Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crepes de Mer avec Bearnaise

Translation: Seafood Crepes in Bearnaise sauce, or crepe making is a pain in the arse.
It should be no news that I don't have a "dough hand" around here.  Crepes fall into that category.  Tried years ago making them and kept tearing them.  To shreds.  Want someone with arm power to whisk and whip a sauce I'm your guy.

Enough already I say, flash forward some 20 years and they sell ready made crepes at both my local Pavilions and Cost Plus World Market. Yeah...they still are very fragile.  I tried folding like they do at my favorite little local french restaurant and failed.  My daughter says they made crepes in her French class and rolled them.  Meh.  I needed to enlist my daughter to do the rolling for me as I massacred one in the beginning, and her rolled ones were really well done.

Why seafood crepes?  Well I adore them.  We have a pretty awesome French Provencal restaurant here in my corner of LA. Its Cafe Massilia.  Its tiny, maybe 15 tables and the reservations book up fast...wanna walk in, fuhgettaboutit.  Their food is among the best I've ever had, just getting in is a challenge.  So its up to me to make my own.

This recipe is based on a few I found online and talking with the chef at Cafe Massilia.  Crepes come ready made and it lets me concentrate on the filling and Bearnaise sauce.  Both are a little intense in their prep but oh so very worth the effort.  Wonderfully rich buttery sauce over an equally rich seafood filling.  Perfect for a fall or winter day, not the 108f we had yesterday...but my wife had her heart set on them before the heat wave started so I went with the plan, heat be damned.

I used a pinot grigio as I like the acid and balance of fruitiness. The acid is really needed to cut through the richness of the sauce and filling. You can substitute in any white wine you like, just use a good quality wine that you would like to drink with the meal.  I always use the same wine in the preparation that I will serve with the meal as the synergy of cooked and potable is pretty amazing on the palate.

Finally, when you plate, put a small herb salad on the side. Use some of the same herbs you have in the sauce and filling along with parsley to tie the two together and bring some freshness to the plate to balance out the meal.

As there is a lot of wine and vinegar used in both the filling and sauce its really important you use a non-reactive pot.  That would be either stainless steel, non-stick, ceramic or glass, the latter is next to impossible to fine as corning ditched its "visions" line decades ago.  I have a nice set of stainless steel lined copper for just this sort of cookery. Watch the sales or outlets for close outs and save yourself a bundle.  I have 3 sizes of copper sauce pots and a fry pan all stainless steel lined that I paid under $100 for the whole works by hitting Marshall's and Tuesday Morning regularly.

I simply cook the seafood in acidulated water with salt and 2 T Old Bay Seasoning.  Cook until just done, 3-4 minutes, then put it into ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain well in a colander in advance of your filling preparation.

Lastly timing is everything.  The Bearnaise sauce will  set up if you allow it to cool.  Make the Bearnaise sauce after the crepes are assembled and serve it warm over them.  The Bearnaise sauce I use is a simple blender made version that is really fool proof in the words of the Barefoot Contessa.

Crepes de Mer avec Bearnaise

Crepes de Mer
  • 10 ready made crepes
  • 1 lb cooked shrimp, cooled
  • 1 lb cooked crab, cooled
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 4 T corn starch
  • 2 shallots minced (about 1/4 c)
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 c white wine (plus more for thinning if needed)
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • 2 oz fontina cheese- shredded
  • 6 oz cream cheese - cubed'
  • 2 T parsley
  • 2 T tarragon
Over low heat in large non-reactive sauce pot add butter and shallot. Add salt and pepper.  Cook until the shallot is just translucent.  Add corn starch and whisk in until smooth and it starts to bubble.  Add half and half and whisk well until smooth.  While whisking constantly slowly pour in the white wine and stir until smooth and it starts to bubble.  Add additional wine if needed to thin to the consistency of mayonnaise. Add cheeses and fold in until melted.  Add herbs and fold in.  Fold in the drained seafood and stir until warm. Test seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to warm (150-170f).  Lightly butter a baking dish.  Dampen a dish towel.

Take a crepe and lay a generous 1 c of the filling across the top quarter of the crepes.  Slowly, gingerly roll the crepe over onto the unfilled side.  Roll up jelly roll style and place in the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining crepes and filling.  When done rolling place the damp towel over the crepes and place in oven to stay warm while you prepare the sauce.  (The damp towel will keep them from drying out while making the Bearnaise sauce).

Bearnaise Sauce
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 2 T shallot- minced
  • 4 T tarragon leaves chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c unsalted butter - melted

Combine wine, vinegar, shallot and tarragon in small non-reactive sauce pot.  Over medium heat bring to simmer and cook until reduced by half.  Remove from heat, cover and cool to room temp.

Heat butter over medium heat and melt.  Heat until it just starts to bubble at the sides.  do not bring to boil as you will burn the butter and need to start over.

Assemble blender.  Add egg yolks and salt. Whiz on low until blended and starting to fluff up.  With blender running on medium add a few drops of the melted butter until incorporated.  Slowly add in a steady stream add the hot butter until it is all incorporated.  Reduce speed to low and add the wine shallot and herb mixture.  Blend until just incorporated. 

Pour a small puddle of Bearnaise sauce on the bottom of the plate.  Add a couple of filled crepes.  Drizzle a little more Bearnaise over the top of the crepes.  Serve with a salad on the side.

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