February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
There are some things in life which never change. Like snow days. Who doesn’t get a cozy nostalgic feeling with the thought of a day off from the real world? As a kid, this meant an escape from sitting at a desk all day listening to someone talk
to at you from the front of a packed room (for many adults this may still be the case). For me, a snow day means that my kitchen gets my full attention.
These past few weeks I have been slightly obsessed with the mere thought of a delicate crêpe wrapped pleasantly around a oozy gooey filling of nirvana. Oddly, in these past weeks I have had more opportunities to indulge in a simple fruit filled crêpe since living in France. But I found myself resisting, unconsiously holding out for what would be the perfect crêpe day.
By noon on this exceptionally wintery day I had a table full of steaming buckwheat crêpes, warm fig butter, lustrous onion jam and a perfect way to spend my snow day. I made two batches of batter, one made from solely buckwheat flour, which is completely nontraditional. But I had no warning, and authentic batter should really rest over night and I unwilling to compromise. I want to have my crêpes and eat them too. Consequentially we will be finding all sorts of fillers for the endless stacks of toasty savory galettes which will be gracing our plates for the next couple of days as I could not resist the urge to mix up some more traditional batter, courtesy of David Lebovitz and fry them up tomorrow for dinner.
The filling for my crêpes today are from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, and are unbelievable delicious. She has this ingenious section of her book dedicated to fruit and vegetable jams and spreads to accompany all of her treats. My favorite: fig butter. I was first introduced to the idea of her fig butter when Heidi Swanson unveiled Kim’s Figgy Buckwheat scones on 101cookbooks. Since then have been looking for the perfect time to bring the heavenly butter into my life. I must confess my disappointment; the time which I let pass without consuming this butter is completely unacceptable. I could, no lie, eat this everyday. Possibly at every meal. It has a velvety, rich, deep flavor from the figs, wine, and butter but doesn’t leave a feeling of piggishness behind. It requires little hands on work aside from chopping off stems, boiling sugar, and getting out the food processor, and yields a sufficient amount to last (an insatiable girl) just about two weeks.
Perfection. The second filling was even more simple and just as ingenious. Onion jam will be finding its way into nearly all of my sandwiches from here on out. When onions cook down they turn into a heap of savory caramelized luxury ready to make any meal a feast. There is a reason that they make you cry, and it is happiness for what is about to come. It is as if they are forcing us to pay for the magnificence which if hidden behind their bite.
(Nontraditional) Buckwheat Crêpe
This recipe is actually gluten free as buckwheat has no relation to wheat. It also requires only a 15 minute rest which was the appeal for me. These are also a bit thicker than I am used to but delicious nonetheless. I used a 7 inch cast iron pan for the crêpe cooking, if you desire larger crêpes simply use a larger pan. I found the recipe here and followed it pretty precisely but I used salted (Baily’s Dairy!) butter and less salt.
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot (a thickening agent)
dash of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups water
To make the batter simply sift the dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl. Now whisk the eggs with the water and add the butter. When the wet ingredients are well mixed pour half into the buckwheat flour and stir until incorporated and smooth. Then pour the rest of the egg mixture and finish stirring. The mixture will be a pretty dark purple color and quite runny. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Just enough time to prepare the pan and finish up the fillings. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and coat it with butter. Add just under 1/4 cup of the batter to the hot pan and swirl it around so that it fills the entire bottom. When the crêpe batter has started to dry out on top, after 2 or 3 minutes, flip it over to briefly cook the other side. I used my fingers to do this. A spatula is safer but less effective. The first crêpe is always, always, always, a disaster. Keep the crêpes warm in a 200 degree oven. This recipe will make 10-12 crêpes. I am planning on freezing some leftovers by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap then sealing in a freezer bag.
Kim Boyce’s Fig Butter
These recipes are not published on the internet and I technically have no right to publish them. Consequentially I am going to HIGHLY recommend you make the decision to own your own copy of Good to the Grain if this looks good to you. I will leave a basic description of the recipe.
A little bit of sugar and water are boiled with cloves and star anise for about 10 minutes. Then lots of red wine and port and black mission figs and cinnamon are added to to the syrup. This mixture simmers for about 3o minutes and becomes a beautiful viscous maroon liquid. The concoction needs to come to room temperature for another 30 minutes or so before removing the cloves and star anise. Then the figs and their syrup are pureed with some soft butter. It is possibly the most indecent thing I have ever eaten.
Kim Boyce’s Onion Jam
See the notes above regarding Kim’s book. You can figure this one out on your own without a recipe. This onion jam with some sauteed mushrooms, horseradish, and hearty slices of bread could hardly make me happier. Although slathered inside a hot crêpe with butter I was quite delighted all day.
Slice a lot of onions. I think I used about 10 yellow cooking onions from Barnard’s Orchards. In a medium dutch oven heat some olive oil on medium high heat for a minute or two. Add the sliced onions and salt and coat them in the oil. Cook them on high until they just begin to brown. Turn down the heat and cover until they get a nice consistent golden. Remove the lid and let them look until they break down into a mass of jam like consistency. This all take about two hours and makes about a cup of savory jam.