I’m in Israel for an extended visit. Starting with the flight I nearly missed, which almost had me dashing out of a taxi without my suitcases, and going straight from the airport to a hotel up north for a wedding and a family vacation, it felt like I pressed down hard on the pedal as I left Brooklyn, and have been zooming ever since.
I’ve been trying to find the quiet to write. But as soon as I sit down, there’s a knock on my door, or a phone call, and the race is on, and I can’t seem to settle down long enough to venture into a space, where all is white, and I can write. Last week, I met a friend for coffee at the Tel Aviv Port, and as we sat and scratched at life’s surface in a way that only a sense of limited time (or unlimited alcohol) makes possible, I felt as if the waves lashing against the shore were washing right over me. Right then, I wanted to write. I wanted to tell you about how this visit brings up questions of home, and priorities, and the future, and how I’ve been thinking a lot lately about closeness and safety and fear. But my day was all parceled up, and by the time I was back at my desk, after meeting another friend for a rather disappointing dinner (due to the food, not the company), I was tired, and my mind was scattered in a million directions.
So in the meantime, until I’m back home, and can write up posts in the calm and quiet, here’s a little meal that has the tempo of this trip. A few minutes of calm, flip, another few minutes, and then on to the next one. And in between crepes, there’s barely enough time to oil the pan, and sometimes you’re distracted and you turn it too quickly, and it rips, all soft and unset. Then, sitting out in the sun, surrounded by loved ones picking things up with their hands and bringing them up to their mouths, basking in the warmth that is family.
Chinese-Style Crepes with Duck
Adapted from James Peterson’s The Duck Cookbook
These crepes are pretty easy to make, once you get the hang of it, and if you happen to have leftover duck, which, at my mom’s house is actually quite a regular occurrence, this feast comes together in a breeze.
Makes approximately 24 crepes*
For the Crepes
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used spelt flour)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
vegetable oil, for the pan
Thinly sliced duck breast
Thinly sliced cucumbers
Plum sauce, for dipping
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs, and enough of the water to produce a smooth paste. Gently whisk in the rest of the water, and add the salt and sesame oil. It will look very liquid, but that’s ok. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to eliminate lumps.
Set a pan over medium heat, and brush it with a thin coating of vegetable oil. Ladle in just enough batter to cover the the bottom of the pan. Lift the pan and tilt it, so that the batter completely covers the bottom. Pour any excess batter back into the mixing bowl. (After a few times, you’ll figure out exactly how much batter you need.).
Cook the crepe for about 3 minutes, until it starts to curl up at the edges. Flip the crepe over, and cook for another minute. (Don’t despair if you tear a few in the beginning; you’ll get the hang of it!)
As you make the rest of the crepes, spread them out on a sheet pan covered with wax paper (don’t stack them or they will stick together).
We served the crepes and duck at room temperature, and heated up the plum sauce- but do as you wish…
To freeze the crepes for later use, place a piece of wax paper between each crepe, then wrap the whole package in plastic wrap, and again in aluminum foil.
*Depending on the size of your pan. Peterson recommends a 6 or 8 inch saute pan. I actually tore so many while flipping them that I threw together a second batch of batter.
We made this sumptuous Chicken with Figs for Friday Dinner. Not sure if it’s just North Africans, but my family was swooning already at the title.
I absolutely love the presentation of this.