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TDG: Oh, Crepe!


Fat Guy
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No-one's mentioned the opening premise of Francis Raven's article: He got a crepe because he had to pee and the creperie wouldn't let him use their bathroom even in exchange for buying coffee. I think that sucks, but should that be discussed in a separate thread?

I had to say, it was the one part of the article that I didn't quite relish. Wanting to enjoy fine writing about a favored food and having to wade through a large section about the needs of a bodily function was a tad extensive for me.

I applaud that the need forced a realization that crepes are indeed wonderful, but I wish it had been written a bit more concisely as it took until the third paragraph before I realized the author was only trying to pee and not something else.

The entire first sentence, "THEY REALLY won't let you use the bathroom at the crepe place on 16th" forces the reader to imagine a number of variety of uses for a bathroom (many entirely unpleasant for a food story) as opposed to the real topic of the piece: a delicate, delightful crepe.

Just my humble opinion, but with an extensively revealing discovery of crepes as cuisine, I feel the author could have led us to his introspection much more quickly

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Can anyone explain why it's important to use buckwheat flour?

What would happen if standard bleached white flour were used -- would it be more like a pancake? Could other flours be substituted, like rye flour or even cornmeal?

At a used book store, I picked up a great out-of-print paperback on Russian cooking. I noticed that buckwheat flour is also specified in the making of Russian blinis.

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I don't know about buckwheat's "importance", except that I think it was grown, and therefore used, in Britanny and Normandy. It was also widely grown in Russia, and eastern Europe generally and is still popular among some of the descendants who arrived in North America (Ukrainians come to mind,)

Buckwheat tends to thrive in poor soils and in conditions where other grains don't.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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A little Buckwheat introspection:

It originated in Central and Western China.

The weird thing about it is that it's not a grass like all of the other grains; it's an annual.

But the best thing about buckwheat is the pillow made out of buckwheat hull that they used to sell on late night TV; it's an awsome pillow if you're extremely tired, but otherwise it sucks.

francis

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Marcella Hazan has a section on crespelle (this is just Italian crepes-- she allows her readers to use her batter or any crepe batter they prefer) in her Essentials book.  There's a wonderful recipe for a mound of crepes, filled very lightly with tomato sauce, prosciutto, and mozzarella.  This dish is both surprisingly light and decadently rich, as any dish featuring a mound of buttery crepes would have to be.

Thank you, Seth! Just got back from the bookshelf and can't figure out how I'd missed this one! Good news for company coming over the holidays!

Yes, Francis, the Brittany crepe and bowl of cider is a great taste memory - we had talked about starting up a hole-in-the-wall to serve it here in Chicago :wink:

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Thank you, Seth! Just got back from the bookshelf and can't figure out how I'd missed this one! Good news for company coming over the holidays!

I hope you like it!

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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It's funny... I didn't realize how big the old Magic Pan was. And wondering what happened to them, I did a google search which turned up a few things like:

Strawberry Crepe Recipe

Potage St. Germain Recipe

Chicken Divan Crepe

A review of a different creperie in Dallas but this author seemed to believe that The Magic Pan WAS started in California and spread from there.

The Orange Spinach Salad Recipe

In interesting review of a the Boston creperie Le Gamin but it states that The Magic Pan was Michael Dukakis' favorite restaurant.

There were a ton more links of people recalling their memories of the restuarant and a slew of bios of restaurant gurus, chefs, managers, and waiters who all worked at the now-mythical restaurant.

Would be an interesting investigation, wouldn't it - to see what happened to it the chain?

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I've always pronounced it the way a South African would pronounce "crap". :biggrin:

To reprise an old SNL skit... if it's not Scottish it's chrehp.... :laugh:

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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  • 3 months later...

:laugh: MMMMM! Savory crepes. In Brittany they are sometimes called galettes. We love the ones made with buckwheat flour, which is called farine de sarrasin or ble noir in French. This "flour" contains no gluten. When we were following the Montignac plan, it was a perfect stage II food. The Galettes we know contain buckwheat flour, water, and sea salt only. There are all kinds of different kinds of crepes though, and they vary by locality all across Brittany.

Many French people have their galette with the local butter of Britanny, or a little bit of grated cheese. A simple egg or a few shavings of andouille sausage, which is also local to Brittany and is a sausage of rolled pork intestines. Andouille is not to be confused with Lyonnais andouilette, which is a sausage made of ground instestines and other things, nor should it be confused with the spicy smoked pork sausage we can see in the southern US, which does not even remotely resemble French andouille (They are all good, though!) If you go to Brittany, don't ignore the crepes, they are simply wonderful there.

We have a couple of creperies here in Lyon that we frequent from time to time.

My favorite kind of galette has a grated emmanthal, an egg, a couple of slices of Andouille, and a liberal sprinkling of pepper. Mmm, delish. Pass the cider!

:smile:

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I'd forgotten about buckwheat being related to rhubarb. Wouldn't you think then that the perfect combination would be a buckwheat crepe with a rhubarb-based filling? :wink: Sounds good to me.

I too have very happy memories of The Magic Pan - perhaps even more so of its chief competitor, at least in NYC: La Crepe.

Carolyn said:

Would be an interesting investigation, wouldn't it - to see what happened to it the chain?

