Crepes with Sage-Roasted French Plums, Yogurt and Honey

Crepes with Sage Roasted Plums and Yogurt
Crepes with Roasted French Plums, Yogurt and Honey

Julia Child’s 100th birthday is coming up on 8/15/12, and PBS has been doing this very fun #cookforjulia event to commemorate her. When they asked me to contribute a recipe, I knew right away that I wanted to do something with crepes. Julia and I go back a long way. I only have two cookbooks from my Mom. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 is one of them, and the other is an enormous Chinese cookbook that I’ve never found very usable.

I read Mastering cover-to-cover many times when I was just starting out in the kitchen. Julia’s fanatical attention to detail in her recipes was fascinating. It wasn’t always easy to sort out which of the fine points were crucial and which were just niceties, but she taught me to scrutinize every aspect and not be satisfied with “adequate” food – an impact that I still feel, 30 years later.

Of all the recipes in the book, I come back to the crepes most often. It is a simple thing. You put all of the batter ingredients in a blender, give them a good spin, let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, and then make the crepes. Sure, it takes a bit of practice to get the knack of  forming a nice, thin circle, finding the right heat level, and flipping them, but after one batch you’ll have a skill you can use to please friends and family for the rest of your life. I’ve got some tips for you in the recipe.

Once you know how to make a basic crepe, there are no end of things you can do with them, from today’s recipe with roasted plums, yogurt and honey to my Valentine’s day standby with chocolate ganache and raspberry compote or the terror-inducing Gâteau de Crêpes. Crepes can be used for savory dishes as well, but for that I prefer the style made in Brittany with buckwheat flour. A topic for another day!

For cooking crepes you want a seriously non-stick pan. If you’ve got a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or omelet pan with sloped sides that give you access to the crepe, that is all to the good. If not, I’ve been using this Calphalon 12-inch non-stick omelet pan with great success. Just don’t use metal tools in it. (Disclaimer: Calphalon gave me this pan at Eat, Write, Retreat - and  I liked it enough to haul it around in my suitcase for the rest of my book tour. Yes, I could have shipped it.)

The plums I used are from my neighbor’s tree. They are a French variety whose name escapes me right now. Italian plums would be just as good. What you want is one of the varieties that has a loose (free) pit and is rather dense so that it can cook without the juices running everywhere.

I’ve flavored the yogurt with slivovitz, a plum brandy from the Balkan region. The one I use is made by Oregon’s amazing Clear Creek Distillery. If you don’t have slivovitz, this will still be delicious with a regular brandy, or you can omit the booze altogether.

Crepes with Roasted French Plums, Yogurt and Honey
Vegetarian and kosher
Serves 6

  • 12 crepes (1 recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, see below)
  • 9 Italian plums
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 leaves fresh sage, rubbed and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup thick Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons slivovitz (plum brandy), or plain brandy, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey plus more for drizzling
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Cut the plums in half, and remove the pits. In a medium bowl, toss the plums with the melted butter and sage. and place the plums on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Pluck off most of the sage.
  2. Stir the yogurt with the slivovitz and honey.
  3. To serve, fold two warm crepes into quarters and overlap on a plate. Put 2 tablespoons of the yogurt on top of the crepes, and put 3 half plums on top of the yogurt. Drizzle with additional honey and serve.

Julia Child’s Crepe Recipe
Yields about 12 crepes

I don’t want to reproduce Julia’s recipe in the entirety, but here are the ingredients, and my synopsis of the method.

