This is the time of year when strawberries taste like strawberries. Here in southern California, I can find strawberries year-round at our local farmers’ markets. I’m a New York girl originally, so I consider the year-round availability of locally grown strawberries nothing less than a miracle of nature or some higher power.
But even in southern California, whose fertile soil produces most of the strawberries consumed in the U.S., April strawberries are a lot better than January strawberries. They’re also more plentiful, which, because the laws of supply and demand really do work, means that last week I was able to score a full flat (12 pints) for less than $20. And I’m talking big, impressive, red-ripe strawberries, the kind whose juice runs down your arm when you take a bite and whose intense sweet-tart flavor leaves a smile on your face for a good long while.
You might wonder how long a flat of strawberries lasts in a four-person household. In my house, the answer is: Not long. When I wash and hull three pints of strawberries and put them on the table with dinner, I always hope I’ll have a few left to pack in the kids’ lunches for the next day. I never do. Strawberries are to my kids as Houdini was to that magic box – without fail, they disappear within.
When my mother visited last spring from New York, I asked her to wash and slice the strawberries for these crepes, which we were serving that evening at a dinner party. “It’s such a shame to use these in a sauce,” she said. “They’re too beautiful for sauce!” But it’s at precisely this time of year, when prices are low and supply seems endless, that I put strawberries into smoothies, cobblers, strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, strawberry crumble cake, and these crepes. Because when strawberries are this glorious and this available, they deserve to be part of everything.
Note: Macerating the strawberries in sugar draws out the juices and creates a beautiful syrup. If you have any of the syrup left over, mix it with champagne for a lovely aperitif, with sparkling water or club soda for a refreshing bubbly beverage, or with lemon and water for a beautiful strawberry lemonade.
Classic French crepes topped with juicy sugared strawberries. Make it in the spring when strawberries really taste like strawberries!
Ingredients2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or other orange-flavored liqueur)1 cup all-purpose flour2 large eggs3 Tbsp butter, melted3/4 cup milkpinch of salt water, as needed
Combine the strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar and Grand Marnier in a mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit at room temperature while you make the crepes. The longer it sits, the more juice the berries will release.Whisk together the flour, eggs, butter, milk, salt and remaining sugar in another bowl until the mixture is smooth. Add water, a little at a time, until the batter is the consistency of heavy cream. You want the batter to be quite thin so it will spread easily around the pan.Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Then, working quickly, add about 1/4 cup of batter to the pan. Immediately lift the pan and swirl the batter around so it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. When the batter stops moving and is starting to set, put the pan back on the stove.In about 30 seconds, the edges of the crepe will begin to lift slightly and turn golden. Flip the crepe carefully with a spatula (or, if you’re brave, pick it up with your fingers and turn it by hand). Cook briefly on the second side. Fold in half, then in half again so you have a triangle. Put the finished crepe on a plate and start over again.To serve, place two triangles on a plate and top with the macerated strawberries. Those of you who like whipped cream should feel free to add some at this point.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 crepes