A Little Taste of Paris and Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Elora Mill

Elora reflections

A few weeks ago we were in an area north of Toronto for a family wedding. On the way home that Sunday we decided that since we were already in the area, why not go exploring some of the places that we never get to see. One place that came to mind was Elora, Ontario.

Elora is a historic village  1 1/2 hours north-west of Toronto that is nestled along the Grand River. It is well-known for the Elora Gorge Park and Quarrie, The Elora Festival and The Elora Mill Country Inn and Restaurant.  The village has become home to numerous artisans and performers and is a favourite spot for a weekend getaway.

The Elora Mill, at the head of the Elora Gorge, was constructed in 1833. It is considered one of Ontario’s finest historic mills and was made famous in the 1930s by a painting by Canadian Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson. When the mill ceased operating in 1974 it was turned into a lovely country inn and fine dining establishment.

Our original intent was to have lunch at the Inn while looking out over the river, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Still hungry, we started to wander along the shops that back onto the Grand River on Mills St. and came upon a quaint little spot called Cafe Creperie.

After choosing a cozy window seat we were greeted by a charming French gentleman who inquired as to whether we had tried their crepes before. We said that we had not and he just smiled and told us we were in for treat. As we waited I glanced around the room at the warm, rustic decor and small intimate tables. There was a collection of photographic portraits on the walls that showcased Elora’s talented artistic community.

The menu offered a variety of sweet and savoury crepes with wonderful fillings like goat cheese, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, etc. I ended up choosing the Provencal and my friend ordered the Tuscan crepe. Minutes later we were served the most delightful lunch. Let me start by saying I am a crepe lover from way back and I have tasted crepes in Canada and France many times. The crepes that we had this day were the best I have ever had!

The batter was exactly the right consistency and each crepe was topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. It was light and flavourful and so very French. It was a little taste of Paris in Elora, Ontario.

As it turns out; our charming server was actually the chef, Jacques Dion. His warm demeanor, delightful smile and culinary prowess are a treasure to find in this little village. The restaurant often hosts artists works and musical events and contributes regularly to other village events. It is worth the drive next time you are in the area.

Crepe chef Elora

cafe-creperie

Although I was not able to get the recipe from Jacques for his wonderful crepes, I was able to find this one from one of my favourite cookbooks. These Quinoa Crepes with Warm Apples are a healthy option served with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and are vegetarian and gluten-free.

Quinoa-Crepes-with-apples

Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Apple Topping

Makes 6 crepes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. (30 ml) non hydrogenated margarine

4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar, packed

½ tsp. (2 ml) ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups (125 ml) low-fat vanilla yogurt

Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Prepare Quinoa Crepes (see recipe below).

Add the margarine to a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent.

Add the brown sugar, stirring to coat the fruit, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble.

Add the spices and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apple slices are tender but not mushy. (Recipe can be made in advance to this point. Cool, refrigerate and then reheat before serving.)

To serve, fold the crepes in quarters and place on a plate. Add a few tablespoons of the apple mixture and a dollop of yogurt on each. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a sprig of mint to each plate.

Serve.

Basic Quinoa Crepes

Makes 6 crepes

Ingredients:

¾ cup (185 ml) quinoa flour

3 large eggs

¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil

1 cup (250 ml) organic vanilla soy beverage

Directions:

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, eggs, oil and soy beverage for 10-15 seconds, until smooth and lump free. Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Lightly grease a small 7-8 inch crepe pan with canola oil. Spoon 3 tbsp. of the batter into the pan and rotate the pan around so that there is an even coating on the bottom of the pan.

Turn the crepe after 30 seconds. Crepe will be lightly browned and will be flexible for folding.

Place cooled crepes on a plate lined with parchment pepper to cool. They can either be used in crepe recipes or frozen for later use. Freeze in small amounts, placing a small piece of parchment paper between the crepes and wrapping them in clear plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Recipe from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook edited by Marilyn Smith, PHEc from the Ontario Home Economics Association.

