Friday, March 9, 2012

Savory Chicken & Vegetable Crêpes

When you're hitting your stride in kitchen you feel unstoppable, invincible, exhilarated, like you can take on any dish and rock it like a pro! It's a great feeling being that high and full of confidence, but on the other hand, when you're so high up, all it takes is one minor blunder to send you crashing back down. I know how discouraging it can be to take a chance and produce a failure in the kitchen. It's hard when you can visualize such a clear image of the end result, and plan everything so meticulously, just to see it falter. You want to give up and throw in the towel, proclaim to the world "I WILL NEVER EVER MAKE THIS AGAIN!" and it's easy to do just that. Put your failure behind you and never look back. But that, my friends, is a true sign of failure. I've changed more than I can believe in the past few years, and I hate to say that I used to be that person who would give up at the first sign of failure...but not before a big dramatic breakdown on the kitchen floor, tears streaming down my apron and splashing onto the tiles. As I've grown over the past few years, I've thankfully learned that giving into your emotions and allowing something so trivial to affect your pride will not help anyone or anything, especially yourself. You won't learn anything, you won't grow, and you certainly won't walk away with even an an ounce of pride. The real trick to overcoming failure, is to turn your failure into an opportunity.

One of the very first recipes that I ever made up on my own was also supposed to be one of the first recipes I would post on my blog, Savory Chicken Crêpes. Give a little look around Ginger Rose and these crêpes are nowhere to be found, that is until now. I remember making these crêpes about a year or so before I had even thought about starting a blog. I found a recipe on the web for chicken in a creamy sauce that I replicated and stuffed into warm crêpes and they were a wonderful success, leaving my family begging for them again throughout the rest of the year. Being a bit of a scatterbrain at the time, I had never copied down the recipe, figuring that I would remember one so simple, and of course I could not. Nor could I relocate the recipe. I was on my own armed with a pound of chicken and a carton of heavy cream...I swore that that and some butter and seasoning was all the recipe had called for...wrong again. The second time around, when I had made up the recipe from memory, I had one of those awful breakdowns on the kitchen floor. The sauce was flavorless and refused to thicken, the chicken dry and rubbery. I was devastated that I had failed at something I was so confident I could produce. I hated the words of encouragement that my parents were giving me, saying it was just as they had remembered...I knew it wasn't and felt like such a failure. I told them it was impossible and that I would never make them ever again, which upset my mom. For months and months my mom kept telling me and her friends about how her favourite thing that I make is Savory Chicken Crêpes. It made me so mad that she kept calling this failure her favourite, and I'm sure that I blew up at her more than once because of it. It was two years ago that I had a major wake up call in life. I didn't want to be scared of failure anymore, I wanted to feel confident in myself, and feel like I truly had worth. It took a lot of time and struggle to get to where I am now, and in so many ways I am stronger than ever. Thank goodness for my moms persistence and encouragement. Where before all I heard was nonsense from her when she spoke of my famous chicken crêpes, I now finally started to hear something different. I heard an opportunity. How much of a failure could something really be if it had stood out in my moms mind so clearly? I started listening as she told me that maybe the dish wasn't perfect, but she loved it and knew that if I kept working at it, I would end up with something that I would feel more proud of than if I had found instant success in it. She encouraged me to keep working at it, buying me all the ingredients needed, and stating that she would be happy to eat all the leftovers of my so called "failures" until I got it right. So this year I finally gave those Savory Chicken Crêpes another shot!

I looked at my last attempt at the crêpes with a new perspective, viewing each misstep as an opportunity. I now knew what did not work and exactly what was needed to make this recipe perfect. I plotted out the entire recipe and process, prepped everything in advance, and went to work. To my delight it was like the stars had aligned. Succulent, juicy chicken made the perfect base for the thick, velvety, and incredibly flavourful sauce. Crisp veggies added texture and colour that the previous crêpes were lacking. The crêpes were even more delicious than they were that first time around, and I have to tell you, it felt SO F***ING GOOD!...excuse the language, but there's really no other way to express it. I can't tell you how proud I felt to serve a beautiful dish that I had put so much thought, work and love into and see my family enjoy it so much. My mom was absolutely right. Knowing that I had failed in the past and really working at the dish, made me feel even better than if I had found that instant success. And you know what? I felt that good, and the crêpes were still not perfect! To be honest with you, in a lot of ways many would still consider the dish a failure, as everything but the sauce was cold. Nope, I refused to see that as failure! I simply adjusted the recipe with this new information, rolling the filled crepes and popping them into the oven to re-heat, a step that now allows me to proudly say that I have made the perfect Savory Chicken Crêpes! If it weren't for those "failures" in the past, I would have accepted the dish just as it was, not working to improve it to reach perfection. So what's the lesson I'm trying to teach here? It's by no means new, as we've all been hearing this same statement since preschool: Practice truly does make perfect!

Note: This recipe takes a bit of experience in the kitchen because of the roux. If you've never made a roux before, it generally takes a few times to really get the feel for it and find success, but don't let this discourage you! If your sauce refuses to thicken, cheat! Stir in some cornstarch this time around, and keep practicing that roux until you get it right!

Tip: Prepare crepes the day before or morning of to save on time!

3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk or process (using a food processor) all ingredients until blended.

2. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

3. In a lightly greased crepe pan or frying pan, fry crepes approximately 60 seconds on one side or until edges are brown, and approximately 30 seconds on the other side. Continue until all batter has been used. Set aside, or store in the fridge overnight wrapped in plastic wrap.

Filling & Sauce
1 Il boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed or cut into strips
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
1 chicken or vegetable Bouillion cube
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 Il asparagus, trimmed
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups hot cream or whole milk
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1. Season chicken cubes or strips with salt and pepper and paprika. Dissolve the Bouillion cube in the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Set aside. Grease a shallow, medium casserole dish and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Cook the chicken, in batches, for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. Set aside.

3. Turn the heat down to medium, add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes, or until mushrooms are softened and asparagus is cooked but still crisp. Set aside.

4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the butter to make the roux. When butter is hot, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Begin adding in the cream, a little at a time, allowing the cream to thicken slightly with each addition. Add in the dissolved Bouillion cube and water, a little at a time, reserving 1/4 cup. If your sauce has not reached a thick consistency at this point, whisk in a little bit of corn starch, keeping in mind that a little goes a long way! Simmer on stove until ready to serve. If sauce gets too thick or you want more sauce, add in the reserved 1/4 cup Bouillion liquid.

5. Stir in the bay leaf, dijon mustard, thyme, oregano. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

6. Working one at a time, fill each crêpe with a bit of the chicken, vegetables, and a drizzle of sauce. Roll and place in the greased casserole dish, crêpes may be touching. Continue with the rest of the crêpes, reserving some sauce for serving. Sprinkle evenly with gruyere and bake in a 350º oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Serve each crêpe immediately in a bed of the remaining sauce.

Listening To:
Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon

Powered by


Jade @ Maids said...

Nice, you always amaze me with your simply work, very impressive thumbs up looks so good :x

Maria said...

i dun have a chance to read all the post, but im sure it's delicious. just look at it makes me hungry hihi.