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Savory and Sweet Crepes

Throw a fete for 8 to 12 guests

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page M07

My friends joke that I'm culinarily challenged, even though my parents are amazing cooks. But as I prepped to move across the country, I wanted to host a small party and make a dish that everyone could enjoy.

Crepes -- slender pancakes stuffed with fillings savory or sweet -- seemed perfect for a brunch. I could devise a menu that catered to different tastes, and my event would highlight the best aspect of the Gallic specialty: making and filling them.

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You can pack these pancakes with just about anything. For guests who favor the savory, we served spinach, mushrooms and smoked gouda. For those with a penchant for all things sweet, we dished up mounds of those little tropical bananas that look like fat fingers, cooked with lots of butter and sugar until caramelized, and topped with strawberries and cream. (Full disclosure: Carole Greenwood, a chef and friend who offered to help prep the fillings, ended up making them entirely.)

The traditional method of cooking crepes over a burner with a pan requires careful concentration and sleight of hand. (Seasoned crepe chefs learn how to twist their wrist just so to form an even shape.) My love of gadgets led me to cheat and fire up my new Villaware 5225, an electric crepe maker. A few moments later -- et voila! -- we had pancakes that were as light as air.

As we waited for the crepe maker to do all the work, guests chatted and sipped the champagne I served to keep with the French theme. My friends are still debating whether what I did really counts as cooking, but the fete was a great success. I've already invited them to join me for brunch at my new digs in Beverly Hills. Annie Adjchavanich

Crepes & Fillings

Crepes

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk, slightly warmed (not hot)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 cup cake flour (all-purpose flour makes less delicate crepes)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2-3 tablespoons melted butter for basting

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with warm milk and melted butter until smooth. In a larger bowl, sift cake flour, salt and sugar and create a deep well in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the well and whisk slowly and gently, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth, pourable batter. It should be slightly thinner than pancake batter. You can add more milk if mixture seems too thick. Be careful to mix until well combined but resist the temptation to overmix (this will make the crepes tough).


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