27 January 2009

Crespella al Mascarpone con Bacche

For many years, many years ago, some friends and I would hold a weekly Sunday Potluck Brunch. The people that planned to attend would call, and they would be guided to bring whatever was needed. The core of us whom held the Brunch always took care of the crêpes, the Dutch Babies, the decks of cards, Cricket Sets, and the coffee. I won't mention the names of the types of card games we played, (E.R.F. anyone?), but I will talk about the crêpes. Wayde and I would make anywhere from 20 to 60. Add a couple of Dutch Babies to that, well, you get the idea. We could have charged admission, to watch us flinging it all around in that tiny apartment kitchen. It was poetry.

Sunday, in my home, is still a day of grand morning meals, now often followed by day long braising, stock making, and of course, Prosecco Mimosas (in place of beer). One of my favourite things to make are still crêpes. I don't do this as often as I used to, which for me, makes it that much more enjoyable when I do.

I had been thinking about crêpes since my young friend Hesperus was visiting. She had hoped I would make them and sadly, left disappointed. Hesperus, I want you to know that I thought about you this last Sunday, as I was making these. Next time you are here, we will eat crêpes every meal! Or, at least once...

Though this version is more Italian than French, I felt that in honour of La Chandeleur (or Candlemas, which has also come to be known as Crêpe Day), on February 2nd in France, I would humbly share one of my favourite versions of this ancient food. 

It is believed that, if you catch a crêpe with your pan after tossing it with your left hand whilst holding a piece of gold in your right hand, you will prosper in the year. Considering the state of our current economy, I'm giving it a go.

There are infinite ways to serve crêpes. Sweet, savory, plain, fancy; you name it. As well, you can use any type of flour you like. Cake flour (or Wondra instant flour), makes the most delicate of crépes while buckwheat the hardiest. For the crêpes pictured here, I used an organic all purpose flour that I first sifted to lighten it up a little...


1 cup flour
2 eggs (I use 1 entire egg and only the yolk of the 2nd. Less eggy that way).
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 t. salt
2 T. unsalted butter, melted

Mix the flour with the eggs and slowly stir in the milk and water. Add the salt and butter and whisk until smooth. Allow mixture to rest awhile. About 20 to 30 minutes.

Lightly butter a non stick skillet over med-high heat. Pour enough batter, all the while swirling to cover pan to make one thin crêpe. (I find that just under 1/4 cup for each crêpe gives me 6 to 8, eight inch crêpes).

Cook for about one minute, flip and cook for another minute or two. Place on a warm plate and repeat.

Mascarpone filling

4 0z softened Mascarpone
1 t. confectioner's sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. orange zest 
1 t. Grand Marnier
1/8 t. cinnamon 
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.


Juice of one orange (blood oranges are great in this)
2 pints berries. I used one pint of blueberries and one pint of strawberries
1 t. cardamom pods
1/2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Place berries in a glass oven-proof dish. Toss with cinnamon, and orange juice and stir in cardamom pods. Bake for about 30 minutes. Keep warm, until ready to serve.

Lemon Wedges (preferably Meyer)

I lightly spread filling over 1/2 of each crêpe with a rubber spatula and fold in 1/2. Then I spread 1/2 again and fold, making a triangular shape.

Place crêpes on plates and top with berries, a sift or two of confectioner's sugar and serve with a lemon wedge.

Don't forget the Mimosas. Tangerine-Pomegranate for me, please.

10 January 2009

Tagliata di Manzo con Rucola

My signature dish, prepared 2 to 3 times a month, is Steak Salad. 

For the kids, it's Steak, Salad, and Couscous. This consists of a lemony Caesar Salad, with home made dressing and croutons, and Pecorino Romano; couscous cooked in broth, garlic, and Parmesan Reggiano; and Steak, crusted with Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper, grilled rare.  

Anytime I make the mistake of asking any of my kids what they want for dinner, this is invariably the answer.  It is also every special occasion dish, whether it is a Birthday or some achievement. This is the selected choice, without fail.  

Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

For such occasions, I'll typically take the liberty of varying the adults' plates with Tagliata di Manzo ( sliced Steak) with Arugula.  The combination of Grilled Steak and fresh Arugula, finished with Pecorino shavings and lemon is magnificent. 

It is also a great meal when the kids are away, as I eat later, it's quick to make, and it's great with wine. 

Here is my version:

Steaks, at least 1 1/2 inches thick (either T-bone, New York Strip, Tenderloin, or Sirloin), rubbed with a bit of Olive Oil and sprinkled with Course Sea Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper

Fresh bunch of Arugula, stems removed or Baby Arugula leaves

Olive Oil

Lemons (Meyer if you can get them)

Pecorino Romano

Sea Salt for finishing

Rest steaks with oil, salt and pepper while grill heats up to 450 to 500 degrees F. Grill to Rare or liking and rest 5- 10 minutes.  Slice 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick against the grain and lay over bed of Arugula that has been drizzled with olive oil.  Finish with sea salt and shavings of Romano and serve with lemon wedges.

Simple, brilliant, and delicious.