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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Béarnaise Sauce

I love sauces.

If I were to pick any role in a chef's kitchen, I'd want to be the saucier.  Hands down.

It is often the most time-consuming thing to cook in a meal, but can also be the single most rewarding element.  

Rather than think of sauces as a 'sides', 'garnishes' or 'condiments' I like to consider sauces 'accents'.  A good, complex, sauce can essentially create an entire flavour "theme".  I therefore believe that they can be relied upon to carry a significant amount of weight.  

So, when creating sauces, I hardly ever skimp on the flavour.  Although my kitchen sees many "low-fat" or "low-sodium" dishes, sauces are rarely included among them.  I believe in balance, and I'd much rather eat a couple of healthy meals before and after a rich one... but have that rich one be full-flavour.  I realize I'm starting to sound defensive, and I really shouldn't; I only actually prepare a rich sauce like this about once a month.

So... tonight I made up a béarnaise sauce.

My wife is batty for béarnaise.  I think it is all the tarragon.  She likes tarragon.  Myself, I'm more of a hollandaise fan... but whatever.  In fact, I'm surprised I haven't written any posts about hollandaise yet... I make a rich hollandaise fairly often (well... once every couple of months...)

I love the emulsification power of egg yolk.  The first time I made my own mayonnaise (never really was a fan of store-bought mayo) I was blown away; not just by how far a single egg yolk can stretch, but also by how easy and fun it was.  It was also quite tasty, and has now led to many a flavoured mayo in my house over the years.  As it happens, both hollandaise and béarnaise are actually kind of similar to mayonnaise.  Kinda.

All three involve emulsifying egg yolks and oil.  They differ only by what other things you add to them other than that.  Mayo is a little easier, because you don't have to worry about heating up the yolk (no cooking involved) and because mayo is typically made with vegetable (olive) oil rather than butter.  However, with béarnaise and hollandaise, it can be a little trickier... especially your first few times.

OK... what you're technically supposed to do, and what every recipe I've ever read says, involves bringing out a double-boiler, and putting your egg yolks in first.  Only after first heating that up slowly do you then add (slowly, and VERY gradually) your butter to that, stirring regularly.
I'm going to be a little difficult here and say that that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.

Now... a caveat on that:  if you are the kind of person who is easily distracted, and can not assure yourself that you'll stand there and diligently watch your sauce; or if you can not feel 100% confident that you have an even heat source and an evenly-heated sauce pan, then I will suggest that you do use the double-boiler.  The point is that the surface of the sauce pan needs to be very uniform in temperature, and not really have any uncontrolled temperature spikes.

ALL of this "technique" comes down to the very simple fact that we are trying to prevent the egg yolks from coagulating.  It can involve some tricky timing to get the yolks to emulsify but not solidify.  That is why there is such concern over maintaining an even cooking temperature.  Egg yolk can start to coagulate at temperatures as low as 65°C, which isn't terribly hot.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that, if you can feel confident about actually controlling this emulsification, and feel strongly that you can avoid any unwanted coagulation, then feel free to disregard these stringent limitations on technique.

Like I said above, however, if this is your first time, or if your pans are old and warped, or your range puts out an uneven heat... well then you should just stick with the "correct" methodology.

Now, the way that I make egg-based sauces is sort of backwards.  I will heat the butter (oil) first, and then slowly and very gradually add the egg yolks.  There are two things that need to happen for this methodology to work.  First, you need to add a "cool down" step to your heated butter in order to bring the temperature down to a reasonable level before adding the yolk (never add egg to anything hot unless you want it to solidify immediately).  Second, you need to have a good idea of your oil-to-yolk ratio beforehand; one of the reasons it is recommended to add the oil to the yolks slowly, is because there is a VERY quick transition from runny (not ready yet) to emulsified (good and ready) to over-saturated (oily and separated).  So, even if you've followed the steps perfectly, that ratio can be a harsh limiting variable.  The size of egg yolks, for example, can vary quite a bit... it doesn't hurt to be able to know whether you need to cut down on the butter or actually add a bit more in, accordingly.

There really is a small window wherein the mixture has incorporated the "right" amount of  oil.  If you've ever made a home-made mayonnaise, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

There are a couple of tricks to save an egg-based sauce if it ever comes to that... and I'll get into that later (see the troubleshooting section below).

For now though, let me show you how I made my béarnaise sauce.

