The film this week is a risqué one. A young seventeen year old beauty discovers her sexuality-then sells it. Taking place in France, Isabelle lives a second life. The story progresses nicely as it takes place over four seasons. Beginning with summer where she loses her virginity to a German guy while on holiday, autumn comes next with her beginning her business and so on. She develops a clientele and manages to meet a number of suitors but none like Georges, a much older man who begins to mean much more than just a few hundred euros.
The film, ‘Jeune et Jolie’, directed by François Ozon, won the Palme d’Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Marine Vacth (Isabelle) does an incredible job and I was completely drawn into her story and her dangerous lifestyle. Curiously, throughout the process she seems aloof and uncurious about what she is doing except for the fact that she is doing it. She remains unmoved by most of it and in fact, she could have probably just done drugs if she was looking for something exciting to do. Ozon does not really explain her motives but all we can tell emotionally is that she adores her younger brother Victor. I felt that she began and although disgusted by it, she keeps doing it to prove to herself that she can be in control and can do whatever she wants. In the scene where she has her first encounter with the German, you can tell it isn’t pleasant. Perhaps it’s for that reason she sees it as something not as special as she thought, so she might as well give it away and make money. It didn’t bother me so much that the film was a bit shallow in that we did not get a chance to get deeper into Isabelle’s motives. It left her mysterious which is what her clients saw her as. Young and Beautiful does showcase other aspects of French culture very well. Summer and Winter holidays, fresh-faced women who wear no make-up, the openness of families and that not too much is censored from everyday life.
Since this movie had very little to no cuisine in it (shame, I know) I went with something decidedly French. The Crepe. Easy, delicious and when folded, the crepe reminds me of bedsheets, so therein lies my inspiration for this week’s recipe!
Crepes have always been a favorite of mine. I still remember the first one I had on the coast of France. It was made in a little stand next to the beach. The specialty crepe was made with Grand Mariner liquor and chocolate. As I sat watching the Mediterranean, with the sweetness of the crepe, hearing the beautiful French language all around me I thought that if this could be my version of heaven I would be just fine with that.
In my ‘hometown’ of Girona, there were quite a few places to get a crepe, just as good as the ones I had in France. There was this special place though, where an older man and woman would make them together. You walk up to the window, he would take your order, begin making the crepes, his wife would add the toppings and serve. There were two stools inside to sit and that was all. Straight and to the point. It was my favorite place to get a sweet Nutella and Banana crepe on a Saturday afternoon as I took a walk through town. I never had to make crepes because I had so many around me (and for cheap!) that I didn’t have to bother. From sweet to savory, I could eat one everyday.
Since Kansas City isn’t the crepe capital of the United States-I had to learn to make my own. I was surprised by how easy they are to make, not nearly as intimidating as I thought. Really, savory crepes are made with Buckwheat flour. It gives crepes that crunchy texture that enhances the flavors. However, sweet crepes can be used for savory ingredients as well and for your first go with this dish, it might be a bit easier before advancing to Buckwheat flour.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter (cooled down)
Dash of Salt
For Sweet Crepes, add 1 tbsp. of Pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup Chopped Tomatoes
1 cup Roasted Chicken
1 cup Spinach
3 tbsp. Pesto
1 cup Mozzarella
To begin, add the flour, milk, eggs, salt and melted butter (but let it get to room temperature first) to a large mixing bowl. If you are making sweet crepes, add your vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar. You can use a regular whisk to get it mixed or use a blender for about thirty seconds or until you see the batter smooth. Make sure it is all combined and should be fairly thin. I tend to let my batter sit for a half hour or so to rest, you can also make this a day ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight.
I highly recommend a crepe pan, I bought mine at World Market and it works wonderfully. If you don’t have a crepe pan you can use a shallow non-stick pan as well though you may have more difficulty flipping the crepe. Rub butter in your pan and turn the stove onto medium heat. Prepare your ingredients and have them ready to go as crepes cook quickly and you don’t want to risk burning them. Keep in mind, the ingredients for inside can be measured by the eye-meaning it’s not necessary to have exactly 1 cup of Mozzarella. You can add less to each Crepe (this recipe should be enough for four) just don’t overdo it or the crepe won’t hold, the filling should be light, yet not sparse.
Normally I pour my batter into a measuring cup with a pour spout, but a ladle will work well also. Once hot, pour 1/4 cup batter and make sure the batter covers the pan, you can pick it up and swirl it if you need to so that the batter is even on the pan. It takes anywhere from 2-3 minutes for the crepe to brown on the bottom, depending on your stove and how hot it is once you add your batter. You will be able to tell once the edges are firm. Work your spatula under your crepe and flip it. This part is a bit tricky so I recommend this video about how to flip a crepe and consider your first one practice. Cook the second side briefly, a minute at most. Turn down your heat and add your ingredients.
Place the pesto in a thin line in the middle of the crepe, spreading it a bit with a spoon. Add your chopped tomatoes, chicken, mozzarella cheese, basil and sautéed mushrooms. Flip the edges over and slide onto a place. Top with warmed marinara and sprinkle additional mozzarella.
Crepes are delicious and can be so dynamic. Try our flavors and have fun with it! Gruyere, Bacon & Béchamel or Salmon, capers, caramelized onion, artichokes, herbed cream cheese and crème fraiche! Bon Appetit!