July 31, 2013

Wrap healthy corn crepes around sweet or savory fillings

By SARA MOULTON The Associated Press

One of the earliest French culinary imports to make a dent in America was the crepe. I remember the black steel crepe pan my folks bought in the '60s, a token of their desire to make crepes at our home in New York every once in a while.

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Stone-ground cornmeal and whole-wheat flour give these crepes heartier taste and texture, along with better nutrition.

The Associated Press

But we usually destroyed the crepes when it was time to dig them out of the pan. And conventional wisdom had it that each crepe in a stack of cooked crepes needed to be separated from the crepes above and below with sheets of waxed paper, or they'd stick together. Who had the patience for that kind of fussiness?

Happily, I have solved both problems. Though I'm not generally a fan of non-stick pans -- the usual choice for making crepes these days -- they do work. I prefer stick-resistant skillets, which are coated with a safe enamel that works well with crepes.

I've also discovered that you can stack crepes. They don't stick to each other!

Still, why bother with crepes? Because if you have some crepes in the freezer and some leftovers in the fridge, you can put an elegant dinner on the table in no time. And if you make the crepes without sugar, they can be used in sweet or savory preparations.

You can stuff them with everything from leftover cooked pork chops, to broccoli and cheddar cheese, to fresh berries and vanilla yogurt.

The crepes in this recipe are made not with white flour, but with stone-ground cornmeal and whole-wheat flour. This gives them not only better nutrition, but heartier taste and texture, too. As you cook them, be sure to re-stir the batter every time you reach into the bowl for more. That way the cornmeal will be evenly distributed in every crepe.

When I cook crepes, I always try to make a double batch, so I can freeze some for future meals. If the crepes in a group are sticking together after they've been defrosted, I simply wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven for 10 minutes. Then they separate easily.

Here in the heart of summer, it's natural to take advantage of the abundance of summer stone fruit. Any variety will shine in this recipe -- peaches, plums, cherries or nectarines -- and in any stage of ripeness. We are poaching them, after all, which allows us to transform even an unripe piece of fruit into something tender and flavorful.

The magic ingredient in this process is wine, which -- thanks to its taste and acidity -- boosts the flavor of any dish. If you can't use wine, just swap in your favorite fruit juice, keeping in mind that you will probably have to adjust the sugar.

Finally, I realize the fresh vanilla bean called for here can be pricey. It's worth the splurge. Vanilla beans perfume a dish in a way vanilla extract can't come close to.

CORN CREPES STUFFED WITH SUMMER FRUITS

Start to finish: One hour

Serves four.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup 1 percent milk

2 large eggs

1/4 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

Pinch table salt

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

6 cups, pitted and cubed fresh summer fruit, such as nectarines, plums and peaches

3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

In a small skillet over low heat, cook the butter until it starts to turn brown and smell nutty. Transfer the butter to a blender, then add the milk, eggs, cornmeal, flour and salt. Blend just until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let rest for 30 minutes.

(Continued on page 2)

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