Piece of cake

It rained yesterday. A lot. It was the kind of hammering downpour normally reserved for those here-again, gone-again summer storms that begin and end in a flash and, without fail, catch me umbrella-less, in strappy leather sandals, and on foot. (Also without fail, these summertime showers drip to a halt at the very moment that I, soaked to the core, duck inside.) Only it’s not July, it’s January. And instead of departing as swiftly as it had come, this rain was the lingering type. The clouds rolled in before dawn, set up shop, and unfurled sheets of rain until dark. I was, at least, sock-footed and sleeping between sheets of a different kind when it all began.

There are many reasonable responses to a deluge of this sort. Some people organize closets, write letters, or pay bills. Others build arks. I bake cakes.

Yesterday, unlike more days than I’d like to admit, I had no intention of baking a cake. (I swear.) I had but one thing on my mind: finish up some writing, print out the document, and deliver it to an office a mere fifteen-minute walk from my front door. Piece of cake, I thought, in the strictly figurative sense. You may recall that my work furnishes me with pathetically few reasons to set foot outside of my apartment. It’s to the point that I often invent excuses to get out the door, just to maintain a healthy baseline of human interaction. But yesterday, there I was with a real, bona fide, pressing reason to go outside, and it happened to be the soggiest day of the season.

I had a plan. Despite the weatherman’s promise that the rain would be unrelenting, I imagined that there would be at least a momentary letting-up, during which I could more or less walk between the raindrops and deliver my paper. Perhaps when I’ve finished writing, I figured, the rain will have slowed. No such luck. Was it my imagination, or was it coming down even harder out there? Rain, 1; Jess, 0. The stand-off was on. I can be unrelenting, too. All I needed was to sit tight just a lee-tle bit longer. Just long enough, say, to sift a cup or so of flour, crack a few eggs, zest some citrus, and spill a cup of fruity olive oil into a bowl. Then surely, surely, there would be a lull. And that is how this olive oil citrus cake, the leading player in my scheme to wait out the rain, came to be.

Baking a cake, especially one that sails from mixing bowl to oven to cooling rack in under an hour, is one of the loveliest, most fragrant ways to bide one’s time while holding out for slightly drier skies. It’s a textbook case of Use Your Time Wisely, as my fifth-grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Hommel, used to say. But the thing about rain is that sometimes, despite the most strategic, lemon-infused stalling, it wins. A deadline was approaching, an office was soon closing, and though the cake had fully cooled, the rain kept falling, falling. I ultimately had no choice but to triple-bag my paper, suit up, and breast stroke my way across campus. I briefly considered taking the cake along as a kind of emergency flotation device to buoy me in the event that I was swept away by the current on Mass Ave. But in the end, I settled on a raincoat, boots, and an umbrella, which proved no match for the waters cascading from the sky and pooling, several inches deep, on the sidewalks and streets. No more than one block out, my pants were thoroughly saturated, heavy, and plastered to my legs.

I delivered my paper (miraculously dry), and waded home, where I peeled off my clothing (my jeans are still drying over the shower bar), put the kettle on, and helped myself to a generous wedge of my rainy-day cake. Now this, this, was a piece of cake, if not the idiomatic one I originally had in mind. A sunlit, hassle-free jaunt to the office would have been nice, but an actual, physical piece of cake is much, much better than even the tastiest idiom.

Laced with citrus from the sunshine state, this cake does much to brighten an otherwise sunless day. It’s zesty. It’s feathery light. And thanks to a liberal pour of olive oil, it’s smooth, earthy, and moist. The crumb is pale yellow, and pushes back, gently, against finger and fork, while the outer layer of batter browns to form a crackly crust, the thinnest of thin. This cake is true bad-weather fare: simple, sunny, and deeply reassuring.

Of course, it hits the spot on clearer days, too. (I checked for you on this fine, sunny morning, just to be sure.)

