Sunday, 28 August 2011

Parlez-vous Français?

Failsafers are masters of adaptation and substitution. Some cuisines are really easy to adapt, some are not. For example, tomato based dishes are impossible and as much as you can add pear and salt and citric acid, as Ms Frillypants once said - A pear is not a tomato. It's just not. But french food is great for it. They do have some traditionally tomato based dishes, but a lot of them are based on stock or wine which is adaptable. I've had some really good successes just doing straight substitution of ingredients in recipes from a French cookbook I bought a few years back.

These are meals that you can serve up to non failsafe guests. No, really. Provincial french food is based on really basic ingredients and it tastes and looks awesome!

My in-laws came for lunch today. My son was going to baseball open day and they came to watch and hang around for the day. Baseball was supposed to finish at 12:30, so I assumed that I still had plenty of time when I went shopping at eleven o'clock. Baseball finished at 11:30 and so everyone was back home before me! My mad organisational skills meant we were in for a late lunch and even later dessert. Chicken crêpes and pear tart were on the belated menu

Basic Crêpe Recipe
250g plain gluten free flour
pinch of salt
1tsp sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
410ml (1 2/3cup) milk of choice - I used rice milk
125ml (1/2cup) water
1tbsp melted nuttelex
Failsafe oil for frying.

Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
Mix the eggs milk and water together and pour slowly into the well.
Whisk until everything is incorporated and you have a reasonably smooth batter.
Stir in melted nuttelex.
Cover and stand for 20mins.

Heat a crêpe pan or medium sized non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Wipe or spray with a little oil.
Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan (a soup ladle was pretty spot on for my pan). tipping it around to get it to the edges.
When the crêpe starts to lift away at the edges give it a gentle shake so it comes loose and turn and cook on the other side for a minute of two. They should be slightly golden.
Stack on a plate (you could put baking paper between them to make sure they don't stick - mine didn't stick together though) and cover with foil until they are all done.
They can be frozen with paper between them.

Crêpe Filling
failsafe oil or nuttelex
1 large leek - quartered and sliced
1/2 stick of celery finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 chicken breast fillets cut into smallish pieces
rice milk
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp chopped chives

Heat oil and sauté leeks, garlic and celery.
When soft, add chicken and stir until mostly cooked.
Add enough rice milk to just cover chicken mix and bring to the boil.
Simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Mix cornflour with some cold water, add some of the hot sauce from the pan, then stir into chicken mixture.
Bring to the back to the boil and simmer for another couple of minutes until thickened.
Add salt and herbs.
Spoon down the centre of each crêpe and fold the sides over the mix.

This is enough to make and fill about 8 medium sized crêpes. You could serve them with a salad, I didn't have time and who ever eats the side salad on a crêpe?

Et voilà!

Some variations
Dairy - use normal milk and butter and add ricotta to the chicken sauce.
Amines - add some grated cheese inside and on top of the crêpe and serve with a generous dollop of sour cream (you may choose to do this for guests as it is done after cooking and can be done selectively).
Veg - most vegetables can be hidden in a white sauce as long as you don't go overboard.

We sat down to lunch at two o'clock and then I had to (wanted to) make this dessert, which was eaten at 4:30. It should have been later, but I couldn't wait to let the tart cool.

Pear Tart
Sweet pastry
340g gluten free plain flour
a small pinch of salt
150g nuttelex
90g icing sugar
2 eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 180℃
The easiest way to make pastry is in a food processor (otherwise there is rubbing and pecking and, if you're like me, flour everywhere).
Sift flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor add the nuttelex and pulse until the nuttelex is incorporated and you have something resembling bread crumbs.
Add the eggs with the motor running and process until a dough starts to form.
Tip out onto some cling wrap, knead into a ball, wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour.

Roll the pastry between sheets of baking paper and line a 23cm loose based tart tin, trimming the edges.
Line with baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove beads and paper and bake for a further 4 minutes or until the pastry is just cooked, but still pale.

Crème Pâtissière
6 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
40g cornstarch
560ml (2 1/4 cups) milk of choice (I used rice milk)
1/2 vanilla pod (or vanilla essence)
15g nuttelex

Whisk together egg yolks and half of sugar until pale and creamy.
Sift in the cornflour and mix well.
Heat milk, remaining sugar and vanilla pod, bringing just to the boil. (If using vanilla essence, add at end of cooking.)
Strain hot milk over egg mixture, stirring continuously.
Pour back into clean saucepan and bring to boil while constantly stirring. Boil for two minutes (add essence now).
Stir in nuttelex and leave to cool.

Spoon crème pâtissière into pastry shell and top with 2 - 3 peeled and sliced pears.
Bake for 25 - 30mins or until pears are golden
Leave to cool completely (If you don't, the filling will be hot and sloppy and will ooze out everywhere)
Melt a few tablespoons of pear jam with a tablespoon of water, sieve out any lumps and brush over pears to make them glossy.

Fresh out of the oven and coated in jam

If I'd have waited another hour to cut it, it would have looked like this.

Dairy - use butter and milk
Salicylates - use sweet apples.

Bon apetit et au revoir!


  1. We just had the crepes with chicken and leek and they were beautiful. We substituted arrowroot for cornflour and used Soy Milky Lite milk. Perfect! We then had them for dessert with pear and maple syrup, yum!
    Thank you so much for this great recipe. It's a keeper.

  2. Thank you! I am so glad these recipes are still useful after all this time ��