September 25th, 2013

Crepes and the Cover


A leftover shank of baked ham and looming potluck dinner: this was my dilemma, my quandary, my challenge last week.

Surely the two could intersect–one should be able to be used in some fashion to satisfy the need of other.

But, what to make?
Deviled Ham Salad? Big Ham Biscuits? A creamy ham and mac-cheese casserole?

None of those seemed very exciting.
What would you make? I asked a friend.
A shrug, and
What was I doing with a big leftover bone-in baked ham anyway,
was her response.

I would have to try another method.
Sometimes you have to plant the notion or request in your mind and let it go. Wait and see what might come up to inspire you.


It took about a day, but for whatever reason while on an errand driving across town, a pleasant memory from almost 10 years ago bubbled up:

I was with Bill and my daughter in Paris. We had strolled the Luxembourg Gardens early one morning and were ravenous. Our meander led us down a narrow street with a row of vendors—Look, Crepes!

We watched greedily as the creperie chef combed the batter over the special griddle, deftly flipping the great thin round when the edges became golden and crispy, then splashing it with melted citrus butter, a rapid fold and shower of powdered sugar, and Voila!

Madeleine got one with fresh bananas. Bill’s had egg and cheese. And mine….


There, it is called a complete–a buckwheat flour crepe filled with ham, gruyere, and egg. Absolutely luscious, and substantial enough to sate a powerful hunger.

My potluck plan was set in motion.


The versatility—and ease—-of crepes is what makes them so appealing. The batter can be whipped up in minutes. The impossibly thin pancakes can be swirled and flipped in a small skillet–and stacked until ready to fill. And the fillings?

All manner of savory and sweet.

With sweet crepes, I’ll put a little sugar into the batter. With savory crepes, a combination of flours–all-purpose and buckwheat is nice. I didn’t have any buckwheat flour, but today’s crepe batter uses buttermilk to give it distinctive tang.


I made the batter early in the morning. In the afternoon, I began The Cook. It didn’t take long to pour, swirl, and flip. The crepes were thin and elastic, yet golden. Filling them with ham, cheese, and spinach-artichoke was like assembly-line work–a nice rhythm or repetition.


I decided to make a mornay sauce to bake onto the crepes in the casserole dish. This would add an enriching element, while keeping the crepes moist in the oven.

For other splendid crepe ideas and recipes, check out Cooking Light’s page here:

Oh, and here’s Why I had that big leftover Ham.

The Cookbook Cover! We are now at the stage of shooting the images for the Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook.

On our first day, we (I say we, because I helped the team–photographer, food stylist, art director, editor—by making the dishes) shot the cover–a cool overhead of a potluck feast–along with 8 interiors. We have many more to go. I will keep you posted as the process unfolds—and I have something to show you.


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons melted butter combined with
1 tablespoon olive oil

You can make the batter in a blender or food processor. I have found that this is the simplest way to achieve that smooth-smooth mixture that resembles heavy cream. The batter also should be made up ahead of time and allowed to rest–at least an hour, and up to overnight, covered and refrigerated.

I used a 6″ stainless steel skillet—easy to handle. I like the small size of the crepes for filling and serving. I think you will, too.

Place the flour, eggs, buttermilk, water, and salt into the blender or processor. Mix until well-combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pour in melted and slightly cooled butter and continue to process. The mixture will be thinner than traditional pancake batter–but will coat the back of a spoon like cream. Cover and let the mixture rest for a minimum of an hour.

Heat the skillet on medium. Brush it with the butter-oil mixture. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of batter into the skillet, tilting and swirling the skillet to move the batter as it covers the surface. In a minute, the edges of the crepe will become golden–time to flip. The other side cooks–browns–in half the time of the first side. Remove the crepe to a plate or platter, and continue the process.

You don’t need to brush the skillet with the butter-oil mixture each time—every 2-3 times works fine.

Makes 16-20 6″ crepes

1 tablespoon soft butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
pinch of salt and cayenne
1 lb. thinly sliced ham
1/4 cup coarse grain mustard
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup shredded gruyere

Coat a baking dish or casserole with butter.

Place a large skillet on medium heat. Add the olive oil. Then, mound the spinach into the skillet. Stir, as the leaves collapse. Sprinkle in the minced garlic pieces and cook for a minute. Add the artichoke hearts and stir-fry them into the spinach mixture. Season with a pinch or two of salt and cayenne. Remove from heat.

Lay the crepe rounds out onto the work counter in rows. Cover half of the crepe with slices of ham, dab of mustard, tablespoon or 2 of spianch-artichoke mixture, and a sprinkle of the cheeses. Beginning with the ham side, roll the crepes and place them into the casserole dish(es).

When you are ready to bake and serve them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the Gruyere Mornay sauce over the crepes. Sprinkle extra cheese, if you like, or dot the surface with strips of sundried tomatoes or sage leaves.
Place in the oven and bake until bubbly–25-30 minutes. Serve

3 tablespoons butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Gruyere
white pepper
sundried tomatoes or fresh sage leaves (optional)

Place a 2 quart saucepan on medium heat. Melt the butter, then stir in the green onions, cooking to soften–about 1 minute. Stir in the flour, allowing it to coat the green onions, absorb the butter, and make a light roux. Stir constantly, and don’t let the flour brown.
Pour in the milk. Stir-stir-stir! Over the next 10 minutes, the mixture will thicken. When it comes to a simmer, stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Stir until the cheese is melted throughout and incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt and white pepper.