Olive Oil Citrus Cake
Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

This cookbook is new to my collection (thank you, Sarah!), and this cake is the result of my first dip into its pages. If it’s any indication of what the rest of the book holds in store, we are in luck. The recipe calls for the zest of one lemon, one grapefruit, and one orange. I didn’t have an orange on hand, and so I went with just the lemon and the grapefruit. It was wonderful. Next time, I’ll plan on including the orange zest, too. Lemon oil (1/4 t.) is an optional ingredient in this cake. I substituted a squeeze of lemon juice, but if you want to use the oil, add it together with the vanilla. I enjoyed the cake just as it was, but if I wanted to gussy it up, I would probably dust it with powdered sugar. Schreiber and Richardson include a recipe for a simple glaze. I don’t think the cake needs it, but I’ve included the recipe, in case you would like to give it a try.

1 ¼ c. cake flour
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 T. plus ¾ c. sugar, divided
Zest of 1 grapefruit
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
¼ t. lemon oil or a squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
1 c. fruity (not super-strong or spicy) extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a paper towel, coat a 9 x 2 inch round baking pan with olive oil, then sprinkle it with the 1 T. of granulated sugar.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together twice. (Got that? Twice.) Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and zests on high speed for five minutes, until the eggs are thickened and lighter in color. Add the vanilla and lemon oil or juice, if using. Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and drizzle the olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and slightly domed in the center. Cool to room temperature in the pan.

Glaze (optional):

¾ c. powdered sugar
2 T. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Sift the sugar into a small bowl. Add the grapefruit juice, and whisk to combine. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

Wrapped in plastic, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Yield: 8-10 servings.


Without prejudice

“The Great Equalizer.” It has been said of many things, including education, death, and the three-point line. But what holds this title in my kitchen is none other than the humble egg, cracked into a hot, oil-slicked skillet, and fried. Unless you’re a sucker for cold pizza or day-old Chinese takeout, “leftovers” is a word not typically associated with breakfast. But consider the following meals:

Bok choy and tofu over brown rice
French green lentils and caramelized onions
Roasted chickpeas with cumin and sautéed kale
Cabbage slaw with green onion dressing

These dishes have one very important thing in common: Spooned from Tupperware in the early-morning hours, each of these suppers makes a stellar second appearance under the sunny canopy of a fried, runny-yolked egg.

The fried egg works its magic without prejudice. I’d be hard pressed to finger a best of these egg-capped dinners reborn. The fried egg doesn’t play favorites, and neither do I. The sorriest heaps of leftover sautéed vegetables have made the fiercest comebacks; the merest of kitchen scraps have found their second winds, all thanks to the power of this equalizing ovum.

This week’s pairings came courtesy of our Saturday lunch of spicy pulled-beef tacos, topped with pickled onions and the cabbage slaw that I mentioned earlier. On Sunday, after a run along the frozen Charles, I slid a fried egg over the leftover slaw and onions for a breakfast that was at once hot and cold, crunchy and smooth.

The next day, I reached for the canned tomatoes and chipotle chilies that didn’t make it into the meat’s sauce, grabbed a handful of baby spinach, and tossed everything into the pan. When the tomato juices bubbled, I dug a hole in the vegetables in the center of the pan, and dropped an egg inside to half-poach, half-fry. Two and a half minutes later, I turned out the entire contents of the pan onto a plate lined with two slices of whole wheat toast. Delicious.

When you crack your eggs, where do they land? Atop a plate of pasta? Upon a bed of rice and beans? In a bowl of soup? Do tell. I’m always looking to expand my repertoire.

Speaking of fried eggs, have you heard Matthew and Molly’s new podcast, Spilled Milk? Their inaugural episode is on this very subject. If you enjoy their sparkling voices on the page, you’re going to love this. Think Julia and Jacques for the twenty-first century. Minus the high, warbling voice and dreamy French accent. (Do listen, however, for Matthew’s charming impersonation of a Swedish egg yolk.) Fair warning: these two are funny. If you’re one to laugh out loud, I’d suggest sitting down to your egg only after the podcast is through. You wouldn’t want to choke on your yolk.

Eggs over (almost) Anything

Instead of a recipe, here are some tips and tricks for a few different leftovers scenarios.

