Saturday, October 10, 2009

Remnants to Rapture: Crepes a la Orange

I didn't set out to make a tried and true recipe last night, what happened is just a reminder that sometimes the makings of a spectacular dessert can be rustled up with a search through the freezer and pantry.

When Mom was here this summer, she whipped up a wonderful breakfast of crepes. Our good French crepe pan provided even browning and uniformity in size -- a little harder to accomplish with a regular skillet. Leftovers tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer.

In high school, I worked at The Magic Pan -- anyone remember it? My title was "Crepe Assembler." A cute girl in a dirndle was positioned in the dining room in the center of this large carousel of crepe pans. She'd batter up each pan, they'd ride around the cooking track encircling her, upon return she'd stack 'em up and pass through a tile-framed window into our assembly kitchen. Important lesson learned: crepes are surprisingly durable and stack and store easily. Anyway, one assembly line was the savories: spinach souffle, beef bourginon, Seafood St. Jacques (shrimp, real crab and scallops). The other line was the sweets: ripe peeled peaches soaking in ginger ale (don't judge, it's a neat trick), strawberries macerated in brown sugar, ice cream with freshly made chocolate fudge, chocolate mint and mocha sauce. The rolled savories were dressed with a band of sauce or cheese, the sweet crepes topped with the sweet sauces (save the fruit crepes, which were dressed with freshly whipped cream post-browning), savories and sweets alike into the hot salamander to finish. Then crepes back through the window and delivered with edges crisped, sauces bubbling.

So back to last night: crepes resuscitated from the freezer, folded into triangles then browned in butter. Home-canned orange conserve (marmalade style, candied rinds in thick sweet orange sauce) poured over, everything brought up to a good simmer. A final flambe with Hennesey: 1/4 C. heated in microwave for 20 seconds first, carefully ignited, gently poured into pan, flames admired 'til they died down, then spooned it all onto pretty dessert plates. A final dollop of whipped cream would have been very Magic Pan, but alas no cream on hand. No matter: quick, simple, unexpected, unique, the drama of the flambe -- spectacularly delicious.

If there's a moral to this story, it's crepes in the freezer are a good insurance policy; home-canned sauces save the day time and again; flambe is easy and always a crowd pleaser, and improvisation needn't equal compromise.

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