My assignment is to make a simple batch of crespelle. Crespelle are very thin pancakes made from a batter. Italians use them like pasta wrappers, and in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking Marcella offers three recipes as examples of their use. They all look absolutely delicious to me.
The ingredients are few - milk, eggs, flour, & salt.
The process is simple. Slowly sift the flour into the milk as you whip with a fork to avoid lumps; stir in the eggs one at a time; add salt. Lightly butter an eight inch skillet. Set the pan on medium heat. Pour 2 tablespooons of batter into the pan. Tilt and rotate to distribute the batter evenly. When batter sets, flip the crespelle and brown the second side. Repeat process until all batter is used up. Be sure to stir the batter each time before pouring it into the pan.
Now we come to my dilemma for this assignment. I can't just make my crespelle and not use them in some wonderful way, can I? Yet, this project is about Marcella's recipes, not ours. Am I bending the rules by reporting on how I use my crespelle? I can't use one of the recipes that follow, because they are for Doug, Cindy, and Sandy/Jan to report. In the end, I decide to report my entire dish. *Disclaimer* - It has not been a Marcella-approved recipe.
I think about using them in some dessert type application, but that will not be crespelle, will it? Italians use crespelle for savory dishes, not dolce. They leave that to the French and their crepes.
So, I decide to create my own filling and do a layered dish - meat free for my vegetarian daughter to enjoy. She is training for the Chicago Marathon coming up in October, and is being especially vigilant about a healthy diet. I suspect that most people would include a little bechamel here, but I want something extra light, so I don't.
I sauted equal measure sliced shallot, mixed dried mushrooms, & diced red pepper in a little oil and butter. I drained the saute on paper towel to remove as much grease as possible; put it back in the pan; and simmer in the filtered soaking liquid from the mushrooms until all the moisture boils away. A little salt and pepper and my filling is ready.
Starting with a lightly buttered glass pie pan, I lay down the first crespelle. On top I scatter a porton of the saute and sprinkle it with grated parmagiano-reggiano. I repeat the process and continue through eight layers. I finish by topping the last crespelle with a final sprinkle of cheese and four little decorative bits of the saute.
I bake the layered dish for about 15 minutes in a 400º oven and then let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into four wedges.
We enjoy our Layered Crespelle with Mushrooms, Shallots, & Peppers with a light fresh green salad and a glass of sparkling blood orange lemonade. A perfect summer weekend lunch.