So the first thing you do is let your butter soften.  With almost any sauce I'd say you could probably substitute margarine for the butter... but NOT with béarnaise or hollandaise.  OK?  

Bring the butter to roughly room temperature, and slice it into thirds or quarters.

Now, for a béarnaise sauce, the primary flavour is going to be tarragon, but an authentic béarnaise will also have chervil and white peppercorns.  I ran out of chervil, and used parsley instead (which isn't a perfect substitution, but it's the tarragon that gives béarnaise its dominant flavour anyway).

So, I pinched out maybe a teaspoon of each... maybe two teaspoons for the tarragon.

The next significant flavour in béarnaise is the green onion, which I love, as you'll know.  I chopped three small-ish scallions finely, and got everything organized and ready to go by putting everything in its own mixing bowl.  

Even though I am truly a master of sauces ( :D ), during crunch time it can be a pain not having everything on hand and ready to go.  

This included milling all those dried herbs into one mix, and also separating and beating the egg yolks.

So, at this point, we're good to go!

The other reason I'm more of a hollandaise fan, is that béarnaise has a lot of vinegar in it.

In hollandaise, I get away with using entirely lemon juice instead of any vinegar, and it is immensely more... gallant... on the tongue.  Lemon juice curtsies prettily to your sauce, then gracefully turns to face your tongue with genial poise.  Vinegar, on the other hand, bitch-slaps your sauce, then backflips unto your tongue and curb-stomps it a couple of times with a maniacal grin on its face.

I do like vinegars... there are a ton of great uses for them, and they can be pretty good for you as well...  I could spend hours listing awesome uses to which I put vinegars of all sorts and flavours... but it suffices to say that I like vinegars.  

Even in sauces.

Just not egg-based sauces.  For whatever reason I just personally dislike the pairing of vinegar with butter and egg yolk.

Anyway, back to the béarnaise.  For the amount of butter (1/2 cup) and egg yolks (4) I'm using in this recipe, you are supposed to use about 3 - 4 tablespoons of vinegar.  A good white wine vinegar is best.  Feel free to cut this down a bit if you're like me and dislike a tart béarnaise.  What I ended up doing was 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

So, heat that up in a saucepan with all your herbs and spices.

Let that come to a boil, and to reduce, by about half.  About 2-3 minutes.

Next, take the pan off the heat entirely, and let it cool for a minute or three.  At this point feel free to add one of the chunks (a third or a quarter) of the butter, and stir it in. This will even help cool it down a bit.

Once the mixture is cool-ish, put the pan back on the heat and slowly add in the egg-yolks.  The next five to ten minutes are the crucial ones, and the most tedious.  Try to whisk very often, if not constantly, and make sure that you're heating this on low.  Do not try to cut corners on this step.  

Over time, your sauce will be able to "accept" the other two chunks of butter without the consistency changing a whole lot.

So... while heating on low, and stirring or whisking constantly, your sauce will eventually (after about 8 mins or so) hit a magic thickening stage.  The egg yolks will coagulate, and beautifully emulsify all those chemically-disparate substances into one glorious sauce.

The above picture shows a béarnaise sauce which has reached a ready stage, and could be served at this point.


If you're like me, you'll probably have other things needing doing in the kitchen.  I like to wait to prepare some dishes (like steaming vegetables) until near the very end and so I wanted to put this sauce on hold.  So I covered it, and took it off the heat.

Take it off the heat if you're not going to serve it up right away.  Over-cooking is devastating to an egg-based sauce.

So, I waited for my wife to come home from work, and cooked my meal (steak frites and steamed asparagus).  The béarnaise sauce sat for about 30 mins.  And (as fully expected) it congealed a little bit:

So, I'll let you in on a little secret for béarnaises and hollandaises.

Call this a troubleshooting section, if you will.  :D

If you've accidentally added your oil too quickly, or you've ended up adding too much oil, you'll know right away because the sauce will separate... basically you'll be able to "see" the oil rather than have it disappear into the sauce.  A small teaspoon of hot water can bring this back almost immediately.  Add the water in VERY small amounts, and give it a minute... you'll see it almost magically transforms back into a thick emulsification.

The same solution, a small spoonful of hot water, can also revitalize a coagulated or over-cooked sauce (as seen in the last photo above).  Leaving the sauce - even off of the heat - will often cause a little congealing.

