Crespelle – Italian-Style Crêpes
Last week I tweeted that I’d try making crespelle, Italian-style crêpes (as laid out pretty plainly in the title of today’s blog). I suppose ‘try’ is the operative word here. Don’t get the wrong idea; these crêpes aren’t hard. They just take the right flick of the wrist. Getting the batter exactly the right consistency so that it’s not too thick, not too watery is the key. And don’t expect the first one or two to be very pretty. Those are always ‘pour le chien’ as the French say. Or, in my house, those first two not-so-pretty crêpes are eaten by the cook. She may tell those who observe her doing this (i.e. hubby and child) that only she can perform this very important taste test. But really, she just wants to be the first (and only) to savour this delicate treat.
When I was growing up, my mother would spend hours in our basement kitchen (the rumour’s true: Italians typically have two kitchens – the good, clean one on the main floor and the work horse kitchen in the basement) ladling, flipping and cooling scripelle (as we called them, and still do, in my house). Phew, long sentence. But, I made it thanks to the fact that I can snack on these supple, pale yellow discs right now. While my mom was flipping them out of the pan to cool, I was right there, comfortably ensconced on the chair at that table scooping them up almost as quickly as she’d turn them out. I did that, of course, despite her many protestations. You see, these scrippelle were destined for other purposes. They were used to form the layers of lasagna. They were filled with meat and rolled into cannelloni. They were sprinkled with Parmigiano, rolled, layered in a bowl with chicken broth ladled over them to form a delightful light, but filling soup.
So, was this recipe passed down to me from generation to generation? No. I have asked my mother time and time again for the recipe, but to no avail. She couldn’t give it to me because she never used measurements. I could watch; but seeing her pour an indeterminate amount of water over a undefined amount of flour. She, herself, had no idea how many cups of this or that. Even the number of eggs could change. It was just all based on feel. Well, that wasn’t going to help me. Conquering this recipe came down to one thing. I had to reconcile myself to the fact that I was necessarily going to have to go through a lot of eggs, flour, water, salt and wasted batter before I could land on the right combination of ingredients. Well, I’m happy to tell you that I did it. Below is the right, and tested, recipe. If my family’s reaction is anything to go by, I’ve nailed it because sitting near me as I flipped these out was my own child eating them almost as fast as I made them.
If you try these, or if you make something similar, let me know about it. I’m pretty certain you’ll love them.