Saturday, February 03, 2007

Creams and Crepes

Creme fraiche is very, very similar to thick cream with just a hint of 'sourness' to it, and sour is too strong a word. Can't quite describe it. It is lovely eaten with fruit pies instead of whipped cream. Excellent stirred into pasta instead of cream (for carbonara etc.), and stirred into other savoury dishes instead of cream as it is less likely (if at all) to split. It can be used as an instant white sauce on top of lasagne or cauliflower cheese (just stir grated cheese into it and top with more grated cheese). Just wonderful for making dips. My favourite being: a tsp. each of mild curry paste and mango chutney stirred into a small tub of creme fraiche. Not forgetting topping scones with jam as in a Cream Tea. Costwise it is in supermarkets at under 60p for 200ml which is similar to the cost of double cream.

as spinach has been a recent topic, and pancakes a forthcoming one, here is a recipe that covers both. Suggest calling them Popeye's Pancakes when serving to children.

Spinach Crepes: serves four.
Pancakes: 2 oz (50g) plain flour; 2 eggs; 2 tsp. melted butter; 12 fl. oz milk; approx 8 oz of frozen spinach (thawed).
Filling: 250g cottage cheese, well drained; 1 tblsp Parmesan cheese, grated; 2 tblsp walnuts, finely crushed*.
For the pancakes, sift the flour, stir in the eggs and milk then stir in the butter. Beat until smooth. Heat the spinach in a pan until any excess liquid has evaporated. Cool slightly then stir into the batter. Make pancakes in the normal way.
Mix all the filling ingredients together. Place spoonfuls in the centre of each pancake, using up all the filling. Either roll up into tubes, or fold over sides and roll to make parcels. Place in a greased ovenproof dish and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 3 for 15mins (the parcel type could also be shallow fried).
Serve with a hot tomato (passata type) sauce.
*Worth pointing out that 2 tablespoons of walnuts, crushed, is not the same as 2 tblsp. of crushed walnuts. Likewise 1 tin of tomatoes - chopped, is not quite the same as one tin of chopped tomatoes. When something like this comes up in recipes, follow the first bit, then do the crushing or the chopping after. In the case of the tomatoes, usually whole plum tomatoes are cheaper than ready chopped. With the walnuts, whole nuts take up more room than when crushed. Just hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

While I think of it - ever tried wrapping a small block of hard (home-made type) ice-cream inside a pancake (fold over sides then roll up) and deep frying for a few seconds? The pancake goes crispy, the ice-cream stays firm. Yummee.