Although crêpes aren’t limited to sweet filling but my entire family has a sweet tooth so when crêpes appear for brunch or dessert there are always lots of smiles. And this gloomy, 2 feet of snow kind of weather could use some brightening up. So we present to you our favorite combo as of yet. Citrus orange blossom crêpes, filled with Ashta cream, a drizzle of Seville orange jam and a dusting of pistachios. My husbands bday is coming up so a chocolate or a peanut butter version might be coming up.


Making crêpes is a fun skill to have in your cooking repertoire. Crêpes are a blank canvas for sweet and savory dishes. Change your fillings and flavorings and they are perfect for any occasion and they are great to serve for brunch, dinner or dessert.


You can make crêpes at home so easily with no fancy tools or special equipment as long as you have a non stick pan you are good to go. The batter comes together in the blender. Because the blender incorporates more air into it, resulting in a very light and tender crêpes with those characteristic tiny air bubbles on top.


Astha and orange blossom citrus crêpes

Makes: about 8 - 12 crepes

The amount of crêpes depends on the size of your pan and the thickness of your crêpes


Ingredients



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups milk ( I used 2%)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water

  • 1-2 additional melted butter to brush the pan for cooking the crêpes

  • To serve:

  • 1 Ashta recipe (can be prepared a few days in advance)

  • 2-3 any orange variety, peeled and thinly sliced or segmented

  • Seville orange jam or any citrus jam you like

  • Crushed pistachios


Tools you need:



Tools you need:

~ A thin spatula

~ A nonstick Pan: I used a 9 inch nonstick pan or 9-inch crêpe pan (see note for other pan sizes)

~ Blender or a bowl and a whisk


To Make the batter.

Place the flour, milk, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, and orange blossom in a blender. Blend well until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides until everything is incorporated.


The blender is not a must but what it does is that it incorporates more air into the batter, resulting in a very light and tender crêpe with those characteristic tiny air bubbles. If you don’t have a blender just which really well until frothy.


Cover and let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 days in the fridge. I usually make mine the night before and I cook them the next day.

Resting the batter allows the flour to absorb the liquid and the gluten to relax resulting in a light and tender crêpe.


Place your non stick pan or 8-inch crêpe pan over medium heat and brush the pan with melted butter to coat the bottom.

Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. Immediately pick up the pan and swirl it to create an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

When the crêpe has browned slightly on the bottom, loosen it around the edges with your spatula and carefully flip it. Cook the second side for 20 seconds, just to set the batter.

slide your crepes onto a plate or preferably a wire rack so they don’t steam. Continue by seasoning the pan with butter, 1/4 cup batter until the batter is finished.



To Serve:

Stuff or top your crepes with the Ashta cream, a dollop of Seville Oranges jam and some fresh orange segments and crunchy pistachios


Recipe tips:


If you don’t have a blender you can whisk everything together in a bowl until thoroughly combined and frothy.


Heat:

Finding the perfect temperature for making crêpes important. Start with medium heat or just a little lower, and adjust from there. Once you find that sweet spot with heat it will go fast.


Nonstick Pan is key: sure you can use a crêpe pan but it’s not necessary as long as you have a nonstick surface. crêpe pans have low sides to make it easier to get a spatula in there to flip them.


Pan size to batter ratio:

To get deliciously thin crêpes use this general rule of thumb:

8-inch pan: 3 tablespoons of batter

10-inch pan: 1/4 cup of batter

12-inch pan – 1/3 cup of batter


Storing crêpes:


crêpe batter: It’ll keep for up to 2 days in the fridge

Ready made crêpes store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a few months. Put a parchment paper in between the layers and store in a ziplock bag.

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  • Mai


Ashta, also known as kashta or qashta, is a variety of clotted cream mostly used in desserts in the Arab world especially in the Levantine, also called Geymar in Iraq or kaymak In Turkey.

There are many ways to make the traditional ashta some require more time than others. Traditionally, it is made with the freshest full-fat milk you can find that’s reduced down and the Cream layer that forms on top is called ashta. The milk is reduced down creating a silky smooth and thick cream perfect for desserts. Others use methods like in the making of ricotta cheese where you add lemon juice or vinegar to milk or a mixture of milk and heavy cream and separate the milk from the whey creating a decadent cream. Often ashta is finished with orange blossom and rose water for flavor.


Other variations just thicken the milk with cornstarch like I did in this simple recipe here. Although ashta can be enjoyed as a dessert on its own, served with fruit, or drizzled with honey, or date syrup, and garnished with nuts. But it is commonly used in various desserts such as qatayef, mutabak, layered with harriseh, even in knafeh as a different variety from the cheese knafeh.


Speedy ashta recipe



Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup full fat milk (although I tried it with 2%, and it was great)

2 tbls cornstarch

2 tbls sugar

Flavorings: 1 tsp orange blossom water or rose water or even vanilla


Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the flavorings in a medium pot and whisk well until the cornstarch dissolves.


On medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle bubble whisking constantly so it doesn’t stick.

You will notice that the mixture will become thicker in about few minutes.

Once you get the desired consistency turn off the heat and add in your flavorings.


Pour into a heatproof bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

refrigerate until cold and it will get thicker as it sets.

Store in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.

Use as a dessert on its own or use it in your favorite recipes.


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It’s a slightly sunny day in Chicago. A sunny day is desperately needed in the long winter months. Those who live in the Midwest know exactly what I mean. I made this winter citrus caprese salad, alternating layers of creamy mozzarella with all the beautiful oranges of the season, fresh basil if you find it, and a drizzle of basil oil.

Times are challenging and tough for so many. We are struggling to stay optimistic given the state of the pandemic, the economy, and the brutally cold winter. My father has been in the hospital due to covid complications for two months now. Despite my father’s situation, the distance between us, and covid restrictions, I have been finding myself exercising simple coping mechanisms that allow me to deal with my emotions in a more proactive way. I realized that the real difference between being optimistic and pessimistic isn’t in how we see situations that occur to us and around us. It is in how we cope with these events.

So, today, I saw the pile of winter oranges that are sitting on my counter as an opportunity. They are as beautiful as summer tomatoes in this caprese salad. The sun is shining bright, slightly melting the freezing snow outside. And when I opened the door, I heard the birds even chirping. They are either complaining about the cold or are just simply happy to be free. I am finally able to FaceTime my father (since he’s out of the ICU into a regular hospital room) to watch him eat Rukab ice cream in his hospital bed. Then, I watched him slowly fall asleep because eating a whole cone of ice cream is exhausting.

I am choosing to see signs of hope as opportunities despite this situation. My Dad is eating ice cream again, so this makes for a heck of a an awesome day.


I

Winter orange caprese salad with basil oil

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 to 4 various oranges (blood orange, Cara Cara etc) whatever you can find. sliced into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick

  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

  • Flaky sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tbls basil olive oil or regular extra virgin olive oil. Or even 2 tbls of pesto is perfect here.


Directions:



  • Arrange by alternating oranges and fresh mozzarella on a platter.

  • Scatter the basil leaves over the oranges and mozzarella.

  • Sprinkle with flaky salt and black pepper.

  • Drizzle with the basil olive oil over the oranges, mozzarella, and basil. Serve immediately.


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