As with many foods, your first crepe will almost always serve as the bar against which all other crepes will be judged. For many people, this first crepe is slathered in nutella and stuffed with fruit; for me, it was a North African-style crepe at a little crepe shop in Chicago. Savory with nutty undertones from a healthy dose of buckwheat flour and always served with a small teapot full of hot water alongside a diminutive glass cup stuffed with mint leaves and a healthy side of honey, these crepes sustained me through a good chunk of one of my pregnancies. This version, stuffed with a simple saute of beet greens, mushrooms, and leeks, makes a perfect light lunch, and if you make the crepes with oat or barley flour, you can reserve half of the batter for dessert crepes.
The crepes pictured above are on the thicker end of the crepe spectrum, which is how I like them when made with oat flour. If you use buckwheat flour, go as thin as you can go.
For the crepes
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour (pictured), buckwheat flour, or other flour of choice
For the filling
1 Tablespoon butter
1 smallish leek, white and light green part thinly sliced
6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
Greens and stems from 3-4 beets, stems and greens separated, cleaned and chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Additionally, a couple cups of finely shredded Gruyere
Make the crepes:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on the highest setting for 30 seconds. Stop the blender and scrape the sides for any stray flour, then blend for another 15 seconds. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Bring the batter back to room temperature before cooking.
2. Give the batter a stir and check its consistency- it should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick (which will depend on the type of flour you chose), add either milk or water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is the correct consistency.
3. Heat a skillet on the stove (anything between 8-10″ works well). Many people think that a crepe pan or a nonstick skillet are necessary for this, but a well-maintained cast iron skillet works beautifully here. The necessary temperature setting will vary from stove to stove, but what you are looking for is for your skillet to be hot enough that the batter will start cooking within a second of hitting it, but not so hot that you don’t have time to swirl it around the pan before it sets. Your first couple of crepes will be the guinea pigs for you to figure out what level to set your stove on. For me, when I’m using my 9″ skillet, I heat the pan over medium-high heat until hot and then turn it down to just between medium and medium low, then proceed with crepe making. Depending on your skillet, you may need to heat a touch of butter in it before cooking to discourage sticking. If so, do that now; if you aren’t sure, better safe than sorry.
4. Pouring straight from the blender jar, pour roughly 1/4-1/3 cup of batter into the center of the skillet. While you pour, use your other hand to lift the skillet and swirl it, distributing the batter all the way to the edges as evenly as possible. Cook for about a minute and then flip. This is easy to do by either just picking them up by the edges (which should slightly pull away from the sides of the pan) and flipping, by using a spatula to flip them, or by quickly jerking the pan with flair and letting the crepe go airborne.
5. Finish cooking the crepe on the other side for 45 seconds or so, then remove to a plate. Repeat this with the rest of the batter, adjusting how much you are pouring into the skillet each time until you achieve the thinness you desire.
Make the filling
1. In a medium to large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. If the butter isn’t enough to comfortably coat the bottom of the pan, supplement it with olive oil. Add the leeks, mushrooms, and stems to the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Cook until the stems are tender, the leeks are soft (I would say golden brown, but the beet stems may dye them pink), and the mushrooms have lost a fair amount of volume and are starting to brown.
2. Add the beet greens and cook through until wilted, then remove from heat and set aside. The filling can be made up to a few days in advance and reheated before filling the crepes, but it’s best fresh.
Assemble the crepes
1. If the vegetable filling has gone cold, reheat it until hot. Sprinkle cheese over half a crepe and spread the same half with the vegetable filling. Fold the naked side of the crepe over the cheese and vegetable side, and then fold that in half again. Serve immediately.