 

 

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Poppy Seed Crêpes with Lemon Ricotta and Asparagus

A crêpe is a very thin, cooked pancake usually made from wheat flour. The word, like the pancake itself, is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning “curled.” Crêpes originate from the Brittany region in the northwest of France although crêperies can be found on many street corners in Paris. Whenever I am in Paris I enjoy a Crêpe Chantilly made with sugar and whipped cream.

I remember when they became popular in North America in the early 1970s. Julia Child had begun her quest to of teach American housewives to cook French food. When her books and TV shows came to Canada, Canadian housewives were very excited about trying out new and interesting recipes. At that time Crêpes Suzette was considered an elegant dessert to serve at a dinner party. I remember my mother making them for our guests. Since then we have tried numerous different fillings and flavours.

In Canada there are numerous crêperies, especially in the province of Quebec where the cuisine has been influenced by the French Canadian culture. We eat crêpes at any type of meal be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a dessert.

This recipe has a fresh, creamy taste with the lemon ricotta and would be perfect for a brunch or lunch dish.

Poppy Seed Crêpes with Lemon Ricotta and Asparagus

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
¼ cup melted butter
1 tbsp. sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Ricotta filling:

500g ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon rind
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed to 5 inch pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Crêpe Batter

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, warm butter, sugar and salt. blend until smooth.  Add flour and blend until smooth, scraping down side of blender if needed.

Once smooth, pour batter into a bowl and stir in poppy seed; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Ricotta Filling

In a bowl, stir together ricotta, olive oil, lemon rind, nutmeg, pepper and salt until combined, set aside.

Steam or boil asparagus for about 4 minutes or until tender. Immediately rinse in cold water until chilled; set aside.

To make crêpes, heat a lightly greased 6-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the batter to pan and swirl pan to coat the base. Cook for about 1 minute or until edges are very lightly golden and surface of crêpe seams dry. Flip crêpe and cook second side for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all of the crêpes are cooked, lightly greasing the pan as needed.

To assemble crêpes, spread 1 tbsp. of the ricotta mixture on the bottom half of each crêpe. Place one piece of asparagus and 2 basil leaves in the middle of the top half of the crêpe with the top peeking out. Fold the crêpe up and over the asparagus then fold in half. Roll this piece in cigar style. Continue with remaining crêpes and serve at room temperature.

Recipe from Longos Experience Magazine

Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas (Gluten-Free Goodness)

What a great weekend! As I continue on this journey of getting fit, I have decided to take up cycling again. I went out with a friend last evening and cycled along the Toronto Beaches bike trails. Just as we were riding back home the super moon was hanging over the lake reflecting rich, golden hues into the water. What an outstanding night!

I plan to continue with this fitness program all summer and will report back periodically on how well things are going. So far I am feeling more alive and happy than I have in years.

I will also try to add more recipes for healthy eating as I go.

I was skeptical when I tried this recipe for chocolate quinoa crepes. I am a crepe lover from way back. When in Paris, I love to order Crepes Chantilly as a treat and I love savoury crepes for dinner. So here I am making crepes with quinoa flour. This is a very different style of cooking for me. Well, the truth is, it was the chocolate that got my attention.

I have to admit that they turned out so well my daughters ate them up in mere minutes. The great thing is that my celiac friends can also enjoy this great gluten-free dessert with bananas or another fruit. They are a real treat for anyone who loves crepes.

 

Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas

Ingredients

1/3 cup quinoa flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. salted butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced
whipped cream
chocolate shavings

Directions

Combine the quinoa flour, cocoa and white sugar in a medium bowl, mixing well. Whisk in the eggs, then the melted butter, mixing gently. Slowly add the milk, blending until smooth.

Lightly grease or spray a small frying pan with cooking oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour about 3 tbsp. of the crepe batter into the pan spreading evenly to coat. Fry until the edges begin to turn golden brown and flip, cooking about 30 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all of the crepes are done (you will have about 6-8 crepes).

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla to make the filling. Spread about 3 tbsp. of the filling onto each crepe. Add some sliced bananas. Wrap the crepe gently by folding in each side. Garnish with additional slices of banana, a tablespoon of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming