Crêpes à la Sauce Camembert

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A crêpe or crepe  is a type of very thin pancake. Crêpes are usually of two types: crêpes sucrées  or sweet crepes, which are made with white flour and eaten for dessert;  and crêpes salées also known as    savoury galettes,  that are made with buckwheat flour and filled with savory fixings.

In terms of culinary etymology, crêpes belong to the general category of ancient Greek Tiganitai, from Greek tiganos (τίγανος), meaning “frying pan”, which in English is literally translated to Pancakes. The French term, crêpe, derives from the Latin crispa, meaning with “creases”. The name “galette” came from the French word galet (“pebble”) since the first gallettes were made on a large pebble heated in a fire.

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While crêpes are often associated with Brittany, a region in the northwest  of France, they are also enjoyed throughout France, Belgium, Canada, and many parts  of Europe, North Africa, Lebanon, and Argentina.

Preparing crêpes at home is also common, and very easy.  As a home cook, you have the ultimate freedom to use whatever fillings you like. In this way, crêpes salées become a wrapper for all types of leftovers. It should be noted that the addition of an egg almost always improves a savory crêpe.

This is an Americanized recipe where the crepe batter needs to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before cooking the crepes. As the batter chills, the flour expands and absorbs the liquid, which helps produce tender crepes. You can cook the crepes in advance and fill them just before serving.
Recipe Adapted from
Williams-Sonoma
2019

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 eggs
2 cups milk
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3  tablespoons olive oil
3/4  pound white button mushrooms, sliced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 pound thick-cut baked ham, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Camembert cheese, rind removed, diced
4 green onions, white and light green portions, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup of the milk. Add the 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir in the canola oil. Refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight before making the crepes.

In a crepe pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 Tbs. of the butter. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan, then quickly tilt and turn the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter evenly to the edges. Cook until the crepe is golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the crepe and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a warm plate. Repeat to make 12 crepes.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add half of the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon the salt and pepper and sauté until the mushrooms are dark brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Push the mushrooms to the side of the pan, add the remaining mushrooms, and sauté until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are dark brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the ham to the pan and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the ham to the bowl with the mushrooms.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining 1 cup milk and whisk in the 3 tablespoons of flour. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and cheese and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the ham, mushrooms, green onions and parsley and stir until heated through. Spoon 1/4 cup of the filling in the middle of each crepe and roll the crepe around the filling.

Cook’s Notes:

When making crêpes, you make your batter ahead of time. The night before is ideal, but at least two hours in advance is required.If you are making the crêpesbatter the night before, refrigerate it, and then let it come to room temperature before cooking. You want to give it time to relax into itself, and for the flour to absorb the liquid evenly. If the batter looks a little dry after this resting period, it’s ok to add a bit more liquid.

Another great thing: crepes freeze incredibly well. My suggestion is to make the entire batch at once, even if you will have extra. Simply layer what you won’t eat between parchment paper, move to a sealed plastic bag, and voila! Now you have crêpes for the next time too.

Sources:

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, XIV, 645c; Galen, On the Properties of Foods, I, 3.

Cristina Sciarra (2012). “All About Crêpes“.The Roaming Kitchen.
Accessed October 19, 2019.

Williams-Sonoma (2019) Crepes a la Camembert.  Accessed September 10, 2019

 

 

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The Monte Cristo

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Photo Credit: Jocelyn & Cathy at FoodishFetish, 2014.

 

The “Monte Cristo” is thought to be a tribute to the French novel, “The Count of Monte Christo” by Alexander Dumas, and as such, the sandwich’s name suggests its French origins.

Basically, a Monte Cristo is a fried ham and cheese sandwich, which can be considered a variation of the French croque-monsieur. Recipes for the sandwich abound, with regional variations.

In the Southern United States, versions of the Monte Cristo calls for dipping it in egg and then heavy breading, like corn flakes, rice cereal or bread crumbs. The egg battered sandwich is then deep fried, resulting in an all-over very crusty exterior. ANd because everything is not for every body, as my Grand would say, most people prefer the more traditional grilled sandwich, as it is lower in fat than its deep fried versions.

 

Some Monte Cristo sandwiches also vary ingredients, and may include baked chicken, turkey as well as ham and Swiss, or may add several types of cheeses. Some restaurants combine the traditional triple-decker club sandwich of turkey, ham or bacon, and Swiss, dip in it egg and present this as a Monte Cristo. This is not the traditional sandwich, but many argue that it is an improvement. In some areas of the contiguous United States, it is served grilled; in other regions, it served as  an open sandwich with only the bread battered and the assembled sandwich heated slightly under a grill or broiler. A finished Monte Cristo tends to be topped with a small amount of powdered sugar and is most traditionally served with raspberry or strawberry jam. In some cases, maple syrup is served in place of the jam. Though many think the combination unusual, the flavors actually seem to work well together, accounting for its continued popularity for modern diners of today.

