Carpathia: Making Brasovence
Originally Posted May 8,2020 in the Archive
Or, Breaded Crepes with mushroom filling.
This was one of the first recipes that really stood out to me during my initial flipping through of Carpathia. I had never once made crepes, yet alone filled them with mushrooms and shallow fried them into perfect cylinders of yumminess. It had my husband’s name written all over it. He might love mushrooms as much as he loves me, in fairness, so I marked this page immediately after the book arrived in the mail.
It stands to reason that it would then be one of the first recipes I attempted when it came time to cook. We were at a surplus of eggs reaching the expiration date on the package, and the recipe could knock out the vast majority of what I had left. In a mission to keep waste in my kitchen to a minimum, I resolved pretty early in the morning that this would be our dinner. I found out that it’s a labor of love.
Crepes take some trial and error to get right. I don’t have a ‘crepe pan’, not that you really need it. A wide skillet will do the job well enough, you just have to be mindful as you tilt that you don’t let it come up the edges too much. I must have ruined two before I really got into the hang of pouring and turning, then knowing when the bottom was just dark enough to turn and get a proper crepe out of the batter. I ended up with about seven that were good enough to be rolled and fried.
The filling itself can be time consuming as well. Finely chopping about two containers of mixed mushrooms can be a lot of work for someone with mediocre knife skills. I tend to think that I’ve got a good technique down, and even I struggled to get them ready. My small cutting board did not allow for big piles, and all of my bowls were dirty from pasta making earlier in the afternoon. Once it was all in the pan, however, it was just a matter of babysitting the mushrooms to tenderness.
Like most fillings, the mushrooms had to be pulsed into a thick paste once they cooled from cooking. Two tablespoons per crepe, then you roll the bastards up. It took me a while to get the technique down, as it's hard to interpret from the wording. I feel like it’s something you’ve got to see to get it just right.
Irina would probably be angry at me for using cornmeal for my breading instead of bread crumbs, but in quarantine times, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I went through the breading process with only this small substitution, and I believe it did make a difference on the texture. It’s very likely I will have to try this recipe again with breadcrumbs to see if it is different at the end.
The actual frying goes very quick when the oil is up to temperature. All of the ingredients are cooked, save for the breading itself. As soon as it cripsed up, I lifted the rolls from the oil to drain. We could only eat one or two a piece, so we had four left over at the end of things.
While I may cook it again to try with the correct breading, I don’t think this is a recipe that will wind up in my back pocket for years to come. The important takeaway, my husband said, is the crepe portion of the recipe. I’ve got that now, so he is expecting some Sunday morning crepes in his future. I’ll have to oblige him.
The lesson of Brasovence seems to be using what you’ve got. I don’t think I would conceive this recipe in my own mind in a thousand years, but it’s something that can be done largely with what you have in the fridge. The only special purchase someone might have to make is the mushrooms. In this house, we often have enough mushrooms to pull this off. Milk, eggs, flour. The building blocks of modern life are the building blocks of Brasovence. I am interested to see if I can trace this simple fact down in more recipes from Carpathia.
Join us next week for some Romanian breads. I’ve got an itch for baking something new.
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