Category: technique

Spring Crêpes Three Ways

Spring Crêpes, Three Ways

Happy Spring, lovelies!

It’s time to break out of our winter food ruts, and I think I have just the thing. Crêpes! They’re light and can be filled with almost anything, but to get your imagination started I’ve created three recipes for you to try.

Now, vegan crepes. They’re not hard once you get the hang of them. The recipe I’m posting here comes from a veganized version of a standard “Eggless Crepe” recipe that’s floating around on the interwebs. I just subbed soymilk and Earth Balance for milk and butter. I also think it needs a little extra water, and I’ll point that out in the recipe below. There is also a really good crêpe recipe in Veganomicon, if you have that cook book, but it calls for chickpea flour. If you have your own favorite recipe, use that! Whatever works for you will work here.

There’s a little video below to get you started if you’re new to crêpes.

The great thing about these is that you can make absolutely everything ahead. They heat up in minutes, so it’s perfect if you’re cooking bunch or lunch for several people who all want different fillings. Simply place the cold crêpe in the pan, put the fillings on top, heat through, and serve. I make extra crêpes and keep them in the fridge for quick meals for the next day or two.

So, the fillings!

Asparagus Hollandaise

Asparagus Hollandaise Crêpe

Asparagus season is here or will be shortly, and this creamy hollandaise-ish sauce is perfect with spring-tender stalks. I just quickly pan-seared them so they’d have lots of flavor without overcooking them. You can check out my guide to buying and prepping asparagus if you like. The sauce has an almond base, so if you have good blender, you should be able to throw it together in minutes. Nutritional yeast is optional, but it does give it a nice pale yellow color and as well as some flavor. If you leave out the yeast, you might want to add a little turmeric for color.

Wild Mushroom and Wilted Frisée

Wild Mushroom and Wilted Frisée Crêpe

I’m a sometimes-mushroom person. Sometimes I love them, other times I eat around them. I find the less-common mushrooms to be the tastiest. I used king trumpet and chanterelle mushrooms in this crêpe, and man were they delicious. Morels are coming in season, and they’d be wonderful, too. You’re welcome to use more standard mushrooms if you want (cremini, portabello, button), but these fancier ‘shrooms were a real treat for me. I paired them with some wilted frisée (also called curly endive or chicory). It’s kind of bitter, but seems to mellow out with a quick sauté. It matches the mushrooms perfectly.

Berry Crêpes

Berry Crêpe au Sucre

I really wanted to use strawberries in this one, but alas, it’s not quite the season for them yet. The ones at my local store looked pretty sad. The raspberries, on the other hand, looked perfect. You can use any berry you like in these, along with a little sugar. The sugar melts a bit, making this crazy-easy dessert really very tasty. If you want, you can put a few tiny chunks of candied ginger in there as well. You don’t need berries at all; my absolute favorite all-time crêpe is a simple crêpe au sucre. Just sugar. Pure and simple.

Basic Crêpes
Makes 8-10

1/2 Cup Soymilk
2/3 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Earth Balance, melted
1 Cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Sugar (sweet crepes only, optional)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract (sweet crepes only, optional)
2 Tbs Water, to thin if needed

Place all the ingredients in a blender or in a bowl. Blend or whisk until smooth. Transfer to a 2 Cup measuring cup (for pouring) and refrigerate for 30 minutes. While the batter is refrigerating, prepare your fillings.

Asparagus Hollandaise
Fills 2-3 Crêpes

1/2 Lb Thin Asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbs Earth Balance
1 Pinch Salt
Black Pepper

Heat a large skillet (I used then cast-iron skillet for all of the fillings) over high heat. Add Earth Balance and asparagus. Cook for a few minutes, until asparagus are bright green, tender-crisp, and are browning in spots. Add salt and pepper, set aside.

Seared Asparagus

Hollandaise Sauce
1/2 Cup Sliced Raw Almonds
1/2 Cup Hot Water
2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast, optional (or 1/4 tsp turmeric for color)
1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard, optional

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until extremely smooth.

Wild Mushroom and Wilted Frisée
Fills 2-3 Crêpes

2 Tbs Earth Balance
1 Cup Chopped Chanterelle Mushroms
1 Cup Chopped Trumpet Mushrooms
1/2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Sprig Fresh Rosemary, stem removed
1 Cup Chopped Frisée Greens
1-2 Cloves garlic, minced, optional

Chanterelle and Trumpet MushroomsSlice trumpet mushrooms lengthwise, then lengthwise again.

Add the earth balance to a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add trumpet mushrooms and saute until beginning to brown. Add chanterelles and rosemary. Turn down heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with a pinch of salt and balsamic vinegar. Remove mushrooms from pan.

Add garlic and sweat until tender. Add greens and cook until just wilted, one to two minutes. Remove and set aside with mushrooms.

Sauteed Chanterelle and Trumpet Mushrooms with Rosemary

Berry Crêpes
Fills 2-3 Crêpes

1/2 Pint Raspberries (or other berries)

Berry crêpes are filled while the crêpes are still cooking. Add sugar and berries to the crêpe as soon as it is flipped. See below for more details about cooking the crêpes.

Making Crêpes

So now that you fillings are all prepared, and your crêpe batter has rested and chilled, we’re ready to make crêpes! I’ve made a video that outlines the whole process, but here are a few things you’ll need:

-A non-stick omelet or crêpe pan
-Cooking Spray
-A graduated spatula (the long flat kind you use for frosting cakes), optional

If your batter is too thick when it comes out of the fridge, stir in 2 Tbs of water to loosen it up.

Here’s how:

How to make Crepes from lolo on Vimeo.

