Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scallion Crepes with Bok Choy, Braised Root Vegetables, and Hazelnut Crisps

Tonight's meal was out of one of my library books---Local Flavors by Deborah Madison. Of the three things I made, the scallion crepes were by far the most work--the other two were simple (the hazelnut crisps are not pictured).

A little overview about how I jigsawed prep for this meal together. The hazelnut crisps (cookies) need to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, so I mixed those up first. Then I prepared the crepe batter and let it sit for awhile. As the crepe batter sat, I got the braised root vegetables started. While they cooked (they have a 15 minute cook time at one point), I cooked the crepes and the crepe filling. Yep. My kitchen was crazy busy. It was a disaster area when I finished, but it mostly fell together. I think if you make a single recipe (I doubled the recipe because we were having friends over), the timing would be just right. Also, if you son decided to nap when he should instead of 4:15, supper also probably would be ready on time. Since I have 3 recipes, I will write them out in more typical recipe form (and let me know if you would prefer that in the future or if the narrative is preferable) to make things a little clearer. At the end, as usual, I will include reflections on the meal.

Hazelnut Crisps
1 c hazelnuts
1 T sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c flour

Toast the hazelnuts: in a preheated 350 oven, roast the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and put them in the center of a clean dishtowel. Wrap up in the dish towel and roll them around to help loosen skins. Remove as many skins as possible, but if you don't get them all, that's ok. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor with 1 T sugar until fine, but leave a few chunks scattered throughout. In a mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat. Stir in the hazelnuts and flour. Roughly shape the dough into a log and wrap in wax paper. Run the dough through your fingers to lengthen and create a log about 1 1/2" in diameter. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Cut the log into 1/4 - 1/3 inch thick slices and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 until lightly browned on top (about 15 minutes). For something that reminds you of a nutella cookie, melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and partially dip the cookies in the chocolate.

Scallion Crepes
3 large eggs
1 T sesame oil
1 T canola oil
1 c water
3/4 c milk
1/2 t salt
1 c flour
1 bunch scallions, sliced very thin on the diagonal
14 c toasted sesame seeds

6 (or more) baby bok choy leaves, cut lengthwise into quarters
1 c snow peas, slivered diagonally
sea salt
canola oil

Combine eggs, sesame oil, vegetable oil, water, milk and salt in a blender of food processor on high speed. Add the flour and blend again for 10 seconds, scrape down sides and blend again briefly. Pour into a bowl and set aside to rest. Heat a 9-inch nonstick pan (about 7 1/2 inches at the base. Size does matter. If you use a smaller or larger pan, use less or more batter for each crepe) with vegetable oil. When the pan is the hot, add 1/3 c batter and swirl around the pan. Scatter some scallions and sesame seeds over top and cook until golden on the bottom, about one minute. Loosen the crepe, flip it over and cook the other side until it's dry, then slide onto a plate. Repeat process until all batter is used, stacking them on top of each other. Wrap the crepes in foil and keep warm in a preheated 250 oven until the vegetables are ready. For the vegetables, bring a wide nonstick skillet of water to a simmer. Add the salt and the bok choy. Simmer for 2 minutes, and then drain. Return the skillet to the stove and heat to high. Add the canola oil and then the bok choy and snow peas. Stir-fry until crisp-tender and bright green. Season with salt. To serve, roll up some vegetables in a crepe. Add a little soy sauce if desired.

Young Root Vegetable Braise
1 bunch scallions (or 4 slender leeks), sliced
2 full grown carrots (or 6 small young ones), julieneed
12 little turnips (if larger, peel), halved (and quartered if larger)
1 bunch radishes, halved (and quartered if larger)
sea salt
2 T unsalted butter
2 T finely chopped parsley
1 T fresh lemon juice

Bring 6 c of water to boil with 1 1/2 t salt. Blanch the carrots, turnips, and radishes for 7 minutes, then scoop out and set aside, saving the cooking water Melt 1 T butter in a saute pan. Add the scallions (or leeks) and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 c of the vegetable cooking water, the blanched vegetables, half of the herbs, and 1/2 t salt. Simmer until the vegetables are fully tender, 10 - 15 minutes,a dding water in 1/3 c increments to prevent sticking. There should be a little sauce. Add the remaining butter and lemon juice. Raise the heat and swirl the pan back and forth until the butter has melted into the juice. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the herbs. Serve.

This meal was very tasty! I have learned from the crepe master (Curtis) that I make the crepes too thick. His were much thinner, but he said the batter was perfect. I need to take lessons from him (he's made just a few crepes in his life---it's one of his hidden talents). Next time I will double or triple the amount of veggies or else make different fillings to go in the crepes--we ran out of filling before we ran out of crepes. The root vegetables were incredible. I now know what I am going to do with all the radishes and occasional turnips we've been getting in our box. In a couple of months when we are also getting carrots and leeks, this meal will be even more locally made than it was tonight. The cookies were great as well, especially dipped in chocolate. M and J liked the crepes (I left the scallions and sesame seeds out for them). M ate the greens, J did not. Neither ate the root vegetables, but we didn't really push it much because we had company (who incidently brought mashed potatoes so M was more than happy to eat those). The crepes were the only time consuming portion, but I think if I plan better next time, it won't feel quite as hectic and stressful.

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