Whether they’re sweet or savory, crepes have always intrigued and intimidated me.
I’m always afraid I can’t keep them in tact (no crepe skills) which is likely why only recently I found the encouragement to make them later in life. Thanks to this recipe my partner Joe showed me firsthand that crepes are actually doable without a fancy crepe pan or cooking classes!
Crepes originate from Western France and they are celebrated every February 2nd during e jour des crêpes or “the day of the crepe.”
Growing up I don’t remember eating these crepes with ham sauce but I do remember dreaming about every kid’s treasured hammy story “Green Eggs and Ham.” You can enjoy a video short of that below.
This recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen and I’m pegging it at circa 1970s or 80s. Julie wrote the recipe on her special stationery to my Mom “Betty,” and I’ve included a scan of the original below!
❤ If you’re fast-tracking this recipe while the crepe batter is chilling in the fridge you can continue on to prepare the filling and ham sauce. Or you can enjoy a mimosa and some conversation with your friends and family while the party crescendoes.
❤ Depending on the size of your pour you may have some leftover crepes. You can refrigerate them to enjoy a day or two later or… we froze a few of ours by placing a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe then placing the stack in an air tight, freezer-safe bag.
Total prep: About 90-120 minutes (including 1 hour for the crepe batter to chill)
for the crepes:
1 cup | flour, sifted
½ teaspoon | baking powder
¼ – ½ teaspoon | salt
2 | cage free eggs
1 cup | milk
¼ teaspoon | nutmeg
for the filling:
1 cup | onion, chopped
2 tablespoons | unsalted butter (give Falfurrias brand a try per my Grandmother “Nanny”)
10 ounce package | frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup | swiss cheese, diced
2 teaspoons | dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon | nutmeg
for the ham sauce:
2 tablespoons | Mmmmmore unsalted butter
2 tablespoons | flour
¼ teaspoon | salt
1 cup | milk
½ cup | half and half
2 teaspoons | dijon mustard
1 ½ cups (about ½ pound) | ham, cooked and diced
to garnish | green onions, chopped (optional)
iii. What To Do
Prepare The Crepes: 1) Combine by hand the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. 2) In a separate bowl beat the eggs and milk together then add to the flour mixture. 3) Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight, if you’re preparing this ahead of time. 4) Over medium-low heat (we used gas) melt some butter in a flat pan or crepe pan. 5) Pour 3 tablespoons of the batter all at once into the heated pan and let it sit a few seconds. Carefully rotate, flip and cool a bit more on the second side. Transfer the crepe onto a plate until ready to use. Continue cooking and stacking until you’ll all out of batter, making about 12 crepes. If you’re lucky the crepes will turn out something like this:
Prepare The Filling: 1) In a larger pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in butter. 2) Add the spinach and cook until the moisture evaporates. 3) Stir in the swiss cheese, mustard, salt and nutmeg. 4) Preheat your oven to 350°F. 5) Fill the crepes using ¼ cup of the filling for each, roll ’em up, and arrange them in a lightly buttered casserole dish. You can place them in a chafing dish if you’re serving right away.
Prepare The Ham Sauce: 1) In your crepe pan, melt butter and stir in the flour and salt. 2) Add the milk, half and half and the mustard. 3) Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. 4) Fold in the diced ham and heat until warm. 5) Pour the ham sauce over the crepes and “warm up the whole business at once in the oven” as Julie wrote below, about 10-15 minutes or heat in the chafing dish (per above).
We sprinkled some chopped green onions on top to serve (optional).
Who is “Julie Mueller”
Julie is more than my 1st Cousin; she has been like my 2nd Mom. Julie had a heart bigger than Texas and I can still hear her signature “infectious” laugh which would instantly brighten any room.
Julie was known for having the impeccable skill of a master entertainer and with that the tastiest of foods were always to be enjoyed by all! I always thought of Julie as my very own Martha Stewart as she was crafty well beyond the kitchen across mediums like needlepoint, painting, furniture restoration and being a wonderful decorator and story teller. Whether by design or accident, Julie taught me to never underestimate the loving power and influence of a Cousin!
You’ll find several of Julie’s recipes, photos, and stories here at Betty’s Cook Nook. Her memory lives on in those who knew her and I’m happy to share some of her favorite foods with you.
This salad dressing recipe hails from my Cousin Julie’s kitchen and it’s a little slice of history from a speciality retailer that is no more – Frost Brothers. It graced cities including San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Laredo, Corpus Christi… and I saw something about a Dallas opening in my second hometown – Dallas – at the iconic North Park Center.
With San Antonio roots dating back to 1917, Frost Brothers is a Texas original considered one of this country’s finest retailers… until it met its demise in the late 80s. 70 years is a long haul and Frost Bros. will be forever missed by those who experienced it.
