BY GINNY GRANT | CUISINE ISSUE #118
Old school with a modern twist, crêpes are wonderful with sweet or savoury fillings. Here the karengo is added to the basic batter, which gives the crêpes a purple, burnished hue and a mild iodine flavour.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
300ml milk plus up to 150ml extra
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Karengo flakes or 2 tablespoons Karengo seasoning granules
butter for rubbing crêpe pan
For the filling:
1.5kg cockles (the smallest you can buy), cleaned and purged
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small dried chilli, finely chopped
125ml white wine
500g spinach, washed and stems removed
2 leeks (white part only), washed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
For the veloute:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup reserved cockle liquor
1@1/2 cups chicken stock plus a little extra
For the crepes:
Place the flour in a bowl. Whisk in the eggs and 300ml of milk. Sieve the batter to get rid of any lumps then add the olive oil.
The batter should be the consistency of cream. Add the karengo, stir well and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Karengo doubles in size in liquid, so the batter will have become quite thick. Add enough milk to bring it back to cream consistency.
Heat a 20cm crêpe pan and melt a small knob of butter. Swirl it around to coat then wipe clean with a paper towel. Pour in a small amount of batter and tip the pan to get an even coating. Cook until the crêpe begins to colour at the edges then use a small palette knife to turn the crêpe over. Cook for another minute then place on a plate.
Don’t despair if your first crêpe isn’t successful; often the first one is really only suitable for seasoning the pan.
Wipe the pan clean with the buttersoaked paper towel and start again. Makes 18 crêpes (this dish calls for 12 so 6 can be reserved for another use).
To make the filling, heat a medium saucepan, add the olive oil, garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute without colouring. Add the cockles and white wine, cover with a lid and cook until the cockles just begin to open. Drain and strain the liquor and reserve. Remove the cockle meat from the shells. If doing this ahead, pour a little of the reserved liquor over the cockle meat so it remains moist.
Quickly wilt the spinach in a saucepan over a gentle heat, using only the water clinging to it. Drain, allow to cool then squeeze out any excess moisture. Gently sauté the leeks in the butter until they are soft but uncoloured. Mix together with the spinach and cockles, adding the nutmeg and lemon zest.
For the veloute: make a roux by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook gently until lightly coloured. Heat the cockle liquor and chicken stock then add slowly to the roux, whisking to prevent lumps. Simmer for 10 minutes or until lightly thickened. Mix half the veloute with the cockle and spinach mixture to moisten it lightly. Reserve the rest to dress the crêpes.
Place 12 crêpes (2 per person) on a bench. Normally the presentation side of a crêpe is the side that was cooked first. However, you see more of the karengo from the “wrong” side so place the crêpes karengo side down.
Divide the filling evenly among the crêpes (around 3 tablespoons in each), placing the mix in one-quarter of the crêpe. Fold in half then in half again.
Place on a lightly buttered baking dish (this recipe can be prepared ahead to this point). Pour the rest of the velouté over the crêpes then bake for 15 minutes at 180°C or until heated through.