Some of you might remember episode 8 of our brunch series when Mike and I had a crepe duel. It was a good time – we laughed, we cried – and we always knew in our hearts that it would happen again. Except this time, the circumstances are a bit different.
For those of you who don’t know, the vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz occasionally hosts a cooking competition a la Chopped (the TV show), where the contestants are given a theme (dessert, entree, etc) and several ingredients they must use to create the dish. Well the theme was brunch, which meant we absolutely had to participate – you know how we are about our brunches. As for the ingredients?
Butternut squash. Rosemary. Apricot jam. Popcorn.
The Savory Crepe – Curried Lentil and Squash Crepes with Apricot-Rosemary Chutney
Last time we had a crepetition, I created the sweet version and Mike did the savory. To keep things interesting, we switched roles for this battle. For my savory crepe I went in a curry direction because, well, I like curry. Let thy stomach be thy guide. Here’s the what’s what:
The crepe batter used was the Vegan Brunch recipe, replacing about 1/2 cup of the flour with finely ground popcorn. This turned out quite well – the batter was still a dream to work with and had a bit more flavor.
For the filling, I peeled, seeded and cubed a butternut squash, tossed it with some olive oil and curry powder and baked it for about 45 minutes at 400 F. To sauce things up I made a red lentil dahl – just saute some onions, garlic and ginger, cook 1 cup of red lentils in 3 cups liquid until a stewy texture manifests, and flavor it with garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin and hot sauce. I quickly steamed a bunch of spinach for freshness and color to complete the filling.
For the chutney, I mixed 3 tablespoons of apricot preserves with 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary. Served alongside the crepes, the rosemary flavor was surprisingly pronounced and gave the whole meal a fresh taste. Win!
The Sweet Crepes – Candied Rosemary Squash and Grand Marnier Poached Peaches with Apricot Cream
Long time, no see! For my crepe competition entry I decided to try a new take on the classic “peaches and cream”. I really wanted to highlight the required mystery ingredients while adding just enough others to keep it interesting. I used the same popcorn crepe batter that Allysia did, so lets start talk about the filling!
I started by prepping the butternut squash (peel, slice into small cubes), mixing it with 3 or 4 large sprigs of chopped rosemary, and roasting it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. After the initial roast I tossed the squash with a tablespoon of brown sugar and two tablespoons of apricot jelly. I returned the squash to the oven and let it roast for another 20 minutes at 450 degrees. When it was finished it was sticky and sweet, with just enough bite to it. The rosemary taste was heavenly.
The peaches were halved and sprinkled with sugar before being placed in a hot, oiled pan for 10 minutes. The pan was then tossed in the oven. After ten minutes I flipped the peaches over and returned them to the oven for five more minutes. To finish them off I poured an ounce of Grand Marnier into the hot pan and let it evaporate. The booze added a nice little edge to the peaches.
Finally, we come to the cream topping. A quick cashew cream mixed with a few tablespoons of apricot jelly supplied a nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the crepe filling.
Of course, a crepetition wouldn’t be complete without a boozy brunch beverage…
Sparkling Rosemary Limeade
This right here might be my favorite of the boozy brunch concoctions. The spicy rosemary and sharp citrus flavors came together to make a beautifully bright drink that would be perfect for a warm summer morning. The weather-gods must have seen this and thought so as well, today was the warmest day we’ve had around here for a while!
The bulk of this drink’s flavor comes from a sweet/sour syrup involving lime juice, lemon juice, rosemary, and white sugar. I used 3/4 cup of lime juice (about four limes), 1/2 cup lemon juice (about two lemons), 1 scant tablespoon sugar, and two 6-inch sprigs of rosemary (just the leaves, not the woody stalks). Toss all those ingredients together in a small pot and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes or, if you have far more forethought than I do, chill in the fridge overnight. Strain the syrup just before putting the drinks together.
As for the last step, add 5 or 6 ice cubes to a glass and pour in 2 ounces of vodka and 2 ounces of your syrup. Top with soda water and garnish with something pretty.
Well, I think that’s all for now, hopefully you enjoyed the finale of the crepe battle, and make sure to check out some of the other awesome entries in the Vegan Chopped brunch competition!