I've been lucky enough to visit France a number of times, both holidaying there as a child and more recently on trips to Paris with friends but wherever I've been, one of the flavours I most associate with it are these delicious buckwheat crêpes or Galletes de Sarrasin. Perfectly stringy, melty, nutty cheese, iron strength of spinach and a perfectly gently warmed egg yolk all combine to create a delicious and oddly familiar flavour. These flavours should work together and with their little buckwheat blanket, they do.
If you can, make your batter the night before or at least three hours before you're going to eat them - it really does make the difference to the texture of the finished crepes and also the ease at which you make them. Although it's not the gluten that's chilling out and relaxing, the flavour of the flour also has plenty of time to permeate through the batter making an even more delicious pancake!
I found that these guys really do need a swoosh round with something to get that clean round shape and without the need to buy one of those wooden crepe turner (although they are only a couple of pounds online) I found that a traditional T-bar wine opener did a fine job! Just dip it in some water before each swish and keep the pressure light to fill in all the gaps - adding tiny drops of batter if needed.
Traditional fillings are spinach and Gruyere cheese but you can go crazy! Some lovely shredded gammon ham is always welcome but don't forget that quick twist of nutmeg over the spinach - it really does elevate their flavour. I also love the nutty flavour and stringy texture of Emmental but Comte would of course be delicious too- play around!
Makes: 10 - 12
330g buckwheat flour
10g coarse sea salt (Maldon)
1 egg yolk
50g grated cheese per person, Gruyere & Emmental
Handful of spinach per person
1 egg yolk per person
3 grated strokes of nutmeg per person
Sea salt & cracked black pepper
Start with your flour in a large bowl and whisk through your salt finishing with a well in the centre. Slowly start to pour the water in making sure you whisk in the same direction the whole time to avoid lumps. When it has come to a runny texture (like melted chocolate) add in your egg yolk for some colour and richness. Some recipes add melted butter too but the oldies are sometimes the best and these are yummy as is. Leave to rest overnight or at least 3 hours.
When ready to serve, pop the oven on its lowest setting. Using a dap of lard or some butter on a medium heat in a large flat pan, melt the fat and then wipe off with a kitchen towel to leave just a little amount in the pan. Add a ladle of batter in the centre and after a couple of seconds, spread the rest the batter around and let cook for a couple of minutes until gorgeously brown all over - they will of course be darker than normal crepes but don't worry, just have a little look underneath and if it looks bronzed and the top is dry, then flip it over and cook for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate in the oven and keep warm while you cook off the rest of the crepes.
To fill them, grab a crepe from the oven and pop back in the pan over a very low heat. Start with your cheese and give a good scattering all over leaving a slight border. Then add your spinach and pop a lid over the pan so it can start to wilt. After a minute or so, add your egg yolk too and pop the lid back on so it can warm through gently. Give it about two minutes and then add lots of lovely salt and pepper and grate over your nutmeg. Fold the edges in carefully with a flat spatula and hold them down for a moment to ensure they stay! Serve immediately.
It can help to have a couple of people doing the fillings at once so that everyone can eat at sort of the same time although it can be a bit of a logistical challenge!