Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey
February is that funny month: it is shorter than the others and has a “Leap Year” attached to it. Here in New England there can be a roller-coaster ride of seasonal activity – from mild almost spring- like weather to frost-bite severe. We seem to be mirroring storms that graced us in 2015, not as severe yet, but just as menacing.
Some useless trivia: Because February is only 28 days long, it can actually have no full moons. The last full moon in February was in 1999, and the next gap is predicted on the 2018 astrological calendar.
It also is the host month of Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday,” literally translated), the kick off to Lent by Ash Wednesday followed, for some people, by 40 days of giving up something (albeit excused one day for St Patrick’s Day, March 17). Ironically, Fat Tuesday is the last day of February this year on the 28th, making March 1 Ash Wednesday.
Having grown up in France, this day was a build-up event. Basically eating everything that is fattening for 7 days before the fast!
We in the south of France made crêpes. In the middle country, they made Beignets or small doughnuts, and in Northern France, folks made waffles. All three meals are synonymous with the much celebrated day. Carnivals take place all over France. Carnival is a Latin word deriving from carnelevare, literally meaning “Lift out the meat”!! The following 40 days of fasting were virtually meat-free; butter and eggs were sparse in meals, as well.
In France, February 2 is always National Crêpe day, called “La Chandeleur.” It is a family event that involves Crepes, a gold coin and a flipping contest. My grandmother would make the crepe batter, and we all got a shot at flipping our delicate pancake. Tradition has it that if you flip the crêpe successfully, you won’t have any money problems. Oh, but there is a catch! You hold the coin with the hand you write with and flip your crepe with your other hand. It keeps things fun.
So, for French Crèpes, you make a simple batter:
1 cup flour, sifted
½ cup milk
½ cup water
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp soft butter
Mix the eggs and flour together …
… adding the milk and water slowly. Add the salt and butter and whisk until smooth. In a hot skillet, add a tsp of butter, or cooking oil for savory crêpes coat well. Add ¼ cup batter for each crepe and tilt the pan so the batter swirls out – the back of a ladle also helps to spread it out.
Cook for about 1 minute or until the sides are brown. Lift with a spatula to loosen it and cook the other side. Stack them on top of each other and cover with a cake pan (for height) or a piece of foil.
Crepes can be savory (salty) filled with ham and melted cheese, or sweet, say filled with Nutella or something as simple as strawberry jam.
This is the easiest cookie recipe you will ever need for your entire life! The base is magic! And the fillings are what you want. When you make them from scratch, it takes 20 minutes and costs less than 20 cents a cookie. So bake a batch for your loved ones – they are nutritious and healthy.
You can add cinnamon, raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, glazes, frostings. Or you can roll this cookie dough out and get creative with cookie cutters. Or just roll into small balls for the perfect cookie.
You will need:
1 pound of soft BUTTER
1½ cups sugar
2 ¾ cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Mix the sugar and butter until light and fluffy …
… add the eggs and mix well.
Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add flour mix in small batches – mix well.
Use a small ice-cream scoop to form round balls and place dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15 mins in a 350-degree oven.
I make these cookies all the time for my foster daughter, and when she says, “Papa, I want a cookie!” I know she is getting good stuff. Tomorrow, when we’re snowed in …
… I may make a few dozen 😉!