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour [I use 9 ounces and don't sift]
  • 4 tablespoons [1/2 stick] melted butter
  1. Combine all ingredients in the blender. Whiz on high speed for 1 minute, scraping down the sides if needed. Refrigerate for 2 hours. [I've been known to omit the refrigeration. The point of this step is to allow the flour to hydrate, but it makes quite acceptable crepes if used immediately.]
  2. Put your skillet over medium-to-medium high heat with a tiny bit of butter. When it is preheated, pour in 1/4 cup of the batter while tilting and swirling the skillet in all directions for a few seconds to produce a generally circular, thin crepe. If you can’t get it spread evenly, you need either  (1) work on your tilting and swirling (2) thin out the batter a bit or (3) lower the heat. Expect it to take a few crepes to really dial it in.
  3. Cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute or a bit more, then flip and cook for just about 30 seconds on the other side. I usually perform the flip by lifting the edge with a silicone spatula and then using my fingers to rapidly turn it over. I have asbestos fingers though, so only try it this way if you feel comfortable that you won’t hurt yoursellf. Otherwise, try using two spatulas.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, August 13th, 2012 in Books, Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes.

17 Responses to “Crepes with Sage-Roasted French Plums, Yogurt and Honey”

  1. John
    August 13, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    This looks and sounds great, although I might use peaches instead of plums…I’ve never much liked plums for some reason. On the other hand, with the plum version, a perfect accompaniment would be a glass of Sauternes. :)

    After years of making crepes with Julia’s recipe, I FINALLY figured something out: you can use two pans. I use a 10″ cast iron pan, into which I pour the batter. I lift the crepe (with my fingers, same as you!) and flip/drop it into the middle of a 12″ pan on the next burner. This (a) doubles the throughput, as we computer-geeks say, and (b) means that if your aim’s not perfect, you don’t end up with a crepe that’s stuck halfway up the side of your 10″ pan, not getting cooked evenly on its second side. The second side needs to cook just about the same time as the first, so you remove the done crepe from the 12″ pan; flip the part-done INTO the 12″ pan, then pour 1/4c batter into the 10″ pan and swirl. Take a sip of wine, chat with a friend for a moment, tear off a fresh piece of waxed paper if you’re using that to separate the crepes as they stack up, and then repeat the process.

    Also: if you have some minimal woodworking skills, or about $5, you can buy a crepe spreader (do a google search) and make the whole “getting a uniform thickness from your 1/4c of batter” thing a LOT easier.

    One more crepe suggestion: Take a pound or two of mushrooms, chop them in the cuisinart, put them and 2T butter in a saucepan, season with salt, pepper, maybe even some nutmeg if you like, and cook over low-medium until they get soft and even start to dry out a bit (in mid-cooking they’ll be swimming in their own juices). The result is “duxelles”. Then prepare 20 crepes (omitting the sugar in the recipe). Use these to make a layer cake: 1 crepe, one T duxelles, one crepe, one T duxelles, etc. Try to spread the duxelles evenly over each crepe, or the sides of your layer cake will droop. If you need more than a tablespoon, so be it. Just make a stack. You serve this by cutting cake-like wedges from the stack. I confess that I, being a non-vegetarian, tend to serve it with a reduced-beef-stock-type-sauce, but I can also imagine it being REALLY delicious served with a sauce made with spinach and a cream-sauce, fairly thin. Or adjacent to a salad of multi-color beets, brunoise, helping to soak up the beet-juice. Darn. Now I’m hungry!

    • August 13, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      You are on a roll today, Spike! I’ve done the two-pan thing but always in parallel, never pipelined. Cute idea to use the larger pan to reduce aim problems. And your gateau au crepes avec duxelles (gee my French is fantastic) sounds fantastic. Have you ever tried the Brittany version of crepes with buckwheat flour in the batter? Fantastic with a fried egg and cheese, and a glass of hard cider.

      • John
        August 13, 2012 at 8:55 am #

        I HAVEn’t tried the Brittany version — I’d never heard of it — but I definitely will do so. Your suggested accompaniments sound pretty good, too.

        Also: credit where it’s due: the “crepes aux duxelles” idea comes from “The James Beard Celebration,” one of those books where just about every recipe is a winner. (Just about every recipe also involves meat/fish/shellfish, alas, so it’s probably not a must-get for your typical reader.)

  2. August 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    I love adding anything with crepes and this recipe is really amazing. Is it fine not to roast the plums?

    • August 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

      For sure, you don’t have to roast the plums. I also think they would be very good pan-roasted.

