Crêpes (Gluten Free & Traditional)

crepe-plainThis is a guest post by my friend Al. We met in 1997 when his kids were wee babies – he was a customer of mine at the toy store. Fast forward twenty years, and now my kids call him ‘Uncle Al’.

Click here for Al’s Traditional Sweet Crêpes

Click here for Jessica’s Gluten Free Sweet Crêpes and Savory Crêpes

Click here for my guide to Gluten Free Prepared Foods

Dressed in our pinks and greens, my friend Lawrence and I made eye contact from across the stage as we anticipated our commander’s downbeat for the last tune of our mid day concert. We were in the square in downtown Brussels, and the encore for our show was always Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”. This classic was very much expected by the European audiences attending concerts by the United States Air Force’s Army Air Corps Glenn Miller Band.  Our commander always kicked off this tune much too fast for our liking but today we didn’t mind as we had plans. Big, tasty, plans. After the last note was released, we enjoyed a standing ovation which brought a bittersweet tear to my eye. Not so much because it was likely the last concert I’d play on that square in Belgium, but because we had started a bit of a tradition to visit what we considered one of the finest creperies in all of Europe, and we knew today would our last visit. Both Lawrence and I had received our orders to return stateside. 

This cute little creperie was nestled into a corner along one of the small cobblestone streets about a block from the main square. At that time, the business was owned by a lady in her late 30s with a well defined entrepreneurial spirit.  She was very cordial, attractive, and just stern enough to remain focused on serving as many of her local patrons as she single-handedly could. Little did she know, that day my friend and I would test her resolve.

Upon our arrival we informed her that this would be our last visit to her creperie and placed our order. When served, we asked for her recipe, just as we have each and every visit in the past – to no avail.  Only this time, we let her know we would be returning to the United States soon. We wanted to continue enjoying what we considered one of life’s finer treats.  She said no… again. So we asked again, and again, and again. Annoyed, she finally said if you are going to stay here you need to order something else, so we did … and we did, and we did. Finally, EIGHTEEN crepes later she gave us the recipe and her local patrons applauded OUR resolve.

Since our return to the United States in the Summer of 1998, my family and I have enjoyed and sustained a newfound tradition of making crepes together every Sunday morning after church, and rarely missed an opportunity to do so for years.  Each of our four children grew up learning how to make the batter, eagerly starting when they were just tall enough to stand on a chair and reach over the counter.  Little did we know such a simple food would provide years and years of really enjoyable “together time” … not to mention the literally thousands of crepes we have cooked and shared with extended family and friends – here and abroad.

I would be remiss not to mention that although you can choose to fill these crepes with a wide variety of choices including fruit, nuts, cheeses, creams and sauces etc. etc.  we always come back to a simpler presentation with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Ironically, exactly what my friend Lawrence and I regularly ordered in Brussels.

 Bon Appétit. 

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Best Buttermilk Waffles

Waffle

A long week exploring National Parks. Our packs were prepared and Mystery Man and I were on our way out for a day-hike along the Yosemite Valley. First, breakfast. We sat in a dining hall that would give Harry Potter’s Hogwart’s a run for its money. The windows looked out onto slabs of granite and pristine vistas. The weather was perfect.

Waffles, among other standard breakfast fair, where placed before us and we dug in. Loading up on calories for the hike was essential since we planned on a light lunch and late dinner back here, where we started. Barley speaking to one another because the views were too much to comprehend, we ate.

Tea at Yosemite

I always save the waffle for last, like a morning dessert. Pushing the edge of my fork through its surface, my attention snapped from the rocky beauty and brought to my plate. This waffle was not the standard hotel batter from a bag. It crunched with my fork, but the interior was light and fluffy. The bite was full of flavor, a tang of buttermilk, a crunch came from an unknown source, and it was far from heavy. There was nothing artificial about it and I was intrigued. These were the best waffles I had ever had. My eyes met Mystery Man’s and he was chewing and grinning at the same time, seemingly reading my mind.

We finished up and headed out. The hike was gorgeous, and after doing a little scrambling to get to the top of Nevada Falls we settled down to take in the view and crack our packs for lunch. With our breakfasts still sustaining us, we ate little, but stayed a while for the views that changed as the clouds moved across the sky and the light played on the valleys, trees and mountains.

Yosemite

The second half of our walk joined with the John Muir Trail and while we shared our morning hike with many others, this section of the trail we found pleasantly deserted. The only sounds were of our own breath, an occasional breeze through the trees and small, scattering wildlife. Our boots crunched with every step and my mind slowly let go of the things we left back home. Jobs, commitments, adult responsibilities, they all melted away. With the clearing of my head came an idea. Crunch. The crunch of my boots reminded me of the waffle and I put the recipe together. Corn meal. That had to be what they used to get the texture. Whipped egg whites. That is how the waffles stayed light and never settled into rocks in our stomachs.

Finally returning back home, I set to work right away recreating the taste of Yosemite. Once I got it right, there was the same chew and grin combination on Mystery Man’s face. I hope your crunch into this waffle will result in a moment of release, no matter where you might be.

 

Best Buttermilk Waffles

Yields about 10 waffles, this recipe can be halved.

 

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 egg whites

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose four

1/4 cup corn meal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

 

Preparation:

• You will need two medium bowls, plus a stand mixer/bowl (or hand mixer) for this preparation.

• In the first medium bowl beat together the two whole eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla, set aside.

• In the second medium bowl whisk together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk these dry ingredients to the first bowl of wet ingredients, in small amounts at a time, until incorporated with few lumps remaining. Set aside.

• In the third bowl, preferably for an electric mixer, place the two egg whites. With the whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form.

• Carefully fold the fluffy egg whites into the batter. Try to retain the air in the foam of the egg whites and stop folding once they are just barely incorporated.

• Use this batter in your waffle iron per the manufacturer’s instructions. My waffle iron time is five minutes, exactly. Yours may differ.