One of my favorite words in the Spanish language is aprovechar – to take advantage. In English, we have the literal translation, but we don’t use it nearly enough, at least not how Spaniards do. I think a more accurate translation would be something like: things are good at the moment so enjoy life. Nice weather? Go outside and aprovechar. Long weekend? Get out of town, aprovechar. Enjoying a store-bought sandwich from a plastic triangle? “Que aproveche,” say Spaniards, a polite command to take advantage and enjoy your meal. It’s a vibe. A mentality. Too often, especially in New York, we feel guilty about being unproductive and completely disconnecting. I love that in the Spanish culture, planning a healthy dose of restorative time with friends and fam is normal — it’s expected. I try to channel that part of my inner Spaniard, or at least the smidge I get through osmosis from my half-Spanish husband, as much as possible.
Last weekend, G and I wanted to aprovechar one of the final summer weekends (boo fall, I’m not ready for your chunky sweaters yet), so we went to my mum’s house upstate. Mom was OT so I got to feel like the true lady of the house and do lady-of-the-house things — steal Mom’s socks, rummage through my sibling’s personal belongings and transfer all of the Penguin Classics to my old bedroom (jokes, sibbies). Oh, and defrost random tupperwares of red sauce from the freezer. Mom always has frozen red sauce in the freezer. You never know what’s inside until you defrost – Will it be a bolognese or a turkey chili? – but throw an egg on top with a scoop of cottage cheese (poor man’s ricotta, as we call it in my family) and some bread for dipping, and boom, that’s dinner.
It was nice to be upstate, and to let my body and mind acclimate to a lack of constant stimulation. We picked crab apples and I turned them into a super tart apple sauce. We canoed around the lake behind my house and did some fishing. I caught a slippery, whiskered catfish. G caught a colorful bitty sunfish. We took naps. Naaaaaaaps. And on Sunday, I tried my hand at crepes: saffron crepes (because Back to SPAIN) with maple almond butter filling for me (because ‘Merican) and some sophisticated crepes suzette with sugar and lemon for G (because French). Oh, and we also went to a friend’s bungalow in Loch Sheldrake and watched the fight. I always find myself rooting for the underdog. No matter how many times the tide turns, I’m rooting for the guy getting pummeled. And I think it was fixed. I mean, Conor McGregor lost 100% of his energy in what felt like 3 seconds and turned into a noodle. An Irish noodle. I dunno, maybe that’s how boxing goes.
Before you go any further, take a moment to revisit the OG Julia Child making French crepes. Two questions: 1) is she actually drunk? 2) can I be her?
Here are my tips for making crepes:
- Sift the flour, to avoid any hard-to-destroy lumps. Strain batter with a mesh sieve to get rid of any persistent lumps.
- Add water to the batter for thinner crepes.
- Let batter sit for at least 15 minutes before using.
- While it helps to have a crepe pan and special crepe tools, especially to get super thin crepes, it’s not necessary. My pan-tipping technique will give you slightly thicker crepes, but I think that’s fine, especially if you’re preparing them for heavier ingredients (like maple almond butter…outrageous).
- Use a pat of butter on a piece of paper towel to spread a thin coat of butter on the pan – then use towel to wipe up any excess,.
- Do not worry if the first crepe looks like one of Hannibal’s used skin masks – the second will be better 🙂
1) is she actually drunk? 2) can I be her?
Have the best Labor Day weekend, friends. Que aproveche!
Saffron Crepes with Maple Almond Butter
(Makes enough for 10-12 crepes)
For the crepes
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk, infused with saffron (optional – see tips below)
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs and butter.
Use a whisk to beat until mixture is smooth and bubbles form on top. Let batter sit at least 15 minutes at room temperature before using.
- Heat a 12-inch nonstick pan over medium. Use a paper towel to coat pan with a thin film of butter. Add an almost-full large label of batter and tip pan to swirl batter until it completely covers the pan in an even-ish layer. Keep swirling until batter stops running.
- Cook for a couple minutes and watch for air bubbles — this means it’s almost ready to flip. Use a rubber spatula to test the edges for doneness.
- Loosen edges of crepe with spatula, then quickly flip, using your fingertips to help complete the mission. Cook for another minute, then slide crepe onto a plate.
- Repeat with remaining batter, using your buttery paper towel to apply a touch more between crepes. The pan should look greasy – not buttery like for making eggs.
For the maple almond butter filling
⅓ cup almond butter, unsalted
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- Combine ingredients in a heatproof dish (like a measuring cup) and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir again and taste for salt. Adjust to taste.
For the saffron-infused milk
One pinch of saffron threads (you can buy it online here)
- Add milk and saffron threads to a small saucepan. Heat over low until milk is barely simmering. Remove from heat and let milk cool. The color should change to a warm orange.
- Pour milk through a fine sieve.
- Serve crepes warm or cold.
- Spread a healthy tablespoon of filling down the center of a crepe and roll up like a burrito.
- Or, try with a teaspoon of raw sugar and a couple squeezes of fresh lemon.
Following B2S on Insta? If not, stop playing.
For saffron and other authentic-Spanish-spice-needs, check out the selection of my friends at The Spanish Tin.