My first attempt at a savory crepe recipe was a success. It may not have been ready to eat until 10pm (That’s what I get for cooking Julia Child recipes after a 12-hour shift and getting home at 7:30) but it was worth the wait, according to my Hubby. This recipe requires a bit of multi-tasking if you want to eat anytime soon, so make sure to read through the entire recipe so you can start the different components and work on them all simultaneously. You need to make the crêpes, the mornay sauce, the spinach filling, and the cheese and mushroom filling. It is not as much work as it sounds like, I promise.
This recipe is referred to as an “amusing entree” in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I am inclined to agree with that description. It is assembled basically like a multi-layer cake and smothered in a cheese sauce. What’s not to love about that? If you enjoy spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and butter, then you should try this recipe at least once.
Gâteau de Crêpes à la Florentine
Credit: Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1 by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
Note- This dish may be made ready for the oven in the morning and heated up at dinnertime. (It took me just over 2 hours to prepare from start to finish.)
Batter for 24 crêpes 6 1/2 inches in diameter. (Make the crêpes and set them aside.Due to time and the fact that I made 8-inch crêpes instead of 6-inch, I only included about 16 crepes in my gateau.)
Sauce Mornay (Beschamel with Cheese)-
5 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 3/4 cups boiling milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Big pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese
~In a 1.5 quart saucepan, cook the butter and flour slowly together for 2 minutes without coloring.
~Off heat, beat in the boiling milk and seasonings. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute.
~Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the cream by tablespoons. Sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon fairly heavily. Remove from heat and correct seasoning. stir in the cheese. Film the top of the sauce with milk to prevent a skin from forming.
1 tablespoon minced shallot or green onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups blanched, chopped spinach
1/4 teaspoon salt
~Cook the shallots or onions in butter for a moment in an enameled saucepan. Add spinach and salt, and stir over moderately high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate moisture. Stir in 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of the cheese sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Correct seasoning and set aside.
Cheese and Mushroom Filling-
1 cup cottage cheese or 8 ounces cream cheese (I used small curd cottage cheese)
Salt and pepper
1/4 lb. (1 cup) minced mushrooms (I will add more mushrooms next time)
1 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon oil
~Mash the cheese in a mixing bowl with the seasonings. Beat in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce, and the egg.
~Saute the mushrooms and shallots in butter and oil for 5 to 6 minutes in a skillet. Stir them into the cheese mixture, and correct seasoning.
Assembling the Gâteau:
~Butter a round baking dish (9-inches in diameter and 1 1/2-inches deep) and center a crêpe in the bottom. Spread it with a layer of the cheese and mushroom filling. Press a crêpe on top and spread it with a layer of the spinach filling.Continue with alternating layers of crêpes and filling, ending with a crêpe. Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top and sides of the mound. Sprinkle with the 3 tablespoons of cheese and dot with 3 or 4 pea-sized bits of butter. Set aside.
Baking the Gâteau:
~About 25 to 30 minutes before serving time, place in upper third of a preheated 350-degree oven to heat through and brown the top lightly. To serve, cut in pie-shaped wedges.