I created this dinner for our dear friends and neighbors, Gary and Sherry. Spending a lot of time on one “wowser” of a dish and then using simple yet elegant items to fill up the plate allows you to enjoy your dinner party and your company. In this menu, I concentrate on making a killer crepe filled with beautiful array of mushrooms, sautéed with brandy, herbs and of course butter. The crepes are made from scratch, the béchamel is a basic one (but the best sauce to know how to make perfectly, so practice!!) there are so many variations of béchamel and beautiful ways to incorporate into dishes, its a must know for anyone looking to impress a crowd. There will be a lot of posts with this basic sauce and I’ll help you build on it.
Because I pay so much attention to one of the dishes in this meal, does not mean that I skimp on the other “plate fillers”, they are just simple and elegant companions to your main dish. This way there is more time to spend on setting the best table (people notice and appreciate a well planned table) and mingling with your guests.
On the menu, brandy mushroom crepes; grilled skirt steak with herbs; grilled asparagus.
First up Crepes:
Timeframe: Make these early in the day, the batter has to sit for an hour before you make the crepes and the crepes can stand to sit a while before you use them in the dish (they tend to be less mushy that way).Just separate them with wax paper and cover with plastic wrap until you need to use them. refrigerate!!
- Scant cup of flower (this means don’t pack it in like you’re baking)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk (use whole milk, it’s only a cup)
- 2 Tbs butter (if using salted butter you can skip the salt step)
- just a quick sidetone, don’t use salted butter if you’re going to use this crepe with sweet filling
- oil for brushing your crepe pan
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the eggs and only a few tablespoons of milk (3 or 4). Mix well. GRADUALLY stir in the remaining milk. This will be a runny batter so don’t worry. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter (I like to use a double boiler, or glass bowl over simmering water, it makes it less “foamy”. Let the butter completely cool before mixing it into the crepe batter.
I let the batter stand for about an hour before cooking. When ready, spread the batter in a very thin layer in your oiled crepe pan (or just small fry pan). Let cook for about 2 minutes, until the edges brown. Flip over and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Separate the crepes with wax paper and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to build your dish.
Timeframe: You can start this sauce before you get in the shower for your dinner party, then just heat it up before you assemble the dish..
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups of milk
- Nutmeg (I like it freshly grated) just a pinch
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat (do NOT over cook your butter, it get’s nutty flavored and will change the taste of your sauce). Whisk in the flour until it has a smooth consistency. Pour in all of the milk (still whisking). Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil (still whisking). Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until it has thickened (whisk every once in a while) Remove from heat.
Please taste it before you start building your crepes. If it is too “floury” put some more milk and return to heat. if it’s too runny add some more flour, but only a little bit at a time. This sauce is really gross if it’s over powered with a flour taste.
Timeframe: Just make this as early as you can in the day…these awesome flavors sitting around for a while can’t hurt. Remember it’s brandy, butter and herbs coming together!!!
Tip: Just don’t salt the shrooms until they release all their liquid, they become really gross and chewy if you try to rush them.
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1/2 cup of mushrooms. Any kind you like be creative or as easy as white buttons, just slice thin as you can
- 2 tbs chopped parsley,
- 1 tbs thyme
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 1/4 cup of parmesan
Melt butter in a saute pan (with high sides). Add mushrooms and sauté until they release their liquid (about 5 minutes). Add the parsley and the brandy. Cook until the liquid is absorbed. Cook for 3-4 more minutes and remove from heat.
Time to build the crepes:
Preheat oven to 400. Place 1/4 cup of the mixture on one side of the crepe, top with 1/4 cup of béchamel and roll up seam side down. continue with the rest of the crepes and mixture. When finished top with 3/4 cup of béchamel and then 1/4 cup of parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes
- 2 Skirt Steaks (or more if you need it)
- Salt and Pepper
- Bunch of fresh thyme
- Bunch of fresh Rosemary
- Thin asparagus
Preheat a grill pan (I like a grill pan, you have more control over quick cooking meats) Generously salt and pepper the skirt steaks. sear on one side and before you cook the other side, place a few of the fresh herbs on the grill where the steak was seared. Then place the other side of the steak on top of the herbs and cook. A standard cut of skirt steak, should take about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
When the steak is done, tent and set aside. Take the asparagus and let grill on the same grill with herbs and oils from the steak.