First, the basics: My ideal egg sits on the skillet just long enough for the white to set, the edge to brown a little, and the yolk to heat through, while still remaining loose. Achieving that elusive combination of firm white plus saucy yolk can be tricky. Here’s a tip: Heat a glug of oil or a thin shaving of butter over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Make sure that your fat is very hot before you drop in the egg. Then, turn down the heat slightly, and cover the skillet with a lid or baking sheet. This way, while the egg fries, it also steams, which gets rid of any white jiggle on top. It also reduces cooking time, and keeps you from having to attempt a flip that might jeopardize your intact yolk. I find that, once covered, the egg takes between 2 and 2.5 minutes to reach its perfect consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and serve. If farm-fresh eggs are available in your area, I highly recommend going for them, even if it means spending a couple of extra dollars per dozen. They’re worth every last penny.

Fried eggs over leftover salads, slaws, and soups: Prepare the egg as described, above, and slide it over –or into – your dish.

Fried eggs over leftover rice dishes: Eggs aside for a moment, rice reheated in an oiled skilled (as opposed to a microwave) is one of my favorite things to eat. It’s all about the crunchy bits that fry up along the bottom. So good. Here is my approach to fried eggs plus rice-based leftovers, like the egg-crowned lentils, caramelized onions, and rice, pictured up at the top of this post. Follow the instructions, above, for heating the oil, and then scoop your lentils, onions, and rice into the skillet. Once your leftovers are heated through, push aside the vegetables in the center of the pan, to form a small hole. You’ll want your egg to fry directly on the hot surface of the skillet. (The edges of the egg will ooze a little into the surrounding rice, lentils, and onions. That’s a good thing.) Drop the egg into the hole, cover the skillet, and cook according to the above instructions. Tilt the pan to slide the entire contents onto a plate, and serve.

Fried eggs over saucier scraps: When I have leftover canned tomatoes lurking in my refrigerator, I often finish them off with the help of an egg. When you cook an egg in liquid, it’s more of a poach than a fry, but it’s so tasty, that I've decided to include it here. Follow the above instructions, but instead of digging a hole to the bottom of the pan, just make a dent in the sauce or soupy vegetables. The dent should be just large enough to cradle your egg. Cook, and serve the egg and its sauce over toast or rice.

A word about frozen vegetables: I always keep a bag of frozen, organic spinach in the freezer, for those times when I’d like a little green with my fried egg, but I don’t have anything fresh on hand. I plink some frozen spinach leaves into the pan with the rice, and add the egg only when the spinach has completely thawed. Then, I dig my little hole, crack, cover, season, and serve, as usual.


My regular seat

Call me a creature of habit, but the way I see it, I just happen to know what I like, and to want what I like on a fairly regular basis. I take my NPR immediately post-shower; my afternoon tea with my feet perched on the radiator by the window; and the vast majority of my photographs for this site on the red wooden table that Eli and I bought on a whim, down the road from where we were married. (You’re not sick of it yet, are you?) In the winter, I tend to stay in, sometimes to the tune of two whole days without leaving the apartment. At which point, a voice in my head shouts Out, lady, OUT, I gather my laptop, papers, and books, and walk the two blocks to my favorite neighborhood bakery, Hi-Rise. Depending on the time of day, I order one of three things: oatmeal with cherries and pecans, hold the maple syrup (morning), a crusty pecan raisin roll (midday), or an almond macaroon (late afternoon). Then, I climb the stairs, find my regular seat on the wooden bench near the well-placed outlet, and settle in for an hour or two of Work Outside the Home. It’s nice, for a change, to write and study and simply be in a place where Real Live Humans can be spotted feeding, recreating, and talking amongst themselves. Even when I am far less desperate for human company, Hi-Rise is my destination of choice. If we’ve scheduled a business breakfast, a writing session, or a paper-grading date, we’ll likely be meeting here, and at my favorite corner table, if I have anything to do with it. And so it has gone or, rather, I have gone, since moving to Cambridge over four years ago.

