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mushroom-arugula-crepes

There was a period in, I think, the late 70s, when the crepe pan was the must-have appliance—kind of like the instant pot today.

a crepe cookbook from the 70s
How adorable is the subtitle? I think the authors want to make sure you don’t take them too literally and actually try to do anything with crepes, like wear them to a ball or patch a roof leak.

Everybody who had a respectable kitchen owned a crepe pan. It was just a round, 8 or 9-inch skillet with a perfectly flat bottom, and I know Dad rushed out and bought one. And for a few weeks we ate a lot of crepes.

I don’t have a pic of Dad cooking, but this is us sometimes in the 70s. The crepe pan is nearby..

My dad was a pancake guy, and he made excellent ones. He loved to cook; Julia Child was his girl. He’d sit in front of her PBS show and take notes. Mom got a kick out of it; she never liked cooking, and was happy to abdicate the fancy stuff to Dad. She always said, “I think he likes her because she’s so messy.” As was Dad. Stuff got spilled, experiments went wrong. But he also embodied joy and tranquility in the kitchen. I remember him focused on flipping flapjacks in our cast iron skillet, or on kneading bread with his giant powerful hands, his breathing even and deep.

As noted, Dad’s pancakes were outstanding; he made his own starter dough. But his crepe pan flirtation was brief. The issue, I think, was that, rather than fluffy pillows to absorb a blob of butter and a hearty pour of syrup, crepes by their very nature require a delicate touch. They’re also often wrapped around filling. Dad wasn’t big on cooking that involved steps. He liked to get things done in one go. Eventually, the crepe pan moved to the back of the cupboard and the pancakes returned.

Mushroom Arugula Crepes: Steps

I didn’t try cooking crepes for years, and in the late 80s, when I began to learn to cook, they were out of fashion. But when I whipped up my first batch for brunch, I was stunned at how easy they were.

Recently, I bought some mushrooms and had no idea why. So I thought, as I often do, what would Bert Greene do? If you’ve spent any time here, first, thank you. Second, you know Bert Greene is one of my cooking heroes. I stumbled on this recipe, which incorporated mushrooms and watercress. And while I had no watercress—alas, because watercress is amazing—I did have arugula. I thought, mushroom arugula crepes. Whoa. Also, why the hell not?

mushroom arugula crepes ingredients

Greene loved to experiment, and over the course of his cookbooks, you find lots of variations on the crepe theme. And due to the fact that hardly anyone outside of Normandy eats crepes any more, I thought, wow, that sounds good. High time for a renaissance, don’t you think?

Crepe batter isn’t hugely different from pancake batter, though it’s thinner. It also lends itself to flavoring and improvisation. This version sautés mushrooms before throwing them in the blender. There, they go together in a flash, achieving the perfect aerated consistency, and a pretty pale green color.

mushroom arugula crepes batter

You pour out a few tablespoons on a hot pan, swirl the pan to get the crepe thin. Let it sit for a minute or so….

mushroom arugula crepes after pouring

…then flip it. Less than a minute later, it’s done, and you place it on a parchment-lined plate, run the end of a stick of butter over your pan, and pour in the next batch.

mushroom arugula crepes after flipping

Now, Mr. Greene said the mix would yield 12 crepes. I don’t have a crepe pan, just a big flat skillet. So I couldn’t do quite the fancy wrist spin I could have done with Dad’s old crepe pan, due to the pan’s weight. I ended up with 6 crepes that are a little thicker, but so, so tasty. I filled them with the remainder of the mushrooms sauteed and dressed up with more arugula and a touch of blue cheese since I didn’t have sour cream. Oh, and I threw on a little bacon, which is totally optional.

mushroom-arugula-crepes

Crepes are a luxurious lovely meal. Your eaters should feel thoroughly pampered; you may want to insist people recline on chaises upholstered in deep red velvet while you play louche German songs in the background. There’s zero need to tell anyone how easy they are. A good thing, as, once you serve a batch, you’re likely to get requests for more.

The Recipe

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Mushroom Arugula Crepes
A throwback recipe for mushroom arugula crepes; sauteed mushrooms and arugula are in both the batter and the filling. Delish, super easy, and a thoroughly decadent brunch.
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Servings
Ingredients
Crepes
Mushroom Arugula Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Crepes
Mushroom Arugula Filling
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Instructions
  1. Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the butter. When the butter melts, add the onions and mushrooms, cooking until the mushrooms are a nice golden color. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, add all remaining crepe ingredients to the blender. When mushroom mix is lukewarm, add to the blender. Blend at high speed about 2 minutes to ensure that you have plenty of air in the mix. Let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a crepe pan or flat-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, rub it with the end of a stick of butter, or use a brush to lightly grease the skillet surface with oil or butter. Pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the batter directly from the blender into the middle of the pan, then swirl the pan to enlarge the circle. The crepe will get small bubbles all over. After about 2 minutes, stick a very flat spatula under it; it should turn easily. Cook approximately 30 seconds on the other side, then remove the crepe to a parchment covered plate. Repeat, stacking the crepes between layers of parchment.
  3. For the filling, cook the bacon til crisp. Drain on a paper towel. If not using, melt the butter, then saute the scallions and mushrooms in the fat until golden, squeezing on the lemon half when mushrooms are complete. Remove from heat, toss with arugula, season, and gently stir in minced herbs. Sprinkle in crumbled bacon and blue cheese if desired. if desired.
  4. Wrap the mushroom mix in the completed crepes, then place in a baking dish. Before serving, place the rolled crepes in a preheated 350º oven for 10 minutes. Garnish with additional bacon, blue cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs (dill and Italian parsley).
Recipe Notes

This recipe was adapted from one in Greene on Greens, copyright 1984 by Bert Greene, Workman Publishing, New York.

Crepes can be prepared ahead, and also freeze well. Simply thaw before filling and reheating.

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