Crêpes were the first recipe I made over after I was diagnosed with celiac disease more than 35 years ago.
A few months earlier, I had been given Julia Child’s first cookbook, “Mastering The Art of French Cooking,” and I was cooking my way through Julia’s wonderful recipes. Her cookbooks opened a door and, whisk in hand, I went through. I cooked and baked and held parties just to have tasters who would help me devour my experiments. Her book was my beacon, my inspiration.
Then a doctor told me to avoid gluten and I was overwhelmed. I could not simply put those books back on the shelf and close my mind to the delicious foods I had discovered. So I went to culinary school and began experimenting again, but this time, I made my recipes with gluten-free flour. As long as I maintained the ratio in a recipe, the balance of wet to dry and fat and sugar, and replaced regular flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour, I had success every time.
I picked crêpes first because the formula called for a few simple ingredients – eggs, milk, and flour. What could be easier? And the batter sits overnight so the mixture is tenderized and softens. It turns out, the ingredients have an affinity for rice flour. The crêpes held together beautifully. The results were delicious. I flamed them with brandy to make Crêpes Suzette. I filled them with ricotta cheese, lemon and currants. No one had any idea they were gluten-free.
With my taste buds engaged and my curiosity in overdrive, I was ready to try more recipes. Today, I am confident that any recipe can be made over with gluten-free ingredients. My cookbook, “Gluten-Free Makeovers,” is filled with many of these successes.
Last week would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday and the 50th year since “Mastering The Art of French Cooking,” was released. Celebrations large and small were held all over the world. I made crêpes in honor of Julia’s birthday, reserving an extra shot of brandy for a toast. Happy Birthday, Julia and Bon Appetit!
This recipe is a classic French formula. The trick is to make these very thin so they are pliable and easy to roll. Since this is peach season, I made up a quick peach Melba-style filling. Unfilled crêpes freeze well.
Makes Fifteen to Twenty 6-inch Crêpes
The Crêpe recipe is reprinted from my cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers (Da Capo Press) where you’ll find more delicious fillings for them.
2 large eggs
¾ cup rice flour
¼ cup tapioca starch/flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon sugar (for dessert crepes)
1¼ cups milk, soy milk, or rice milk
1.Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, xanthan gum, and sugar, if using. Whisk into the eggs just until moistened. The mixture will be very thick and gloppy.
2. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring vigorously until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
3. Lightly oil one or two 6-inch crêpe pans or heavy frying pans and set over medium heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the batter into each pan and swirl until the pan is coated. Pour any excess batter back into the bowl. Cook the crêpe until the edges look very dry, about 1 minute. With a sharp knife, loosen the edges of the crêpe. Using fingers, grab the edges and flip the crêpe. Cook another 30 seconds and remove to a platter. Continue until the remaining batter is used, lightly oiling the pans with a paper towel as necessary.
Peach Melba-Style Filling
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoon brandy
6 medium vine-ripened peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 peach, skin left on, for garnish
Combine jam with brandy. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mixture over the surface of a crêpe. Add a few pieces of cut up peaches. Roll the crêpe. Repeat until all the crêpes are used. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.