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Dinner Party Crepes, Brazilian Style (With Extras)

Crepes

Some weeks ago we received a kind invitation from one of PJ’s coworkers, to dine in their home. Sadly, before we could get there I came down with the ‘flu and we had to beg off. I’m sure the thought of missing out on fine Brazilian cuisine prepared by a native slowed my recovery by several days. (That’s my story, anyway.)

Well, the invitation was given a reprieve, and this past Saturday we managed to get together after all. Three couples, a nice, intimate setting; wine and appetizers, then dinner, with handmade cupcakes for dessert. Lots of interesting chat, as we began to explore what we had in common and, more importantly, what stories we could share. A most interesting evening!

I also had baked crêpes for the very first time. Apparently they’re a classic comfort food down Brazil way. I’ve had crêpes for dessert, filed with fruit and dusted with powdered sugar, and I’ve had them for breakfast as well. I can’t ever remember having savory baked crêpes, though.

Our hostess, Carol, made two types: A beef version, with a hearty red sauce, and ham-and-cheese ones, with abundant white sauce. They smelled wonderful while baking as we munched on starters and sipped wine.

Before we get to the details on those crêpes, though, let’s take a step back to the appetizers. I was invited to make and bring those, and I was honored to do so. I had begun research on a variety of options well before I fell ill, but in the final analysis the option that made the most sense was salsa.

Said that way, it seemed I may have copped a plea and fallen on the mercy of the court, avoiding hard time testing and tasting new ideas. Actually, I had a twist or two I wanted to share, and the work wasn’t that much.

Salsa

I made fresh salsa cruda, using ripe pear tomatoes, yellow onion (red onions are too expensive, and almost non-existent hereabouts), and minced jalapeño. The juice of several fresh limes went into the bowl, as well as some garlic, salt and pepper. Finally, I took the leaves from a big bunch of cilantro, chopped that up and added to the salsa. After that, I used a couple of “secret ingredients.” (Chipotle powder and smoked paprika, neither in significant quantities; background notes.)

I took about 1/3 of the salsa out and placed it into another mixing bowl. Meanwhile, I grilled about a pound of fresh pineapple chunks until they had good scorch marks and a smoky essence, then I minced the fruit. (Actually, my sous chef took care of that; she likes to chop stuff. I don’t let her near the knives, though, unless she’s in a good mood and on her meds.) I added extra minced jalapeño, then I finished with a couple of chipotles in adobo, well minced. I also dropped in two heaping tablespoons of adobo sauce, for good measure.

We served the classic salsa cruda with special corn chips, and the chipotle pineapple salsa over room-temperature cream cheese. Based on the quantity left over (basically, none), these salsas were perfect to get the dinner under way.

The wines we sampled included muscat and merlot, and it wasn’t long until Ryan (our host) was scrabbling around in the cellar for more. It was a dinner party after all!

THEN we sat down for the main course. Salad and crêpes…

I don’t know all the recipe details for these baked crêpes, but I certainly will find out one of these days! The ham and cheese ones were so creamy, so smooth, you hardly noticed when they were gone. (Fortunately, Carol had made a second baking dish full.) The extra creamy texture came from the Mornay sauce, which used whole-milk mozzarella. (You don’t remember what Mornay sauce is? Simple! That’s Béchamel sauce with cheese. Oh, and Béchamel is simple white sauce, one of the mother sauces of French cooking. Lesson over.) At least, I think it was Mornay; I forgot to ask…

The beef crêpes were hearty, with plenty of savory herb notes. I throught at first they might be like enchiladas or baked burritos, as they appear very similar to my Tex-Mex trained eye. They’re not quite like those (admittedly tasty) dishes, though! The “surprise” flavor and umami differences made me smile. (I also didn’t close my eyes while eating them; I didn’t want to think I’d died and gone to heaven ahead of schedule.)

Cupcakes

The cap of the evening were the handmade cupcakes. Now, when you think cupcakes, you may think of some small confection of white or chocolate cake, with a bit of icing and maybe some sprinkles on top. Small enough you could eat two or three. Well, these weren’t like that!

Nancy, one of the other guests, is a pastry chef who loves her work. It showed in those large cupcakes. She brought a round dozen, four each of three different types. One type was Black Forest, with cherries and sauce in the center, dark chocolate cake all ’round, and white cream topping. With another cherry on top, of course. I managed to restrain myself from eating these until my IQ was cut in half, but I could easily have gone there.

The other two types of cupcakes involved tasty mixtures of caramel filling, chocolate and more. I don’t remember all the details; I zoned in completely on the Black Forest Cake, I really did.

The dinner was a nice, relaxing (and filling) way to meet new friends, share travel experiences and cultures, and learn some new dishes. And as soon as I get the recipes for those crêpes (and maybe the cupcakes too), I’ll share them with you. (If you believe that, I’ve got some land we need to go see, next low tide; I’m sure you’ll want to buy in…)

Enjoy the (Zesty, Savory and Sweet Dinner) Heat!

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2 comments to Dinner Party Crepes, Brazilian Style (With Extras)

  • carolbella

    Ok, Ok. Sorry Mitch for the delay but as I promise here is the recipe for the crepes;

    2 cups of milk
    1 egg
    2 cups of flour
    1 tablespoon of canola oil
    1/3 teaspoon of salt

    Mix all the ingredients on a blender for about 2 minutes. You should have a homogeneous batter, not too liquid, not too thick.

    If you have a crepe pan, great but if you don’t just a small non stick frying pan will do. Heat the pan on medium low and then add small ladle of the batter to it. Coat the pan with the mixture and let it cook. Using a spatula you should know when it’s time to turn your crepes, believe me you will. Just make sure the mixture is cooked in the middle. Turn it and let it brown on the other side. The first crepe comes out weird but just keep on trying until it turns the way you like it.
    Pile them on a plate as you cook them. Once done with the entire batch then it’s time to start you creation.

    With each crepe, add a filling of your taste. This is your time to shine, whatever pleases your tastebuds is welcome in your crepes.

    After you add your filling (not too much of it though) roll it up like a enchilada and put it on a rectangular baking dish coated with spray oil. At the end, just add the sauce of your choice and bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. Voila! (no, Voila isn’t a Portuguese word)
    Bom apetite… (yes, that’s in Portuguese)

    Let me know how it turns out.

    Carol Giunco Shave

  • Carol, thanks for stopping by and giving such a nice summary of your crepes dish! I’ll try them out soon. But first I need a new non-stick skillet. My birthday’s coming soon, though…

    I hope Ryan’s doing well after his knee repair!

    The Chile Doctor