crepes

Halfway through the year, let’s take a look at where I am with my list. Updates (and true confessions) after each point. Let me know in the comments what you think.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been kicking an idea around about all the dishes I swear I’m going to cook—recipes I’m going to try.

If you’re reading this and thinking I can’t believe she’s intimidated to make (fill in the blank), know we all have culinary roadblocks.

When I was thinking about this, I came across a piece on the Taste website, “Everyone Should Have a Winter Cooking Goal.” The author’s goal is to work on one dish until she masters it and has explored all its variations.

My goals are a little different–some of these I’d like to master, some I’d like to have become a regular part of my cooking repertoire and others are rainy day/all day projects. I’m thinking that maybe there should be one a month, but at the moment, I’m 4 short. Any suggestions?

8 Things I’m Challenging Myself to Cook in 2019:

  1. Crêpes: One of those projects that I thought I could throw equipment at and be okay. This just needs practice and probably patience. For you crêpe makers out there, is it easier to start with regular (flour) ones before moving on to savory (buckwheat) ones? Update: Thanks to my friend Jan, mastered this one. Have done both plain and buckwheat, plain are easier and probably more versatile.
  2. Soupe de poisson: This is one of my favorite soups and a prelude to bouillabaisse. Making this is just a matter of deciding to do it and getting some good fish. Update: Still on my wish list. 
  3. Whole fish: I don’t know why this has always seemed so challenging to me and since they just published this in the NY Times, I’m not the only one. Could it be one of those things like roasting meats that’s super easy but looks like you can cook? Anyone got a favorite recipe to share? Update: In spite of saving simple whole fish recipes and checking out the contenders at Adam’s, I haven’t gotten here yet, but it’s coming.
  4. More fish: Where we are, it’s much easier to get great (farm raised) meat, than good fish, but I’m going to make finding a good source for fish and befriending a fishmonger a priority this year (and it will make #2 & 3 much easier). Update: got off to a good start with this and give myself extra points for doing a lot more salmon to see if I could con Frank into eating it. We loved several of the recipes.
  5. Cream of mushroom soup: (as good as the CIA and/or the late Campfire in GB) Like the soupe de poisson, this is more a matter of going shopping and facing the stove. Update: Like the soupe de poisson, didn’t happen and I’ve got no excuses.
  6. Cauliflower rice: Yes, I can be trendy, and we need to cut carbs/sugar in my house. Update: Since I wrote this I don’t think we’ve had any cauliflower. Hmmm…
  7. Grains: Freekeh, farro, oats, lentils, etc. Time to switch it up from rice and potatoes. And if I would do #8, probably faster cooking than an hour on the stove. Update: More room for improvement and that goes for #8 too. Accidental Locavore Insta-Pot
  8. Use my Insta-Pot: for more than yogurt and use the pressure cooker part of it. Shoot, I guess that means I have to find the instruction book and read it. Update: It still makes great yogurt…

And, I’m going to start using the “good” silver! Update: Polished it and used it the last time we had friends for dinner. Nice to use the good stuff, try it.

What would go on your list?

 

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Crêpes: Mastering My Fear

by Anne Maxfield on April 1, 2019

Accidental Locavore Pile of Crepes Crêpes are simple enough to make.

Or so I thought.

My previous attempts have been pretty disastrous—maybe it was just thinking they were easy and overreaching. Anyway, they made it onto my things to challenge myself to cook list.

Luckily, I’ve got a couple of friends who are crêpe making fans/fiends and one of them recently gave me a private tutorial.

I brought my own pan so that any miraculous achievements could be reproduced at home and a spreader stick that I’d brought back from France (more about that later).

Accidental Locavore Crepe PanWe mixed up her go-to batter and let it rest overnight (not necessary but resting for 30 minutes is a good idea).

The next morning, we got to work. Jan has a special ladle she uses for crêpes that I’m guessing is about ¼ cup. We heated up the pans, smeared them with butter, and Jan poured a ladle full of batter into her pan, expertly swirled it around, let it sit for a minute, flipped it et voilà , a perfect one, first time out.

My first attempt wasn’t too bad, but there was a spot in my pan that lacked proper batter coverage. However, flipping it was simple and I ended up with an acceptable (i.e. edible) crêpe.

A few more later, and I was getting the hang of it, but was still not getting full coverage in my pan, so I decided to try bringing out the French spreader stick. Bad idea. Of all the crêpes we made that day (and we made a nice stack), it was the only one that was a failure. So, I’m going to blame my previous failures on lack of proper equipment.

