July 14, 2005

Bonne Fete Nationale!

Bastille Day is one of my favorite holidays, and one of my favorite Bastille Day celebrations was an evening in 1993 in San Francisco with some friends. We had a long, lazy dinner at a wonderful bistro (I'm not being coy -- I'd share the name if only I could remember it after all these years) surrounded by dozens of Frenchmen and -women in a festive mood, eating wonderful food, drinking fabulous red wine, enjoying decadent desserts, singing the Marseillaise, and dancing in the street afterwards.

How are we celebrating on the prairie? By hauling out some of our LP's and listening and dancing around the deck to The 1812 Overture (not so easy to dance to) and Offenbach's Gaite Parisienne (much easier), and eating crepes. And the kids have been mooning over the Papo figurine catalogue, picked up at the Mastermind toy store in Toronto earlier this year. They are intrigued by the French historical collection, which includes Joan of Arc, Louis XIV, Cardinal Richelieu, Francois I, Napoleon, and Admiral Nelson (both of whom would have come in handy for a 200th anniversary recreation the other week); you can see them here. But sadly no little figurines of Louis XVI, with or without detachable head, or a realistic little guillotine to add to our collection, which does in fact include a spiffy catapult -- though not the battering ram, as Davy reminded me -- for use with our Playmobil castle.

Go storm something today, or better yet, go play on a nearby tennis court or watch the Tour de France and cheer on the French team -- allez, David Moncoutie! Or make some crepes, too. Here's a recipe from a recent Bookcloseouts purchase, The Kids' Holiday Baking Book by Rosemary Black; since this is a holiday, I'm not going to expound on why I think you should use unbleached flour (or, even better, the organic stuff) or the most recent studies on, gack, Teflon:
Bastille Day Parisian Crepes (makes one dozen)

2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. butter for coating the pan

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; set aside to cool.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs very well with an egg beater or with an electric mixer set on low speed. Add the milk, salt, flour, and butter; beat until smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3. Heat a 7-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, apply a very thin film of butter using a paper towel. Pour in several tablespoons of batter, then tilt the pan so that it spreads evenly, coating the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes.

4. When the bottom is golden and you can easily lift the edges up from the pan, turn it over with a spatula. Cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a plate, apply a very thin film of butter to the pan, and make more crepes.

5. There are several ways to eat crepes. You can simply spread one with strawberry or raspberry jam, roll it up, and eat it. Or you can slice and sugar some strawberries, roll them into a crepe, and top with whipped cream [the real stuff, s'il vous plait, et pas le mauvais whip de cool].

You can also have a yummy savory dinner of crepes filled with ham and Swiss cheese, or just about anything else, and they are beyond with some souffle batter rolled up inside and then baked briefly; crepes happen to be a very useful way of disguising or reconfiguring leftovers (sneaky mom hint of the day).

Allons, enfants! Let's go, kids -- into the kitchen! And let them eat crepes.

P.S. Anyone have an idea of how to make the necessary French accents on Blogger? And how to explain it simply to the technologically challenged? Merci ever so much.

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