French Cooking: Crêpes Suzette

French Cooking: Crêpes Suzette
  “La Chandeleur” (Candlemas in English) is celebrated on February 2nd and commemorates the occasion when the Virgin Mary went to the temple in Jerusalem to be purified 40 days after the birth of her son and to present Jesus to God as her first born. In France, it is the custom to prepare crêpes for La Chandeleur for they symbolize good crops, good health and wealth for the upcoming year. There is even a tradition to touch the handle of the frying pan and, while flipping the crêpe, make a wish, holding a coin in your hand. The word crêpe is French for pancake. They were originally called galettes crêpes, meaning flat cakes. They originated in Brittany (northwest region of France) and were mostly used as daily bread. Today, crêperies throughout France serve both savory (with eggs, ham, crème fraiche, cheese, etc) and sweet (with apples, chocolate, jam, sugar, etc). Some of the world’s best recipes are a result of a “mishap” in the kitchen. Perhaps you remember my article about the Sisters Tartin who mistakenly put the pie dough on top of the sautéed apples and the fantastic result was Tarte Tatin. Well, this week’s recipe for Crêpes Suzette has a similar history. A 14-year-old assistant chef named Henri Charpentier worked at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris in 1895. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) of England. Wanting to impress his royal guest with something outstanding, the eager chef got a bit carried away when making his sauce for the crêpes and the liqueur caught fire. He was devastated but tasted the sauce and found it wonderful. He decided to take a chance, for he could not keep the Royal Highness waiting, and went ahead and served the dessert, hoping for the best. The Prince, too, was delighted with this creation. He decreed that the dessert be named after his host’s daughter, Suzette. Crêpes Suzette are thin dessert pancakes flavored with a sauce of orange juice, orange zest, Curacao or Grand Marnier, melted butter and sugar. Making the crêpes is easier than you might think. Crêpes SuzetteServes 4 personsResting time for the batter: 1 ½ hrs.Cooking time: 30 minutes Crêpe Recipe 1 ½ cup flour 1 tsp. sugar 1/8 tsp. salt 3 eggs 1 ½ cup milk 2 tbsp. melted butter 2 tbsp. melted butter, for the cooking 3 tbsp. Grand Marnier or Curacao Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Break the eggs into another bowl and mix well. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs. Stir the flour mixture into the eggs little by little. The dough will be difficult to work, so add the milk a spoonful at a time and mix it thoroughly before adding more liquid. When the mixture becomes easy to work, add the remainder of the milk in two portions. Add the melted butter and the Grand Marnier or Curacao. Mix well. Set aside for 1 ½ – 2 hours. (can be held overnight in the refrigerator) Heat a non stick crêpe pan or small skillet. Brush the pan with the melted butter. I take a wooden spoon and tie a paper towel around the bottom and use it as a brush for the butter. Take a ladle of batter and pour it onto the pan tipping the pan to all sides. This spreads the batter equally onto the pan. Cook the crêpe until lightly brown (about 2 minutes) and then flip over and cook the other side. Remove and place on a plate that is atop a pot of boiling water. Continue with the remaining batter and pile the crêpes on top of each other and cover to keep warm. If you are not using them immediately, pile them on a plate and then reheat on top of boiling water. Orange Sauce ¼ cup melted butter 1/3 cup sugar 1 tbsp. shredded orange peel 1 cup orange juice ¼ cup orange sections ¼ cup Grand Marnier or Curacao In a skillet, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, shredded peel and juice. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add the orange sections. Add the Grand Marnier or Curacao. Simmer for 1 minute and then flambé. Serve immediately over the warmed crêpes. Et voilà! —April Paute moved to France over 10 years ago with her husband Jean Michel and 2 Siamese cats. Armed with only a dictionary and hand signals, she took on the challenge of requesting the local boucher decapitate a chicken for her. After living in Paris and Antibes, April & co. have settled in Toulouse, where she draws inspiration from her herb garden.  
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