Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipe: Sherry Seafood Crêpes with Asparagus

Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts. – Charles Lamb

Fresh baby spears. Photo: quisnovis, Flickr ccl
The asparagus will soon be in season in Canada so now's the time to think of uses for those tender delicious spears.

Asparagus has been in use since time immemorial. The earliest surviving cookbook using asparagus is from Rome. The Roman Cookery of Apicius lists three uses, one of which is for  Asparagus cooked in wine. It was cultivated by many early civilizations around the Mediterranean where in it was eaten fresh as well as dried.

This is full grown asparagus. It can be grown purely as an ornamental.
Photo: Joi, Flickr ccl
About Asparagus
Asparagus has a delicate, somewhat artichoke/pea-like flavour. That's a bad description, I know, but it really doesn't taste like anything but itself. Fresh asparagus tastes as much like canned as fresh peas taste like canned. So avoid canned when at all possible.

The spears are only eaten when young and less than 10" in height. Once the asparagus grows further it becomes woody and is unpalatable. It is low in natural sodium and is a good source of many important minerals and vitamins, as well as fibre.

Asparagus has several other overall heath benefits as it is a diuretic, neutralizes ammonia in our bodies and protects blood vessels.

This recipe combines the delicate taste of shrimp and crab with asparagus, all in a delicate crêpe and a lightly flavoured sherry cream. It is a wonderful way to enjoy asparagus when in season. Each serving of two crêpes is a meal in itself. No need for side dishes.

Canadian asparagus should hit the grocery shelves in about 2-3 weeks. Watch for it!

Sherry Seafood Crêpes with Asparagus
Prep: 1 hour  |  Bake: 15-20 min  |  Serves 4

In the pan ready to go in the oven.
8 crêpes (from recipe below)
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (chopped if desired)
120g lump crab meat (small can)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
16 asparagus spears, uncut and pre-cooked
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups 10% cream
1/4 cup dry sherry, plus 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Make the crêpes following the recipe below. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Melt the butter in a large flat pan. Add the flour, whisk together and let cook for about 1 minute. Do not brown.

Slowly whisk in the cream and allow to simmer until thickened slightly. Whisk in the cayenne, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to medium. Whisk in 1/4 cup sherry.

Pour off 1 cup of the sauce and reserve.

To the remaining sauce, add in the shrimp and let cook through. Turn off the heat and stir in the crab meat and chopped eggs.

To assemble, place one crêpe in a 9x13 baking dish. Lay 2 asparagus spears in the middle and spoon 1/8 of the seafood mixture over them. Roll up the crêpe and turn seam side down. Repeat with remaining crêpes.

Pour the reserved sauce over the filled crêpes and sprinkle with the remaining sherry. (It's easiest to not measure out the 2 tbsp. Just place your thumb over the top of the sherry bottle and sprinkle the desired amount on top.)

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Sherry Seafood Crêpe, fresh from the oven. Mmmmmmm.....

Basic Crêpes
Makes 8
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 cup water 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle, frying, or crepe pan over medium high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter in the hot pan. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.


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