By JAN MAIN
Winter weary and hoping for spring – any signs are optimistic – the first call of the crow, longer days and the first taste of maple syrup, all herald a new season.
For those of you lucky enough to escape to a winter holiday over March Break – enjoy.
For those of you left behind, make your own local escape to a sugaring off festival – there are numerous ones across the province (listed on line.)
The Farmer’s Market at the St. Lawrence Market is a fine place to buy maple syrup. My favourite is the dark maple syrup rather than the amber. It has a richer maple taste which makes it ideal for recipes.
When I think of maple syrup, I automatically think of pancakes and its sophisticated cousin, the crepe.
Now crepes are a fun way of entertaining both children and adults with delicious results. Try your own cooking class. The equipment is simple – a Teflon pan, mixing bowl and whisk. The recipe is child’s play and the results yummy! Happy March Break with a Maple Syrup Getaway!
Basic Crepe Recipe
Crepes, unlike pancakes, should have a smooth batter. Thus, whisk the egg-flour- milk mixture until smooth. For best results, assemble; cover and refrigerate overnight. This means the flour in the batter has a chance to absorb the liquid from eggs and milk to create a stronger crepe.
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (365 mL) milk
2 tbsp (25 mL) melted butter or vegetable oil
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and butter or oil until smooth. Gradually whisk in flour sugar and salt until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
To cook crepes: Spray pan with baking spray or brush lightly with vegetable oil. Heat pan over medium –high heat.
For a 7-8 inch (18-20 cm) pan use ¼ cup (50 mL) batter tilting pan so batter covers the bottom of pan with a thin layer of batter. Do not make it too thick.
Cook about 1 minute or until lightly browned. Turn crepe quickly. I use my fingers but you have to be fast or use tongs. Continue cooking about 30 seconds until other side is browned. Stack crepes on a plate separating with a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper.
Tent with foil at room temperature to use within hours or wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
Makes 12- 16, 7-8 inch (18-20 cm crepes) ideal for main course or dessert. Smaller Teflon pans are ideal for appetizer crepes.
Make Your Own Crepe Bar
Crepes are versatile:
• They can be filled with sliced fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (try frozen they are cheaper at this time of year) then rolled or folded in quarters then drizzled with maple syrup and served with a dollop of whipped cream or ice-cream for a simple yet scrumptious dessert.
• Spread with hummus and topped with shredded fresh vegetables or grilled vegetables then rolled up as a crepe sandwich.
• Spread crepe with mild goat cheese, sprinkle with walnuts, roll up, warm and drizzle with maple syrup.
• On the sophisticated side, crepes can be filled with a creamed chicken or shellfish mixture, rolled then covered with a cheese sauce and baked in the oven as a main course — absolutely divine!
Apples, Walnuts and Maple Syrup Crepes
4 apples, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1/4 cup (50 mL) toasted walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup crepes
In a saucepan or skillet over medium heat melt butter; stir in apples and sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts (if using) then drizzle with maple syrup and cook about 2 -3 minutes or just until apples are tender. Spoon some of apple mixture onto crepe and fold into quarters.
Arrange on a serving plate and serve with ice cream if desired. Makes 4 servings.