crepes + a twist on apple pie

After my birthday breakfast at Clinton St. Baking Company, I wandered through the streets of Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho and Chelsea. The Mr. asked if he could take the day off to spend with me. My girlfriends asked what I would be up to, as well.

Thankfully, they all understood the best gift I could give myself was a day untethered, alone with my thoughts. Wandering, somewhat aimlessly, has always been something I enjoy doing in New York City—below 23rd street that is. Anything further uptown is too frenzied for me.

Perhaps it's because my parents spent a lot of time downtown. One side job I forgot to mention was blowing up balloons as a kid for the dart games at the San Gennaro feast. Strolling down Grand Street, those memories came flooding back.

At some point I realized I was dangerously close to Sur La Table, and figured why not take a looksy. I walked longingly past the crepe pans a few times. I've been making due with an 8-inch nonstick skillet, so both frugality and thrift kept telling me it would be silly to add one more item to an already cramped set of cabinets. I also resisted the urge to buy a cute cow-shaped creamer I've been wanting for forever. My milk bottles from the market do the job fine, and do I really need more clutter?
Throwing caution to the wind, I went back inside and plunked down $18.51 and headed home with my new De Buyer crepe pan. I know, such internal debate over an item less than $20. My needs are simple, and as I made 40 crepes this morning for Isabella's school Thanksgiving celebration, I was beaming inside, feeling all fancy and grown up with my very own crepe pan.
I'm guessing the pilgrims didn't serve crepes at the very first Thanksgiving, but I'm confident if they could taste these, they'd give 'em a thumbs up. Since the class celebration was during the French part of the day, I decided to mix a little of both cultures, and also make it an edible do-it-yourself project for the kids. Before you think start thinking I'm as adventurous as Kim in the classroom, I prepped all the parts in advance, so the kids simply spooned in the filling, folded and ate them. There wasn't a speck of flour on anyone's feet. I even made a dairy-free version of the crepes and filling, sans brown butter obviously, that was an equally tasty hit.

If the thought of crimping a crust is crippling, then this is the perfect dessert for next week. It combines the flavors everyone wants without fear of cutting an imperfect slice, while also freeing up room in an already crowded oven.


basic crepes

makes 8 to 10 unfilled crepes
You can make the crepes a day or two before. Just let them cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag. To heat, warm on a tray in a 250ºF oven or zap in the microwave. The kids love these with a smear of peanut butter and nutella. You can also go savory and fill them with shredded cheese, roasted vegetables and thinly sliced ham.

1 large egg
3/4 cup (6 ounces/168 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (70 grams) flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter, melted & divided

To make the crepes, add the egg, milk, flour, salt and 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the bowl of a blender. Blend until smooth, and there are no visible lumps. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium flame. Add a small amount, 1/2 teaspoon or so, of the remaining melted butter, swirling pan to coat. Pour enough batter into the skillet to thinly coat the bottom, a very scant ¼ cup, and swirl to form a circle of batter. Once edges are crisp and air bubbles appear on top, about 45 seconds to 1 minute, flip and cook for 15 to 30 more seconds on the other side. Transfer to a plate and continue making crepes with the rest of the batter, coating pan with melted butter as needed.

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vanilla bean crepes

makes 8 to 10 unfilled crepes
ingredients for basic crepe recipe (see above)

Follow directions, adding the vanilla bean seeds to the blender bowl before mixing. Proceed with steps listed for making crepes, as directed in the basic crepe recipe.
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dairy-free crepes

makes 8 to 10 unfilled crepes
DSC00548-1
You can make the crepes a day or two before. Just let them cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag. To heat, warm on a tray in a 250ºF oven or zap in the microwave.

1 large egg
3/4 cups (6 ounces) almond milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise & seeds scraped
1/2 cup (70 grams) flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Canola cooking spray (like the one from Trader Joe's)

To make the crepes, add the egg, almond milk, flour, and salt to the bowl of a blender. Blend until smooth, and there are no visible lumps. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium flame. Remove pan from flame and coat with cooking spray.  Pour enough batter into the skillet to thinly coat the bottom, a very scant ¼ cup, and swirl to form a circle of batter. Once edges are crisp and air bubbles appear on top, about 45 seconds to 1 minute, flip and cook for 15 to 30 more seconds on the other side. Transfer to a plate and continue making crepes with the rest of the batter, coating pan with cooking spray as needed.
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dairy-free vanilla bean crepes

makes 8 to 10 unfilled crepes

Ingredients for dairy-free crepe recipe (see above)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise & seeds scraped

Follow directions, adding the vanilla bean seeds to the blender bowl before mixing. Proceed with steps listed for making crepes, as directed in the dairy-free crepe recipe.
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brown butter apple pie filling

makes enough to fill 8 to 10 crepes

This is basically my apple pie filling cooked on the stovetop. It can be made 1 to 2 days in advance, as well. Just store in the refrigerator in a covered container, then heat in a small pot over low flame or zap in the microwave. See note at end fo recipe to make this filling dairy-free too.

2 medium apples (about 1 pound), peeled & sliced ¼-inch thick
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) sea salt
1 tablespoon flour
Juice and freshly grated zest from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1/4 cup good-quality caramel sauce, optional

In a medium bowl, toss together the apples, sugar, salt, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest; set aside.

Add butter to a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet over moderately high heat. Cook until it begins to brown, but not burn; it will smell nutty and fragrant. Add the apple mixture reduce heat to medium. Saute until the apple begin to soften, then cover pan. Reduce to a simmer and cook until liquid thickens into a “sauce”, and apples are very tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spoon filling into crepes, fold into triangles (for details on folding read this recipe) and drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.
Note: to make this dairy free, omit the butter and just add a few tablespoons of water to the pan when you saute the apples. While the apples will have a lovely, natural flavor, you can also add cinnamon (as I did) or other pie spices, such as cloves, nutmeg or ginger.

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