Saturday, August 4, 2012

Linekin Rainbows... or When My Afternoon Cooking Vaguely Resembles a Raucous Thunderstorm

It was a dark and stormy night.... okay don't stop reading I'm just kidding. But actually, the night I made this meal we had a thunderstorm the likes of which I have not seen in some time. It's common to have thunderstorms in Boothbay Harbor because we're right on the water, but often we get just the tail end of storms. On this particular evening, we were hit with the works - hail, lightning right off the dock, torrential downpour to top it off and thunder that deafened my ears. On the bright side, we had a double end-to-end rainbow rise up over Linekin Bay just seconds after the storm passed. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was so impressive, I exclaimed out loud. 

Look carefully to see the double rainbow over the top! I promise this photo doesn't do it justice. 
So anyway, I'll blame this extraordinary storm and my momentary escape into rainbow land, for the fact that my well-planned out dinner went off the rails pretty quickly. Our next-door neighbor Kathy and her son were coming over to join us and my mother was off at a Wind-Over-Wings show so I had four hours to prepare and get dinner on the table for a 9:00 p.m target time. I'll preface this post by saying that dinner was not ultimately served until 10:00 p.m, and that I had to scramble like a mad-woman just to make that happen. 

The Menu

  • Grilled Italian Toast with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
  • Arugula Salad with Bistro Dressing
  • Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Crepes
  • Tarragon Sauce
  • Apple Tarte Tartin

I tackled the Tarte Tartin first. As I have posted on this recipe before, I'll skirt over this part except to say that while I use the recipe from SmittenKitchen, I have decided that the instructions to "turn the apples over" is unnecessary. This is not how I learned to do it a culinary class, nor do I think it adds anything to the recipe. Save yourself sticky, burned fingers and skip this part. Just put the crust on when the caramel looks dark and brown. 

Perhaps because I was afraid of my food getting cold or I simply took too much time (having to mix up the pie crust recipe in separate sections because we only have a one-cup Cuisinart comes to mind), I found myself starting to mix up crepe batter and slice my toast at 8:00 p.m... oops. 

Crepes are extremely easy to make, and if you master the technique of flipping them over in the pan without the aid of a spatula or other utensil, you can make about 20 in less than ten minutes. In my case,  by the time I started flipping them, the audience had arrived and I successfully dropped about 4. Not to mention that I realize I wasn't going to have enough mix to accommodate my filling, and had to whip up another batch. (In case I failed to mention it, the kitchen in question is tiny with almost no counter space). 



  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Butter, for coating the pan


In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
Heat a small non-stick pan. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
By this time I had Italian bread grilling in my grill pan with olive oil and sea salt burning up around the edges nicely, flipping crepes onto the floor, and a large pan of seafood filling that while incredibly tasty, was in danger of becoming soft if left on too long... but I've gotten ahead of myself.

Before I started flipping crepes, I combined jumbo raw (cut into small pieces) shrimp, a pound of lump crabmeat, a half cup of diced red bell peppers, a half cup of diced celery, garlic, white wine, butter and Worcestershire sauce into a sauté pan and heated until the peppers were soft. The wine went in last, just enough to burn off the alcohol. I didn't use a recipe for this so I can't be more specific about the measurements, unfortunately. 

Fortunately I managed to get the Grilled Toast (which actually came out very well) onto the table with the salad to satiate my starving guests. I am bothering to list the salad here because one of my guests informed me it was the most delicious dressing he's ever had (I'm not bragging, I was just honestly surprised). 

French Bistro Style Salad Dressing
Adapted from Julia Child

Combine 2 parts Dijon Mustard to 1 part lemon juice to 4 parts extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper. 

(You can see why I was surprised about the rave reviews)

Another snafu that evening was that I had intended to serve Cosmopolitans, but found out that I neither had limes, nor triple sec, nor Rose's lime juice. I had to whip up a quick simple syrup and serve the vodka with simple syrup, cranberry juice, orange extract, and sadly no lime at all. Not a bad substitute recipe, but I think I'll call it a Linekin Rainbow instead of a Cosmopolitan. 

By this time I was nearing the end of my crepe-flipping fiasco, and managed to put together a sizable stack. I stuffed each one with large spoonfuls of my seafood mixture, put them in a glass pan, and popped them in the oven for ten minutes to keep warm while I mixed up my sauce. 

For me, the sauce was the pleasant surprise of the evening. I knew what I was going for but had neither time nor a decent recipe, so I just winged it. I melted butter into a pot, added white wine, half and half, garlic and tarragon with a squeeze of dijon mustard. I let it thicken to coat the back of a spoon, and I ended up with a delicious bearnaise-inspired sauce that topped well on the crepes. 

After much sweating, and worrying and things going wrong, the recipe actually came out great. I will definitely make this again, and I'm pleased with the way the flavors came together. Next time though, I'm making the crepes in advance. 

All in all, a fun night and a great way to spend three or four hours during a thunderstorm. Though the kitchen isn't ideal and you certainly can't just "run out to the grocery store," I'll miss this place when it's gone. 

Author's Note: Due to the frantic nature of this cooking expedition, photos are somewhat lacking in both quantity and quality. I apologize. 

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