A little sweetness in this season of renewal

A little sweetness in this season of renewal

By Michael Natkin, Jewish Sound Columnist

Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner, and what could be more appropriate for the New Year than a dessert featuring honey as well as egg-rich crepes? You can even substitute apples for the plums if you’d like to add another traditional element.

I first made this for a PBS event celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birthday. When they asked me to contribute a recipe, I knew right away I wanted to do something with crepes. I only have two cookbooks from my mom. “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” is one of them, and I read it cover to cover many times when I was just starting out in the kitchen.

Of all the recipes in the book, I come back to the crepes most often. It is a simple thing. You put all of the batter ingredients in a blender, give them a good spin, let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, and then make the crepes. Sure, it takes a bit of practice to get the knack of forming a nice, thin circle, finding the right heat level, and flipping them, but after one batch you’ll have a skill you can use to please friends and family for the rest of your life. I’ve got some tips for you in the recipe.

The plums I use are from my neighbor’s tree. They are a French variety, but Italian plums would be just as good. What you want is one of the varieties that has a loose (free) pit and is rather dense so it can cook without the juices running everywhere.

Enjoy, and shana tova!


Crepes with Roasted Plums, Yogurt and Honey

Serves 6

12 crepes (one recipe from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1,” see below)

9 Italian plums

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

2 leaves fresh sage, rubbed and thinly sliced

3/4 cup thick Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. slivovitz (plum brandy), or plain brandy, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. honey plus more for drizzling

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450º. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Cut the plums in half, and remove the pits. In a medium bowl, toss the plums with the melted butter and sage, and place the plums on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Pluck off most of the sage. (For apples, use three apples, peeled, cored and sliced into eighths, and roast until tender.)

Stir the yogurt with the slivovitz and honey.

To serve, fold two warm crepes into quarters and overlap on a plate. Put 2 Tbs. of the yogurt on top of the crepes, and put 3 half plums on top of the yogurt. Drizzle with additional honey and serve.


Julia Child’s Crepes

Yields about 12 crepes

I don’t want to reproduce Julia’s recipe in the entirety, but here are the ingredients, and my synopsis of the method.

1 cup cold water

1 cup cold milk

4 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour [I use 9 ounces and don’t sift]

4 Tbs. melted butter

Combine all ingredients in the blender. Blend on high speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides if needed. Refrigerate for 2 hours. (I’ve been known to omit the refrigeration. The point of this step is to allow the flour to hydrate, but it makes quite acceptable crepes if used immediately.)

Place a 12” non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat with a tiny bit of butter. When preheated, pour in 1/4 cup of the batter while tilting and swirling the skillet in all directions for a few seconds to produce a generally circular, thin crepe.

If you can’t get the batter to spread evenly, you need either (1) work on your tilting and swirling (2) thin out the batter a bit or (3) lower the heat. Expect it to take a few crepes to really dial it in.

Cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute or a bit more, then flip and cook for just about 30 seconds on the other side. I usually perform the flip by lifting the edge with a silicone spatula and then using my fingers to rapidly turn it over. I have asbestos fingers, though, so only try it this way if you feel comfortable that you won’t hurt yourself. Otherwise, use two spatulas.

Local food writer and chef Michael Natkin’s cookbook “Herbivoracious, A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes,” was a finalist in 2013 for a James Beard award. The recipes are based on his food blog, herbivoracious.com.