01 February 2008


Tomorrow is Chandeleur here in France. It is crepes and Nutella 24 hours straight. Seriously, even the publicity from the grocery store devotes a whopping 4 pages to all of the ingredients and toppings and machines to make crepes. (And really exciting ones...eggs, flour, jelly, nutella...wow!!) It is a perfect example of one of the many French rituals that involves food.

The Catholic holiday of Candlemas, on 2 February, is a feast to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus. In France, this holiday is called la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or crêpe day. But even Nathan and Celia's French teacher had to look up the history of the ritual. She only knew it as the Time-to-Eat-Crepes day!

There are all kinds of French proverbs and sayings for Chandeleur; here are just a few. Note the similarities to the Groundhog Day predictions made in the US and Canada:

À la Chandeleur, l'hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur

On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens

À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures

On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte

Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost

Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure

Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour

Here is Celia's favorite crepe recipe. We just feasted on them tonight!! The batter saves well in the refrigerator to enjoy again and again. It may take a time or two to master the art of crepe making, but don't give up...it is well worth it! Celia prefers to spread Nutella from edge to the very edge. Me, I like just a shake of sugar and cinnamon. Warm from the stove they are such a treat.

Chandeleur Crepes

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Scant 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

Additional butter for cooking

Additional sugar or clear jelly such as apple or apricot for serving
Special equipment: Iron skillet or crêpe pan

Flexible metal or plastic spatula

In a blender, combine milk and eggs. Mix on medium-high speed until foamy, about 10 seconds. Turn blender to low speed and remove feed top. With blender going, add sugar and salt. Replace feed top and blend on high speed for a few seconds, then turn blender back to low. In the same manner, add butter, brandy, and vanilla, replacing feed top and blending for several seconds after each addition. Turn blender off. Add flour all at once and blend until just combined.
Place crêpe pan over moderately high heat. With flexible spatula, spread a tiny amount of butter in pan (an alternative method is to brush the pan with melted butter using a pastry brush) and heat until butter just begins to smoke. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter into the pan. As you pour, quickly tilt the pan in all directions to spread a thin layer of batter across the bottom. Pour in just enough batter to cover the pan.
Cook crêpe over moderately high heat until bubbles just begin to form on the exposed surface, about one to two minutes. Lift up the edge to check the cooking process — if the crêpe starts to burn before it is cooked through, turn down the heat. If it is not nicely browned after two minutes, turn up the heat.
When underside of crêpe is browned, flip and cook another minute or less, until other side is browned. Remove from pan and keep warm in the oven, loosely covered with foil.
Grease pan with a very small amount of butter and repeat process. Continue until all batter is used, stacking cooked crêpes on a plate in the oven. To serve, sprinkle each crêpe with sugar or spread with jelly and fold or roll up.

Note: Making the batter for these crêpes is relatively easy, but cooking them can be laborious. Once you have a gotten a feel for the procedure (you will probably have to tinker with the heat and cooking time, since every pan behaves slightly differently), you can save time by using two pans at once. Stagger the process so you are pouring the batter into one pan while a crêpe is cooking in the other. This way, you will be able to closely attend to both but will finish in half the time.

Joyeux Chandeleur!!

1 comment:

  1. How did I know to check your site today!! Nath is a nutella addict, but usually its on graham crackers..I'll have to try Celia's recipe! We miss you. Happy 2008!