We found ourselves with an unusual set of circumstances – a rare Saturday night with no work and no plans with friends. What better opportunity for a date night? Unfortunately, it was the first of the month – the mortgage was paid, and not much was left over for dinner and a movie.
So date night at home it was. I didn’t want to do just a regular every night meal. I wanted to make something a little special, but I wasn’t sure what. What eventually came to my rescue? Crepes. What was my inspiration? IHOP, of course. I mean, when you think of a special meal with a gourmet twist, my thoughts automatically go to IHOP, don’t yours? (OK, I saw an IHOP commercial with crepes in it – what do you want? Every great idea can’t come with a flattering story to tell, can it?)
I had plenty of choices to fill the crepes, but I settled on fresh, sweet corn. It’s corn season, and it seems like I’ve been buying it by the silo. But it’s so good this year. And cheap – I think an entire bushel costs about 3 ½ cents (give or take).
I’ve been giving most of my corn dishes an Italian bent lately (garlic and basil go so wonderfully with the sweetness of corn), so I wanted to do something decidedly non-Italian for this rare event.
Other than basil, my favorite flavor pairing for corn is dill. I don’t know what it is, but dill brings out the best qualities of corn, and the corn rounds out the punch when you bite into dill. Once I know I’m using dill, my brain automatically jumps to sour cream. Voila! The basis for my sauce took shape.
By the time I was finished, I realized how ironic the dish turned out to be: French crepes filled with American corn, and topped with a Scandinavian (or is it east European?) based sauce. Where else could this idea come from but the International House of Pancakes?
The reason crepes are special is because I rarely make them. In my head they seem laborious. But every time I make them, I realize that I’m wrong. They’re simple. And it takes no more time to cook 12 of these one at a time, than it takes to cook 12 pancakes 4 at a time. They can also be done ahead. So I threw together the crepe batter and finished them off before lunch. All I had to do was pop them in the fridge until I was ready for them. (I guess you could buy some pre-made crepes from the store instead – but I’m assuming they are designed for dessert and have some sugar added. Not my thing for a savory dish, but that’s your call to make.)
The rest of this dish came together in just a few minutes. The corn filling is a snap, filling the crepes is a cinch, and then you bake them off for 20 minutes. Speaking of which, I love baking filled crepes uncovered – it gives the tops and ends a little crunch. If you don’t like the crunch, then throw some foil over the baking dish before popping it in the oven. The crepes will stay soft and pliable.
Since I spent a little time on the crepes, I didn’t want to expend too much energy for the sauce. This one is a no brainer: basically sauté a few scallions, dump in some sour cream with a couple of other flavors, and heat it through. The sauce is piquant and is a phenomenal contrast to the sweetness of the corn-filled crepes.
I have to say that for no more effort than it took, the crepes saved the day and turned an at-home date night dinner into something special. But in the end, it didn’t matter: Don got called into work, and date night turned into 45 minutes on his dinner break. Look on the bright side: at least we didn’t waste our reservations at IHOP.
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 C milk, room temperature
- Pinch of salt
- ½ C butter, melted, and slightly cooled and divided
- 4 ears worth of corn kernels
- (or 2 C of frozen corn, thawed and patted dry)
- 1 C ricotta cheese
- ½ t hot sauce
- ¼ C chopped fresh parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 T butter
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 C sour cream
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 2 T milk
- 1 T dried dill
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Place flour, eggs, milk, salt, and ¼ C melted butter into a mixer.
- Mix until well combined, 15-20 seconds.
- Set aside on counter to rest for about an hour (you want to allow all the bubbles to subside and the flour to absorb the moisture).
- Preheat an 8” nonstick pan over medium low heat.
- Using the remainder of the melted butter, lightly brush the nonstick pan.
- Pour a scant ¼ C of batter into the center of the pan and swirl until the bottom is coated and the batter no longer runs.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side or until the edges dry out and the bottom is slightly brown.
- Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
- Remove from pan and start the next crepe.
- This should yield about 12 crepes. (The cooked crepes can be wrapped up and placed in the fridge for 1-2 days, or placed into a freezer bag and frozen for several weeks.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spray a 13”x9” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Reserve about 1 T of corn and 1 T f chopped parsley for garnish.
- Place the remainder of corn kernels, ricotta cheese, hot sauce, and remainder of chopped parsley into a medium mixing bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in beaten egg.
- To fill crepes, lay out crepe (better looking side down) and place about 2 T of filling down the center of the crepe. Fold over and roll into a tight log.
- Place crepe seam-side-down into the baking dish.
- Repeat until all crepes are finished.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until crepes are heated through and the filling sets.
- While crepes are baking, add 1 T butter and scallions to a preheated medium sauté pan over medium heat.
- Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until scallions are tender.
- Add sour cream, Dijon mustard, dried dill, milk.
- Stir to combine.
- Salt & pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally for 10 minutes.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more milk (or water).
- To serve, pour sauce over crepes and garnish with reserved corn kernels and parsley.
This post is reblogged from my earlier site, Inexpensive Eating