Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 21, 2011: Cheesy spinach-stuffed crepes

I was tempting fate when I decided to cook this month's calendar recipe after a long day shopping.  This wasn't just a new recipe - it involved crepes.

I'm not sure that I've ever even attempted crepes before but frying'n'flipping is the bog-standard cooking technique that challenges me the most. Burgers, fritters, (soy bombs!), pancakes, omelettes, dosai (shudder)... cooking them through and getting them to the plate in one piece is frequently more than me and my spatula can handle.  Crepes would surely rank second behind dosai in delicacy, and perhaps deliciousness too.

Foolishly I forged ahead, and inexplicably I was rewarded with crepe after slim golden crepe.  I used just a little oil spray in a hot non-stick pan, gently spreading the batter with the back of a spoon to a conservative diameter of about 15cm.  They were beautiful.

This was just the start, though.  I blended together a filling of spinach and ricotta and rolled it into the crepes...

... then covered the lot with a white sauce, bread crumbs and cheese.

Once out of the oven, it was the perfect winter dish - warming and cheesy, a little gooey but not too sloppy (as I feared it might be with all that white sauce).  I think some ready-made cannelloni tubes would do just as well - and be far more convenient - in this dish, but I really am glad that it prodded me to try my hand at crepes.  I didn't know I had 'em in me.

Cheesy spinach-stuffed crepes

crepe batter
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
15g butter, melted
spray oil for frying

30g butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bunch spinach, chopped
250g ricotta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

30g butter
2 tablespoons wholemeal flour
1 1/4 cups skim milk

1 cup stale wholemeal breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Start by making the crepes. Sift together the flours into a medium-large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter.  Gradually pour the liquid over the flours, whisking as you go, until it makes a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and allow the batter to stand for at least 30 minutes.

Heat up a fry-pan and give it a light spraying of oil.  Pour a 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the centre of the pan, using the back of a spoon to gently spread it out into a circle of just a couple of millimetres thickness. When the crepe's visibly dried out around the edges, carefully flip it over.  After roughly another minute it should be cooked; transfer the crepe to a plate and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.

Next, prepare the filling.  Melt the butter in the fry-pan and sauté the garlic and spinach until the spinach has wilted - this will only take a few minutes.  Take them off the heat and allow them to cool a little before placing them in a food processor.  Add the ricotta, parmesan and cumin to the processor and whiz everything together until it's nicely combined.

This is probably a good time to start preheating the oven - 180°C. Then get rolling! Place just a tablespoon or two of filling along the centre of each crepe, roll them up and place them in a baking dish.

In a small-medium saucepan (I used the same one that I melted the crepe batter butter in), make the sauce. Start by melting the butter, then mix in the flour to make a smooth paste. After it's been cooking a minute, gradually whisk in the milk, doing your best to avoid lumps (I added the milk in very small batches to begin with). Bring the sauce to the boil and, once it's thickened, take it off the heat and pour it over the crepes.

Combine the remaining breadcrumbs and parmesan, then sprinkle them over the sauce-slathered crepes.  Bake them for about 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden.


  1. OMG! So right for this cold, cold weather. I would love this right now.

  2. YUM!! cheesy filling, cheesy top, creamy sauce,mmmm :) ultimate comfort food.. if I make this, we'll definitely end up finishing the whole tray in one night.

  3. oooh cheesy goodness in a bake - sounds delicious - I haven't made crepes often but when I have I have been surprised that they work as they seem so delicate - and lots of fun to make - will bookmark this for a winter warmer


  5. This looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. I have the same problem as you when it comes to things like crepes, but after reading about your success I'm almost tempted to give em a go... Maybe Sunday I'll have a try :)

  6. Thanks everyone! All us Melbourne folks want right now is a steaming tray of comfort food, huh. :-)

  7. I made a vegan version of these tonight & they were AMAZING!!! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  8. Hey Vicki, that's awesome! I hope we'll see them pop up on your blog. Funnily enough I tried a vegan adaptation of my own this week, which I'm due to post about very soon...