But... here is what it looked like right after adding only a teaspoon of hot water, and whisking for a minute.

Almost good as new.

Anyway, béarnaise is still an awesome sauce, even if it is heavy on the tarragon and vinegar flavours.  It is very often served over beef (steak béarnaise) but also pairs well with freshly steamed green vegetables.  It is very similar to an hollandaise sauce, but is significantly more savoury.  And although you could probably get away with substituing hollandaise anywhere béarnaise is intended, I would not recommend the converse.

If you're interested in how I served this béarnaise, check out my post on steak frites and steamed asparagus.

Steak Frites and Steamed Asparagus in Béarnaise SauceSauce

I was craving some pub food, and decided to make some steak frites.  The asparagus was more just cause I needed a green vegetable.  And because I knew they'd go well with the  béarnaise sauce I was going to make anyway for the steak.

Now... I didn't have any frites.  <sniff>  So I used freaking frozen french fries.  Oh well.  I did try to jazz them up a little though... and drizzled some of my herbes de provence flavoured olive oil on them prior to baking.

Not glamourous, I know... and maybe a little trashy... but whatever.

As for the steak... I'm ashamed to admit that these were pretty cheap cuts of meat.  Several weeks ago, we found a really great deal on steaks at the grocery store, and so we bought 3 pairs of steaks and just froze them.  It's handy to have a pair of steaks in the freezer, and they take less time to thaw than other cuts of meat.

Anyway, these are just a couple of very cheap eye of round steaks, on which I put a very simple rub of black pepper and parsley.  There was the very real, and certain, intention of drenching everything with the béarnaise sauce anyway... so I wasn't too worried about diffusing subtle flavours into anything.

Not glamourous, I know... and definitely trashy... but whatever.

The asparagus was good at least.

And plentiful.

I washed those up, and snapped off the ends, then arranged them in my steamer, bouquet-style.

I'm sure anyone who's read this blog to any degree will agree that I'm all about uniform texture and cooking.  Well, with asparagus, I find that the thicker, wider, bases require a bit more cooking than the thinner, tender tips.  Makes sense, right?  So, when steaming, I'll arrange them so that the bottoms will get a bit more heat than the tops.

Anyway, that's the explanation for my "bouquet-style" arrangement.

Once they've cooked like that for a few minutes, I'll shake 'em around a bit, and fit the lid on though, so they get a proper steaming (see below).

I used to broil steaks all the time.  Steak, of course, is BEST barbecued.  No question there.  In fact, most meat dishes are best barbecued.  However, when it's February, you can't really break out the grill every time you have a hankering for steak.  So... like I say, I used to broil them.

Broiling can make them tough though... and there is no real... finesse... in broiling.

Anyway, it has only been recently, but I've started to grill meats on my iron griddle.

Damn this bitch is heavy.

You could easily break something just by dropping it. 

Anyway... it took me a while to get the hang of grilling on a griddle, but now I quite like it.  With a very small cut of meat (like with these thin piddly steaks) it can admittedly be difficult getting it seared but not overcooked.

So, I got it super hot, and then seared both sides for probably only a minute each.  

Total cooking time was easily less than 2 minutes.

Once they were finished, I sprinkled a little bit of salish (smoked salt) on each side, and plated them.

Meanwhile, my asparagus had started to get a little bit of condensation on the stems, enough to "hold" a pinch of salt themselves.  At this point, the bottoms are significantly more malleable, and so I was able to toss them around a bit and then fit the lid on top.

They only really took another couple of minutes after that.  Again, with asparagus, go by colour.  You want a nice shiny, dark green.  If you see yellowing, you've overcooked them!

So, on to the plate those go as well.

The fries I mean frites were easy enough to dump from the baking sheet, and this was my trashy pub fare steak frites with steamed asparagus:

It really didn't look too unhealthy at this point... 
wait for it...


Just looking at this picture makes my arteries whinge.

So... not glamourous, I know... and trashy to be sure, but whatever.  

It was awesome.  

And it satisfied my craving for some pub food.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Creamy Chicken Stew

I had zero plans to make stew any time soon, and when I took out some chicken from the freezer to thaw, I had fully intended to make a pasta of some sort, with some fresh asparagus.

