Chocolate Crepes

Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?

At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.

You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ????  What do you suggest?

Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate crepes filled with chocolate ice cream and topped with strawberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling

(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
Vegetable oil
Continue reading

Crepes Galore!


I’ve been eating a lot of crepes lately.

Last night we dined with friends at the Village Creperie on Belmont Avenue in Kitchener. I’d eaten at this lovely, intimate restaurant awhile ago and really should have been back sooner.

On the menu are a variety of appetizers, salads, and galettes (savoury crepes made with buckwheat). The restaurant uses only organic flours, fish, meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy.

I chose the galette special of the day – a fajita crepe with seasoned chicken, sauteed peppers, guacamole and sour cream. It was a winner as were the galettes enjoyed by my fellow diners (Very veggie – spinach, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, portabello mushroom, goat cheese and pesto; Saumon et salsa – marinated salmon and salsa; and Le Complete – sunny side up or flat egg, aged white Cheddar, mozarella, green onion and ham).

Although everything on the dessert menu (including flambed crepes) sounded very tempting, we opted to share the dessert special of the day – a waffle crowned with strawberries, blueberries, syrup and creme fraiche.

I look forward to returning to the Village Creperie again soon, perhaps on a Saturday morning for a brunch crepe.

For a good assessment of the restaurant, read the review written by Andrew Coppolino, Restaurant Critic for the Waterloo Region Record.

A few weeks ago, work took me to the Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket where I happened upon Crepe Delicious, a kiosk-style restaurant that sells crepes and paninis. I enjoyed a Popeye crepe with its filling of spinach, cheese and tomato. I expected the crepe to be served to me either filled and folded or rolled over like an omelette. Instead, the large crepe was folded in half, filled, rolled into a cone shape, and tucked into a pointed cone cup. The whole thing was then wrapped in foil. The result? A crepe that could be eaten out of hand, on the go, with any juices falling into the cup instead of dripping through your fingers. Genius!

Crepe Delicious has locations throughout Toronto and according to its website, is looking for individuals interested in franchise opportunities.

Back to the crepe marathon…. One night last week we enjoyed crepes with maple syrup and sauteed bananas for dinner. Yes, probably more a dessert than dinner entree, but oh well! They were very good.

The picture above is of the crepes we made when I visited my sister Loreen on Long Island last summer. These crepes were made from a Bisquick recipe. (Stir together or process in a blender 1 cup Bisquick mix, 3/4 cup milk and 2 eggs. Use about 2 tablespoons batter per crepe.) We let the mixture stand for about 30 minutes so the dry ingedients had a chance to absorb the liquid ingredients. This makes the batter less lumpy.

Here’s the recipe for the crepes I made last week.

Basic Crepes

(Makes 16 crepes)

1-1/3 cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
Additional butter for crepe pan

In a bowl, stir together flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the butter; pour over dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the flour expand.

Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) crepe pan or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with butter. For each crepe, pour about 1/4 cup (60 mL) batter into the centre of the pan; immediately swirl pan to coat bottom with batter. Cook until top is no longer shiny and bottom is lightly browned, about 45 seconds to a minute. Flip crepe over and cook briefly on the other side, 25 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with butter between crepes as needed.

* Buckwheat Crepes: Replace half of the flour with light buckwheat flour.
* Herbed Crepes: Just before cooking crepes, stir in 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped fresh herbs (e.g. any combination of parsley, chives and tarragon)
* Chocolate Crepes: Replace 1/3 cup (75 mL) of the flour with 1/4 cup (60 mL) cocoa powder, sifted. Stir in 3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar.

* Crepe batter can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
* Batter should be the thickness of whipping cream. If it is too thick, thin with a little milk.
* Crepes can be made ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using.

Christmas Countdown: Take the stress out of meal planning and entertaining at Christmas with a freezer full of food

As a follow up to yesterday’s An Appetite for Humour food joke (The Parrot Training Course), let’s consider what’s in the freezer. (You’ve got to read the joke for that segue to make any sense!)

Keeping a freezer full of foods that can become a meal at a moment’s notice or a party without a whole of last minute effort is a stress-relieving strategy, especially at this time of year when hectic schedules and unrealistic expectations about the season tend to heighten stress levels.

If you can spare a few minutes now to stock your freezer with pre-made brunch dishes, appetizers, entrees and desserts, you will reap the benefits when unexpected company drops by…or you come home tired and hungry from a shopping marathon at the mall…or the thought of cooking Christmas dinner for 20 threatens to overwhelm you.

A little planning and effort in the kitchen now will ensure you don’t end up slaving over the stove during the entire Christmas holiday.

Home economist, cookbook author and’s Busy Cooks Guide Linda Larsen offers tips on freezing foods and make-ahead recipes for the Christmas season in her article Freeze Ahead Holiday Foods. These ideas aren’t just practical at this time of year. Keeping foods in the freezer is a useful meal planning strategy to employ at any time of the year.

Christmas Countdown: Party’s in the kitchen, but what if you don’t want it there?

How often do you invite guests over and everyone ends up hanging out in the kitchen?

To be honest, it doesn’t happen too often at our house because our kitchen is soooo small. There’s just not much room for much partying if guests are wedged in between the fridge and the stove!

If your kitchen is a lovely large space, perhaps even open to the family room or great room, kitchen parties may be quite the norm when you’re entertaining, and you may be perfectly fine with this. But, occasionally you might secretly wish the guests would make themselves comfortable in other rooms of the house (logically, the living room or dining room!) – say, when you’re putting the finishing touches on dinner or if the kitchen is a mess from putting the finishing touches on dinner! Interior designer Loreen Epp has posted a few suggestions for getting the party out of the kitchen on her hot new blog – What’s New At Home (

If you will be doing some entertaining this Christmas and would prefer that guests gather around the Christmas tree in the living room or the pool table in the family room, or in places beyond just the kitchen, check out Loreen’s suggestions.