Assembling and Serving

So now you have a stack of cooling crêpes and fillings that have gone cold. No worries. You can keep your fillings in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve, or even easier, warm them up with the crêpes at the same time.

When you’re ready to eat, place a crêpe back in a hot skillet (medium heat is fine) and add the fillings you want in the top. Cover the whole thing and wait a few minutes. You want everything to get hot, but you don’t want to cook the crêpe any more than it is. When it’s hot, fold the crêpe in thirds and serve. It should only take 1-2 minutes per crêpe to heat up, so you can make them to order for your friends and family.

Okay! So are you ready to make crêpes? I hope so, because typing the little circumflex is getting really annoying. Making crêpes is much easier than accenting them correctly, I assure you.

Spring Crêpes, Three Ways

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

This isn’t a traditional wonton soup. I suppose a vegan wonton soup wouldn’t really be considered traditional anyway, but I really took some liberty with the recipe. The wontons are stuffed with one of my favorite greens, Chinese broccoli, and chopped seitan. I tossed the filling in a chili-mustard sauce for a salty, spicy kick. The slight bitterness of the Chinese broccoli really balances the piquant heat of the dressing, creating a really yummy dumpling.

I wanted the wontons to be the star here, so I made a very light ginger-soy broth to float them in. I only covered the wontons about half-way with the soup base, so really, this isn’t so much a soup as fresh dumplings lightly dressed with an aromatic broth. In fact, the broth is quite plain on its own, but it works very nicely with the flavorful dumplings.

Chinese BroccoliChinese broccoli is fantastic, and if you’ve never had it, I wholly recommend a search of your nearest Asian grocer to find some. It’s a vegetable chimera of all of my favorite things; the florets of broccoli rabe, the stems of asparagus, and leaves like tender collard greens. It has a mild flavor with a sweet and slightly bitter bite, and it’s perfect for stir-fries or any other hight heat/quick cooking method. It’s also quite good for you, and its complex (but not overwhelming) flavor is a nice change of pace from regular broccoli or simple spinach.

Wonton Soup

Folding wontons isn’t hard, so as long as you can find the wonton skins, you’ll be good to go. The brand I used here is called Twin Marquis, and I know they make both vegan and non-vegan wonton skins and gyoza wrappers. Look for the white (not yellow) square wrappers. The round ones are gyoza skins, much better for pot stickers; even though they’re similar, they’re a good deal thicker than the wonton skins. Either way, check the label for eggs.

If you have leftover wonton skins, you can make extra wontons and freeze them in one layer on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag for long-term storage. Just drop them directly into boiling water when you’re ready to cook them. You can also wrap the skins up tightly and store them in a fridge for a day or two. Fill them with anything you like (spinach and tofutti cream cheese? Tempeh sausage?), fold in half and seal shut. Pan fry them in 1-2″ of oil until cripsy and golden brown on both sides. It’s a wonderfully tasty and quick appetizer or snack.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in a Light Ginger-Soy Broth
Serves Four

16 Wonton Skins

1 Tbs Oil
1-2 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Cup Chinese Broccoli, thinly sliced
3/4 Cup Seitan, chopped fine
1/2 tsp Hot Chili Sauce, more if desired (like Sriracha)
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

Ginger-Soy Broth
4 Cups Water
5-6 Fresh Ginger Slices
1 Tbs Mirin
2 Tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt, plus more to taste
1/4 Cup Chinese Broccoli Leaves, packed (sub: spinach or collards)

Chopped Chinese BroccoliFilling: Begin by chopping the Chinese broccoli very thinly with a sharp knife, from the base of the stem up towards the leaves (just like chopping scallions). Heat a large pan with oil and add the ginger. Once the ginger becomes fragrant, add the broccoli and seitan, stirring well and cooking until the broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp.

Transfer the broccoli-seitan mixture to a small bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust to your liking. Set aside while you make the broth.

Broth: Heat all of the broth ingredients together except the greens in a small sauce pan, until sugar and salt is dissolved and the ginger has had time to infuse into the broth. Taste and add more salt if desired, but remember this is a mild broth that is only meant to be a complement to the wontons. Once the broth has begin to simmer, turn off heat and toss in greens. Cover and set aside.

Folding Wontons

Fill the wontons: Place 1-2 tsp of filling in the center of the wonton. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water (a finger dipped in water works great) and seal into a trianlge, removing as much air as possible from the dumpling. Make sure edges are secured.

Set the triangle in front of you, pointing up. Wet one of the bottom corners. Hold the corners, one between each thumb and forefinger. Begin to bend the wrapper, as if you were forcing it into a horseshoe shape. Don’t change your grip, and resist the urge to fold the corners over. Bring the two ends together, crossing them slightly, and press to seal. Going from the triangle shape to a completed wonton is one fluid motion.

Your dumpling should look like a fun little fish-boat-hat. Like this:

Prepped Wontons

You can now freeze your dumplings, or cook them right away.

To prepare the soup: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Re-heat your broth to steaming, if necessary. Gently lower the wontons into the boiling water and cook until they become translucent, about 2-3 minutes if the wontons aren’t frozen, longer if they are. Remove them from the water with a spider (or other slotted spoon device) and place them into the hot broth.

Take care to remove and discard any dumplings that have opened up during cooking. If they open, water gets inside, washes all the flavor away, and you’ll be sad if you serve it or eat it. It will taste like watery mush, and I promise you won’t be happy about it.

Ladle 3-4 wontons into a bowl and add a small amount of broth, enough to half-way cover the wontons. Make sure to get some greens in there, too. Serve immediately.

Cooked Wontons