However... when I was in the fridge, I happened upon the rather sorry state of my crisper vegetables.  Most notably my carrots and celery.  They were limp and sad.  The asparagus, looking all shiny and green and firm, snickered at me while winking and saying "eh... those pathetic sons a' roots don't know how to be appetizing, do they?"  But... much to the asparagus' chagrin, I decided upon a last-minute amendment to the plan.  

The sorrowful sobs of the carrots and the pitiable whine of the celery, convinced me.

Meanwhile, some potatoes in the cupboard nearby were so bored and depressed they were driven to hosting their own sprout-a-thon international games.  Quietly, in the dark, and just between the three of them, with several cans of tomato paste as the judges.

So... the smug asparagus got returned to his crisper prison for a few more days, and the carrots and celery wiped their eyes and noses to look up expectantly when I grabbed them.  Unfortunately much of their family and friends required sacrificing to the almighty compost bin in the sky (or under the sink), but the survivors were so ecstatic they just wouldn't shut up.  

They kept telling me that I was making the right choice, and assuring me that they'd be the most delicious they could possibly be, and my stew was just going to be awesome.

"Yes, yes.  Thank-you.  No, there's no need for you to name your roots after me."

So, I chopped em up, cleaned em up, and neatly arranged them all for a family portrait:

An extended root-vegetable family portrait.  The scallions are mischievously holding up two fingers over the leek.  Oh ho ho... those rapscallions.


Anyway, they were surprisingly OK with my horribly maiming and dicing them.  You can see that they were still just jazzed to be used up I think.

The larger root vegetables (potatoes, celery, and carrots) were rip roarin' and ready to go, so I let them call shotgun on the slow-cooker pot.  They were pleased to be the first ones in, but then started feeling uneasy about exactly what was going to happen next.  I imagine it can get kind of lonely and scary at the bottom of a big black pot...


So, the chicken I had thawed was - at this point - like, 'whoah dude... do you even KNOW what you're doing?'

"Yes." was my glib response.

My wife is great at buying large amounts of chicken in bulk (cheap) and then separating them and wrapping them individually in freezer bags.  It's a great thing to be able to grab only one or two and use them accordingly.

Needless to say, however, these chicken breasts were not pleased to be woken up from their cryogenic sleep, and reminded me, bleary-eyed, that I had better have a good reason for removing them from their individual slumber pods, and that it looked - to them, at least - that I might have gotten confused somewhere along the line.  

If you ask me, I think they were being Drama Queens.

Yes, technically breast cuts would normally never be used for something as plebeian as stew.  The whole point of stew is to 'soften' some sort of tough cut of meat, so typically I'd use something like chicken thighs for stew, and save the breasts for something better.  However, by this time I was getting more than a little tired of their attitude, so I blurted out:

"You shut your mouth!  Just be grateful that you're getting taken out at all!!!"

I then took out my chef's knife and they immediately blanched.  
Well... immediately, they got hacked to bits.

THEN they blanched.

Heh heh heh.

At this point I was so tired of the chicken's holier-than-thou mindset, that I unceremoniously dumped them into the slow-cooker pot perhaps a little more violently than I could have.  I figured I'd just let them - and their crappy attitude - stew for a bit.

Heh heh heh.

It was past time for introductions, so I figured some were in order.  First I brought out the leeks and introduced them to the gribblies leftover in the frying pan, and then brought in the onion, scallions, and garlic, one-by-one.

They weren't being very sociable, for some reason, and it wasn't until I added some spice to the party (some dried sage leaves) that things livened-up a bit.

They were so lively, in fact, that the party decided, mid-swing, that it should benefit from changing venues.  It had nothing to do with the fact that the saute pan's neighbours were beginning to complain; it was just that they figured their mixer could become a full-on rave when they got to the Slow Cooker (ijj's kitchen's HOTTEST night club.)

Yes they were a mess, slobbering all over and leaving all manner of stuff behind, but I brought in my thawed stock to 'clean-up' after those party animals.

The stock I was using today, was in fact, NOT stock.  After I had already committed to making stew today, I opened my freezer to take out a jar of turkey stock, but sadly realized that I didn't have any stock left.  I could have sworn I had one left, but all that was in there was a jar of chicken soup, and two jars of my recently-made bacon and leek soup.

At this point I was already starting to get questioning glances and whispered doubts from the smart-ass chicken.  <seethe>  I just couldn't let them feel as though there was any truth behind their claims that I didn't know what I was doing, so I plowed ahead using a jar of the soup instead.