Roasted Almonds

Roasted Almonds

One of them is to spread party nibbles throughout the house, or at least in the rooms you want the guests to be in! People tend to congregate where there is food, hence the natural inclination to gather in the kitchen.

Speaking of party nibbles, here’s a great one to serve at your next holiday soiree! Making it shouldn’t create too much mess in your kitchen – just in case you find a few guests still hanging out between the fridge and the stove!

Roasted Almonds

(Makes about 3-1/2 cups (875 mL)

3-1/2 cups (875 mL) blanched or unblanched almonds
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) coarse sea salt
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) smoked milk or hot paprika

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment (baking) paper or foil; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss almonds with oil, salt and paprika. Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast in a preheated 325 F (160 C) oven until fragrant and lightly toasted and unblanched almond skins have just begun to split, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

* Sweet or hot paprika, ground cumin or curry powder can be substituted for the smoked paprika.
* Roasted Almonds can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Source: Canadian Living magazine, December 2005

Slow and steady pace eventually produces a delicious dinner

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Although a slow cooker is not meant to be a seasonal small appliance, I tend to treat it so, hauling it out in fall and winter to cook the warm, filling comfort foods like soups and stews I’m not as inclined to eat in spring and summer. A silly habit, really, considering the slow cooker is also ideally suited to warm weather cooking as it can cook a delicious meal without increasing the temperature in the kitchen.

That said, as I perused cookbooks last fall ready to bring my slow cooker out of hibernation for the cool months ahead, a recipe for a lasagna-style dish caught my attention. It helped that I had all the necessary ingredients at the ready without needing to make a trip to the grocery store. Made with oven-ready (translation: no precooking required) lasagna noodles, the recipe went together quickly and the results were well worth the effort, limited as it was.

Since then I’ve also made my traditional lasagna recipe (ground beef in a tomato-based sauce layered with noodles and a mixture of ricotta or cottage cheese, eggs and parmesan cheese) in the slow cooker – also with great success.

Because of the moist heat of the slow cooker, there is very little drying out of the lasagna noodles compared to when the dish is cooked in the oven (translation: slow cooked lasagna is less chewy and minus the dried edges you usually get when cooked in the oven). If you prefer some crusted bits on your lasagna, you can get some of this in a slow cooker, but to a lesser degree. And, by the time this happens, the pasta may be too tender. But even if that’s your preferred style of lasagna, don’t not try slow cooking it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the result.

Continue reading

Sap’s running! How sweet it is!

Everything tastes better drizzled
with liquid gold!

With the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira this past weekend signaling the springtime flow of maple sap and production of maple syrup in Ontario, it’s time to enjoy the regional abundance of what many consider a quintessential Canadian food.

Maple syrup is a highly prized commodity throughout the world. With it produced right in our backyard, it would be a shame to take this “liquid gold” for granted.

If it’s been awhile since you enjoyed pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup named after someone’s pancake-loving/cooking relative!), pick up a bottle soon and reacquaint yourself with the golden goodness of this special treat. Drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, crepes, cooked vegetables, cake or ice cream, or use it to flavour a salad dressing, a barbecue or grilling sauce for meat or fish, or a dessert.

Keep in mind the darker the syrup (or the higher the grade number), the stronger flavoured the syrup will be. Medium and Amber syrups are better suited for cooking as they can better withstand heat while Light syrups are typically used to drizzle over pancakes and waffles.

For maple syrup recipes, information and a list of maple syrup festivals in Ontario, visit the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association’s website.

This make-ahead breakfast or brunch strata (heck, it would make a great supper too!) with it’s maple and apple topping is a sweet way to enjoy one of the first treats of spring.

Cinnamon Toast Strata with Maple Apple Topping
(Makes 6 servings)

If desired, substitute 4 cups (1 L) sliced bananas for apples. Reduce brown sugar to 2 tablespoons (30 mL). Omit raisins. Reduce cooking time of fruit to 1 minute.

10 slices egg bread
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, softened
4 tablespoons (60 mL) sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon (divided)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
4 eggs

2/3 cup (150 mL) maple syrup
1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter (optional)
5 tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup (75 mL) raisins
1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (15 mL) water

To make Strata:
Trim crusts from bread. In a small bowl, mix together butter, 3 tablespoons (45 mL) sugar and 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) cinnamon. Spread on 5 of the bread slices; top with remaining slices. Cut diagonally into quarters to make triangles.

Arrange triangles, longest side down, overlapping and curving slightly, around edge of greased deep 10-inch (25 cm) pie plate. Arrange remaining triangles in a tight circle in centre. (Or arrange around edge of greased 11 x 7-inch/2 L) baking dish, curving slightly to fit; arrange remaining triangles in centre.)

Whisk milk with eggs until blended; pour evenly over triangles in dish. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar with remaining 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) cinnamon; sprinkle over triangles. (Strata can be prepared to this point, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.) Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Baked, uncovered, in a preheated 350F (180C) oven until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Let stand on rack for 10 minutes.

To make Maple Apple Topping:
In skillet, whisk together maple syrup, orange juice and sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add butter (if using). Boil for 1 minute.

Add apples and raisins; cover and cook, stirring once, until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve warm over strata.

Recipe Source: Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step by Daphna Rabinovitch, Telemedia Communications Inc., 1999