The first time I went to France and tried a crepe was during my early high school years. My family spent several days in Paris, and one day we went to lunch at a small hole-in-the-wall creperie with limited seating and a loudly singing proprietor. I ordered a simple ham and cheese filling, followed by a strawberry and nutella for dessert. I was amazed that the same foundation, a simple crepe batter with only four or five ingredients, could be a vehicle for such different and unique flavor combinations – sweet or savory, creamy or fruity.
Around the same time, I was assigned to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In middle school, I did not have a very good relationship with reading. I would lazily skim for school assignments – getting the gist of the plot but missing the beautiful character descriptions and the subtleties in the language. The Great Gatsby reminded me of the wonderful creativity of literature. It lifted me out of my reading slump. I read it slowly, taking my time with each chapter. I listened to the dialogue in my head, and pictured the Gatsby mansion and its lavish parties. Like my first experience at the Paris creperie, I was amazed by the variety of the book and how different it was from any literature I had ever experienced.
Fitzgerald’s writing style is light and crisp, full of dynamic characters and elegant surprises. Any crepe can parallel these themes – never becoming too heavy or unmanageable, but providing enough variety in texture and flavor to be interesting.
I am always looking for parallels between my passions, and cooking and reading intersect in their endless possibilities. One can never run out of books to read or recipes to try. If ever in a slump, look for something different from anything you’ve tried in the past; it will surely revive you!
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, unsalted and melted
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 cups whole milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup white wine
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk milk and eggs in separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in portions, whisking in between additions so as to avoid lumps in the batter. Whisk in melted butter. Cover batter in cling film and allow to rest for 20 minutes. (You can mix these ingredients in a blender, but I like to whisk by hand to have more control!)
2. Season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper. In a sautee pan over medium-high heat, sear chicken breasts on either side for a golden brown color. Finish in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes (until firm and cooked through). Remove from oven and cover with tin foil to retain moisture as the chicken cools a bit.
3. For cream sauce: melt butter in small saucepan. Add flour and stir over medium heat, allowing flour to cook out for a minute or so. Add heated milk bit by bit, whisking between additions to avoid lumps. In a separate saucepan, bring lemon juice and white wine to a simmer and reduce by half. Add lemon wine mixture to the milk pan; season with salt and pepper.
4. Halve red grapes, crumble goat cheese, cube chicken, and chop basil.
5. Assembly of crepes: grease a non-stick frying pan with butter on medium-high heat. Spread a ladle-full of thin batter in the pan, creating an even layer. Allow first side of crepe to cook for about 45 seconds; flip with spatula and allow second side to cook for about 30 seconds. Add fillings (cream sauce, grapes, goat cheese, cubed chicken, basil) to crepe and fold to contain all elements.
Enjoy your crepe with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!