"Yes I do know what I'm doing, damnit, shut-up!"

"Ohkayay" they replied dubiously in a sing-song voice, as I drew a nice warm bath for the soup/stock.

So, the soup/stock was doing a really great job "deglazing" the pan with just a little bit of help from my spatula occasionally stirring and scraping the sides.  After a couple minutes, I decided to give some bay leaves a "head-start" on softening up.  

A little known fact is that bay leaves are actually painful introverts.  They confessed to me early on that they were positively PETRIFIED of joining a party which was already in full-swing; not only arriving late, but not knowing anybody there, made them extremely nervous.  So... I thought I'd match them up with the stock beforehand.  I mean... nothing elevates your status more than arriving with the star of the party, right?  They were grateful, and quickly mellowed out.  In fact, after only a minute or two of mixing it up with the stock, they lost almost all of their stiffness!

Because this was going to be a "creamy" chicken stew, I added a generous portion (about a cup) of milk.  Just skim milk, but it adds an awesome colour and a little bit of thickness, to the stew.

Once the stock started getting all steamy with the bay and the milk, I decided it was time.  I gave the root veggies few turns about the room with my wooden spoon, to get them ready, and then the DJ stopped spinning, the lights came on, and a palpable hush of anticipation came over the Slow Cooker.

The red-carpet was rolled out, and after moderate pomp, all the guests had finally arrived.

You thought that the party was rockin' before?  You should have seen what happened once the social lubricant got there!

The raucous, slightly slovenly, rave transformed into a veritable sophisticated symphony!!

The ensuing dance was a plush mosaic of so many intricate weavings of flavour and art, it was almost impossible to look at.  In fact, it was all I could do to just close the doors, and put the Slow Cooker on simmer.

Over the course of the afternoon, and a span of at least 5 hours, the Slow Cooker was pretty quiet.  Every now and then I'd hear a bump here or a grind there.  And although they attempted several times to blow the roof off their party, they only managed to rattle the lid once in a while.

Then... all of a sudden, around 6 o'clock, there was silence.

I checked on the party - typically I don't like to peek when the Slow Cooker has something brewing - by lifting the lid and giving it a stir.  Not a peep.

The guests were eerily quiet, and I could only assume that the party had reached the 'chill-down' phase, where they had all retired to back rooms to sleep and/or give each other massages and talk about how wasted they were.

An absolute perfect time to add the finishing touch.  Some thickening agent, in this case, corn starch.  I mixed up a couple spoonfuls, whisked it into a touch of skim milk, and then cautiously stirred it into the mix and stood back to watch.

It was exactly what the party needed!  The corn starch slowly ran the circuit of the entire place, lending a cohesion to the party that just couldn't be reached before.  The carrots finally gave up trying to get the leeks to give up the goods, the celery ceased vomiting in the toilet stalls, and the potatoes actually ended their drunken rioting.  Even the asinine chicken was mellow and relaxing on the couch as they offered a cool nod of the head in my direction.

All-in-all, I'd say it was a resounding success.

I was asked to censor what the leeks and carrots were doing in this photo, but I believe in freedom of expression, and will have to deal with the legal ramifications later.

The wife brought home a fresh-ish baguette when she came home, and I broke it up (in the peasant fashion) by hand and served it all up together.

Sure the stew was hot and steamy, but it was also mellow; creamy and complex, it was one of the most nuanced concoctions ever to spill out of the Slow Cooker.

They'll be talking about this one for years!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Potato Crêpes

What to do with leftover mashed potatoes?  

In the past I've done all sorts of things with them, trying in vain to breathe some new life into their cold, stiff and starchy form.  Re-heat them with a bit of butter or milk; pan-fry them golden brown; bake them into a casserole or (shepherd's) pie... any number of dishes which should really be simple, but are usually not.  In fact, I'd say that mashed potatoes are some of the most labour-intensive leftovers.  You can't just stick 'em in a pan and re-heat them 'as-is'.  Well... I suppose you could, if you didn't mind them dry and rubbery.

So last night, I decided to try my hand at making some potato crêpes.  I often make potato pancakes, which is with raw, grated, potato, and I toyed with a concoction which would be very close to this, just with mashed potato instead.  I didn't see why it couldn't work very similarly.  In fact, I thought for a brief moment that I had come up with the notion all on my own.  But, alas, t'was not the case.  There have been many and more potato  crêpes concocted by cooks far more industrious and prolific than I.

