Every single year on Shrove Tuesday, without fail, I tell myself I'll make pancakes more than once a year. Every time, Pancake Day rekindles my pancake love, and then I totally forget about them again. This time, I decided to just go for it and make pancakes on a different day of the year (radical!). The fact that it wasn't a Tuesday was a bit weird, but once again I remembered just how easy crêpes are to make.
And yes, I'm going to call them crêpes instead of pancakes because it makes me feel fancy.
Now tell me you wouldn't feel fancy serving these up for brunch. I mean, brunch is fancy enough in itself, but bring out a plateful of homemade crêpes stuffed with creamy ricotta and watercress, drizzled with balsamic reduction, and you'll feel like the actual Queen.
(actually I'm not sure the Queen has ever made crêpes? Maybe just Kate Middleton, in her pre-princess days)
The purpose of the balsamic reduction on this dish is firstly to add to the whole 'fancy' vibe, but also to offset the creamy ricotta. Sometimes recipes that are really creamy can border on bland, but the balsamic really kicks these up a notch, especially alongside the slightly sweet filling. You could skip it if you prefer, but I do think it adds something special!
These watercress stuffed crêpes go down a treat either warm or cold, so you don't need to faff around keeping your pancakes warm as you cook them if you don't want to.
(also, this is very un-chef-like of me to say, but they heat up just fine in the microwave too. Now let's just forget I said that and move on with the recipe)
Creamy watercress stuffed crêpes with balsamic reduction
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For the filling:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 100 g watercress roughly chopped
- 250 g ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt heaped
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- Black pepper
For the crepes:
- 2 eggs
- 200 g plain flour
- 300 ml milk
- 20 g butter
For the balsamic reduction:
- 8 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Begin by preparing the filling. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, and cook the onion and garlic over a fairly low heat for around 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Then, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the watercress, ricotta, yogurt and agave nectar. Mix well and season to taste (remember, the watercress is quite peppery, so go easy on the black pepper!).
- Next, prepare your crepe batter. Using a whisk, beat the eggs into the flour, and then add the milk a little at a time, whisking until smooth each time before adding more.
- Give the frying pan a quick wipe with some kitchen roll (no need to wash it thoroughly), add the butter, and turn on the heat. Once it has melted, turn the heat down quite low, and pour the excess butter back into the pancake mixture, whisking a little to prevent lumps forming. Now, as long as you are using a good quality non-stick pan, you should be able to cook the whole batch of pancakes without adding any extra butter. If your pan is not non-stick, you may need to add a little extra butter before you cook each pancake.
- Add a few tablespoons of the pancake mixture to the pan, and swirl the pan so that the batter covers the base in a thin layer. Cook over a fairly low heat for a few minutes. After a minute or so, the edges of the crepe will begin to lift up - a couple of minutes later, the underside will be golden brown. At this point, flip the pancake (I do this slowly with a spatula!) and cook the other side for another minute or two. Transfer to a plate (in a slightly warm oven, if you want to keep them warm) while you repeat with the remaining crepe batter.
- Just before you are ready to serve, add the balsamic to a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture has approximately halved in volume (it will continue to thicken as it cools, so it's better to remove it from the heat when it's still just slightly too thin).
- Add a few tablespoons of the ricotta mixture to one quarter of each crepe, and fold them in half, then in half again. Serve with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.