Is it a Frittata? Lasagna? Pie? Is it a French crêpe dish or an Italian crespella? This recipe adopts traditions from both France and Italy, which makes it so hard to describe, yet so easy to eat. Like lasagna, it’s layered with rich creamy Ricotta cheese. Unlike the typical French tradition, the golden crêpes are not rolled with the ingredients inside. These crêpes are laid flat in a round casserole dish. The look of this recipe somewhat resembles the mille crêpe, a French cake made with many crêpe layers. But the layers are where the similarity ends because this is not a dessert dish, but rather a rich satisfying breakfast or brunch meal. While the recipe may be difficult to categorize in French or Italian, the three cheeses, ham, and mushrooms combine with the crêpes for a dish that can be described the same way in any language - yummy.
Crêpes are the national dish in France and used in all types of recipes from main courses to desserts. They are popular because they are so easy and fast to prepare. To make your crêpes perfectly thin the way the French do, keep a few things in mind.
- Refrigerate the crêpe batter for an hour after preparing to produce light airy pancakes.
- It's not necessary to invest money or clutter the kitchen with the kind of crêpe maker found in kitchen stores. Any small skillet will do if it heats evenly. A thick-bottomed pan is best but not an absolute must. A non-stick pan might be easier to work with if you're a first time crêpe chef.
- The pan should be hot before adding the batter or the crepes may stick when using a regular pan, as opposed to a non-stick pan. Heat the pan slowly on medium setting or slightly lower, rather than trying to heat it too quickly on a higher setting. Slower heating will help you to maintain an even heat for cooking all the crepes.
- Cover the pan's surface with butter. If one tablespoon is not enough to do the job, add more. You should be able to make a few (4-5) crepes before adding more butter to the pan. Only brush a small amount of butter in the pan for the additional crepes.
- Coat the pan with batter by pouring the measured amount into the center of the pan. Remove from heat and twirl the pan in a circular motion to quickly cover the surface with the batter. Return the pan to the burner.
- Putting more batter in the pan than recommend will result in thicker crêpes.
- Accept the fact that like most pancakes, the first one or two crepes will not be as perfect as the ones that follow. First crepes are usually crispy around the edges like the one pictured below, and crack when handled. The crêpe is ready to turn when the surface loses some of its gloss and the edges show some color.
CREPES – Yields Approximately 12
- Sift the flour and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl combine the eggs, three tablespoons butter, milk and brandy.
- Add liquid ingredients to the flour and salt and mix in a blender till smooth. The batter consistency should be that of thick cream.
- Heat an eight-inch skillet slowly over medium heat. Brush the pan with one tablespoon of butter. When the pan is hot, add a scant ¼ cup of batter. Swirl the skillet quickly to distribute the batter all over the pan's surface. After one minute, flip and cook the reverse side of the crêpe until golden, or about another 30 seconds. Cook top heat and pan surfaces vary, so make adjustments to time and heat settings if necessary.
- Stack crêpes with sheets of wax paper between them. Unused crêpes can be stored in the freezer in a zip lock bag for use on another day.
- Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to color, which should take about three minutes.
- Remove the tender garlic and sauté the sliced mushrooms and chopped parsley until the mushrooms are cooked through, about five minutes depending on the type of mushroom and how thinly it is sliced.
- Combine the Ricotta and grated Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese in a bowl. Add the mushroom mixture and the milk, salt, and pepper.
- While making the sauce, set the oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups of milk to a low boil over medium heat.
- Melt three tablespoons of butter over low heat in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of flour to the butter stirring until the flour is well blended, about two minutes.
- Whisk in the heated milk, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper, cooking until the mixture becomes thick, about ten minutes.
- Rub a small amount of Olive Oil in the bottom and sides of an eight-inch round, shallow baking dish.
- Set a crêpe in the bottom of the dish. Top it with 1/4 of the filling mixture. Cover that with 1/4 of the ham slices, then 1/4 of the Provolone.
- Continue making a total of 4 layers, in the same order - crêpes, filling, ham, and Provolone, finishing with a crêpe on top.
- Pour the sauce over the layers letting some sauce run down the sides between the baking dish and the layers. Pull the layers away from the sides if necessary.
- Sprinkle the top with Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the ingredients are cooked through. Place under the broiler to brown the top slightly if necessary.
1 cup flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more to coat the pan
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon brandy
pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces sliced Crimini, Button, or Shitake mushrooms
1 1/2 cups Ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt & pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 pound Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced ham
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt and pepper