  3. Martin
    August 14, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    I just came back from Germany where I enjoyed my mother’s plum pancakes. Now, these are thick German pancakes (four eggs, milk, a little butter or oil, pinch of salt, vanilla sugar and a dash of soda water). Once the (rested) dough is poured in to the pan the halved Italian plums are pressed into it. Turning requires a good lid.
    For serving sprinkle with a mix of regular sugar and cinnamon.
    A fantastic marriage of tart and sweet, and great for feeding kids.
    Traditionally cooked with butter but olive oil also give superb results.
    I’ve made this with sliced round plums in the US, a little more messy but tastes the same.
    But now I’ll give the sage option a try as my neighbor just gave me some.

    • August 14, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      That sounds completely fantastic! I wonder if you could do them in the oven instead of flipping, like a Dutch baby.

  4. Martin
    August 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    “I wonder if you could do them in the oven”

    I’d say it’s a pan dish because you’ll need to churn out a few in a row. And you’d want both sides with a little color.

    As for John’s excellent hint with using a 10″ and 12″ pan: In my mother’s kitchen I had to use a small omelet pan – and loved it. It made flipping the plum-laden pancakes a piece of cake.

  5. August 15, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Your crepes look perfect! The Italian plums & slivovitz is a great flavor combo. I wish I had some of my grandpa’s slivovitz to make this.

    I make my crepes on 10″ crepe pan and they turn out perfect every time.

  6. August 18, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    Simple and nice recipe.. How i wish i have something for tomorrow’s event. Thanks.

  7. John
    September 2, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I finally got around to making these. I had two problems: first, the plums we had were not REALLY ripe enough, and we didn’t have enough, so I used some peaches and even some banana as well. Second, I lacked parchment paper, and used waxed paper. That worked (although I suppose I could have started a fire …) but to be honest, with a cookie-sheet that’s teflon-coated, I’d just skip that next time…in the few places where the drips got onto the cookie sheet, cleanup was easy enough.

    We mostly could not taste the sage. It was fresh (I picked it 5 minutes before using it!) and fragrant, but I think that next time I’d use 4 or 6 leaves. I think, too, that next time I’d substitute the leftovers from a bottle of good Sauternes, if I have it, for the brandy. (I didn’t have slivovitz).

    BTW, the alternative fruit — peaches, bananas — worked fine, but not as well as the plums; I think that if the sage had been more present, they would have been an even worse substitute.

    Anyhow, I give the recipe an “A” and my execution of it a B+. :)

    • September 2, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      The Sauternes is a great idea. And I agree with you about the sage, I want it to be more present, but I also don’t want to be picking it out of my teeth. Maybe a better plan would be to infuse it into (more) melted butter first, then strain that and use it to roast the plums.

  8. September 22, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    I tried this filling for crepes – it’s amazing!
    As I don’t eat eggs I used the recipe for eggless crepes.
    I will be glad if this link for Eggless Crepes will be helpful for someone too – link to veggykitchen.com

  9. Geraldine in Spain
    July 14, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Loved your article on crepes and plums. I had to smile seeing the photo of your cook book. I began cooking with JULIA when her PBS shows began, probably before you were born.

    I was always a pretty good little cook as a kid. Reading those first recipes with all the FRENCH TITLES amazed me, never could pronounce them but could cook them. Now at least I am able to pronounce them correctly, albeit, still do not speak French.

    This is a delightful recipe. I would cook the sage leaves in the butter for the fragrance, and still do a chiffonade for the crepes, thus using MORE leaves from the sage.

    In this part of the world breakfast is toast with tomato on top covered in olive oil, it’s FAB.

    Love your site, thanks so much for your continued great writing and inspiration!

    Geraldine Toltschin

    • July 15, 2013 at 3:08 am #

      Thanks, Geraldine! That’s one of my favorite breakfasts too, at least for the couple months a year when we have good local tomatoes.

  10. March 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    enjoy your web page WITH JERRI

  11. March 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    ENJOY YOUR WEBSITE…….WITH JERRI T.

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