Waking up early on Sunday to make crêpes or pancakes for breakfast is something of a ritual at my place. Crêpes are and still remain in my belief, delicate, lacy creations that one can gracefully flip over on a crepière until they are just golden and ready to be served with a spoonful of pineapple jam. The idea of savoury crêpes struck me as being absurd and I was never tempted to try one till I was pleasantly surprised by a salmon filled crêpe at the Pancake Festival held at Grain d’Sel restaurant years ago. In a feeble attempt to recreate this rich gastronomic experience, I managed a close replication of the flavours as I remember them using a basic crêpe recipe from Nigella and deliciously creamy seafood filling from Kraft Cheddar cheese. Not all crêpes have to be sweet, right?

SEAFOOD CREPES

Ingredients:

For the Crêpes

30g unsalted butter, melted

150g all purpose flour

375 ml full cream milk

1 egg, room temperature

For the Filling

3/4 cup cooking cream

150g Cheddar cheese, grated

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

100g smoked salmon, sliced

300g peeled shrimp, cooked

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons spring onions

Method:

  • For the crêpes, put the flour, milk and egg into a blender and whiz to amalgamate.

  • Pour the mixture into jug and stir in the melted butter. Heat a seasoned crêpe pan.

  • Ladle 1/4 cup batter into pan, then quickly hold it up and swirl it around carefully.

  • The batter should form a thin pancake covering base of the pan. Cook for 1 minute.

  • Flip crêpe over and cook for another 20-30 seconds on the other side, then remove.

  • Stack the crêpes between layers of baking paper on a hot plate until ready to serve.

  • For the filling, place cream in a small saucepan and heat gently over medium heat.

  • Stir in grated cheese and stir until smooth. Stir in lemon, pepper and spring onions.

  • Gently fold seafood through sauce. Place a spoonful of seafood sauce on each crêpe.

  • Fold in half, then in half again and serve immediately with extra cheese. Serves 5-6.

Seafood Crêpes

If you need one pasta dish that you can make over and over again this winter, be ready to bookmark this yummy spinach and ricotta recipe by Chef Jamie Oliver. The filling can be used to stuff cannelloni tubes or layer between lasagna sheets and can be varied to suit your preference or to put that bit of leftover roasted chicken from yesterday’s dinner to good use. I like the idea of filling these pasta tubes ahead and saving them for those bad hair days when you come back tired from work and cannot be bothered to cook or do anything else. With this simple bit of pre-planning, you simply have to place the pre-filled cannelloni in an ovenproof dish, spread the tomato sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese and pop it in the oven for half an hour baking time while you slowly unwind from the stress of a hectic day by soaking your tired limbs in a hot, fragrant bubble bath.

SPINACH & RICOTTA CANNELLONI

Ingredients:

400 g spinach

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 large brown onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, squashed

2 x 400 g tins of tomatoes

1 bay leaf, optional

1/2 bunch of basil leaves

1/2 lemon, grated zest of

250 g fresh ricotta cheese

1 free-range egg, beaten

2 teaspoons grated parmesan

150 g cannelloni, about 14 tubes

2 x 125 g mozzarella balls, sliced

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Put the spinach and a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over a low heat.

  • Add nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Leave to sweat. Stir occasionally till spinach is cooked down.

  • Place in a bowl and set it aside to cool a little. In the same pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over low heat.

  • Gently sweat the onion until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, a few basil leaves and lemon zest.

  • Let it gently simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach into the bowl. Place the spinach on a board so as to chop it up.

  • Return spinach to the liquid in the bowl and stir in ricotta, beaten egg and parmesan. Season to taste.

  • Sit the piping bag in a jug, fold its edges over the rim, then carefully spoon the spinach mixture into it.

  • Pipe the spinach-ricotta mixture into the cannelloni tubes and lay them in a 20-cm x 25-cm oven dish.

  • Spread the tomato sauce over the cannelloni. Scatter over most of the basil, lay mozzarella slices on top.

  • Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 35 to 40 minutes.

  • The top should turn golden and the pasta is tender; if the top browns too fast, cover the dish with foil.

  • Remove from the oven and let stand for few minutes before serving with the remaining basil. Serves 6.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

APPLE & FIG FLAPJACKS

Ingredients:

450g apples, peeled and cored

25g golden caster sugar

Zest of 1 small lemon

100g dried figs, chopped

140g butter, cut into pieces

50g light muscovado sugar

140g golden syrup

250g porridge oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

25g walnuts, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 190 oC. Slice the apples into a small pan and stir in the caster sugar.

  • Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until apple is soft, stirring occasionally.

  • Stir in the zest and the figs and cook for another 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir mixture often.

  • When the figs are softened and the mixture is quite dry, remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • Whizz the cooked apple and fig mixture into a smooth puree in a food processor, set aside.

  • Melt butter, muscovado sugar and syrup into a heavy based, medium saucepan over low heat.

  • Do not let it boil. Stir in the oats and cinnamon and mix well to form a loose, sticky mixture.

  • Press half of the mixture into a shallow 18 x 18cm square baking pan. Spread puree on top.

  • Cover the puree with the remaining oat mixture and sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over.

  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it is golden. Remove from oven, cut into squares and serve.

Apple & Fig Flapjacks from BBC GoodFood

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PrerrnaMirchi
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