I was gratified, however, to note that upon looking up various recipes for potato crêpes , my own preconceived idea was pretty much bang on.  So I gave myself a pat on the back.

As one might expect, and at its simplest, you basically just add eggs, milk, and flour to mashed potato.  Of course a few other ingredients are beneficial, and so mine was:

  • mashed potato (about 1.5 cups)
  • 4 eggs (yup, 4)
  • 1 cup milk (skim)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 green onion (minced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • pinch salt and pepper

A lot of recipes involve adding nutmeg.  Nutmeg is... let's just say... traditional.  I don't think traditions should be maintained just for tradition's sake, however... and certainly not absolutely.  So... feel free to add nutmeg for an interesting and "authentic" flavour, but pretty much any herb or spice would work.  Potato goes with many things.  Some favourites are rosemary, oregano, or tarragon.  If you noticed, however, there wasn't any in tonight's batter.  
Simply because this one time I wanted them to be onion-y and garlic-y more than herb-y.

Anyway, I whisked this batter all up nice and smooth in a stainless steel mixing bowl:

I covered this bowl in cling film, and stuck it in the fridge for now.

I then got to preparing some of the filling and garnishes.

Considering that my wife ends up putting (and has since taught me to put) sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onion or chives on potato pancakes, I figured a filling made out of these things would work substantially well on the crêpes.

So, I sliced up some green onion (not my regularly-sub-atomically-thin minced, but rather thick this time) and doused it in a generous couple of swigs of habanero sauce.  To this, I whisked in a good cup of greek yogurt (0%) and low-fat cheddar cheese.

This also got covered and refrigerated.

For other 'garnishes' or 'toppings' I really could gone crazy and made a wide variety of items, but I just picked two things, and went with them.  Tomatoes and mushrooms.  I thought these would go well...

So they got sliced relatively finely and then also got covered and refrigerated.

At this point I was ready to sit back and wait until I needed to start cooking supper.  Every recipe I ever read about potato crêpes actually suggested allowing the batter to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes anyway, so I figured it was all good.

So, when the wife got home from work, I fired up the stove and unsheathed my weapons of choice for this battle.

I decided to commit to dual-wielding this evening.  In my main hand, my +4 Jamie Oliver by T-fal frying pan of perfection, and in the left, my somewhat older, and significantly more battle-scarred, +2 Jamie Oliver by T-fal frying pan of sturdiness.  For those of you in-the-know, I'm sure you'll see that I cleverly negated the off-hand penalty for dual-wielding by ensuring that the off-hand was small- to tiny-size.  Gods forfend I should have used a large or medium pan instead!  My THAC0 would have plummeted through the floor!!!  Could you imagine?  Crêpes all over and almost none in the pans!

Fortunately, however my dexterity proved sufficient enough to handle both pans with flair and grace, and the crêpes were executed with deadly gorgeousness.  As you will see.

So, once these were sufficiently heated, I took out my batter and fixins, and set-to.

First, I decided to lightly saute the mushrooms, because it dawned on me that they weren't going to get cooked enough just inside the crêpe

Just a little bit in some oil, enough to brown slightly.

Then it was BATTER-TIME

A generous splash of oil (Becel) in each pan, and good swirl, and then add a bit of batter. I'd guess at somewhere between 1/3 - 1/2 cup if you're measuring... but really you want as little as possible as can still evenly coat the circumference of the pan.

Then it's really just like cooking pancakes.  Or tortillas.  A delicate hand does not go amiss.    When you see a bubble or three forming, and the edges are starting to crisp, give it a nice and gentle shake to loosen it, and then get a flipper under it.

Once flipped, I spread a thin layer of the filling across the entire surface.

At this point it was ready to be curled up and plated.

I made a few 'plain' crêpes, and only a few with the mushroom and tomatoes for "topping", but for those, just sprinkle them on top at this stage as well.

Anyway.  The technique for cooking crêpes is not an easy one, and I don't pretend to be a master at it.  Despite my enchanted dual-wielded pans, I still barely came up with some finished products that looked vaguely crêpe -like.

They certainly tasted crêpe -like, however, and were quite frankly delicious.  Insanely filling, but delicious.  My wife practically had a tantrum they were so good.  A jittery-vocalized, tantrum of barely-restrained excitement.  

I took that to mean they were good.