I really wanted to post this yesterday, a.k.a. Pancake Day, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday, a.k.a. Mardi Gras. But, unfortunately for me, I live in Maine, and we got hit with a big, stupid storm on Sunday night (that absolutely NO ONE seemed to see coming) and had our power knocked out from then until early this afternoon. Out of over 150,000 people to lose power, we were among the last 20,000 to get it back. Apparently the line crews were out on snowmobiles and with snowshoes.
Luckily for me, we have a gas stove, so I was still able to make my crepes on Monday. I figured crepes are an older, more traditional recipe than pancakes, and since Z wanted some kind of fruit and cream as topping instead of butter and syrup, crepes were a better fit. We picked up some wonderfully ripe strawberries and kiwis at the store on Saturday and decided to use those, along with some homemade vanilla sugar whipped cream. Do you have any idea how much cheaper it is to make your own whipped cream than to buy it in a pressurized can? About a third as cheap! And you need less since whipping cream is so rich.
We had a few leftover on Tuesday and I decided to warm them in the oven, which made them crispy and toasty – perfect for wrapping around yummy, slightly-caramelized plantains. I prepared the plantains the way I normally would: Sliced the long way, pan-fried in oil (canola or safflower, so it doesn’t smoke) and dusted with lots of cinnamon. I topped everything off with some powdered sugar and they were wonderful. The toasting and longer filling made them easy to pick up and eat sans forks (which were all dirty by that time anyway, and I couldn’t clean the kitchen since we have a well, which doesn’t work when the power is out).
One thing I was concerned about, being someone who finds 99% of her recipes via Google, was how was I going to access the recipe I’d bookmarked? Hmmm…Then I remembered that I own a copy of The Joy Of Cooking, and all was well again. I actually read the majority of the book over Monday and Tuesday, skipping the sections about skinning bunnies and butchering turtles. For the record, I have absolutely no interest in turtle soup, mock or otherwise (so THAT’S why the Mock Turtle in my copy of Alice in Wonderland has a calf’s head…nasty). Seriously, though, I’m so glad I bought this book. My absolute favorite passage is a list of suggested additions and garnishes to homemade ice cream recipe, which includes such awesome items as preserved chopped ginger with some of the preserving syrup; crushed chocolate molasses chips (what are those and where can I find them?); crushed macarons plus sherry or liqueur; Polvo de Amor (homemade shredded coconut with a kickass name); candied violets (yes PLEASE); chopped candied citrus peel; crystallized angelica, cut in tiny fancy shapes (it actually says that and makes me giggle inside just typing it); decorettes (what are thooooose?); marzipan fruits; and Sweet Sauces. Mmm, Sweet Sauces…
Crepes (adapted from The Joy Of Cooking)
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp double-acting baking powder
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sift together the dry ingredients (I whisked and there were still bigger lumps than I would have liked, so definitely sift). In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add in the rest of the ingredients and beat well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ones, combining with a few swift strokes, ignoring any small lumps. Place a medium skillet (non-stick is fine) over medium heat and grease it with a few drops of oil. Add a small amount of batter (1/8-1/4 cup) to the pan and tilt the pan around to allow the batter to spread out as much as possible. When the crepe is lightly browned underneath and easy to lift, flip it and cook until the other side is browned as well (the first one probably won’t turn out well, which is normal). Once both sides are evenly cooked, remove from pan. Add a little more oil for each crepe. If you use a bit too much oil it’s ok, you’ll just have crispier edges.
To serve with strawberries, kiwi and vanilla sugar cream, slice berries and kiwis and alternate in a line across the bottom of each crepe. Roll from the bottom up. Grind a tablespoon or so of vanilla sugar with mortar & pestle (or grind in a food processor) to make fine sugar. Whip 1/2 cup or so whipping cream to soft peaks and add sugar. Whip to stiff peaks and dollop onto crepes. Garnish with extra fruit slices and sprinkle with a little extra vanilla sugar.
To serve toasted with plantains, peel and cut in half, then slice in 1/4 inch thick planks. Heat a few tablespoons of canola or safflower oil in a skillet or other shallow pan. Fry plantains in two batches, turning once to get both sides evenly golden and caramelized around the edges. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and toss in ground cinnamon to coat. Meanwhile reheat cooled crepes in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes, until warm and crispy. Remove crepes from oven and lightly butter one side, then lay out plantain slices across the bottom of each crepe and roll from the bottom up. Dust powdered sugar over the crepe and garnish each with a small piece of plantain.