Byline: Sara Moulton
In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to try a fresh take on a classic New Orleans dessert -- bananas Foster.
Bananas Foster is the luscious indulgence created at Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans during the 1950s. It's hard to beat sauteed bananas doused with rum and brown sugar, then topped with vanilla ice cream. So I decided to keep most of the classic elements, but wrap the bananas in a crepe topped with ice cream and toasted walnuts.
My real agenda? To help folks get over their fear of making crepes. Because once you master this simple, classic technique, you'll wish you'd done it long ago.
Making the batter is easy. Throw all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Then let the batter rest for half an hour. This ensures tender crepes.
Making the crepes requires one key tool -- the right pan. I use a stick-resistant ceramic or enamel pan. A nonstick pan also will do the trick. Just don't overheat it; this prevents you from being able to swirl and spread the batter as needed for a perfectly thin and evenly cooked crepe.
Transporting the batter from the bowl to the pan can be messy. I keep the mess to a minimum by setting the measuring cup on a plate placed right next to the stove, then pouring out the batter a 1/4 cup at a time.
Now it's the moment of truth. You can't hesitate when making crepes. After the pan is properly heated (you'll know it is ready when a bead of water drizzled into the pan skips across its surface), you dump in the measured batter, then immediately lift up the pan and tilt it all around so that the batter completely covers the bottom. After only 30 to 45 seconds, you peek under the crepe with a spatula to see whether it has browned. If so, gather your courage, slide the spatula under the crepe, and quickly flip it over.
Transfer the cooked crepe to a rack, where it'll cool off slightly. Then, as you make more, you can stack them. Fear not, they won't stick to each other. One last note: A crepe's pretty side is the first one you cooked. When you roll up a crepe, keep the pretty side on the outside (which means place it on the plate pretty side down before filling and rolling).
Admittedly, making crepes takes a little bit of practice, but you'll be a pro after knocking out two or three of them. You also can make the crepes ahead of time, then cool, stack and wrap them in plastic. If you are going to freeze them, wrap them again in foil and label them well. Contrary to popular...