Tag: bechamel sauce

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Pumpkin Crespelle

Around Halloween, my boyfriend feels the call of his American roots and carves scary faces in pumpkins. Being a good girlfriend I know my duties, so I went out into the world – or rather my local shop around the corner – to find only the finest examples for him. I brought quite a pretty collection back home and let him do his work but I ended up with far more squash in my kitchen than we needed. We had a vast selection, a few Hokkaidos in different shapes and sizes and butternut, which isn’t really helpful due to its shape but I forgot in my enthusiasm. So it was obvious, pumpkin had to be on the menu!

Thin, golden Italian crespelle have been on my mind for weeks but my inspiration was missing, I had no idea what to fill them with. Halloween’s squash became my muse and here it is: roasted pumpkin cubes paired with a little ricotta, the obligatory creamy Béchamel sauce, Parmesan and crisp, fried sage leaves. It looked and tasted so good that my sister Nina, who’s in Berlin at the moment for a quick visit, almost bit my laptop screen when she saw the pictures. We ate it all, so unfortunately, there was nothing left for her.

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

Pumpkin Crespelle with Ricotta and Sage

Makes 4 crespelle

For the filling

mixed pumpkin, cut into 1 1/2cm / 1/2″ cubes, 550g / 1 1/4 pounds
(like Hokkaido (with skin), or peeled butternut and musquée de provence)
olive oil
flaky sea salt
butter 2 tablespoons
fresh, large sage leaves 30
fresh ricotta 4 heaped tablespoons
Parmesan, grated, 70g / 2 1/2 ounces
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the Béchamel sauce

milk 600ml / 2 1/2 cups
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
fine sea salt
ground pepper
butter 30g / 2 tablespoons
plain flour 30g / 4 tablespoons

For the crespelle

milk 160ml / 2/3 cups
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 1 cup
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
butter, to cook the crespelle

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F (conventional oven) and line a baking dish with baking paper.

Spread the pumpkin in the lined baking dish, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes or until soft. Take the pumpkin out of the oven and set aside, keep the oven set to 200°C / 390°F.

For the Béchamel sauce, bring the milk with the bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the boil, take it off the heat once boiled. In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Take off the heat and slowly add the hot milk, whisk until smooth and cook for about 3 minutes on lowest heat until it’s thick and creamy. Discard the bay leaf, season to taste and set the pan aside.

Mix the ingredients for the crespelle with an electric mixer until well combined and let the dough rest for about 5-10 minutes. Heat a little butter in a large, heavy or non-stick pan and cook 4 large, very thin crespelle on medium heat until golden on both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on high heat and roast the sage leaves for a few seconds in the sizzling butter until golden and crisp but not dark.

Lay each crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the pumpkin and sprinkle each of them with 2 1/2 tablespoons of Béchamel sauce, 1 heaped tablespoon of ricotta, 3 sage leaves, some Parmesan and crushed pepper. Roll into a tight wrap and place them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown, switch on the grill (broiler) for the last 1-2 minutes.

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

Pumpkin Crespelle

 

pumpkincrespelle12

 

pumpkincrespelle8

Crespelle with Radicchio, Potato and Thyme

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

It took me a while to use radicchio not only raw for salads but cooked as well. It was a late discovery, but once I tried it, I loved it, especially for the Italian cuisine! One of my favourites is linguine with radicchio, mustard butter and sautéed chicken liver. My friend Judith told me about this recipe and it became a winter pasta classic in my kitchen. Or my purple risotto with spices and thyme, the colour is beautiful and the mixture of cloves, bay leaf and red wine is so aromatic and rich. Radicchio is great, it’s so strong, its unique bitterness is so dominant that it asks for more flavours to be added to it.

A couple days ago I mentioned that we had family from LA staying with us, so our days were split between walking through the city for some sightseeing and food, either from my kitchen or from one of the great places we visited. Italian restaurants, German restaurants, department stores (we focussed on the fish section), various cafés specialized in German cake, American cake or chocolates from all over the world. We savored for days, as always!

Coming back to the purple radicchio and to one of our lunches at home, I cooked crespelle for us one day, filled with a bitter sweet stuffing of radicchio, potatoes and thyme. I used the herb to refine the pancake dough and the filling which made it come though quite strong. It added a bit more taste to the crepes which would have been to soft for this filling on their own. All the bitterness and sweetness wrapped in these thin pancakes with a creamy Béchamel sauce inside and on top made us all enjoy in silence for a short while, until our delicious Italian wraps were gone!

Here’s a springy green version of my crespelle that I wrote about in March, filled with spinach.

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

For 4 filled crespelle you need

radicchio, quartered and sliced, 300g / 10.5 ounces
potatoes, cooked, sliced and quartered, 400g / 14 ounces
fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoons
garlic,  finely chopped, 2
red wine 60ml / 2 ounces
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
fresh parmesan, grated, 2 tablespoons
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil, add the garlic and radicchio and sauté for about 4 minutes or until soft on medium heat. Deglaze with the red wine, take off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of thyme and the vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.

 

For the Béchamel sauce

milk 600ml
butter 30g / 1 ounce
plain flour 30g / 1 ounce
bay leaf 1
a pinch of nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, bring the milk with the bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the boil.

Melt the butter and whisk in the flour, let it cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Take off the heat and slowly add the hot milk, whisk until smooth and cook for about 3-5 minutes on lowest heat until it’s thick and creamy. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste.

 

For the crespelle

milk 160ml
organic eggs 2
plain flour 130g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/4 teaspoon
fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon
butter for frying

Mix the ingredients well and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Heat some butter in a large pan and fry 4 thin crespelle, one at a time, golden on both sides.

 

To assemble

Set the oven to 200°C (top/ bottom heat).

Lay a crespelle flat on a plate, spread with 1/4 of the radicchio and potatoes and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Béchamel sauce on top, roll into a wrap. Continue until all four are done and put them next to each other in a baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Switch on the grill for the last 1-2 minutes, this makes the crespelle a little bit crisp.

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle

 

Radicchio, Potato and Thyme Crespelle