The seed catalogs have arrived, and there is no better time of year to make Applesauce Buckwheat Crepes. During the few minutes the apples soften into sauce, I can tap post-it notes to the catalog pages. And while the crepes sizzle, I find a new leaf or flower to grow for the salad bowl.
It has taken me many years to fully accept the fact that I am a homebody, plain and simple. Friends find pleasure venturing out into the world, while I prefer to stay home, change the paint color in the living room, and doodle out new garden designs at the kitchen counter.
This past year, I traveled more for work than ever before, and quite honestly, I enjoyed it for the first time. When my first cookbook was published in 2003, it forced me to leave the quiet farm life and break out of my routine. I was scared at first, yet then learned that the world of gardens is much bigger than my backyard. Meeting other gardeners and seeing gardens expanded my knowledge about what to grow and how to design with nature. Above all, I’ve learned techniques that are practical, productive, and beautiful, which has become the heart of my work … and my life.
As I begin writing my sixth cookbook, tentatively titled The Heirloom Kitchen Garden, I will once again be in new, unexplored territory. Starting with seeds makes sense, and as I pour through the catalogs, I am looking for something old that is also new: heirlooms and open-pollinated varieties. Using my 80-20 rule, I’ll rediscover favorites such as the Red Rubine brussels sprouts, Waverex peas, and Romanesco broccoli, while saving space for the more unusual Mexican sour gherkin and Red Malabar spinach.
I also plan to travel this summer, perhaps attend the Seed Savers Annual Gathering in Iowa, or the Heirloom Expo Festival in Santa Rosa, California, plus the nearby Scott Farm in Putney, Vermont, where I will find a variety of heirloom fruits.
Reading seed catalogs at the kitchen table while eating Applesauce Buckwheat Crepes is the best way I know to spend a winter’s day. Now that the crepes are made, it’s time to invite friends over for a winter garden party where we can swap ideas on what to grow for the 2017 season.
Here is a Printable PDF Version: Applesauce and Buckwheat Crepe Recipe
Buckwheat Crepes with Spicy Applesauce
Makes 24 eight-inch crepes
The nutty goodness and firm texture of the buckwheat holds any filling, yet is still delicate and delicious. Crepes are fairly quick to make, and this recipe makes a big batch, which you can keep in the refrigerator to fill throughout the week or layer individually with waxed paper and freeze.
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Olive oil, for skillet
In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. Add eggs and mix with a whisk to blend. Gradually pour in the milk and 1¼ cups water, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. Add butter and continue to whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Before cooking, give it another quick whisk to blend again. (You can also make this in a blender or with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk.)
Lightly oil an 8-inch crepe pan, and place over medium heat. When pan is warm, lift from heat and wait 3 seconds, then pour in ¼ cup crepe batter while tilting pan so batter coats bottom evenly. Return to heat. Cook until lightly browned underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn the crepe with a thin spatula, and cook other side for about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate, cover with a plate or tea towel to keep warm, and continue until all the crepes are made.
You can either fill them while warm, or once completely cooled, wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator for five days. Reheating on a dry skillet over medium low heat gives them a nice crisp exterior.
To fill crepes, spread about 3 tablespoons filling, then fold in half, and plate . Or roll into a tube, slice in half, then plate.
Spicy Apple Sauce
Makes 4 cups
Applesauce is so easy to make that there is no reason to buy it in the grocery store. Simply simmer sliced apples with a little water or apple cider until soft. Keep the skins on for added flavor and color. The type of apple will determine the cooking time: a firm Cortland will take slightly longer to cook than a soft Macintosh. Both can be pureed through a food mill, or served slightly chunky.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves
8 medium (2 pounds) cooking apples (Cortland or Macintoshes) skins on, cored, and thinly sliced
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil, add the sugar, lemon juice, and spices. With a wooden spoon, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes to release the flavor from the spices.
Add the apples and cover. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often until the apples are barely tender, about 10 minutes. Don’t overcook the apples, as they will continue to cook off the heat.
For a smoother sauce, mash the apples with a fork or run through a food mill to puree. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.