Every Valentines day we would feature a special menu especially to celebrate this wonderful holiday. It was always decadent and we always threw caution to the wind when it came to ingredients and calories. One special day to celebrate with your one special person was not a time to think about anything but enjoying a good meal together.
The Seafood Crepes appeared on this special menu more often than anything. It was a particular favorite of my customers who would invariably order a week or more in advance because they knew we would always sell out of this one quickly.
Crepes are more easily made than most people think. The batter has to be made about an hour ahead of time so rest and those that are not used can be frozen for another time. I use this recipe for savory or sweet filings. It is enhanced with a bit of brandy to up the flavor profile and the combination of milk and water make these very tender and pliable. If you prefer a larger crepe, use a larger pan. Speaking of pans, use a non stick pan that isn’t marred. There is a special steel French crepe pan that kitchen stores love to sell. It drives me nuts – I prefer my non stick version.
Because we made these a lot at the shop, I have two pans that were used for nothing but crepes. They were washed, dried, stored with paper towels between them to prevent scratching and stored in a plastic bag awaiting the next batch of crepes.
One of my employees told me that she had a teacher in culinary school that maintained the crepes should be perfectly white with absolutely no hint of color on them. I can’t imagine anything worse looking. These are cooked to a beautiful golden brown on the first side, flipped and the second side has a speckled appearance. There is a right side and wrong side to crepes. The right side is always the first side. I place them, right side down, with waxed paper separating them. This allows them to steam through and become meltingly tender when I need to use them. After cooling completely, I trim the excess paper and store them in a freezer proof bag. If using them within 5 or so days, store in the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze them.
When ready to use them, simply count the number you need, pop them off and thaw them, preferably wrapped or bagged so they don’t dry out, especially on the edges.The filling is a combination of shrimp and scallops in a wonderful sauce that reheats well from the refrigerator or from the freezer. The sauce can be made a couple of days head if desired and reheated. Fill the crepes (which are room temperature) and you’re ready to go.
I use 21 to 26 count raw shrimp simply because I like the size. I always get shrimp in the shell because it has so much more flavor than shrimp that has already been cooked. You don’t know when it was cooked or how it has been held. You can go smaller if desired but don’t use teeny weeny ones because I just don’t think they have the flavor and you will be peeling all day. For a discussion of shrimp, please see “Shrimp” in the technique section where it also shows you how to devein shrimp.
There are basically two types of scallops generally available in the markets. Sea scallops which are large and can be quite large averaging 8 to 10 to a pound. The second is bay scallops which are very small and fresh only in the spring. Both, fortunately freeze extremely well. My original recipe called bay scallops. They generally come in 5 pound blocks which weren’t a problem as I could use all of them. You can sometimes find them in the market. They are going to be thawed from frozen which is not a problem as long as they are not dull or dried out looking. They should be shiny and translucent. Because I can’t readily find them in my market out of season, I used sea scallops which I just cut into smaller pieces. It didn’t affect the outcome at all.
Shallots are a cross between garlic and onions. They belong to the onion family. They are generally bigger than garlic cloves, but much smaller than onions. They have a papery skin on them as do garlic and onions. But make no mistake, these can be as hard on your eyes as any onion you have ever peeled. And, as onions, they vary in strength. However, they are used a lot in classical cooking and add a wonderful flavor wherever they are used.
The Molten Chocolate Cakes are so easy to make and even if slightly overbaked and they don’t “flow”, they are fantastic – especially served warm with a good vanilla ice cream. The molten part is just unbaked batter. They are baked until set on the outside but still runny on the inside. The only caveat with the recipe is the chocolate. Although the chocolate I use looks like chocolate chips, it is not. I buy a professional chocolate that comes in 30 pound boxes that is shaped into chips for ease of melting. The chocolate chips used in cookies is made so the chips don’t melt when baked. In this case you want them not only to melt, but to run. So chocolate chips used for cookies is not recommended. If you can get a 72% chocolate or there abouts, it is even better. I use a 58% chocolate because it is good in many applications and I don’t have to stock so many different chocolates.
I put these in Texas muffin cups that are of the easy to release kind and spray them very well with a cooking spray. They can be made with a bowl and a whisk, so a mixer isn’t necessary. The batter can be made a few hours ahead, held at room temperature, then baked off while enjoying dinner. About 15 minutes before serving, bake them off, let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes, unmold and serve. As I mentioned above, I love these with vanilla ice cream. Probably a bit of overkill but sooooooooo gooooooood!!!!!
For 8 inch crepes, melt the barest amount of butter in the pan the first time you use it. I don’t generally use butter again. Ladle about 2 ounces of batter into a hot 8 inch non stick frying pan. Pour the batter into the center of the pan. Quickly pick the pan up and rotate it around using a wrist action so it coats the entire pan.
There is a right side and a wrong side to the crepes. The right side is the first side. In the photo the right side is on the left, the wrong side is on the right. The filling is added to the wrong side and then rolled.
Yield: Approximately 22 – 8” crepes.
3/4 pound, unpeeled shrimp (21 to 26 if possible)
3/4 pound scallops
1/2 cup butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallots, finely diced
1/2 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 3/4 cup half and half
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup asiago cheese, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/3 cup grated Swiss cheese
Peel and devein the shrimp. Set aside. If using sea scallops, cut into 4ths. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently until the mushrooms are just tender. Remove to a bowl.
Melt 2 more tablespoons butter; add the shrimp and sauté just until cooked through - 3 to 5 minutes. They will go from translucent to pink. Do not overcook. Add to the mushrooms with any juice in the pan.
Bring the half and half to a boil. Add the scallops and simmer 3 to 5 minutes until cooked through. These will go from translucent to opaque. Remove the scallops to the mushroom mixture; reserve the cream.
Drain any liquid from the mushroom mixture into the cream. In a saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Add the cream mixture and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for several minutes, whisking constantly. Add the asiago, sherry, Dijon, nutmeg, salt, white pepper and Swiss cheese. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth; remove from heat and stir in the mushroom mixture. Fill and roll the crepes and serve immediately.
This may be done the day ahead if desired. Roll the crepes, cover and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, place the filled crepes on a foil lined and sprayed jelly roll pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the pan loosely with foil and heat for 20 minutes or until hot.
Yield: 6 to 8 crepes depending upon how much filling is used.
5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (not chocolate chips)
1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If using dark, nonstick pans reduce temperature to 425 degrees. Spray 6 Texas size muffin pans very well and set aside.
Divide evenly among the six molds. (I use 2 #16 disher scoops per pan). Bake 8 to 10 minutes until the outside is set but the inside is runny. Cool 5 to 10 minutes, run a spatula around the edges of the pans to make sure they will release. Place a jelly roll pan or anything that will cover the six muffin molds, turn upside down and they will fall out. Use a pancake turner to pick them up and put on plates.
Serve immediately, with or without a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream.