Fat Tuesday = Pancakes

It’s Fat Tuesday!  And Fat Tuesday means pancakes.  The fried bread and rich traditional foods may stem from the religious preparation for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, but I, also, would never turn down an excuse to make and eat pancakes.  I quickly threw some together this morning and they are on the menu breakfast and lunch for today.

If you forgot about pancakes, or didn’t have time this morning, there is still hope!  You can have ‘pancakes’ and a complete meal!

As I’ve mentioned before, crepes are a long tradition in my family, and as children we called them rolly-rolly pancakes (since we rolled the thin crepes up with butter and syrup).  So, at least in my mind, crepes totally count as proper pancakes.  Why don’t you have a pancake dinner tonight?  Make a batch of crepes and serve them savoury as a main course: try asparagus and parmesan; chicken, goat cheese, spinach, and sundried tomatoes; broccoli and cheddar; mushrooms in a cream sauce; eggs and ham…pretty much any combo can be wrapped in a crepe.

You can even save a few to make a sweet dessert: my favorite (and the simplest) sweet option is to serve the crepes sprinkled with lemon juice and powder sugar.  Fruit and cream or nutella would also be easy, delicious options.

Here is my great-grandmother’s crepe recipe, modified for gluten-free.  Try your hand at it tonight, and celebrate Fat Tuesday deliciously.

Do you have any Fat Tuesday plans or traditions?

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Quick & Easy: Crepes

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LINGONBERRY (‘SWEDISH’) CREPES!

Bite me, IHOP.  I don’t need your dastardly gluten-filled pancakes (but I’ll still come back for your Sirloin Tips and Eggs, darling, don’t worry).

IHOP’s Swedish Crepes used to be my go to at the restaurant.  My siblings and I (and my mother and her brothers) were raised on “Rolly-Rollies”: my great-grandmother’s crepes buttered and rolled into long tubes and served with syrup.  While my brother, sister, and I were forced to wait through the torturous cook time of the whole batch of batter, my mother and her brothers would eat the individual crepes as soon as they came out of the pan.  I imagine there was a lot more fighting in my grandmother’s kitchen…

So, imagine my youthful self excitement on the day in IHOP that I didn’t automatically order the Chicken Fingers, to find that miraculous “International Passport” section with its selection of crepes.  Heaven!  I think I tried the lemon crepes once, but (and this is made all the more serious considering my lemon-obsession) the Swedish crepes with lingonberry jam and butter won out without question.

When I first discovered I was gluten-intolerant, there were two miserable food-deaths in my mind: crepes and popovers.  Unsurprisingly, these were two of the very first recipes I desperately tried to recreate without gluten.  Both are pretty hard to do.  I can talk about the long journey to successful gluten-free popovers later (though I touched upon the ultimate success in my Thanksgiving Post).   Crepes were a little easier.  Subbing a store-bought GF mix yielded drier, but not entirely inedible crepes.  Later on, I found Shauna’s Gluten-Free Whole-grain Crepes.  These were very good, nice and eggy and just a little stretchy.  But some mornings, I don’t want to pull out canister after canister of flour, carefully measuring, weighing, and letting rest.  If I have the time and motivation, I love having a consistent, delicious whole-grain option. But sometimes, I’m lazy.

My great-grandmother’s recipe called for 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of flour.  I want that kind of easy.  So I decided to give it a go, encouraged by my Christmas Cookie success with a simple GF flour blend.  I used that same blend (2 parts White Rice Flour, 1 part Tapioca Starch, 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum per cup) in my great-grandmother’s recipe.

“Rolly-Rollies”/Crepes

  • -1/2 c. (70g) GF Flour Blend (about 45g White Rice Flour, about 23g Tapioca Starch, pinch of Xanthan Gum)
  • -1 egg
  • -1 c. milk
  • -dash salt (optional)

Pour a small amount of batter into a hot, lightly oiled skillet.  Turn the skillet side to side, spread the batter over the bottom of the skillet until batter begins to set.  When edges are dry (about 1-2 minutes), slide spatula around edges to loosen crepe, slide underneath and flip.  The second side should only need a few seconds (about 15-30 seconds).  Place crepe in oven on low heat to stay warm while rest of batter is cooked.

Serve the Helen-classic: spread with butter, rolled, and topped with syrup; or Sweet: serve with jam, whipped topping, ricotta, fruit, or Tangy: lemon juice and powdered sugar; or Savory: wrap around soft, mild cheeses with various cooked vegetables (spinach!), shredded chicken, and/or herbs.

It was surprisingly successful.  The tricky part of crepes isn’t the batter, but actually cooking the thin, eggy pancake.  A nonstick skillet and thin, flexible spatula are absolutely essential, and I’ve found smaller crepes (no more than 8″) are easier to handle.  I fill up the bottom of my skillet, which keeps them a manageable size and nicely circular.  Keep practicing.  Habits are the best skill to have with crepes!

And, of course, if you stumble across lingonberry jam in your grocery, grab that jar and make some crepes!