Recently I gave Meals on Wheels new meaning. I cooked breakfast for 28 people at home in San Francisco and schlepped it on an airplane to Venice, Italy. Why would I do something so crazy you may ask? Because, I admit, I am a little bit crazy. Nobody I told could believe I would do something so foolish.
My dear friends Margaret and Jim Foley invited Karl and me, along with 26 other friends, to an opulent palazzo on the Grand canal in Venice for a week. We were there to celebrate Jim's 65th birthday. Wanting to be a good guest, I volunteered ahead of time to be responsible for one morning's breakfast. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn't want to spend hours shopping and cooking during our vacation and that it would make more sense to cook the food at home.
My menu consisted of Buckwheat Crepes with Chard, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions, Maple Mustard Glazed Bacon and Turkey Sausage Patties. I made 60 crepes, baked 60 slices of bacon, cooked 30 sausage patties and froze everything. I was then faced with the dilemma of how to transport all this.
Karl and I went to Target and bought a cooler with wheels and a handle like a suitcase so we could pull it. We also purchased 6 packs of blue ice. I wrapped the crepes in foil and cut a carton to fit the tops and bottoms and taped them with strapping tape. The sausage and bacon I wrapped in foil and tucked securely into a Rubbermaid container.
When we arrived at the Air France counter to check in, the agent took one look at the cooler and began giving me the third degree. Rolling his eyes, he said he found it difficult to believe that anyone would transport breakfast half way around the globe. He admitted that this was the first time he ever checked in a cooler filled with cooked food. Fortunately it weighed in at just under the 50 pound weight limit.
Thirteen hours later, we arrived at the palazzo and I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything was still frozen.
All of you who know me and my cooking style are familiar with my desire to make everything ahead. This breakfast broke all records. How did the food come out you might ask? I received a round of applause, so I guess everyone liked it (or maybe they were applauding my bravery.) The crepes were so popular that several people asked for the recipe. So here it is!
Buckwheat Crepes with Chard, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
⅔ cup buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 oz. mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds Swiss or rainbow chard, stems trimmed and leaves thinly sliced (about 9 cups)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
3 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
½ cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 oz.)
- To make crepe batter, process all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.
- To cook crepes, heat an 8-inch skillet (it will measure 6-inches across the bottom) over medium high heat until hot. Brush bottom and sides of pan with butter. Stir the batter, lift the pan from the heat and pour 1/8 cup batter into center of pan. Quickly tilt pan in all directions so batter covers bottom with a thin film. Return to heat and cook 40 to 60 seconds. Carefully lift edge of crepe with a spatula to see if bottom is lightly browned, then using a thin spatula and your fingers, turn the crepe over and cook 20 seconds. Turn out onto a sheet of foil. The first crepe will probably not turn out perfectly, so eat it. Continue with remaining batter, stirring often so the flour doesn’t sink to the bottom. Layer foil between each crepe. Makes about 20 crepes.
To make ahead: Crepes may be refrigerated overnight or wrapped in heavy foil and frozen.
- To make filling: Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove to a medium bowl. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan and when hot, saute onion until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and 3 tablespoons water. Add handfuls of chard to pan, stir until almost wilted and then stir in another handful. When it has all been added, cook, stirring, until it is wilted and tender, about 8 minutes. Add pine nuts and cream cheese and stir until cheese melts. Stir into mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper. Cool.
- To fill crepes: Lay crepes out on work surface, cooked slide down. Spoon 2 tablespoons filling in a line across center of each crepe. Roll up tightly. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole with nonstick coating and arrange crepes seam side down.
To Make Ahead: Crepes may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- Before serving, preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle cheese over the tops. Bake covered 15 minutes or until heated through. Uncover and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cool 2 minutes and remove crepes to plates.
Makes 18 to 20 crepes.