Saturday, August 6, 2011

sugar plum crepes with ricotta and honey

sugar plum crepes, ricotta, mint

One of the things that has surprised me the most as I’m chugging my way along to my manuscript’s finish line is how little clear my vision was for it from the beginning, and how little I’ve erred from my original list of recipe ideas, as in real life, I am a bafflingly indecisive person. “What should we order for dinner?” can send me into a tailspin. “Which colander looks best from Amazon?” will lead me to read 30 minutes of reviews. And yet, half the recipes that are lined up for the book right now (except the breakfast section; we should definitely not discuss that again) are pretty much as I scribbled the ideas while my then-newborn was napping in the fall of 2009. It’s probably for the best I jotted it all down then because my brain has probably not been so centered for 5 minutes since.


Outside of the book, however, I’m in a huge rut. The idea that I should still be clever, or have inspiration to spare or enthusiasm to return to the kitchen after finally getting it clean from the last cooking cycle (day 10 without a dishwasher!) after working on this book is well beyond my capability, as sadly evidence by the trickling pace of updates this summer. And when I do cook, I only want one of three things: 1. Dishes that involve corn (see also: corn pancakes, corn pie, corn popovers, corn tacos and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for my corn plans, so help us all), 2. Crepes and crepe family members. Did you know that popovers, Dutch babies, canneles and blintzes are more or less crepe batters at their base? So, yes, all those as well. 3. Things with ricotta. I’ll occasionally throw in cherries, stone fruit or tomatoes, but more or less, my brain is like that raven in Game of Thrones: “CORN! CORN!”

pom-pom plums

This week, the last two urges won. I didn’t know what I was looking for wandering around the market on Wednesday — well, besides everything because is there a more blissful sight for heat-bleary eyes in August than the pops of color off every stand? — but when I saw baskets of sugar plums (which evoke fairies, winter, pretty dancers and all sorts of good stuff) I knew that was the start. From there, I found excuse to use more ricotta (like I need one, besides a spoon, really), honey (another theme), mint (more of this is coming, you’ll see) and … whoops. I had no pistachios. The vibrant green and almost minty flavor of crushed pistachios would be dreamy with these plums, but the cupboards were empty (no, I don’t want to talk about it) and there was just no way I was hauling my way back to the store for more. As it turns out, almonds work as well. But promise you’ll use pistachios if you have them.

never fun to pit
plums, butter
briefly sauteed plums

And together, this makes a fine assembly of summer. Technically, it’s probably a dessert. Or an Italian/Mediterranean blintz. But if you are nearly two whole years old, in practice or at heart, you are totally given as pass to have it for dinner.

sugar plum crepe

One year ago: Sweet and Smoky Oven Spareribs and Everyday Chocolate Cake
Two years ago: Plum Kuchen and Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad
Three years ago: Blueberry Crumb Bars, Napa Cabbage Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Key Lime Meltaways
Four years ago: Quick Zucchini Saute and Summer Berry Pudding

Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey

One of the many things I love about crepes is that the batter can be made a day or even two (some say longer) in advance. You can make crepes as needed. But even if you make two dozen crepes (don’t worry, this recipe won’t), they keep surprisingly well. You can stack them while they’re still hot — they don’t stick to each other — and take them out of the fridge the next day and warm them again. Savory or sweet, the filling possibilities are endless but you know, I mostly made these sweet. Not overly so, I hope.

These crepes would be equally good with any other stone fruit, from white peaches to nectarines to apricots. I sauteed the fruit in butter and honey (because nothing bad can happen there, can it?) but will fully confess that I found it unnecessary. Thinly sliced, insanely ripe stone fruit needs no cooking time, so consider the sauteeing optional, unless you’re making this in the fall with apples or pears. In that case, I’d double the fruit cooking time and possibly even the butter and honey to make a lovely filling. But fall is terribly far off, isn’t it?

Yield: I made 6 8.5-inch crepes but felt they were a little large for the dish I had in mind; I’d make this next time in a smaller skillet (using less batter, of course)

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly (I browned this first, which probably won’t surprise you)
1/2 cup milk (fat level shouldn’t matter, but I use whole)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Two pinches of salt
Few gratings fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey

1 pound sugar or other plums, pitted and cut into quarters if tiny, eighths if larger
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon

1 cup ricotta (ever wanted to make your own?)
3 tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
Toasted and chopped pistachios or almonds
Additional honey, if desired

Make crepes: In a blender, combine crepe ingredients. (Alternately, in a bowl with an immersion blender, or whisked vigorously by hand.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up to two days.

Preheat a medium skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, brush pan lightly with melted butter or oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter into skillet, swirling it until it evenly coats the bottom and cook, undisturbed, until the bottom is golden and the top is set, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on other side for 5 to 10 seconds. Transfer wrapper to paper towel covered plate. Continue with remaining batter.

Prepare filling: (Optional, see Note up top.) Melt the butter in heavy, large skillet (or, the one you just used for crepes, because I’m on day 9 of a broken dishwasher and will not create additional work for myself) over moderately high heat. Add the plums and cook them for 2 minutes, tossing them about until they’re warmed through. Add the honey and cinnamon and cook them for 1 minute more. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them and transfer to a bowl. Cover the bowl with foil if you’re looking to keep them warm for a while.

Assemble: Lay a crepe on a plate. Dollop a couple spoonfuls of ricotta down middle of crepe. Add a spoonful or two of warm plums. Sprinkle with pistachios and mint, if using. Drizzle with extra honey, if desired (it otherwise won’t be very sweet). Fold crepe sides over each other, so that they slightly overlap. Garnish with extra mint. Close your eyes pretend you’re eating them on a boat in the Mediterranean, watching the sun slip behind the sea. Try not to impale your foot with a wooden racecar while you do, as it’s bad for morale.

Do ahead: Fully cooked, crepes can be kept stacked and wrapped in the fridge for two days, if needed. The sauteed fruit can be cooked ahead of time, gently rewarmed when needed.


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