Jan's Crepe RecipeHere’s the recipe that we used. It’s from an old edition of Fannie Farmer and I particularly like the headnote: “Internationally famous for dessert. Also the basis for some exceptional luncheon dishes and an epicurean way to use leftovers.”

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Butter for greasing the pan

Beat the eggs until well blended. Add the milk, salt and flour and stir until smooth. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes (we refrigerated overnight, and let come to room temperature before making).

Accidental Locavore Crepe with Ham and SwissI had some filled with Italian ham and a slice of Swiss cheese and a couple for dessert with a drizzle of my friend Kristin’s amazing Cara-Sel, salted caramel sauce. Both ways were great!

What’s your favorite crêpe filling?

 

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February 2nd: Groundhog vs. Crêpes

by Anne Maxfield on February 2, 2017

Accidental Locavore Groundhog

To the majority of people reading this, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. However, in France the Accidental Locavore discovered a much better way to “celebrate” this day—la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or Candlemas. It’s also known as the Day of Crêpes.

I’ve never been a fan of Groundhog Day. Why do we suddenly revere a rodent we spend the other 364 days trying our best to get rid of? Seriously.

It seems like a much better idea to whip up a few crêpes and let them predict the coming (or not) of spring. Why crêpes? Because they’re golden and after a long winter, look like the sun.And this is how it works: “It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.” The other benefits? Everyone will want to toss crêpes and the only thing that will get bitten is the crêpe (are you reading this Bill DeBlasio?).

Accidental Locavore Chevre Crepe for Groundhog DayCandlemas actually inspired Groundhog Day, marking the mid-point of winter. Germans in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to (ready for this?) Punxsutawney PA, with more of a focus on weather than wealth. After the groundhog did his prognostication he became lunch, supposedly tasting “like a cross between chicken and pork”. One less groundhog messing up the yard.

Given the choice between some rodent or a pan full of hot crêpes predicting the coming of spring, what would be your choice? For the first time ever, I’m looking forward to celebrating February 2nd and will definitely be hitting one of the crêperies near me! It might also be the excuse I’ve been looking for to get a crêpe pan and start making some of my own. If you’re far away from a good source of crêpes, pancakes are a perfectly good substitute. Enjoy!

 

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Pot au Feu: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

by Anne Maxfield on October 14, 2013

Accidental Locavore WaterfireHow many times have you just wandered into a restaurant and felt immediately at home? Rarely, and hardly ever when you’re travelling solo, but that’s what happened when the Accidental Locavore wandered into Pot au Feu in Providence, recently. Gary, the manager at the Biltmore recommended it and I was immediately attracted to it (besides my weakness for anything French) because it was at the end of the route of Waterfire, an almost magical event where they light the river in Providence.

I wandered in and found a seat at the bar. It’s lovely, with beautiful blonde wood and art nouveau liquor cabinets (look on their website as my photos were terrible). Gary asked me to give his regards to Bob (the owner)and as it turned out, that’s who was tending bar that night. We immediately got to chatting and in the small-world, category, it turns out that we both knew the other Pot au Feu–Le Roi de Pot au Feu–in Paris. Bob said he had given them his aprons the last time he was there. Before long, as the bar started to fill up, he was giving me the low-down and introducing me to anyone and everyone who stopped by.

Accidental Locavore Broiled OystersWhile I was enjoying some amazing oysters broiled with a horseradish cream sauce, Bob was telling very funny and terribly politically-incorrect jokes that even more incredibly, were paired with the food I was eating.

Accidental Locavore CrepesAs I moved onto that evening’s special, savory crepes with blue cheese, chicken tomatoes and olives, Bob was telling me that the restaurant is actually the oldest bistro in the US and showing me photos and documents from the early days. In between that he was mixing drinks for all the regulars, which was everyone (including me) and showing off his bartending finesse. You know there’s that horrible trend now to consider anyone who can mix two alcoholic ingredients together and add ice, a mixologist. Well, Bob is most definitely not a mixologist, he’s a classic (and classy) bartender. Ask him for his signature Sazerac and hear the history of America’s first cocktail and how the New York Times messed up the recipe.

Unfortunately for me, I had been eating all day (ok, all weekend, ok, all week) and didn’t have the appetite to conquer a major meal like pot au feu. I’m sure in a place like that, it would be just perfect. I’ll just have to go back with a big appetite, perch at the bar, say hi to my new buddies and indulge while Bob mixes up more Sazerac’s.

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