James' Favorite Crêpe Meal
recipes for chicken crepes and dessert crepes
Source: Three index cards I've kept for almost 15 years.
I don't know where the recipe came from.

Demand for this recipe has not been as great as that for my pancake recipe, simply because this is a dish I cook only once per year or two. It is well worth it when I do!

This is the first dinner I ever made for my wonderful wife Pam, when we were first dating. It took many hours, giving us plenty of time to get acquainted. With practice (and a bigger kitchen), I can now do this meal in only three hours.

When preparing and serving this meal, I am reminded of Julia Child's dieting advice: It does not matter what you eat on a single day; it is the average over an entire week that counts. A long walk may be in order after this meal. At least it has a salad!

The recipe below will feed four people quite nicely. It includes dessert, on the theory that if you are going to bother making dinner crêpes, you may as well make dessert crêpes, too.

The meal is prepared in several steps. The biggest trick is figuring out how to get everything to be ready at the same time. Here are the steps, in the approximate order you will need to complete them:

  1. Shop. See list below.
  2. Clean your kitchen. You will use every dish you have. Polish the silver and get out the good glasses. This will be a nice meal.
  3. Make crêpe batter - two types with a common base. Chill for one hour for best results.
  4. Boil or microwave one large or two small chicken breasts.
  5. Make filling - this can rest for a while once it is made.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and shred cheese.
  7. Make white sauce.
  8. Cook the dinner crêpes.
  9. Assemble and bake crêpes.
  10. Make a salad.
  11. Prepare fruit topping.
  12. Open wine.*
  13. Eat dinner.
  14. Bake the dessert crêpes and prepare the dessert.
*Wine should be dry or semi-dry white. On that first dinner with Pam, the choice of a sweet white wine was the only flaw in an otherwise perfect meal. Your guests won't blame you if you open the wine at around step 6 or 7!

You will need:

Clean your kitchen.
You will need a couple of mixing bowls, a good large whisk (and probably a small one), measuring cups and spoons, two small sauce pans, plenty of wax paper (cut into smallish pieces before you begin), and good non-stick pan or griddlle (unless you have a real crêpe pan, which cooks the crêpe on the bottom of the pan).

Make crêpe batter
(This part of the recipe is based on the basic crêpes in Jane Brody's Good Food Book, an excellent source for all kinds of basic cooking techniques and fundamental recipes. If you want my famous Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, for example, you'll have to get this book!)

  1. In a large bowl, beat two eggs. Add one cup flour and 1-1/4 cups milk. Beat until smooth. I use a big whisk - less mess than the blender and good exercise.
  2. Mix in 2 tablespoons melted butter.
  3. Divide the batter into two bowls, with about 2/3 for dinner and 1/3 for dessert.
  4. To the dinner crêpe batter, add a pinch of salt and spices (such as cumin and basil).
  5. To the dessert crêpe batter, add one teaspoon of honey or sugar, a spash of vanilla, and spice (cardamom, cinnamon, or nutmeg).
  6. Cover and chill.
Cook chicken
Select a tender chicken breast - no bone or skin. Either boil or microwave until cooked through, then cube and set aside.

Make filling

  1. Cook 4 oz. sliced mushrooms and half of a green pepper (diced) in 1/4 cup butter.
  2. Lower heat, and add 1/4 cup flour, mixing quickly with a wooden spoon until flour is absorbed and bubbly.
  3. Add one cup broth (I add a bullion cube to the water I used to boil the chicken, and pour it through a strainer into a measuring cup).
  4. Add one cup of the cream
  5. Stirring constantly, return heat to medium and boil gently until thickened
  6. Add a splash of sherry
  7. Add the chicken and heat through
  8. Reduce heat and get on with the rest of this meal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and shred Swiss cheese to make one cup

Make white sauce
This is the tricky part. The sauce should be done when the crêpes themselves have been cooked. You can try doing the sauce ahead and holding it, or you can prepare the sauce as soon as the crêpes have been cooked.

  1. Melt one tablespoon of butter
  2. Add one tablespoon of flour
  3. Cook over low until smooth and bubbly
  4. Slowly stir in one cup light cream
  5. Reheat until boiling, being careful not to scorch
  6. Simmer on low to reduce slightly
Cook the dinner crêpes
Cooking the crêpes takes some practice, but it is much like making pancakes, except the batter is thinner and the objective is to get the resulting cake to be as thin as possible without having any holes. I have never used a real crêpe pan, which involves placing a hot pan into a reservoir of batter so that a thin layer cooks on the bottom of the pan. I would love to hear from anybody who has tried this. (jhayesboh@bridgew.edu)
  1. In a non-stick pan, heat one tablespoon butter over medium to medium-high heat.
  2. When drops of water splashed on the pan dance, it is ready.
  3. Ladle about two tablespoons of batter onto the pan with one hand, swirling the pan with the other if necessary to distribute the batter over a large area. The crêpes should measure about six or seven inches. (I once had perfected the use of a small pan for this purpose, but I now use a large pan most of the time.)
  4. When the crêpe has cooked through, flip it and cook a few seconds longer.
  5. Place each crêpe on a plate, separated by wax paper. (I cut the paper into small pieces - not much is required.)
Assemble and bake
To assemble the crêpes, get the filling, the cooked crêpes, and a flat casserole dish all in one place. Being an expert burrito roller helps: place a large spoonful of filling in each crêpe, fold each end of the crêpe slightly to hold the filling in, and then roll. It will be a bit messy. I usually do this right in the casserole pan. Ideally, the filling and the crêpes run out at roughly the same time and fill a 10x13 pan.

Pour the white sauce over the assembled crêpes and top with Swiss cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until top is golden.

Make salad while the crêpes bake

Prepare fruit topping while the crêpes bake
Simply chop fruit into small bites, and combine with a tablespoon of honey and a splash of lemon juice. Allow to chill during dinner. Be sure to clean the pan or griddle in which you cooked the dinner crêpes.

After dinner, prepare the dessert
Put on the coffee (if coffee fans are around), and then cook the dessert crêpes following the same technique as above. Stack one crêpe for each diner on a plate, separating with wax paper.

To assemble dessert, simply place a crêpe on a small plate, put a generous scoop of ice cream near the center, top with fruit, and fold over.

Please contact me if you have any questions or suggestions!
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.