Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2008 was a very good year....

...for tomatoes in Newburgh, NY. That's where we lived then and where we grew, roasted and canned tomato sauce. We actually did that every year but there was something magical about the quart mason jars full of that 2008 vintage. Last night, as part of Meatless Monday dinner, we opened the last one.  Nearly 4 year old tomato sauce you say? Isn't that, um, dangerous? Not at all if the jars are initially prepared correctly, the canning process is carried out properly and the seal remains intact. It was both exciting and a little sad to crack open that seal, but the finished meal made it all worth it. Cynthia's original recipe was a perfect use for that special vintage.


Herbed Crepes with Ricotta, Spinach and Chard Filling

Ingredients (crepes)
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup + 2-4 tbsp liquid of your choice, could be stock, milk, beer, water or any combination thereof - I used 1 cup Better than Bouillon No Chicken and 3 tablespoons of Duck Rabbit Milk Stout beer
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp unsalted quality butter melted and cooled or same amount EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup minced herbs, I used a combination of chervil, chives, rosemary, dill and basil

Ingredients (filling)
  • 4 big handfuls spinach and swiss chard
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano, romano or grana padano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • generous grating of nutmeg
  • black pepper
 Ingredients (finished dish)
  • tomato sauce -- ours is from garden grown plum tomatoes, roasted with whole garlic and olive oil -- to this we added a pinch of sugar, 2 oz. red wine, a pinch of salt and a few stems of basil, crushed (later this summer I'll write a whole post about our roasting/canning process)
  • grated parmigiano
  • peas (fresh or frozen/thawed)
Preparation (crepes)

In your favorite blender blitz everything but herbs for 5 seconds on high speed.  Add finely chopped herbs and let sit for 1 hour.  Batter should be about as thick as heavy cream, add a little more liquid if too thick, otherwise you'll have pancakes and not crepes.

To make crepes, heat at least an 8" skillet over medium high heat.  If it's a regular surface (not non-stick) be sure to melt a little butter in the pan to insure easy crepe release, using a pastry brush to evenly distribute over the cooking area.  Add 1/4 cup of stirred batter to pan for each crepe, swirling the pan to evenly distribute batter.  Cook for about a minute on the first side, use spatula to loosen edges and using your fingers, two hands please, flip crepe to other side for another 30 seconds or so.  Perfect circles aren't necessary as you'll be filling and rolling, which hides a plethora of mistakes.


Preparation (filling)
  • saute spinach, chard and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until fully wilted, adding salt and crushed red pepper to taste
  • remove from heat and allow to cool
  • combine ricotta, grated cheese, egg, and cooled greens in a bowl and combine thoroughly
  • add nutmeg and pepper to taste
Preparation (finished dish)
  • fill each crepe with two generous tablespoons of the blended filling, placing it in a line along the lower third of the crepe 
  • begin rolling the crepe then fold the edges of the crepe in and continuing to roll until you have enclosed the filling completely
  • layer the bottom of an oven safe dish with tomato sauce
  • lay stuffed crepe in dish
  • cover with additional tomato sauce
  • dust with grated cheese
Three stages -- pre-sauce, sauced and "cheesed"
  • cook in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  • remove from oven and add sprinkling of peas
  • serve hot

The finished dish is reminiscent of a good cannelloni but the crepes are much more tender than a typical pasta. The mouth feel is almost silky and the cheese and greens become the stars. 

We will miss the 2008 tomato sauce. There is some 2010 in the pantry -- a good but not great year -- our first here in Virginia. With have some high hope for 2012 based on some soil amendments we've made this spring. Is it almost August yet?

JWsMadeWLuvMondays

6 comments:

  1. Al ~
    Those pics have me drooling! I must try making this dish soon! Looks fabulous -- and I just love your meatless Monday meals!

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  2. Thanks Val! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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  3. Wow, that is a little sad about the last jar after 4 years - I'd be very sentimental about it! But the final dish looks so worth it because those savory crepes look and sound delicious...

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, we grieved (ever so briefly), then celebrated the finished dish!

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    2. And thank you so much for sharing this dish with Made with Love Mondays - I love that everything (including the tomato sauce) was made from scratch. Creative and perfectly exemplifies the "always fresh, always from scratch" theme of the challenge...

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    3. Thanks - we love growing our own stuff, particularly tomatoes. We're hoping for another bumper crop later this summer.

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