ginger.

Step 4: Pizza Crepe

Who said crepes have to be folded! Using the thick batter I made a pizza, but I only have tomatoes and no sauce. To make pseudo tomato sauce, I diced the tomatoes and onion and blended it into a puree. Since my tomatoes were very big with high water content, I cooked the soupy mixture in an instant pot until it had the consistency of sauce. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder for flavor. I spread the thick crepe batter on high heat kind of like cooking a pancake. Spread the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese on top, took my roommate's sausages and sliced bell peppers for toppings. While the batter was hard to spread, the result turned out really tasty. Testimony from my roommate "I honestly didn't think I'd like it, but it turned out really good!".

Step 5: Crispy Cheese Crepe

Turn up the heat to high for a crispy crepe. Cook the crepe fast, flip over, and immediately put cheese inside. Once the cheese starts melting, place on a plate to roll it up. Put a little olive oil on the pan and cook the rolled up crepe until crispy. This idea was inspired by a failed attempt at making enchiladas from homemade tortillas. I didn't have a rolling pin being at college, so I tried using a mason jar but to no avail. The tortillas came out too thick and tough. My thought was crepes would far easier to work with. (side note cheese crepes are a thing but I made mine since I wanted to eat enchiladas).

Step 6: Caramel Crepe

The simplest of crepes. Just fill with caramel and top with powder sugar if you have some. Banana caramel crepes are delicious too!

Caramel sauce is simple to make. Prepare butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar. The ratio is 1:1:2 butter:heavy cream:brown sugar in any measurement. Throw butter into a mason jar and microwave for about a minute until it melts. Mix in the brown sugar and heavy cream with a spoon. Microwave the mixture for another minute. Mix afterwards. Microwave again until smooth for another 30 seconds. Simple!

Step 7: Conclusion

You can fill crepes with anything! Make a vat of batter that'll last you days. Pre-cook your desired fillings in advance and warm in a microwave or after wrapping it in the crepe on the stovetop. Everything I cooked fed my dorm of five people for a few meals before we all went back home for Thanksgiving. Crepes are quick, simple, and delicious. I hope you are inspired to try some experimental crepe fillings of your own to feed loved ones for days.

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