As usual in a new year, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that my friends at Z Bistro have expanded their dinner service to four nights a week, Wednesday through Saturday.
The bad news is that they will no longer serve lunch. I will miss so many things that I found delicious, but nowhere will I find the authentic buckwheat crepes, which are naturally gluten-free, that Gilles made for lunch.
So, this week I am offering my version of a gluten-free crepe, with a warning that, while adequate, they are no match for the authentic French item prepared at Z Bistro! Perhaps they’ll make a guest appearance from time to time on the dinner menu.
Crepes are another example of the genius the French employ in making simple foods and leftovers delicious. When I make a batch, I cook it all up and freeze the crepes that I don’t use, separating them with waxed paper and wrapping them in foil. If company comes unexpectedly, the crepes can be defrosted, warmed in a skillet and filled with whatever you have on hand for an impressive but quick and easy meal.
The crepes here are filled with crab, scallions, red pepper and a little mayonnaise. They are topped with a gruyere cream sauce and then baked in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Another favorite filling of mine is scrambled eggs with cheddar, with a tomatillo salsa on top. The possibilities are nearly endless. Enjoy!
Adapted from the “Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook”
2 cups milk, or almond milk (you may need more)
½ cup unsalted butter or canola-based margarine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup buckwheat flour
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 cup flat, gluten-free beer*
Olive oil and ¼ cup canola margarine for cooking
Heat 1 cup of the milk, ½ cup butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix ¾-cup buckwheat flour with the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour and Xanthan gum in a large bowl.
Make a well in the flour and put 1 tablespoon oil and 4 eggs in it. Beat thoroughly with a whisk, gradually incorporating the cooled milk and 1 cup flat beer. Cover the batter and let it rest for about 2 hours in the refrigerator. Add most of the second cup of milk, stirring well, until the batter has the consistency of heavy cream.
Place a little margarine and olive oil in a crepe pan (non-stick skillets are good, too) and heat to medium-high. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter, enough to form a thin layer over the whole pan. Cook until the crepe browns nicely on each side. Stack the crepes, separating them with parchment or waxed paper.
The batter will keep one or two days in the refrigerator. The cooked crepes also can be frozen, sealed in foil, with sheets of waxed paper between them.
Makes about 12 crepes; the first few could be iffy.
Note: Anheuser-Busch makes a gluten-free beer called Redbridge that is widely available. Or, chicken broth can take the place of the beer.
The gluten-free discussion group meets at 7 p.m. Monday. We spend an hour each quarter exchanging information and ideas about gluten-free research, foods, restaurants and products. Please email me for details.
Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 17 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.