Then, a couple of weeks back, I made plans to meet a new friend for our first language exchange, a two-hour sit-down spent conversing in each other’s native tongues. We correct each other’s prepositions, syntax, and verb tenses; steer each other away from unintended sexual innuendo (it’s more common than you’d think); and practice speaking in that casual, off-the-cuff way that is always the last frontier for non-native speakers. He suggested that we meet at Café Crema, a bakery around the corner from my usual spot. I didn’t resist, and not only because Hi-Rise would be closed by that time of night. Sometimes, I am just that laid back, people. That willing to embrace the unknown. There’s a little thing called spontaneity that I keep tucked away in my back pocket. Soon, I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants all over the place, proclaiming crazy things, like, You say you happen to be in the neighborhood and want to meet for a drink? Well, count me in. I would like nothing more than to drop whatever I’m doing and brave the bitter cold. What? It could happen.

So there we were, at this new-to-me bakery. We swapped languages. I drank mint tea. We sat on the balcony, near a railing wrapped with twinkly white lights. I liked it. And because, as I said, I typically want what I like, I returned to Café Crema a whopping five times in the span of fourteen days: once, the following week, again to swap languages, sip mint tea, and sit by the twinkly lights; once for breakfast; and another three times for lunch. At the first of these lunches, I tasted a roasted carrot and fennel soup so pleasing that I ordered it at every one of my remaining visits. So much for my budding sense of adventure.

With temperatures threatening to dip into the single digits over the weekend, it hit me that the only thing better than walking seven minutes in the cheek-numbing cold for a bowl of roasted carrot and fennel soup is sipping that soup without the prefatory freeze. And so, on Sunday afternoon, I scribbled down an estimated recipe, stepped boldly into my kitchen, and did my best to recreate the soup that had such a hold over my taste buds. I don’t know if it was the pairing with arugula and toasted pine nuts, the warm, crusty bread spread with Vermont cultured butter and sea salt, or the familiar glow of candlelight on our old kitchen table (I do love that table), but at home, this soup popped for me like it had never popped before. With all due respect to the original and its makers, I enjoyed my homemade version even more than the soup that inspired it. I’m guessing that it had a lot to do with that marvelous perk of home cooking: the option to tweak things exactly to your liking.

At first glance, this soup looks the same as the next in that too-long line of wintry, orange purees that flirt clumsily with dessert, and sit so heavily on the tongue. But this roasted carrot fennel soup is different. It bucks every last expectation. It contains no cream; no cinnamon, nutmeg, or pie spice of any kind; no maple syrup, and no sugar, brown or otherwise. It relies instead on the flavors and textures of its starring ingredients. Roasting the carrots and the fennel unveils their subtle, earthy sweetness. It’s the kind of sweet you have to reach for, an understated sweet that leaves dessert to dessert, as it should be. The flavor starts off mellow and deep, and then, just as you’re about to load up your spoon with another bite, a bright kick of fennel delivers a clean, crisp finish.

I ate it for lunch yesterday and today, and I’ll likely have it again tomorrow. And the next day, too, if there’s any left to be had.

Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup
Inspired by the soup at Café Crema

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from making pureed soups, it’s that all blending techniques are not equal. An immersion blender will leave this soup lightly textured with the tiniest bits of carrot, fennel, and onion. I like it this way. Plus, you just can’t beat the ease and convenience of an immersion blender. If you prefer a smoother soup, carefully puree in batches in a stand blender.

UPDATE: I've changed my mind. I'm allowed to do that, right? I've now made this soup several times using my stand blender, and I've decided that I prefer the smoother, light-as-a-feather texture for this soup. (Sorry, immersion blender! I still love you.) You can't go wrong, either way, but for now, that's where I stand.

1 medium yellow onion
1 ½ pound carrots
1 fennel bulb; discard the stalks, but reserve the fronds
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 T. tomato paste
4-5 c. vegetable broth
1 t. fennel seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Trim the fennel bulb (discard the stalks, but reserve and set aside the fronds), cut in half lengthwise, and then into ½-inch-thick wedges. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼-inch rounds. Toss the carrots and fennel with 1 T. olive oil, and several grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Spread the carrots and fennel evenly on a lined or lightly-oiled baking sheet, and slide into the oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender.

