I have a brand new Valentine (Mr. Tayto take note).
His name is Aleppo (which, granted, makes him sound like one of the Marx Brothers), he hails from Syria, he’s red hot (well, he’s perhaps not as hot as some, but just hot enough for me) and smells, as best I can describe it, of tobacco.
Hmm. Not sounding so attractive now, is he?
Give him a chance, though. Mr. Aleppo Pepper is worthy of your attention.
He arrived at my doorstep nestled amongst a host of goodies sent to me by Oz from Kitchen Butterfly (who is equally worthy of your attention, btw). Mine was the lucky number drawn in Oz’s first giveaway, so I received a beautiful basket filled with a veritable treasure trove of kitchen props.
There were spices too, among them the aforementioned aleppo pepper. Dark red chili flakes, fragrant, slightly smoky and, yes, with an aroma reminiscent of fruity tobacco. Oz had used some in her muhammara (and I’ll put some in mine next time too) but mostly I was thinking, hello Mr. Pepper, you’d be right at home with some spuds.
I was immediately filled with visions of potato chunks, roasted with oil and a generous helping of aleppo pepper, or perhaps a bowl of potato salad scattered with some of those fruity chili flakes. What with Pancake Tuesday just around the corner, though, my first date with Mr. Aleppo Pepper was, instead, deliciously crêpe-like. And it definitely had the taste of more Valentines to come.
Savoury Potato Crêpes
The batter here contains both sour cream and mashed potato over and above what you might expect to find in a basic pancake batter. Plus aleppo pepper, of course, as well as some oregano and cumin (a good buddy of aleppo pepper and firmly on the the A-list of spud spices).
You can eat these on their own, though they’re even better with some grated cheese melted on top – some parmesan or a sharp cheddar, say. You could also have them as an accompaniment to a bowl of chili or – here’s a thought – use them to wrap your favourite enchilada filling instead of the usual corn tortillas. That, I think, might be rather good.
- 300g potatoes (2 smallish specimens), preferably a floury variety
- 1 large clove garlic, lightly crushed using the blade of a knife and cut into 3-4 pieces
- 150g plain flour
- 0.75 tsp salt (plus more for boiling the potatoes)
- 0.75 tsp ground cumin
- 3 eggs
- 150g sour cream (or substitute natural yoghurt)
- 300ml milk
- 2.5 tsp aleppo pepper (or substitute 2 tsp sweet paprika + 0.25 tsp cayenne)
- 0.75 tsp oregano
- butter for frying
You’ll also need:
- A potato ricer is a useful, though not essential, piece of kit here.
- Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
- Bring about 600ml of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 0.75 tsp salt, the crushed garlic and the potato slices.
- Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 12-15 minutes or until just fork-tender.
- When the potatoes are done, drain well and return them to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
- Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer, if you have one, or mash with a potato masher or, if all else fails, a fork. Leave aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the batter ingredients.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and ground cumin.
- In another large bowl, whisk the eggs together well, then add the sour cream and whisk to combine.
- Add the mashed potato to the eggs, mixing in well, then add the flour, mixing until just combined.
- Now gradually whisk in the milk. You should end up with a batter having a consistency similar to that of unwhipped cream. Don’t worry too much if the batter is a little bit lumpy – if it seems very lumpy, just strain through a sieve.
- Finally, add the aleppo pepper and oregano and stir to mix.
- If you can wait that long, let the batter sit, covered, for 15-30 minutes before cooking.
- Place a frying pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, add a teaspoon of butter. When that has melted, add a ladleful of batter to the pan, swirling quickly so that it coats the pan thinly. Cook for 1-2 minutes until set and the base is browned, then flip and cook briefly on the other until browned. Repeat with the rest of the batter and either serve the pancakes as you go or keep warm in the oven until all are cooked.
- Enjoy on their own or topped with some melted cheese, or do the whole enchilada thing if that takes your fancy.
- Change the herbs and spices to suit your mood – you could use a mixture of parsley and thyme here, or some dill perhaps, each with a different savoury effect.
- Around 1 litre of batter, enough for about 10 x 22cm crêpe-like pancakes