Yes, it sure would - and it might be even more interesting if some enterprising soul would try to re-start it, or something like it. Everything old is new again, and the time might just be ripe for people (well, at least the non-Atkins crowd) to rediscover and love creperies all over again. Hell, look how nostalgic eGullet is waxing! Like another fond fad of the same period which also spawned a chain of restaurants: remember La Fondue? In the 60s we used to do festive fondue evenings at home which featured everything but melting: sort of Bourguignonne and beyond. A pot of boiling oil for every two people; platters to pass around with chunks of raw beef and chicken, also large shrimp when the exchequer was up to it; always six* different sauces; a simple pilaf to accompany - mix your own mess, and oh how good it was and what fun - food and entertainment at the same time, dinner party as performance art. When I grew up I reinstated the custom for occasions like my parents' anniversary; when one of the close family friends in that group went veggie, I added a feature to the table: a large bowl of raw vegetables and a small one of tempura batter. The good times, they rolled.

(*I can remember five of them - the sixth has been shrouded in the mists of family myth for at least 20 years. A warm brown sauce meant mostly for the rice, sort of a chasseur; a pseudo-Chinese-ish mix of duk sauce, soy sauce and dry mustard; and three mayonnaise-based sauces, flavored respectively with curry, capers, and dill. My mouth is watering. Quick, someone, get me the DroolGuard.)

The question about savory crepe recipes also brings back lovely memories. My grandparents had a wonderful cook (a story, or a series of them, in herself) who made a version of canneloni that used crepes in place of pasta. So rich, so decadent, so delicate, so delicious, so... well, they were sublime, is all. I don't know if there was ever a recipe, as such (ooh, there might be, and I just realized where - never thought to look, but I will), but I have improvised imitations since then that, if they didn't perfectly duplicate Isabel's marvel, at least paid worthy homage to the memory.

And of course, speaking of blini... there's always the blinchiki that I keep harping on about. (Which in my memory were always made with white flour not buckwheat BTW, but then my memory stops considerably short of the old country, so that may well have been a change made when my great-grandparents came over here.) The recipe for these, scribbled in my mother's handwriting, includes a quick precis of the Dione Lucas standard crepe recipe and says, don't bother to cook second side. Aha! Wasn't it right here on eGullet that I learned, a few weeks ago, that this is precisely the factor that constitutes the distinction between a blin(tz/ni/chik) and a crepe! What an education you guys are.

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My favorite crepe recipe is a simple savory one...

crepes filled with a bechamel flavored with parmigiano reggiano and lots of wild mushrooms. In making the bechamel, reserve some for topping, mix together the rest of the sauce and mushrooms and stuff the crepes. Then lay in a baking dish and cover with the rest of the bechamel and some shredded PR and then bake in the oven until golden on top....HMMM...rich, filling, and perfect starter if it is in small enough quantities...

"Make me some mignardises, &*%$@!" -Mateo

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My husband is Russian, and he makes blini with white flour. I asked him about using buckwheat flour, because even my Russian cookbook lists buckwheat flour for making blini. He said that in Russia they use either kind, but he grew up always using white flour.

As for the fillings, we usually have tons of different things to choose from, some traditionally Russian, some not. Our favorites include:

Sour cream and several varieties of jam

Honey butter

Peanut butter and chocolate syrup

Powdered sugar and lemon

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Hi all

As my first post, I hope I get this right - it seems fairly intuitive but, hey, I've said that before :smile:

I was just trying a savoury crepe on Saturday - overlapping a couple, filling them with a mix of bacon, onion and herbs and rolling them up into a roulade that I then lightly fried in slices.

I plated baby spinach wilted in cream, topped with a rare eye fillet steak, topped with a slice of filled crepe.

I had been a bit wary of using a batter as light as a crepe mix for the purpose but it turned out quite well.

Regards

Kevin

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Hi all

As my first post, I hope I get this right - it seems fairly intuitive but, hey, I've said that before :smile:

I was just trying a savoury crepe on Saturday - overlapping a couple, filling them with a mix of bacon, onion and herbs and rolling them up into a roulade that I then lightly fried in slices.

I plated baby spinach wilted in cream, topped with a rare eye fillet steak, topped with a slice of filled crepe.

I had been a bit wary of using a batter as light as a crepe mix for the purpose but it turned out quite well.

Regards

Kevin

Hi Kevin! That sounds really wonderful. Did you roll the crepes, slice them, and then fry the slices? Sounds like an idea. What kind of mix did you use? Did you have to let it rest before using the mixed batter?

- Lucy

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  • 9 months later...
It's funny... I didn't realize how big the old Magic Pan was. And wondering what happened to them, I did a google search which turned up a few things like:

<snip>

There were a ton more links of people recalling their memories of the restuarant and a slew of bios of restaurant gurus, chefs, managers, and waiters who all worked at the now-mythical restaurant.

Would be an interesting investigation, wouldn't it - to see what happened to it the chain?

Update on the Magic Pan: I found a Yahoo group started by a former employee of one of the MP branches in Detroit. (You have to join the group to see the posts, I think. God I hate the Yahoo Groups interface!) From information in that group and googling, I pieced together that the Magic Pan did indeed start here in San Francisco, where it was started by Paulette and Laszlo Fono, who now own (and apparently have for the last two decades) a restaurant in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto called Bravo Fono. (Anybody been there?) They later sold the restaurant (? -- I can't tell if this was before or after it became a chain, but I suspect before). They are the same couple who used to own and run the Hungarian restaurant Paprika Fono in Ghirardelli Square here in town.

Anyway, one of the people in the Yahoo group actually telephoned Paulette Fono, and seems to think there's a chance she will join the group. Also posted in the group are recipes from Paulette Fono's book, The Crepe Cookbook: All About the Magic World of Crepes.

Interesting developments... fascinating to see how many people have such fond memories of that place!

Cheers,

Squeat

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