By Amanda Stone
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
I can’t stop thinking about crepes. I had my first a couple of days ago. Obviously it left an impression. How have I spent my entire life without this delicate, delicious creation?
Thanks to a good friend with excellent taste and a birthday, there was cause for a trip to Bentonville, Ark., home of the food truck Crepes Paulette. The magic happened inside a trailer parked near the town square. The benches and tables with umbrellas surrounding Crepes Paulette give it a European sidewalk café vibe, if you’re into that sort of thing, which I am. I assume that the friendly man with the charming French accent who took our order was Frederic, the owner.
There’s a long list of savory and sweet crepes and it’s only about an hour from us. Worth the trip, even if you don’t make it into any of the quaint shops on the square.
After doing some thorough crepe research, I had to make some of my own. I love that there are only a few ingredients, all of which I approve of and are staples in my kitchen. After blending the ingredients, I poured the batter into a hot, buttered pan. Crepe No. 1 was a disaster. Instead of a thin pancake, it was a pile of torn, wrinkled crepe. Crepe No. 2 was the same but crispier. Crepe No. 3 was decent. Crepe No. 4 was nearly perfect, but I got cocky with Crepe No. 5 and ended up tearing it.
The toppings for crepes are what make or break the health aspect. Much like a baked potato or a salad, one can ruin a perfectly healthy food by covering it in processed cheese and dressings loaded with sugar and saturated fat. The next time I make crepes at home, I’ll be ready with some healthy topping options. I wanted my first experience at Crepes Paulette to represent what a crepe is supposed to be, so I ordered the works with pesto, salami and whole milk mozzarella. I have no regrets.
I used Alton Brown’s crepe recipe, because I think he’s neat. Truly a food nerd.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat. Crepes Paulette used buckwheat flour for its savory crepes, which is gluten-free)
3 tablespoons melted butter
Butter, for coating the pan
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
Savory variation: Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, spinach or sun-dried tomatoes to the egg mixture.
Sweet variation: Add 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of your favorite liqueur to the egg mixture.
Crepe fillings and toppings
Sautéed spinach, mushrooms and garlic
Smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion and capers
Ham and sautéed asparagus
Blueberries and ricotta cheese
Apples, honey and cinnamon
Plain yogurt, sweetened with fruit
Bananas and almond butter or Nutella if you’re feeling naughty