My Aunt Delores would have racks of the season’s finest clothes delivered to her Terrell Hills home so she could try them on and decide the chosen ones… this was about as “froufrou” a thing I could imagine! But then again my Aunt and Uncle also got in-home haircuts back in the 70s and 80s so my relatives were definitely a beat ahead of the tempo before the days of Amazon or the monthly box subscription.
I remember when I was a kid I always referred to the fancy store as “Fross Bross” because I didn’t know “Bros.” was the abbreviation for brothers. Who knew?! Apparently my Mom, “Betty,” did because she’d laugh at me when I butchered the pronunciation of the store’s name.
For those who remember Frost you’ll likely enjoy this lemon-herb dressing recipe that’s a treasured treat that comes to us via their “Tastesetter” Restaurant… and my Cousin’s kitchen!
❤ We served this dressing on top of this family favorite – Jackson Salad. These two creations make a remarkable and tasty pairing, so try them if you can! Especially if you like a salad with artichoke, hearts of palm, bacon, and gorgonzola graced by the touch of fresh lemon and herbs!
❤ While my gut said to use fresh herbs we mostly used dried. Either way you’ll eat your way home a hero.
❤ I noticed on the original recipe (below) Cousin Julie pumped up the jam with MORE basil, oregano, and tarragon (or thyme). We used thyme from the garden (sorry, tarragon).
Total prep: About 10 minutes.
1 cup | safflower oil
⅓ cup | fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon (or more) | fresh cracked pepper
¼ teaspoon (or more) | sweet basil
¼ teaspoon (or more) | oregano
¼ teaspoon (or more) | tarragon or thyme
1 clove | garlic, minced
iii. What to do
1. In a medium-sized bowl blend all ingredients together with a wire whisk until things are nice and smooth.
2. Serve immediately or you can let it rest in the fridge before serving.
Yield: 1 ⅓ cups, prepared.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
While you whip up this dressing why not get your kitchen a rockin’ with this 1980s favorite from Technotronic!? Crank it!
I’m confident this is the first of Mom’s recipes I found cut out with Pinking Shears (see the pic below).
Mom was an expert artist, although she would never consider herself as such [insert a Betty-blush here]. Mom’s artistic mediums spanned food, paper, wood, plants and cloth, where her pinking shears were one of her essential tools.
Mom loved sewing so much she found a way to include a sewing closet into her and Dad’s bedroom so there’s no doubting her passion for handmade clothes. Mom made many of her dresses, my band uniforms – she even sewed printed labels bearing my name into my clothes. I wish I still had the hand-painted denim shirt she made me based on my wish – a red barn complete with a scattering of farm animals painted in her “Oh, Betty” style.
I love it when I can find evidence of when Mom’s recipes came into existence. This one was from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. My partner Joe said this sauce was better than his sauce. That really says a lot since his Red Sauce recipe is my favorite.
foodie tips ~
❤ Spaghettini? We had to look it up. And we briefly lived in Italy. It’s thin spaghetti. How to pronounce “bolognese?” This dish hails from Bologna, Italy, so it’s pronounced with four syllables – not three. Like boh-loh-NYEH-zeh. If you’re doubting your Italian pronunciation you can simply refer to it as a ragù, making sure to pepper your pronunciation with some hearty Italian hand gesturing.
❤ Pump up the jam. I added more carrot, celery and garlic. More cowbell? Well, that’s an ingredient for another special recipe.
❤ Why not serve this dish with some sidekicks? Some pepperoni-cheese bread and a side salad would hit the spot. It’s called a side salad so there’s more room for the bread. :~)
¼ pound (about 1½ cups) | mushrooms, sliced
1 | carrot, sliced
1 clove | garlic, crushed or minced
½ cup | onion, chopped
½ cup | celery, chopped
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons | wesson oil*
¾ pound | Italian sausage, casings removed and broken-up with a spoon
2 15-ounce cans | Hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
¼ cup | dry red wine (not optional)
1 teaspoon | sugar
¼ teaspoon | Italian herb seasoning
* We argued over this one. I wanted to use olive oil and Joe said “stick to the recipe the first time,” my very own cardinal rule. Joe won. But I still snuck-in more carrot, celery and fresh garlic since I wasn’t changing an ingredient. Besides, who gets all excited over one carrot, celery stalk or garlic clove?! Not me, that’s who!
ii. what to do
1. In a medium pan or Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms, carrot, garlic, onion, celery and green pepper in the oil.
2. Add the sausage and cook until it’s no longer pink. Drain the fat (or not) … we don’t judge.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
4. About 25 minutes into the simmer you can prepare your spaghettini by preparing your pasta according to the instructions.
