Italians and French, you know, are very competitive with each other in the kitchen (to put it mildly). And they often compete for the origin of some very popular dishes. Such is the case of crêpes or, if we want to give credit to the Italians, crespelle.
According to the Italians, the one who brought Florentine crespelle (also known as “pezzuole della nonna,” grandmother’s handkerchiefs, because of their folded shape), was even Caterina de Medici. In the 16th century, as she married Henry II of France and moved from Florence to Paris, she would have introduced the French court to some of the typical recipes of the Florentine court.
The truth is that there are no historical attestations with respect to this theory (which it would be more correct to call legend), as also confirmed by Massimo Montanari, one of the leading historians of Italian cuisine.
Furthermore, if the batter of crespelle and crêpes is very similar, they differ in the way they are combined in cooking. If France crêpes are more likely to be served with cured meats and cheeses or with jams and sweet creams; in Italy crepes are more to be included in the large family of fresh pastries. Once cooked in a pan, they are stuffed, somewhat like we do with cannelloni, and then baked in the oven. The fillings can be different (from meat to vegetables to cheese) as can the accompanying sauces, tomato-based or white.
In my version I used a filling of basil and radicchio, which, together with the cheeses (goat and gorgonzola), make this version, delicate and vegetarian.
Ingredients for 2 persons
75 g flour
150 ml milk
6 radicchio leaves
30 basil leaves
2 tablespoons goat fresh cheese
2 tablespoon gorgonzola (no rind)
2 tablespoon of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil
Time: 45 minutes + 30 minutes rest
In a bowl, mix the egg, milk and flour with a whisk, removing any lumps. Cover with a plate and let rest in the refrigerator 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the pesto by blending all the basil and 5 of the radicchio leaves with the goat cheese and 1 spoon of gorgonzola with an immersion blender, adding a drizzle of oil to blend well. Season with salt and pepper.
Turn on the oven to 180 degrees, static.
Take the batter from the refrigerator and cook 4 crespelle crêpes them in a lightly buttered pan of 18 cm for a few minutes on both sides. For 1 crespella I use approximately one lid of batter.
Stuff the 4 crespelle with pesto, closing them in a handkerchief shape (folded in 4).
Butter an ovenproof dish, lay the crespelle in it, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, a pinch of pepper and a few flakes of butter. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
In the meantime, melt a spoon of butter with a spoon of gorgonzola and 3 spoons of water in a small pot, until it becomes creamy (the water has to evaporate). Mix during all the process to avoid the cream stick to the pot.
Finely chop the last raw leaf of the radicchio.
Remove the crespelle from the oven, plate them with the radicchio leaves and the gorgonzola cream.
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