“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ooh La La

Well way back in the mists of time (June 14th - can you remember that far back?) I asked you a very important question. "What", quoth I, "what, I say, is this?"

Well, I'll tell you, if ya really wanna know.

The above dish is none other than Crêpes Suzette. Yes, we've all heard of it, but how many of us have actually had it? Very few, I'll wager.

So what does Crêpes Suzette actually consist of, apart from crêpes, that is? And who is Suzette?

Crêpes Suzette  is a French dessert consisting of a crêpe with beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier or orange Curaçao liqueur on top, served flambé (i.e. on fire!)

The most common way to make Crêpe Suzette is to pour liqueur (usually Grand Marnier) over a freshly cooked crêpe with sugar and light it. This will make the alcohol in the liqueur evaporate, resulting in a fairly thick, caramelised sauce. In a restaurant, a Crêpe Suzette is often prepared in a chafing dish in full view of the guests.

As to the name, there are two conflicting stories. One story is told by Henri Charpentier in his autobiography. A pretty far-fetched tale of an accident that occurred while he was serving pancakes to the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) in 1895 in Paris. According to Charpentier, the cordials caught fire and he was worried that the resulting mixture had ruined the pancakes, yet when he tasted it,  "...it was, I thought, the most delicious medley of sweet flavors I had ever tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste..." However, he was fourteen at the time, and so it was pretty unlikely that he was serving a royal instead of the Head waiter.

The other story comes from Larousse's Gastronomique and sounds a bit more likely.

It states that Crêpes Suzette was named in honour of French actress Suzanne Reichenberg (1853–1924), who worked professionally under the name Suzette. In 1897, Suzette appeared in the Comédie Française in the role of a maid, during which she served crêpes on stage. Monsieur Joseph, owner of Restaurant Marivaux, provided the crêpes . He decided to flambé the thin pancakes to attract the audience's attention and keep the food warm for the actors consuming them. M. Joseph was subsequently director of the Paillard Restaurant in Paris and was later with the Savoy Hotel in London.

So, a recipe, you say? Why the heck not.


For the crepes

100 g plain flour, sifted
2 eggs
200 ml milk
1 orange, grated zest only
50 g caster sugar

For the syrup

75 g caster sugar
50 g unsalted butter
150 ml orange juice
1 lemon, juice only
splashes Grand Marnier
icing sugar, for dusting


1. For the crepes: whisk together all ingredients then use a hand blender to blend to a smooth batter.

2. Pour a dollop of the batter mix into a hot pan and swirl it around the pan so it spreads out to the edges. Cook for about 1 minute or until the base of the pancake is golden.

3. Carefully flip the pancake and brown the other side, then slide onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Keep the pancakes warm by stacking on a plate and covering with kitchen paper.

4. For the syrup: wipe clean the frying pan and set over a high heat. Add the caster sugar and as it starts to caramelise add the butter and stir well. Pour in the orange juice and bring up to the boil. The mixture will turn syrupy.

5. Skim the top, then add the lemon juice. Cook over a high heat to reduce the syrup a little, than add a generous splash of Grand Marnier.

6. Add one pancake at a time to the pan, dipping them on both sides into the syrup, then folding in half. Remove the pancake and fold in half again on a plate. Repeat with the remaining pancakes. Line them up in a flameproof dish.

7. Add a generous splash of Grand Marnier to the pan, and tip into the gas flame to ignite (or carefully light with a match if you have an electric cooker). Pour the flaming Cointreau over the pancakes and dust with icing sugar.

OK, so what's the new food?

Name This Food!


Come on and chew the fat!


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