February means crepes !

This month, the Consulate’s Chef teaches us how to cook Crepes Suzette !

Here we are in February, I hope you all enjoyed your holidays, and that Santa Claus spoilt young and old alike, and that everyone had fun.
This month, I would like us to prepare Crepes Suzette together, because Candlemas is the right time for crepes, and also because I want to introduce you to one of the founding fathers of French gastronomy and the creator of scores of recipes that have become big classics of our cuisine.

Charles-Auguste Escoffier was born in Villeneuve-Loubet, near Juan les Pins, in a family of restaurant owners. At the age of 13, he wanted to become a sculptor but was forced into the kitchen instead.

In Nice, starting at the age of 13, he went from restaurant to restaurant, and at 18, invented the “poire belle Hélène”, for which he found the inspiration in Offenbach’s operetta, “la Belle Hélène”!
Then, he headed up to Paris, and kept inventing dishes, each one more fabulous than the last. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war broke out, and Charles-Auguste became head chef at the army’s general headquarters, where he learned to use leftovers and sublimate them. He even studied the techniques of food canning.
After the war, he and César Ritz created the luxury hotel business, visited by the European aristocracy and the most famous artists of the time.
That is how, in 1890, while he was managing the kitchens of the Savoy Hotel in London, Charles- Auguste invented a crepe recipe for the Prince of Wales. These crepes were flavored with Curaçao and lathered in a mandarin sauce. He decided to dedicate the recipe to the Prince. But as the legend tells it, the Prince refused, claiming that he was not worthy of it, and that the delicious crepes should be dedicated to the pretty Suzette who accompanied him. This is how the famous crepes Suzette were born. Charles-Auguste then created many more things, like the peach Melba!
It is also Charles-Auguste who originated the notion of the “kitchen brigade,” by rationalizing the distribution of tasks and by cultivating the chef’s image as the purveyor or certain standards of quality.
Charles-Auguste Escoffier was nicknamed the “kings’ chef,” the “king of the cooks,” since he was the most celebrated chef of his time, and he was the first chef to become an Officer in the Legion of Honor.
Fun fact: the Crepes Suzette were not originally burned with liquor!! So here is Charles-Auguste Escoffier’s very own crepes recipe, with a “Suzette” mandarin butter, that we will simply spread on the crepes before warming them up.

Recipe for 12 crepes, 26 cms in diameter:

For the batter:
 500g of whole milk
 200g of type 45 flour
 4 small eggs (200g)
 60g of powdered sugar
 60g of bottled water
 3g of salt
 20g of melted butter
 30g of Grand-Marnier or Curaçao
 The zests of 3 mandarins or one big orange (organic)

For the mandarin flavored butter:
 100g of softened butter
 50g of powdered sugar
 The zests of 3 mandarins or one big orange (organic)
 1 tablespoon of Grand-Marnier or Curaçao
 1 tablespoon of mandarin or orange juice

Final touches :
 A few drops of Grand-Marnier or Curaçao
 The zests of one orange or two mandarin oranges

- Prepare the batter either in a blender, or with a hand blender.
- Put all the ingredients in your bowl
and mix together.
- When the batter is smooth, cover with a shrink wrap. Let the batter rest for 2
hours at room temperature, in order for the gluten to develop, which will make the crepes soft, even at the edges.
- Cook the crepes in a pan.
- Prepare the mandarin-flavored butter: mix 100g of softened butter with 50g of sugar and the zests of 3 mandarins (or one big orange).
- Add 1 tablespoon of Grand-Marnier and 1 tablespoon of mandarin (or orange) juice.
- Mix well.
- Spread the mandarin butter all over the crepes. Fold them into four. Slather them again with mandarin butter, covering both sides.
- Heat the crepes up again slowly in a pan, so that the butter becomes frothy and that you obtain slightly caramelized crepes, soaked with butter.
- Add a few drops of Grand-Marnier or Curaçao and the zests of one orange or two mandarins. Serve right away!
- With this little sentence by Charles August Escoffier,I will say see you soon, Bon Appétit !!

« In one word, cooking, without ceasing to be an art, will become scientific and will have to transform its empirical formulas into precise methods that too often leave nothing to chance. »

Chef de Cuisine
Sebastien Baud

Last modified on 06/02/2019

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