Crepes

Last week my family and I were vacationing in sunny St. Maarten. It was a wonderful reprieve from the cold (although not as cold as past years) that we had been experiencing. We enjoyed the wonderful locals (so hospitable!), the weather, the beaches, watching planes take off and land, and the wonderful food. St. Maarten hosts tourists from all around the world, and the cuisine of the island reflects that. European (especially French) restaurants and bakeries are abundant, Chinese restaurants are easy to find, there are a handful of Indian eateries, and obviously food native to the Caribbean is sold loud and proud.

One of the restaurants we visited boasted itself as a French patisserie and boulangerie (pastry and bread shop). The pastries and loaves of bread in the glass cases were impeccable. The photos on the menu were gorgeous. Alas, the actual food being served wasn’t so great. We ordered an array of items, including an order of crepes served with powdered sugar. How were they, you ask? Totally rubbery and underwhelming, and left me wondering how a place that calls themselves French could possibly mess up a crepe?

There’s a misconception that   crepes are difficult and finicky to make. I’m here to tell you that they’re not. The ingredients get whizzed together in a blender, and the batter is quickly cooked in a pan on the stove. Seriously you guys, really easy. I used the Kitchen Master Genius, Mr. Alton Brown’s recipe, and was left wondering what we were thinking shelling out money for thin rubber pancakes, oops, I mean “crepes”, when we could have been enjoying these light, delicate, and delicious crepes in the comfort of our home.

 

CrepesPic

Crepes

Yield: 15 to 20 Crepes

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for coating the pan
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar (if making dessert crepes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (if making dessert crepes)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the jar of a blender and blitz for 10 seconds, until thoroughly combined.  Place batter in the refrigerator and chill for one hour.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet (8 to 10 inches in diameter) over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with butter. When the butter begins to bubble, pour about ¼ cup batter into the center of the pan and swirl it around to coat evenly. If the heat is too high, the batter will begin to scramble and holes will appear. Cook for approximately 30 seconds, when the edges look like they are beginning to turn back on themselves. Flip and cook until set, about 10 seconds. Remove from heat and serve, or cool completely and serve.

Note: Batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It may thicken, so add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out before cooking.

Cooled crepes can be kept in a sealable plastic bag in either the refrigerator (for a few days) or freezer (up 2 months).

Poached Eggs

Can someone please tell me why we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s totally fine to be ripped off by a café or bistro for a poached egg? Sure, the deliciously smooth and runny yolk is what dreams are made of, but it still doesn’t justify the markup.

Let’s stop throwing our money away and start poaching away! It really is easy, I promise! With the detailed instructions I’ve shared below, you’ll be a poaching prince/princess in no time (and your wallet will thank me for it 😉 ).

 

PoachedEggPic

Poached Eggs

Yield: Varies

Ingredients:

  • Eggs, as needed

Directions:

Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Crack the egg into it. The loose egg whites will be strained away from the tightly shaped egg, and will later be discarded.

Fill a saucepan (one that has a tight-fitting lid) with 3 to 4 inches of water. Heat over medium-high heat. The water needs to reach a bare simmer, right before the point of boiling.

Use the strainer to gently drop the egg into the center of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover. Allow the egg to sit for 3 ½ minutes. Remove the lid and check to see if whites are thoroughly cooked. If they still seem partially uncooked, cover the pan with the lid and cook for a few more seconds. The egg will take anywhere from 3 ½ to 4 ½ minutes to be perfectly poached (timing varies on temperature of water and size of egg).

Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the egg, making sure to drain off excess water.

Spinach Quiche

This past week, my friend and I spent the entire day together.  She was visiting from out of town because her husband had an interview at the same place that my husband works at.  I picked her up from her hotel in the morning, came back home, and got down to baking our breakfast.  Our menu consisted of spinach quiche, roasted pear and chocolate scones, and chai.

I’m not really a breakfast-type person.  My usual go-to in the mornings is a mug of chai with a slice or two of toast. But just because I usually don’t have an appetite in the morning doesn’t mean that I’m not going to treat my friend.  We split up our “duties,” as I got to baking, and she got to picture-taking.

And from the looks of it, I think we make a great team 🙂

 

SpinachQuichePic

 

Spinach Quiche

Yield:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup water, cold

For Filling:

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Make Crust:

Combine all-purpose flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles course meal, approximately 10 seconds.  With the machine running, slowly add cold water and process only until the dough begins to hold together.  Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Transfer dough to plastic wrap, flatten and form into a disc.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Make Filling:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll crust out to fit a 9-inch tart pan, and transfer to pan.

Beat cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.  Gradually beat in milk and eggs.  Add remaining ingredients.  Pour mixture into prepared crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is golden-brown in color.

 

Gram-Flour and Egg Halwa / Besan aur Anday ka Halwa

Halwa is just a loose term for a variety of sweets from the Middle East and South Asia regions.  Halwas can be nut or flour based.  Today’s recipe is a gram-flour and egg based recipe that I got from my girl Ambreen over at Simply Sweet ‘n Savory.  I made it for the first time when we were visiting my parents, and my mom was left speechless.  She said that it reminded her of my grandmother who used to make something very similar!  I decided to make it again, but this time for my in-laws.  We had it after our first iftar, and they too absolutely loved it!  For me, the best thing about this recipe is that it connects me to my late Naani (maternal grandmother) 🙂

(By the way, I’ve submitted this recipe to The Halal Foodie for their Ramadan Event, a place where you can find an awesome array of iftar recipes!)

Besan and Anda Halwa

Yield:  4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 cardamoms
  • ¾ cup gram flour
  • 4 eggs
  • ½- ¾ cup sugar
  • Blanched almonds, for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add cardamoms and cook until lightly browned, about 30 seconds.  Add gram flour, stir well, and cook until it gives off a nice aroma and its color becomes a light gold.  Remove from heat.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl; slowly add them to the gram flour mixture while stirring to make sure everything is well incorporated.  Continuously stir and cook over medium heat until the mixture seems thoroughly cooked and begins to leave the sides of the pan.  Mix in the blanched almonds and cook for about a minute.

Garnish with either additional blanched almonds or crushed almonds.