 

 

brown derby cookbookIn the 1930s–1960s, American cookbooks had recipes for this sandwich under such names as “French Sandwich”, “Toasted Ham Sandwich”, and “French Toasted Cheese “. The first know written recipe was found in the 1949 cookbook published by the Brown Derby Restaurant in Los Angeles, California. Although it may be speculated that the sandwich had been previously served at several other Los Angeles restaurants, there is no definitive evidence on its precise origins or who really invented the sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown_Derby_on_Wilshire_entrance_1956Opened in 1926, the original restaurant at 3427 Wilshire Boulevard was the first and most famous of these distinctive eateries, shaped like a man’s derby hat, an iconic image that became synonymous with the Golden Age of Hollywood. Whimsical architecture was popular at the time, and the restaurant was designed to catch the eye of passing motorists. The Brown Derby name originated from a Malverne, New York-based restaurant of the same name that had been a popular hang-out for vaudevillians in the 1920s. The Los Angeles based resturant was founded by Wilson Mizner as a small cafe, across the street from the popular Hollywood hot spot the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel. Wilson was the front man; Herbert K. Somborn, who was a former husband of film star Gloria Swanson, owned the property and movie mogul Jack L. Warner put up the money for the initial investment of the restaurant. Wilson Mizner sat in booth 50 almost every day.

The cafe was successful enough to warrant building a second branch later. Soon after its opening, the Brown Derby chain was started by Robert H. Cobb and Herbert K. Somborn. The original, derby-shaped building was moved in 1937 to 3377 Wilshire Boulevard at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue, about a block from its previous location and directly across the street from the Ambassador Hotel.

 

 

brown derby menuOver the years, the sandwich gained great popularity in the United States in the 1960s, when the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland began serving it on a regular basis. Disneyland’s version deep fried the sandwich, which some people feel results in an overly greasy result.

In September 1980, the original Brown Derby restaurant closed without warning Local preservationists unsuccessfully tried to stop the building from being bulldozed. Unfortunately, the demolition was completed in November and replaced by a parking lot. It should be noted that a Disney-backed Brown Derby national franchising program revived the brand in the 21st century and brought the Monte Cristo sandwich back to the public.

The Monte Cristo has appeared on various menus, including the Cheesecake Factory and Denny’s. I really love this old-time classic version listed here. It is the prefect sandwich for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Traditionally served with a side of jam or jelly, to make this a savory treat you can add a dab of Dijon mustard, if you like. Although this sandwich can be quartered and deep fried separately, many of the earliest recipes like this one adapted from the Brown Derby Cookbook, calls for frying the sandwich in a skillet, much like French Toast.

 

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, taste
5 tablespoons butter, softened
6 pieces thinly sliced white bread
4 thin slices cooked turkey
4 thin slices cooked ham
4 thin slices Swiss cheese or Gruyere Cheese
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Jam or Red currant jelly, for dipping

 

Directions:
To make the egg batter, lightly beat eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For each sandwich, lightly butter 3 slices of bread on both sides. Place 2 slices of turkey and 2 of ham between 2 slices of bread. Top with 2 slices of cheese and add last slice of bread.

Trim crusts, secure with toothpicks, and cut in half on the diagonal.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Dip sandwich halves, top and bottom, in the egf batter. When butter foams, place sandwiches in skillet and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to skillet, turn sandwiches, and fry for 2 minutes more.

Transfer to plates, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, and serve with jam or jelly.


Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam

 

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The secret to Chris Kronner’s delectable sandwiches is the jam spiked with Pinot Noir. Kronner got the idea when he was helping Elisabeth Prueitt test jam recipes while they drank wine.

 

Adapted from Chris Kronner
Food & Wine
April 2010

Serves 4

Ingredients:
Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of brioche
1/2 cup strawberry jam mixed with 2 tablespoons of Pinot Noir
8 thin slices of baked ham
8 thin slices of Gruyère cheese
Softened unsalted butter

Directions:
Heat a large griddle. Spread 4 of the brioche slices with the jam. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices of the ham and 2 slices of the Gruyère and close the sandwiches. Lightly butter the outside of the sandwiches and fry the sandwiches over moderate heat until toasted and the cheese is melted, 2 minutes per side. Cut in half and serve right away.