Sweet! The kids are coming home for Mother's Day weekend. I'll do the grocery shopping, and they'll cook (well, one meal anyway). They plan on making Sunday brunch — our family's favorite. However, these young adults stay out late on Saturday nights, so they'll need to work ahead. The solution: crepes. The simple batter for these delicate pancakes actually improves with resting. A filling of shredded rotisserie chicken comes together in minutes.
Julia Child taught us everything we know about crepes: They cook in less than a minute, they can be made days ahead, and they taste great sweet or savory. She also advocated making the crepe batter in advance so the flour absorbs the liquid, creating tender, lacy thin pancakes every time. In her 1989 book, "The Way to Cook," she advises using instant-blending flour to shorten the waiting time. That works well, but these days, I swap a little of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat for a nutty taste and more healthful profile.
I've also switched from whole milk to skim in the batter. When I cooked with skim and with whole, the results showed little difference. So I'm happy to use skim and skip the added fat.
I don't skip the melted butter added to the batter after the resting. It helps with flavor and tenderness and to release the pancake from the pan.
Speaking of pans, we fussed mightily to properly season our steel crepe pan (carried back from France on an anniversary trip). Now, we simply enlist a small nonstick skillet. Piece of cake to make a thin crepe that slides right out of the pan. More great news from the nonstick world: Zero fat is needed to cook the crepes. Simply use a hot skillet for fewer calories, less stove splatter and easier cleanup.
Two tricky things to figure out — how much heat to use and how much batter per crepe. I use medium to medium-high heat. I heat the pan pretty thoroughly before adding batter: A drop of water should evaporate upon contact. Keep adjusting the heat so the pan is hot enough to start cooking the batter as soon as it hits the pan but does not burn the pancake. You'll want to practice a bit with just how much batter you need. Pour the batter in, then swirl it around to cover the bottom into a thin crepe. For the thinnest crepes, pour off any excess back into the batter bowl.
Stack cooked crepes on top of each other to keep them warm. Cooked crepes also can be cooled on a wire rack for later use. Stack the cooled crepes into a covered container and refrigerate for several days.
If you're not convinced of the simplicity of making crepes, you can use store-bought crepes instead for the chipotle chicken and goat cheese filling. Mom won't mind as long as you stick around to do the dishes.
Whole wheat crepes
Prep: 10 minutes
Chill: 1 hour or overnight
Cook: 15 minutesMakes: 14 to 16 crepes
1 ½ cups skim milk
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1. Measure milk into a blender; add eggs. Process to mix. Add flours and salt. Blend until smooth. Put the batter (I leave it in the blender jar) into the refrigerator, at least 1 hour or preferably overnight. (Batter will keep in the refrigerator for several days. If necessary, thin it with a little milk to bring it back to the consistency of cream soup.)
2. After batter has chilled, melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave; stir it into the crepe batter.
3. Heat a 7- or 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Pour or ladle in about 1/4 cup batter. Immediately swirl the pan to distribute batter into a thin, even layer. Tip excess batter back into container. Cook just until golden on the bottom, 20 to 30 seconds. Carefully flip the crepe; cook the second side just long enough to color it, about 15 seconds.