I just finished a book about Alice Waters and her legendary restaurant, Chez Panisse. Before moving to Berkeley I was only vaguely aware of Chez Panisse and really didn’t know anything about the woman behind the restaurant. Very soon after moving here I saw Alice give a speech at the opening of a new all organic farmers market that she had helped to establish and later learned about her work to start the Edible School Yard at a local middle school. Basically, it’s hard to live in Berkeley and not learn about the influence that Alice Waters has had on the local and organic food scene.
The book that I’ve been reading tells how after spending a year in Paris during college, Alice developed a taste for fresh and flavorful foods. Upon returning to the U.S. and not being able to find any of the delicious foods she had enjoyed in Europe, Alice was inspired to open Chez Panisse. Despite some ups and downs, after almost 40 years in business, Chez Panisse still fully embodies Alice’s philosophy of using only the finest and freshest local ingredients.
With Alice’s philosophy in mind, I set out to make one of the recipes featured in the book. While I didn’t quite succeed in using only the finest and freshest local ingredients, we did enjoy some rather tasty buckwheat crepes.
The recipe in the book is for sweet crepes, but I decided to make savory crepes with veggies and basil that came in our CSA box (see What’s a “Green” Food for the definition of CSA). I also added some mozzarella cheese that we picked up at the farmers market. I don’t think I thinned the batter enough, so the resulting crepes were a little thick, but the filling was delicious. The sweet caramelized onions and tomatoes paired with the creamy, slightly salty melted cheese were perfect with the rich nutty flavor of the buckwheat crepes.
Since the recipe in the book is a narrative and doesn’t contain any exact measurements, I looked around for some other recipes to draw upon. I ended up going with a recipe for Galettes (aka buckwheat crepes) that had been featured in the LA Times. Since I did not make any modifications to the crepe recipe, I thought I should direct you to the the original recipe and detailed directions for making the crepes, which you can find here.
Tomato Caramelized Onion Crepe Filling
1 basket cherry tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
two medium size onions
shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
Begin by slicing the onions into thin strips. Coat the bottom of a large pan with a mixture of butter and olive oil. Spread the onions in the pan and cook for roughly 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes to keep the onions from burning. The onions should cook down quite a bit and take on a rich brown color.
In a separate pan heat some olive oil and sauté some chopped garlic for a minute. Added halved cherry tomatoes to the pan. Cook the tomatoes and garlic until the tomatoes break down a little bit and the juices thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the crepes and filling:
Filling should be added to the crepe shortly after it is flipped in the pan. Begin by covering half of the crepe with the caramelized onions, top with the tomato and garlic mixture and bit of shredded cheese. Add some chopped basil for garnish and flip the other half of the crepe over the filling. Remove the crepe from the pan and serve.
Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:
|Recipe Report Card||Notes About Recipe Ratings|
Four Chefs (Delicious!)
|The flavor of the filling was great, but the crepes were a little thicker than they were supposed to be.|
Two Easy Chairs (A Long March…)
|I had never made crepes before, so the techniques of spreading the batter in the pan and getting the thickness right took some time to figure out. Making the filling and each crepe also took some time to do.|
Three Apples (Average Nutritional Quality)
|Not too bad. Some added fats with the butter, oil and cheese, but it had some whole grains and a vegetable filling.|
Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)
|Made with mostly local and/or organic ingredients.|