Friday, December 07, 2012

Tower of Crepes With Mushrooms, Onion Jam, and Cheeses

This is going to be a long post, so I can wait if you want to go grab a beer or something.
*Taps fingers on desk*
Good, you're back. Comfortable now? Great, here we go.

This dish contains an obscene amount of butter, eggs, and wine. On the positive side, it has onions and mushrooms which probably have some healthy properties that can survive immersion in butter.  This makes a gigantic meal-actually two or three meals, so treat it like a lasagne, and think of it as something eaten sparingly, with a green salad. That said, this is one of the most impressive things I make, and at the holidays when you may find yourself charged with feeding those that don't eat meat, this makes a really lovely main course. If your vegetarians don't eat eggs, butter, and cheese, you'll obviously have to come up with something else. This is more, "meatless" than vegetarian.

The components can all be made up to a couple days ahead (crepes can even be frozen). It is quick enough to assemble once everything in made, and I suggest taking advantage of a spare bit of time here and there to do much of this ahead. I don't like to spend my holidays (or weekends) in the kitchen.

For the Crepes:

(prepare the batter at least two hours before making them as it needs time to rest).

1 cup cold water
1 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups AP flour
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly

Whisk together the water, milk, eggs, and salt. Whisk in the flour, then the butter until smooth. I used a hand whisk, but you can use a mixer. Cover and let rest in the fridge at least two hours.

Heat a heavy pan (or a crepe pan if you have one-I use cast iron) over medium heat. When a drop of watter skits across it, it is hot enough. Pour a ladleful of batter into pan, tilt to coat and cook until it looks dry on top. Using your fingers, grab hold of the edge and flip it (you can use a spatula if you're more comfortable) and cook about 1 minute longer. Remove to a plate. Cooled crepes may be stored between sheets of wax paper, or wrapped and frozen for longer storage.

For the Mushrooms:

1 lb. mushrooms (I had Baby Bellas)
4 tablespoons butter (hey, I warned you about all the butter)
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup ruby port

Melt the butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and spices. Cook until the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Turn heat to high, add the port, and cook until nearly all liquid is evaporated. Taste to adjust salt/pepper. Cool until needed.

For the Onion Jam:

2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups ruby port

Melt the butter in a heavy pot. Add the onions, and cook covered on medium-low heat until softened-about ten minutes. Remove lid, cook over low heat until golden-about 30 minutes.

Add sugar, and cook until a dark colour-about 10 minutes. Add port and cook over high heat until it is all reduced to a jam-about 10 minutes. Cool.

Cheese Filling:

1 lb whole milk cottage cheese, drained overnight then forced through a sieve.
1 cup of the cheese mixture below
1 whole egg

Mix together right before using-don't do this one ahead.

Cheese mixture:

You'll need a total of 4 cups finely grated cheese. I used a combination of hard and soft-ish cheese: Swiss, Sheep's milk hard cheese (the label didn't offer much guidance as it was a cheese-end purchase) and some Pecorino Romano. Set aside 1 cup to stir into the cottage cheese mixture, and another cup for topping. Use the remaining 2 cups for the layers.

Put it together:

Grease a heavy baking sheet, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Most of your layers will be onion and mushroom as there is only enough cheese mixture for two layers. Space them accordingly. This will depend how many crepes you got. I had a dozen, but yours may be thicker, resulting in fewer. Stary with a crepe, then spread it with onion jam, and a bit of mushrooms. Scatter a small bit of grated cheese atop it. Add another crepe and do the same. When you get to your first soft cheese layer, be sure to spread it evenly to the edge so you don't build your tower of crepes into a mountain peak. Continue until you reach the top. This should use a small remaining bit of onions and mushrooms, and the remaining cup of shredded cheese. Cover with foil, place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until cheese has browned nicely on top. Let stand a few minutes before slicing into wedges. Also works as a cold dish.

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