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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.