Food-stylist Teresa Blackburn at work on set at photographer Mark Boughton’s studio. At this time, we were working on placement of dishes to fit within the format of the book.


This does little justice to the final image that Mark captured–but gives a peek at the process.

Posted in Breakfast, Casseroles, Egg/Cheese Dishes, Recipes

26 Responses to “Crepes and the Cover”
  1. Tracy Says:

    The anticipation!

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tracy! Yes! I know. whew.

  3. Kath Says:

    The book progress looks very exciting. I love it when a memory bubbles up (what a lovely expression). I like that enamel jug very much. Crepes with buttermilk – yes please. x

  4. Barbara Says:

    Very exciting to watch the shoot unfold. Scary, but fun.
    Love buckwheat flour. We use it for pancakes, scones and anything else we can think of. Drooling thinking about buckwheat creeps with that ham and gruyere stuffing!

  5. Teresa, food on fifth Says:

    Sorry to have missed these Crepes, Nance! They look divine even before filled. I also remember having Crepes in Paris. I asked for an unfilled crepe just to taste the crepe itself…..shock, horror…ugly American! But after ordering a filled one as well they thought I was pretty amusing to have eaten one “unadorned”…just for the crepe itself!
    What a fun and fruitful day we had working on “Third Thursday” cookbook cover…beautiful results!

  6. ernestine Says:

    Oh my
    they look

  7. Maggie Says:

    This looks amazingly delicious!! Nancy, I’m so happy for you that the cookbook is progressing – enjoy the process!!

  8. Madeleine Says:

    Hurray!!!! This post is the best. I’m SO excited for the cookbook!

  9. heather Says:

    I love it that you shared your food memory with us and those at the potluck! You took me to France for a moment this morning, thank you. The process of photographing the food for the cover looks very exciting, can’t wait to see the final image and read the book!

  10. mark Says:

    Nancy, Cecilia and I had the best time at the last Third Thursday! Looking forward to many more. We are off to a great start with your book! Looking forward to shooting more next week. Cheers!

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Kath-that jug is Dutch in origin, found at an antique shop in middle Tennessee….go figure!

    Barbara–it is a little scary, but excitement really takes over any nervousness. Mark and Teresa make a great team.

    Ernestine, Maggie–Thank you very much.

    Heather–you are welcome! I’m looking forward too.

    We will be shooting again on four separate occasions, beginning next week. I’ll keep everyone posted.

  12. Barbara Greene Says:

    All looks so beautiful Nancy! I am so excited for you and very proud!
    Congratulations…and these crepes look divine. I do not think I have ever experienced them. Yours look yummy, plus you make everything look so easy to prepare.

  13. Julie Says:

    Can you hear my heels clicking?! Bravo, Nancy . . . :-)

  14. Wendy Says:

    I can’t believe you made that luscious dish the time I was out of town for Potluck! You may just have to make them again with a different filling. The cookbook is getting done in leaps and bounds—Yea!

  15. Fluffy Says:

    I thought it was spelled kraepe

  16. Cathy Says:

    Your crepes look rich and satisfying. Reading your comment that in Paris filled crepes are called completes caused me to reflect on cultural differences. In Santiago, Chile, if you order a completo, you will get a hotdog hidden under mounds of varied toppings, but always a salsa of tomato, onion and cilantro; guacamole; and gobs of “mayonnaise” that is more like margarine than anything else. I actually ate one and was not hungry again for an entire day. It was fun to get a behind-the-scenes peek at your book-cover photo shoot. Thanks for sharing!

  17. goodfoodmatters Says:

    thank you Julie and Barbara :)

    fluf–i remember that ill-fated creperie, KRAYP
    so krapy

    whoa, Cath, if I had eaten a completo I wouldn’t have been hungry for days either. very funny differences.

  18. Tammy Says:

    Congratulations Nancy! I can’t wait to see it. Love that you put artichokes in the crepes.

  19. Beth Says:

    Your crepes look wonderful. What a great way to use leftover ham!

  20. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I can’t wait to see your book, Nancy, both inside and out.

  21. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Me too!
    it’s been a funny process, in fits and starts, but is really coming along. we will be shooting 11 recipes on Wednesday and have 2 days scheduled for photography next week.
    meanwhile, I’ve worked my revisions, and the manuscript is now with a copy editor…yet another pair of eyes. I hope to post more news soon–about the release date and such.

  22. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    its like a crepe enchilada and I LOVE IT! You made nicely with your dilemma. I am stocked about your book! I need a million copies please!

  23. Juliana Says:

    Congratulations Nancy!
    I love savory crepes and yours look fabulous especially with the Gruyere sauce on top…yum!
    Hope you are enjoying your week…I know you are.. :D

  24. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    You just brought back memories of eating a similar crepe at a little restaurant in Normandy. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  25. 2 Sisters Recipes Says:

    Wow Nancy, these crepes look so good, rich and filling! I would love to make these for an event we’re having at the end of the month. Thanks for the recipe! Have a great week!

  26. Adri Says:

    The crepes sound rich and flavorful. I make them often and you are so right. What a versatile food! Your recipe looks fabulous. And the shoot looks beautiful. You must be so thrilled. Isn’t it wonderful to work in a team and to see really good things come of the communal efforts? I wish you loads of success!

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