5. Serve the bolognese over hot, cooked thin pasta.
Yields 5+ servings.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe.
After I safely recovered Mom’s cookbooks in 2011, I was quick to notice one thing missing – recipes from her Mom – Nanny. Nanny was the Grandparent I was closest to and she had a few “home run” recipes like her coconut-fruit (Ambrosia) salad, homemade chicken noodle soup and waffles served hot from the press. What’s not to like there?
I’ve been deeply saddened that Mom didn’t have any of Nanny’s recipes in her own cookbook but I find “the closer to home, the less likely you are to write things down.” This is certainly true with cooking as many of Mom’s favorite recipes were in her head – not on paper – so good luck to us all in documenting our family’s tried and tastefully-true recipes!
My family’s recipe void began changing earlier this spring when I visited Julie, who’s my 1st Cousin and our family’s much loved Matriarch. Julie has a mind like a steel trap, so after blogging my way through almost 100 of Mom’s recipes I decided to dig deeper; a trip to San Antonio with the specific culinary reconnaissance mission of recovering a few family recipes I didn’t have. And recover, I did!
In addition to Julie gifting me Nanny’s Iced Tea recipe, I scored the Grandmother-load of all – Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe (below) which we’ll get to in a moment. Why, in a moment? Well, for those of you who haven’t read most of Betty’s Cook Nook you may be disappointed to hear that I have the gift of gab which translates quite nicely online as I’m also fast-to-type (so was my Mom, Betty). So if you want a “CliffsNotes” version of this recipe, you best scroll down to this post’s “Foodie Tips” section and continue on. If you want to read a free and fabulous story about family and food, read on!
The Art Of Family Cooking
When creating Betty’s Cook Nook I knew I wanted to weave in family stories along with our recipes because to me, eating goes hand-in-hand with daily living for all of us regardless of geography, culture or perceived socioeconomic status. Celebrating great food and friends was something my parents Betty and Louis absolutely loved to do, so it just felt right to try to honor my Mom’s love for cooking by creating this blog so I could translate her conventional cookbook online for generations to come.
While my storytelling is primarily for my family, I’ve heard from several non-family members – even strangers – who say they love reading the stories so I know the true essence of my effort extends far beyond a handful of my closest family members, maybe even to you! So I want to share a really touching story about something that happened today that directly ties to this recipe in the most fantastic way.
Who Do You Think You Are? (a.k.a. You Are What You Eat!)
For a few years I’ve enjoyed watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are.” I’ve seen some incredible stories uncovered through research. Because I lost my parents at a young age I have several family “holes” to fill, so last night after watching Valerie Bertinelli‘s amazing story I finally signed-up for a free 2-week trial at Ancestry.com. No, the folks at Ancestry didn’t pay me to write this post, but they should have. ;)
I was instantly addicted to my family’s online research – I’m quite skilled at online sleuthing, so Ancestry.com fits right up my alley. Within a few hours I had connected over 50 of my family members dating back to 1874. One of the most impressive things I quickly found was the address where my grandparents “Nanny” and “PaPaw” and my Mom “Betty” lived in 1944 thanks to a local city directory listing. Years after I grew-up in San Antonio, lived in Dallas 20 years then moved to Italy and returned to Texas in 2012. I learned they lived just 20 miles from where I live today in Austin, Texas … and I had no clue!
With their home address I was quickly able to find driving directions – even score a recent picture of the house from GoogleMaps.com. The home was a charming stone house, and the more I looked at the online photo I realized it looked strangely similar to one photo among the thousands of family photos that I have. It was well after midnight so I went to bed. At 4am hope and excitement woke me up. I pulled out the family photos and within 10 minutes had found the match for the online photo!
I knew I had to visit the house today. While the Google picture from the front of the street looked relatively the same with just a few modern updates to the carport and entry, I was nervous the house was no more as online records suggested their house had quadrupled in size. Today I bundled-up my two Labs “Boomer” and “Harley” and drove to Nanny’s and Mom’s old neighborhood and was thrilled to find that the house had not been torn down – it was doing just fine – including the two huge oak trees that flanked the 1981 family picture I have of the house (above).
The Way We Were
Standing in front of the house at 1701 Virginia Ave. here in Austin was a bit strange for me. While my feet were 70 years late arriving to the party, I felt an awesome peace; the peace that comes from discovering something special. I pictured the old 1938 stone house with my Mom “Betty” and her Sister “Delores” playing in the yard … then my Grandmother “Nanny”, sticking her head out the screen door to summon her two girls to dinner.
Today, while I may have arrived 70 years late for dinner, I’m able to recreate one of their family favorites thanks to Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce recipe. So can you!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ This sauce works well with chicken, beef or pork. Feel the force!
