That Shit Crepe
It’s Pancake Day! Not satisfied with your standard lemon-and-sugar, kitchen guru LEAF ARBUTHNOT displays an impressive knowledge of posh pancakes.
Having Channel-hopped to Paris for my year abroad, I’ve seen and consumed more than my fair share of pancakes. As with most foodstuffs, the French take them inordinately seriously, regarding them less as something titillating to make with friends on Shrove Tuesday than as a proper meal deserving of attention and creativity.
That’s not to denigrate the glory the old sugar-lemon option, which remains unbudged from my list of admirable crepe toppings, along with maple syrup, chestnut puree and Nutella (provided, bien sur, that it’s been spread on top of butter). Yet crepes are such versatile creatures that experimenting with them can be very rewarding; the more innovative you get, the smugger and more chef-y you will feel, and, perhaps, the more kingly your final pre-Lent “repas” will be. So, in view of my enlightenment grace aux grenouilles, here are five slightly different pancake toppings that will blow your buttery Nutella and/or acidic sugar out of the water. One ‘opes.
Disclaimer: All these are intended to go with pancakes made according to this recipe.
1. Creamy watercress and mushroom (serves 2)
Fry a chopped onion in some olive oil until soft. Add a mugful of sliced brown mushrooms (about half a centimetre thick), as well as a Hagrid-size handful of fresh watercress. Fry for another five minutes, then mash in half a pat of Boursin, as well as two tablespoons of milk. Continue heating until it reduces to a thick sauce, glossy with promise and mystery. Pour onto two pancakes, placed on separate plates. Fold in the sides to make a square and secure with a cocktail stick.
2. Mars and papaya (serves 2)
Nicer than it sounds. Chop a Mars Bar into slices and place in a pan with two tablespoons single cream. Stir over a very low heat, taking care not to burn the caramel. Chop up some papaya that you’d been lovingly ripening on a sun-bathed shelf, having bought it back from Mexico. Place the slices in a line onto two crepes placed on two plates. Pour the chocolate goo on top, and roll the pancake up into a tube. Consume, taking care not to allow anything to drop onto your white trousers.
3. Flamin’ banana and salted caramel
In a frying pan, melt together one tablespoon of golden syrup, one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Add a very generous pinch of salt – the bigger the crystals the better. Get two bananas and slice them so that they resemble the index fingers of inexplicably fluffy and ill-looking white people. Add these to the pan of caramel and fry until soft. Then pour in a splash of rum, cook for a bit and light with a match/briquet/splint/spill. Pour the mixture onto two waiting crepes.
4. Apple and bacon
Don’t hate it ‘til you ate it. Cut up two Bramley apples into smallish chunks. Put these into a small pan with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Heat slowly until the apple is soft and caramelized. Fry four rashers of bacon in a pan. Once crispy, add the apple mixture to the pan and heat it all for another minute or so. Then pour this mixture on top of two crepes. Consume.
5. Home-made lemon curd and vanilla cream
This last recipe is really to take my lemon curd recipe to the masses. However, when paired with vanilla cream – also dastardly easy to make – it makes a pretty spectacular crepe.
Place three inches of boiling water in a pan, and heat on a low flame. Put a glass bowl on top of the water, and put in it 100g of butter, chopped into small chunks and 225g of fine white caster sugar. Wait until the butter has melted, then stir until it forms a beautiful sunshine-yellow grainy mixture. Add the three eggs that you’d beaten up ruthlessly with a fork, and one extra egg yolk. Then add the juice and finely grated rind of two large lemons. Stir. Carry on heating and stirring every now and then for half an hour until the mixture is very gloopy – a little less thick than cold Bird’s Eye custard. Pour into two jars and refrigerate.
For the vanilla cream, beat up 1/2 a pint of double cream until stiff. Stir in a couple of drops of vanilla essence, along with a tablespoon full of icing sugar. Spread the lemon curd onto the crepe then add a tablespoon full of the vanilla cream. Wrap it up into a triangle, taking care not to squish all the cream out of the crepe. Consume.