While the carrots and fennel are roasting: Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until the aroma rises and they turn lightly brown. Grind them to bits with a mortar and pestle. Coarsely chop the onion. In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining 1 T. of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the ground fennel seeds, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Turn the heat to low, add the tomato paste, and stir to incorporate.

Add the roasted carrots and fennel to the pot, add 4 c. of vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and use a standing blender or an immersion blender to purée the soup. Add the additional 1 c. of broth, in part or in full, until you have achieved the thickness that you desire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with a pinch or two of chopped fennel fronds.

Yield: Serves 6-8.



One year ago today, with the softest thud, I landed here in this big, white, open space. I dusted myself off, looked around, tapped out my first quiet words, and with the push of a button, Sweet Amandine rumbled to life. 2009 was a big year for me. I took some scary exams, got rolling on my dissertation, had my head pieced back together, and fully recovered from a devastating illness. But more than anything, 2009 was the year that I started writing again. My time away from graduate school – heck, from life as I knew it – turned out to be not so much a leave of absence as a leave of presence. And speaking of presence, your being here has made it all the sweeter, and certainly a lot more fun.

I believe that we have the power to create the lives that we want to live. With this in mind, I rarely make a move without weighing my options. I research. I make lists. I poll friends and family and experts in the field. I think and I think, and I think some more. Going with the flow doesn’t exactly come easily to me. Except for when it does. Occasionally, amidst so much contemplation and calculation, my intuition kicks in, wrestles all of my best laid plans to the ground, and yanks me over to a place that feels inexplicably right. I have found that the easiest decisions – the best decisions – are usually the ones that hardly feel like decisions at all. They’re the ones I barely remember making, that sneak up and choose me, instead of the other way around. I felt this way when, after four years of friendship, Eli and I fell in love and knew in an instant that we would spend our lives together. There would be two years of living an ocean apart, and challenges to be sure, but somehow, none of it ever felt all that hard. It was, and continues to be, strangely simple.

This site came to be in a similar way, totally out of the blue. There was none of the usual agonizing, no soul-searching, no reading up, no thinking- thinking-thinking about what this site would or could or should be. All I knew was that I wanted to spend my days doing something that I loved. I wanted to write, and Sweet Amandine gave me a place to do it. Now, I can’t imagine not writing here. That rough-and-tumble intuition knows what she’s doing.

To celebrate our first year, I’ve cleaned things up a bit around here. I’ve given the sidebar a few nips and tucks, tightened a couple of screws, and rolled out a new font. I hope you like it. Thank you all so much for joining me here. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a very good year.

See you back here on Monday, with a recipe.


Plan B

Well, that was nice, if completely unexpected. Our plans to spend New Year’s Eve in rural New Hampshire may have been foiled by a snow storm that, in the end, turned out to be not-so-stormy, but it’s hard to complain when Plan B involves a last-minute dinner reservation, smoked Swiss chard ravioli with caramelized onions and pine nut cream, homemade almond ice cream and, the next morning, billowy vanilla crêpes with jam, sliced apples, and toasted walnuts.

They look like little blankets, don’t they? We Bostonians have many tricks up our flannel sleeves for keeping warm on cold winter mornings: mulled ciders, glowing fireplaces, down comforters, and wool socks, like the ones on my feet there, by the stove. But I’ll gladly leave all of these things aside for a couple of crêpe blankets to pull over my knees, and up beneath my chin. Drifting off to sleep between covers so airy and warm sounds just about perfect to me. If you wake up hungry, you can nibble on the crisp, golden edges with the slightest turn of the head.

I’ve tried a couple of different crêpe recipes in the past, with moderate success. The first was a bit too eggy, and both recipes baffled me with little lumps of flour that, no matter how much I whisked, refused to mix with the rest of the batter. This new-to-me recipe, originally published in Gourmet magazine in 1958, was much better on both counts. It calls for only two eggs, and makes use of that stellar piece of lump-busting equipment, The Blender. The blender! In a minute flat, your batter is lump-free, and ready to pour. It’s a beautiful thing.

