Herb Crèpes with Ile de France Brie, Caramelized Onions and Red Pepper


This recipe features light, delicate crèpes wrapped around lightly creamed spinach and thin slices of Brie. Caramelized onions and red peppers provide a festive topping. These crèpes can be made ahead of time, and warmed just before serving, making them an ideal holiday appetizer or meal. Don’t be discouraged if the first crèpe sticks to the bottom of the skillet; the first crèpe almost never comes out well. The batter needs to sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours before cooking, so be sure to plan accordingly.

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Soft-Ripened Cheeses

The Crèpes:
* 1 cup milk
* 1/4 cup water
* 3 eggs
* 1 cup flour
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried and crumbled
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* A few grindings of black pepper
* Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

The Caramelized Onion and Red Pepper Topping:
* 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 large onion, peeled and very thinly sliced, about 2 cups
* 1 large sweet red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
* Salt and pepper

The Spinach and Brie Filling:
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 6 ounces baby spinach
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Grating of fresh nutmeg
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 6 ounces Brie, such as Ile de France, thinly sliced with or without rind


* To make the crèpe batter: Add the milk, water, and eggs to a bowl and blend with a hand-held mixer for about 1 minute. Sift the flour on top and gently stir it into the batter. Add the melted butter and mix briefly on high. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper. Let the crèpe batter sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to 6 hours, covered and refrigerated.

* Very lightly grease a heavy 8-inch skillet or crèpe pan over low heat. (The best way to grease the pan is to use a pastry brush so there is only a light coating.) Add about ¼ cup batter to the hot pan, immediately swirling the batter around the bottom of the pan so it creates a thin, even pancake. Cook the crèpe for about 45 seconds, loosening with a spatula. Gently flip the crèpe and cook for another 45 seconds. Use the spatula to loosen the crèpe and transfer to a plate. Repeat to use up all the batter. You can make crèpes ahead of time, and layer them on a plate. You should have 6 crèpes.

* To prepare the onion topping: In a large skillet heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions and let cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until a golden brown color. Add salt and pepper and the red pepper and cook another 8 minutes. Set aside.

* To prepare the filling: in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the spinach and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir well. Add the cream and let cook about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Set aside.

* Preheat the oven to 350°F.

* Place the crèpes on a work surface. Divide the spinach between the 6 crèpes and top the spinach with the slices of Brie. Roll each crèpe into a plump, cigar-like shape roll and place in a broiler pan or gratin dish, seam side down. Divide the onion/pepper topping over the crepes and bake on the middle shelf for 10 minutes or until hot and the Brie is melted and bubbling.

* Serves 6.

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