Vive La France! Vive La Crepe! Vive La . . . My Breakfast!?

Crepe Thomas

Mai Oui!! (pronounced in my kitchen, May Weeeeeee!!)

My father was a patient, intelligent, saint of a man and he proved this by making our family pancakes every Sunday morning. His techniques were unique to say the least. I remember one morning he fired up the dual waffle/pancake griddle and began to rub wax paper onto the surface. (Herein lies the genesis of my love for the science of cooking.) “Wax paper,” I asked “shouldn’t you be using butter?” He smiled that knowing, fatherly smile at me. The one that suggested that, even though my, age appropriate, test scores matched his I was still without a clue. Cluelessly I awaited a response.

“The wax is slippery and keeps the pancakes from sticking without using oil.”  My father was a pharmacist and smart as a whip.  When I began to learn about emulsions in culinary school he helped me understand the similarities and differences of oil-in-water suspensions and water-in-oil suspensions. (It’s a volume thing. Evidently size matters here too.)  Anyways, I asked about eating wax to which he replied, “A little wax never hurt anybody.”  My mother raised an eyebrow, we ate the pancakes and the next Sunday he used butter.

Speaking of pancakes, Le French have a pancake of their own: La Crepe.  Thinking of my father, he was half French but never made us crepe, I set to the blender and stove to make this morning’s breakfast: Fresh crepe with Grand Marnier Strawberries and Ricotta cheese. (It’s okay to say Yum out loud.) It was yummy. Now crepes are not difficult, nor are they easy.  They require a medium skill level to prepare and just the right pan.  The great thing is that if you make enough batter you can practice, practice, practice and if you get 2 right, you can eat!

Crepe Batter

1.5 cups                flour, all purpose

1.5 cups                milk, 1%

3                            eggs, whole

3 Tbsp                   butter, melted

Mix all the ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds. Stop mixing and scrape down sides.  Continue mixing for 30 seconds more or until fully blended.  Pour into a jar and let stand covered for at least 1 hour.  This will let the bubbles settle out.


Cooking Crepes

1                              sauté pan, 6 – 9”; you may use Teflon it the surface is not marred at all   ¼ cup                    oil

For metal sauté pans:  Pour all of the oil into the pan and place on medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Do NOT walk away from the stove. As the oil starts to shimmer, gently rotate the pan so that the oil begins to coat up the sides of the pan.  Warm for one more minute then remove from the burner and let sit to cool.  (This process opens up the pores in the metal and allows the warm oil to slightly penetrate the pan creating a nonstick surface.) Pour cool oil into a container and set aside.

Warm the pan over medium heat until a drop of water spatters and evaporates immediately.  Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the warm pan and ladle in enough batter to just coat the bottom. Lift the pan and rotate it to spread the batter up the sides just a bit.  Pour any excess back into the container for a nice thin crepe.  Work the edges gently with a spatula to keep from sticking and after the crepe sets, slide the pan back and forth so that the crepe slips in the pan.  When the edges turn brown flip the crepe with a spatula, cook for about 1 minute then slide onto a paper towel.  Wipe the pan with a clean towel and repeat until batter is finished alternately stacking crepe and paper towel.

The trick is to keep the pan heat just right; neither too hot nor too cool.

If wrapped well these will hold for about a week in the refrigerator or can be frozen.  Allow to warm to room temperature before using.


Grand Marnier Strawberries


2 dozen                  strawberries, quartered (sliced not fed and bedded.)

4 Tbsp                   sugar, white

4 Tbsp                   Grand Marnier


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let stand at least one hour.

Lay out a crepe. Dollop some Ricotta cheese and spoon some of the strawberries in a line.  Roll the edges over and turnover on to a plate.  Drizzle with the syrup from the strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve 2 at a time.


Eat Well and Smile Often,


p.s. Let Eataly top that!

I Like Spam-a-Lot . . . With a Side of Eggs Please!!

Green Eggs and SpamLast night I FINALLY had the opportunity to see Spamalot. (Thank you to my host.) Spamalot came out several years ago and hasn’t made it to the West Coast until now. Being a Monty Python fan from way back ( . . . your father smells of Elderberry) I was ecstatic at the chance to see the live performance. Needless to say, it lived up to my every expectation and even surpassed a few. Favorite musical numbers included: The Finnish Fish Slapping song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and He’s Not Dead Yet. LOL funny!! All this inspired me to try something I haven’t had since I was a child: SPAM!!

One of my favorite commercials was the “MORE SPAM PLEASE!” It made me laugh every time but failed to move me to the store. This cannot be said for Spamalot as I stopped into my local grocer at 11 p.m., on the way home from the theater, to make sure I picked up a can to have with my eggs for breakfast. I could hardly sleep being bemused at the idea of Eggs and Spam. To be honest, I was happily surprised with the result.

