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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ficelles Picardes

Sometimes it is hard to determine whether or not a dish is French, American, Italian, or even Asian if it is not a known specialty.  Living in the US does not mean you eat mac n cheese or hamburgers everyday.  Living in France does not mean you will eat fois gras or snails everyday.  Using fish sauce does not make it officially Asian and a pasta dish is not always Italian.  If you are physically in the US but cook and innovate with every meal, does that make it American food?  Likewise, I'm living in France and have access to the same basic raw materials as everybody else, but I sure don't cook the same way "French" people do.  Does that make it French food or American food?  I'm feeling philosophical today, pondering such things while listening to House of the Holy and drinking my Macadamia George...
With that said, I usually don't label something as French unless it has something quintessentially French about it.  Today's dish is a specialty from the Picardy region, where I do not come from, but where all my in laws are from, so this is even a family recipe loosely translating to Picardy Rope.  It is usually served as an appetizer, but it is extremely heavy so we're eating it as a meal with a salad.
The fun part about this recipe for me is that I get to be the kitchen dictator without having to do any of the work, except artichoke dip and the salad.  I'll blow them away with my salad though.
Serves 5-6
2 cups mushrooms,cubed
1 1/2 cups cubed ham or turkey
1 cup shredded swiss
salt/fresh ground pepper
drizzle white wine
dash of estragon
1 Tbsp butter
 100g butter
80g flour
4 cups Milk
dash nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded swiss
4 eggs
250g flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
some vanilla sugar
1.  For the crêpes, whip the flour and eggs together by hand and add the milk little by little.  Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of vanilla sugar.  Let sit while you make the béchamel.
2.  To make the béchamel, mix the butter with flour on high heat until slightly colored.  Take off heat and add milk, little by little and whipping constantly.  Place on low heat and continue whipping.  It should be nice and thick.  Add the nutmeg and swiss and set aside.
3.  In a frying pan, heat the butter and sautée the mushrooms.  Add some salt, pepper, and estragon.  When the mushrooms render a bit of liquid, add the white wine and cubed ham.  Heat through, then add to the béchamel.  Taste this potion and adjust the seasoning.
4.  Make the crêpes:  In a thin crêpe pan (flat low lipped frying pan) smear some butter and on high heat, ladle the batter in batches of about 1/4 cup per crêpe.  Heat 2 minutes, then flip and cook 1 more minute.  Set aside and repeat until the batter is finished.
5.  Place 3-4 Tbsp of the mixture into each crêpe and roll it like a fajita before placing it in a buttered baking dish.
Do this until you run out of mixture.
6.  Sprinkle swiss liberally over the baking dish.
Cook in oven at 390°F for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden.

Serve with a salad.
Go into a food coma.
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