♥ Julie said my Grandfather Harry would make a basting “sop mop” by wrapping a T-shirt strips around a stick. Feel free to create your own … or use a modern silicon basting brush shown above.
♥ What are those yellow wrappy-things below? They’re lemon cover stretch wraps and you can find them online or at a store near you! They make juicing lemons a seedless, pulp-less pleasure!
♥ A nice side for this dish would be one of my all-time favorites here on BCN – California Potato Salad. It’s that good!
1 cup | shortening
3 | white onions, peeled and quartered
1 | green bell pepper, cut into chunks
4 pieces | celery, cut up
1 can | tomatoes (we used a 14.5 ounce can of diced toms)
1 can | tomato sauce (we used a 15 ounce can of Hunt’s)
½ cup | vinegar
2 cups (or more) | water
1 | lemon, juiced then quartered and everything added, including the peel
3 teaspoons | yellow mustard
¼ cup | catsup
2 teaspoons | chili powder
3 teaspoons | salt
1 teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
2 dashes | hot sauce
2 dashes | tobasco
¼ cup (or more) | worcestershire sauce
ii. what to do
1. In a large stock pot simmer everything uncovered until it’s all cooked down and reduced. While the original recipe below says “at least ½ hour,” my Cousin Julie was quick to point out that it takes much longer than noted! I think we simmered everything for about 2 hours, stirring every few minutes.
2. Taste and adjust the sauce as you like, because these measurements aren’t “exactly right!” Gottaloveit.
3. When the sauce is done to your liking, baste the meat on the grill with a sop mop or basting brush. We made sure to heavy-up on the last basting just before removing everything from the grill.
If you want to enjoy this the way Julie said our family did (throw away nothing), save the vegetables and serve them as a side dish for your barbecue meal.
Family Fun Facts ~
♥ The vintage “Fire King” measuring cup above is my Mom, Betty’s; it has surely measured-up over the years and can probably tell bountiful stories about the families and friends it has fed! I alone can tell more than a few stories. :)
♥ Cousin Julie told me that when they lived in the old stone house my Grandpaw Harry worked at the IRS in Austin; turns out he was too old to enlist for WWII so worked this government job instead. What’s even more impressive is that my Mom (Betty) her Sister (Delores) and Delores’ Daughter Julie (my Cousin who was barely 2 in 1944) also lived in the house. It must have been a lively party of five, indeed! Delores also worked at the IRS which Julie said was “filled with women” as most men were off serving in the war.
♥ Cousin Julie said Nanny and PaPaw (Grandpaw Harry) would hose down the old stone house above in the hot summer days to keep it cool inside; these were days before air conditioning!
♥ In 2014 I sent a letter to introduce myself to the residents of 1701 Virginia Avenue but sadly they did not reply; still sad about “no reply” to this day (2020).
♥ Here’s my original scan of Nanny’s BBQ recipe – Cousin Julie said this was Nanny’s recipe penned by Mom’s sister Delores Sutton who is one of the most elegant ladies I ever met. I love her handwriting! The paper? It can tell a story all its own. Click the pic for a bigger view.
Every day is fried day!
Fried shrimp, beans, mushrooms, zucchini. You fry it, and I eat it. :)
Mom’s most basic recipe makes even the gloomiest of days special. Go on, give it a fry.
1 cup | flour
1 cup | water
2 | eggs
ii. what to do
1. Stir all ingredients together with a whisk.
2. Pour mixture over your favorite green beans, onion rings, mushrooms, etc. and fry until crisp.
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let’s make Cinco de Mayo-nnaise (sorry for the cheesy play on words… it’s what I do).
I did find evidence of some diet foods in mom’s cookbook. This was one of them.
This recipe caught my eye more than once as I flipped through mom’s recipes. So let’s let ‘er roll! Who doesn’t love the taste of avocado?
Let’s Go, Avocado
1 | small 10- to 12-ounce ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed
3 tablespoons | lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon | salt
1 teaspoon | peeled garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon | mayonnaise
2 tablespoons | water or chicken broth
3 or 4 drops | Tabasco brand sauce
1. Cut the avocado into small pieces and place in an electric blender (or immersion blender) with remaining ingredients.
2. Cover and blend until creamy and smooth.
3. Makes 1 cup; ¼ cup of the mayo is 114 calories.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ The sauce may also be made by mashing garlic to a paste with the salt then mashing all ingredients together with a fork. Chunkier.
♥ While the serving suggestions pair the mayo with broiled fish steaks and steamed mixed vegetables, this mayo *has* to be great on a BLT sandwich or chicken sandwich. Diet, “sm-iet!”
To make the BLT Sammy: Toast your favorite bread, top with avocado mayo, tomato, lettuce and your favorite bacon. ♥ ♥ ♥