While I whirred and poured and flipped, Eli set the table. Civilized creature that he is, he placed a knife and a fork beside each plate. But once the crêpes were served, he abandoned said utensils and demonstrated a much better way to feast.

I promptly followed suit; had my fingers not been smeared with butter and jam, I would have the pictures to prove it.

Piled loosely on a warmed dinner plate, Plan B never looked so pretty. Maybe because these crêpes are really more Plan A material.

Vanilla Crêpes with Jam
Adapted from Gourmet, January 2006; originally published in 1958

You can find all kinds of special crêpe-making paraphernalia out there: crêpe pans, batter spreaders, turning spoons, mini-ladles. But I find that a 10-inch non-stick pan, a spatula, a ¼ c. measuring cup, and an agile wrist yield excellent results. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, crêpe-making is quite simple, and much faster than making thicker pancakes that need more time to cook through.

I added a teaspoon of vanilla to the original recipe, and used less butter for greasing the pan. A single greasing with ½ teaspoon of butter lasted the entire batch. Any more butter would have left the crêpes too greasy for my taste. The original recipe calls for spreading the crêpes with 10-12 oz. of jam mixed with 1 T. brandy, rolling them up jelly-roll style, and dusting them with sugar. I prefer a less formal, do-it-yourself-at-the table approach, but if you’re looking for a more polished presentation, filling, rolling, and dusting the crêpes sounds lovely.

On New Year’s Day, I served them with strawberry jam (we didn’t have any apricot jam, which is my favorite), toasted walnuts, and sliced green apples. Here are some other ideas for how you might serve them. If you have favorite fillings, I’d love to hear.

With Nutella and sliced bananas
With Greek yogurt, honey, toasted walnuts, and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
With fresh berries and powdered sugar
With sautéed apples and warm caramel sauce
With vanilla sugar and lemon juice

Savory (I’d leave out the vanilla, and cut back to 1 T. sugar for these.)
With sautéed wild mushrooms and fresh thyme
With sliced pears, feta, toasted walnuts, and arugula
With steamed spinach, feta, and toasted pine nuts
With smoked salmon, crème fraîche, red onions, and capers

Now, the recipe:

1 c. plus 2 T. whole milk
2 large eggs
1 c. flour
2 T. sugar
¼ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly + 1/2 t. butter for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and place an oven-safe dinner plate or platter inside to warm.

Combine all ingredients (except for the ½ t. butter for greasing the pan) in a blender, and blend until smooth, about one minute. You may need to scrape down the sides once or twice. The original recipe suggests letting the batter stand at room temperature for one hour, to “prevent tough crêpes.” (Don’t quote me, but I think it has something to do with letting the gluten relax.) We were impatient and hungry, so I skipped this step. The crêpes were maybe a little stiff when they first slipped out of the pan, but in their heap on the warmed plate, they relaxed and softened. They were as tender as can be. Still, if I can stand the wait, I may try letting the batter rest for one-hour next time around.

Add ½ t. butter to the non-stick pan, and heat over a medium-high flame, until the pan is hot and the butter is melted. I used a pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly over the pan, but a spatula will work in a pinch. Pour ¼ c. batter into the pan, and tilt to coat the bottom. Cook until the underside of the crêpe is pale golden, about 1 ½ minutes. Then, jerk the skillet to loosen the crêpe, and flip it over with a spatula. (I find that a combination of fingertips on the edges, and a spatula underneath works best for flipping.) Cook for about 30 seconds, until the underside of the crêpe is covered in pale brown, lacy swirls. Flip the finished crêpe onto the warmed plate. Repeat, until you have used up all of your batter.

You’ll need to work quickly, as the crêpes are thin, and begin cooking as soon as the batter hits the pan. Don’t be discouraged if the first crêpe or two tear, come out too greasy (from the freshly buttered pan), or cook unevenly. I always think of my first couple of crêpes as sacrifices to the breakfast gods. I use these early sacrifices to play around with the heat and cooking time so that I can find the ideal crêpe-making conditions for the rest of the batch. As you can see, some of my crêpes came out looking a little mottled, due to a too-hot pan, I think. Still, they were delicious, speckles and all.

Yield: 8-10 crêpes.