Buck the trend

Crêpes is crêpes. Generally made with white flour as the binder and best known in their sweet form. Now how about buckwheat, that nutty, bluish grain best known as the main ingredient in soba noodles? I first made buckwheat crêpes during an Iron Chef kind of competition at my dining co-op at Oberlin.

Our challenge was to use local potatoes and greens to whip up a delectable meal. One of our team members had a really tasty recipe for vegan buckwheat crêpes–made with tahini thinned with water in lieu of the eggs and milk–which we wrapped around the greens. Buckwheat made the pancakes substantial and savory and, of course, unique enough to satisfy my pink haired chef mentality and fit the spirit of the contest.

I made a lacto-ovo version of these (oh, how the pure have fallen), but you can feel free to experiment. The filling is vegan and the cheese sauce is pretty easy to make vegan–use soy milk and margarine and replace the cheese with an equal amount of nutritional yeast flakes.

But before I get to the recipe, I have to say I don’t like the way my photo of this dish came out. Thus, I am adding a nice but uncalled for photo of a slice of cucumber with goat cheese and a sprig of dill:

 

And another one of the first snow drops of spring, taken back in February:

Thanks. You may now proceed to the recipe.

Buckwheat Crêpes with Broccoli, Sun Dried Tomato, and (Grown-up) Cheese Sauce

Makes about 8 crêpes or 4 servings

The Batter

Heaping 1/4 c. buckwheat flour

Heaping 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. milk

2 eggs

1 Tbs. cooking oil (like canola or corn)

1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender. Transfer to a pitcher (or other thing you can pour from), cover, and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Longer is okay. You can make the filling and cheese sauce while you wait.

When you’re ready to make the crêpes, heat a skillet or crêpe pan with a very little bit of oil (a spritz or two of spray oil works well). For a regular pan (10 or 12 inches), pour just about 2 tablespoons of batter, then immediately swirl the pan around to evenly distribute it. The pancake you produce will be thin. That’s good! Cook at medium to low heat until the edges start to get dry and the top is set. Flip and let the other side brown for a few seconds. Then transfer to a plate. Repeat.

You can put layers of wax paper between the pancakes, but I found with this recipe that they don’t really stick to each other due to the oil. But I don’t know… if you’re at a different latitude or something, it may be different for you. Test out the stick-to-each-other-ness of your first two and make a decision. Keep these at room temperature while you prepare or warm up your filling and sauce.

+To construct the crêpe, place one flat on a plate and line up a narrow row of broccoli and SD tomatoes. Roll ‘er up. Repeat with another on the same plate. Finish by pouring cheese sauce over the two little darlings. Serve with extra cheese sauce.

Filling

3 c. steamed broccoli florets (about 3/4 lb. fresh broccoli crowns)

8 sun dried tomato halves, reconstituted in warm water if dried or with excess oil squeezed out if packed in oil, julienned

Toss the broccoli and SD tomatoes together. Done!

(Grown up*) Cheese Sauce

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. all purpose flour or whole wheat flour

3/4 c. milk

About 1/4 c. cheese*, grated, shredded, or crumbled

Salt to taste

In a saucepan, create a roux. Follow this video with a French guy or just do like I say: heat the butter until it’s melted and bubbling but not brown. Whisk in the flour. Stir until the mixture turns a light golden brown.

Now whisk the milk into your roux and simmer until it thickens. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream at this point–still pretty thin. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. It should now be thick but still pourable. Taste and add more cheese if you want, as well as salt.

To assemble the crêpes, see above.+ (Yes, this is a reverse foot note)

Enjoy!

*You can achieve different flavors and say different things about yourself here with your choice of cheese. Keep it safe and kid-friendly by using Monterey Jack or Parmesan, or add a grown up, sophisticated flavor with smoked Gruyère or blue cheese.

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