Spam, you see, is a contraction of Spiced Ham. Hormel first packaged Spam as Hormel’s Spiced Ham. One year later they changed the name and the rest is history. Upon opening the can I couldn’t help but think of the work of previous generations of chefs who tried, failed, and tried again at preserving meats so that they wouldn’t spoil. Until refrigeration became so commonplace in our society, canning was the best and only way to preserve foods mainly to last us throughout the winter months. One of my favorite preserves in Duck Confit. Duck Confit is duck meat poached in duck fat and covered completely in a jar with the same renderings. The perfect seal of fat prevents any bacteria from getting in contact with the meat causing it to spoil. It’s might tasty too! Confit is shortened from the French: Confiture, which is a preserve of fruit.

Spam, while commonplace today, is an example of the pinnacle of the process of food preservation. It utilizes all edible portions of a pig, wasting nothing. It provides protein calories at a very reasonable price and it has a long shelf life. The knowledge and skill needed to accomplish this is beyond most home cooks and chefs alike. My hat is off to Spam in the year of their 75th anniversary, for feeding generations of families and spawning such a fantastic musical farce.

My breakfast today: Fried Spam, whole wheat toast, a glass of low fat milk and 2 eggs sunny side up garnished with both cilantro and jalepeno chutneys. I’m a happy, preserved meat eating kind of guy today.

Eat Well and Smile Often.


Pam Don’t Take My Spam (click it, I dare you)

4 a.m. Are You Freaking Kidding Me!?

I am God forsaken. There, I said it, God for-sa-ken. No, no, no not in any serious or REAL way, in truth I consider myself very fortunate. I own a home (with the bank being the primo numero uno shareholder), a car (different bank, same story), and a good paying job. None of these things I take lightly and am very appreciative to have all of them. Let me explain: I wake up every morning at 4 a.m. No alarm needed. Doesn’t matter if I went to bed a 2 a.m., I still wake up at 4. God for-sa-ken.

Now mind you, I am very scintillating a 4 in the morning. How many of you can say that? Well, I am, but neither of my ex-wives nor any of the lovely women I have had great fortune of knowing over the years was . . . scintillating at 4 in the morning that is. Now they are all extremely pleasant, charming women but at 4 a.m. they are either headed to bed, with what is sure to be the mother of all hangovers awaiting them, or so fast asleep that even their dreams are taking a nap. Unless, of course, you consider hairdos at that hour . . . in which case they were ALL scintillating!

So here I am, 4 A.M. alone. What to do? Hmmm, drink coffee! Drink Coffee. Yes, as millions of shift workers have done before me, I’ll drink coffee. Hmmm . . . what to drink? Dad and mum loved Folgers. Nah, can’t do it. Peet’s, I’ll drink Peet’s, and so for years I did just that. In fact I served Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend to my clients when I was catering. It was fabulous! Loved it! Bought it by the 5 pound bag even. Until one day . . .

Not so long ago I was looking for a new culinary challenge. Cooking school for me was a real blast. It was my art school education. To know me, is to know that I am a techno-geek, in a masculine way, kind of guy. I like to learn how to DO things. Culinary school was great for this. I learned classic French cooking techniques along with the science to back it up. I also got the chance to experiment with colors, tastes, textures and aromas. It was cool and that experience lasted me for quite a while. Until one day I happened upon an article about roasting coffee. Sounds like fun. By then I had begun straying from Peet’s and started checking out the local roasters. Their coffees are good. So I searched for, and found, a local company that supplies green coffee beans. I bought from them a book, a Whirley-Pop stove top popcorn popper, 2 pounds of Guatemalan Huehuetenango and away I went: Newbee Roaster.

Wow! What a difference. The first batch I ever roasted tasted like an entirely different beverage. Even better than Peet’s. Smooth, rich, chocolaty . . . breakfast in a mug. Needless to say I have become a coffee snob. Oh well, it’s the cross I bear. Now I can tell you all about the endothermic, ectothermic, endothermic, ectothermic process involved but I have gone on too long already. In closing, I am of the belief that the only true great cup of coffee is found in a French press. Here’s how I do it.

2 tablespoons of medium ground coffee per 8 oz cup (roasted fresh that day is the uber-best)

Water brought to a boil and let sit for 30 seconds (colloidal suspension thing)

Pour grounds into press carafe, fill carafe with hot water, place plunger on top (do not plunge), wait 4 minutes, plunge and serve.

Eat Well and Smile Often,


I’ll take mine with sugar please.