Sometimes I must admit I like doing things for attention. I don't mean streaking across a grass pitch on a televised sporting event or having an "accidental" wardrobe malfunction in front of a crowd. Most of the attention seeking things I do are related to food and bringing food to events. I figure if you turn up to an event with something nice, well at least someone _is going to talk to you. Call it your immediate "plus one". Someone has just _got to talk to you when you bring a two tier chocolate cake to a baby shower.
I've always been terrible at making small talk and networking. I tend to stick to my known friends and associates and remain talking to them at parties. I'd watch the social prowlers stalk the room, the really skillful ones so subtle that before you knew it, you'd had your "two minutes" with them and exchanged cards and before you knew what was going on, they were onto their next conquest. I often wish I possessed that skill, but sadly I do not so I am stuck creating sweet and sugary conversation lures.
As soon as I saw this recipe pictured in my copy of "Poh's Kitchen" my heart started thumping. These pancakes masquerading as fettuccine pasta were exactly the kind of conversation point that I love. Sure it's not a cake but flambee anything and you've got an attention seeking missile. They are simple to make, and her recipe for crepes is a good one and the rest is simply dicing up some strawberries and zesting and juicing an orange or two and then cooking it along with some Grand Marnier in a sauce. I used some of the Grand Marnier Limited Edition Ruby bottle I was sent which is just so purty with that huge, sparkling ruby in the centre.
You could of course omit the flambeeing of the alcohol like I did. I don't have a gas stove and when I first made this on a test run there was just me at home as it was mid afternoon and it didn't feel quite necessary as one tends to flambee to get an appreciative "oooh" or "ahhh!" and some attention. Perhaps I could have put on a show for my neighbours instead?
So tell me Dear Reader, are you good at talking to strangers at parties?
"Fettuccine" Crepes Suzette
Recipe adapted from Poh's Kitchen, published by ABC Books $39.99
Serves 3-4 people for dessert
Crepe batter (makes 8-9 crepes)
1/3 cup (40g) plain flour
2 large free range eggs
3/4 cup (190ml) whole milk
pinch of salt
butter to grease pan
4 tablespoons caster/superfine sugar
160ml orange juice
zest of 1 medium sized orange
6 tablespoons Grand Marnier
3-4 strawberries, diced into small cubes
Step 1 - In a bowl add the flour and salt and in a jug whisk the eggs and milk together. Slowly add the egg and milk mixture to the flour whisking constantly to get rid of lumps. The mixture should be watery.
Step 2 - Heat a frypan on low to medium heat and add butter and melt it. Pour a little batter into the pan tilting the pan to spread the batter to the edges. Fry until lacy and lightly golden. Carefully turn over and cook the other side just briefly. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Step 3 - With a stack of four crepes roll them up and then slice them into 5mm or 1/4 inch strips. Gently separate and place on a plate. Scatter over with the diced strawberries. In a saucepan, heat the sugar until it starts to caramelise into an amber colour and then add orange juice, zest and Grand Marnier.
Step 4 - To flame, you need to do it on a gas cooktop. Tilt the pan away from you so that the liquid is almost pouring out of the pan. The alcohol fumes will naturally attract the flame and will alight. Return the pan to a flat position to cook the alcohol off and the flame will die when the alcohol is cooked off. Pour this sauce over the "fettuccine" and you have your conversation starter!