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I learned how to make Crepes Suzette from Julian Child. No, not the person Meryl Streep recently resurrected on screen – but her nephew, or so he says…
Check out the fairly hilarious, but I may say extremely useful, video made by the 99 Cent Chef on the subject here:
I’m guessing that dear Julian only dares wear the wig, do the voice etc. now that Auntie is no more. But then again, maybe her famous sense of humour would have meant she was OK with her nephew lampooning her style… Either way, his performance is verging on Monty Python-esque, and I’d like to see more of it!
Making cooking entertaining just makes the whole thing easier, I find, which may explain my love for the boisterous Jamie Oliver. (OK, maybe I was also hoping he really would be naked… Sigh.)
It seems fitting that, as two of my recent guest blogs focused on the naming of foods after people – Melba (now Eva) Toast, and women of ill repute – Raspberry Tart, I include here a quick re-cap of the naming of this delicious and flamboyant dish. (And yes, Crepes Suzette does put the “flam” in “flamboyant – it was by far the most “exciting” thing I’ve cooked this year. Fire extinguisher, anyone?! And, could I have my eyebrows back, please?)
The dish was allegedly created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter, Henri Charpentier, in 1895 at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of England. Here is the story in his own words, from his autobiography, Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier:
“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had ever tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt [I’m pretty sure this is meant to read “skirt” unless she was in fact a “fille de joie”!] wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”
Or in Julian Child’s case, a pair of diamante earrings, a wig and a funny voice.
Personally, I’m now waiting for my jeweled ring (I’m not really interested in the panama hat and cane). Though I admit that I would prefer to receive my present from a naked chef. Prince Schmince!
Crepes Suzette (From the 99 Cent Chef)
Ingredients (about 6 crepes)
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of water
2 to 3 whole eggs
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. of vanilla – optional
Pinch of salt
Orange Butter Sauce:
1/2 cup of orange juice – fresh squeezed or carton pasteurized
Zest of 1/2 orange – optional
1/2 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter – OK to use less
1/4 cup of cognac (or brandy) or Grand Marnier – I used a blend made from almost-empty bottles in my cupboard (thanks, teenagers…)
In a large bowl mix together flour, milk, water, salt, eggs and 1 tbsp. of melted or soft butter. Whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Heat a medium (about 8 inches) non-stick pan and coat with 1 pat of butter or oil. When butter is melted, add 1/4 cup of crepe batter – enough to just cover the bottom of the pan. Hold up pan and swirl to coat pan evenly. It is better to have too much batter than too little – a thin crepe will tear when turning. Cook crepe for a minute, then loosen around the edges and continue cooking for another minute. Peek before turning to see if crepe is starting to brown. Carefully turn crepe over and cook for another half minute.
The first crepe may stick and be unusable; don’t worry, it takes a couple of crepes to get it right. Set aside your cooked crepes while you make the Orange Butter Sauce.
Use a large enough pan to dip a whole crepe into. Melt butter, add orange juice, zest and sugar to pan over a medium/high heat. Cook until sauce is reduced by half and thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add a crepe. Use a spoon and fork (Auntie Julia’s method!) to fold crepe into sauce. Fold in half once, then fold one more time and push crepe to the edge of the pan to make room for more. You should be able to fit about three crepes to the pan at a time. Allow crepes to heat through in the sauce for a minute.
Have a long handled match ready. When sauce and crepes are warm, pour in half the alcohol and strike a match, lighting the sauce. Be careful: the pan will flame up! Serve this first batch of crepes with a spoonful of sauce. Finish saucing the other crepes, then flambe, and repeat.