Savory crepes paired with grilled chicken

I live in Texas, land of the breakfast taco, so crepes aren’t always front of mind when it comes to cooking at home. But, why not? They both have strong traditions as street food and I found an easy way to make crepes. Voila, a crepe maker. This is a very reasonably priced speciality tool and could serve other purposes. Think warming tortillas or making grilled cheese sandwiches.

The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.
The Velata crepe maker simply picks up the batter and evenly cooks crepes on a nonstick surface.

The Velata crepe maker now comes in white and is on sale this month for $49.50 vs. the regular $55. This crepes dinner came together very quickly after an evening workout. I left the gym and popped into the grocery store to pick up chicken tenders, asparagus, mushrooms and spinach. My boyfriend set the chicken on one side of the raclette grill to cook, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

While grilling chicken and asparagus, we melted cheese in a raclette pan.
While grilling chicken and asparagus, we melted cheese in a raclette pan.

I set the asparagus on the other side of the grill and sauteed the mushrooms in a small pan. (Come to think of it, they could have gone on the grill too to simplify things further.)

I had pre-made the batter before heading out so that the bubbles would settle while the bowl sat in the fridge. I grabbed the crepe maker by the handle and dipped it upside down in its accompanying batter dish to cover the cooking surface.

The Velata crepe maker includes a perfectly sized dish for the batter.
The Velata crepe maker includes a perfectly sized dish for the batter.

Gently pulling up, I flipped the crepe maker and placed it on its cooking platform. The light turns red to indicate it is connected and cooking, Soon enough, the light clicks off to indicate the crepe is done. I repeated this process to create a stack of beautiful, light crepes. Meanwhile, we melted a little bit of Vermont white cheddar cheese in raclette pans that are placed under the grilling top for a broiling effect.

Chicken, asparagus, spinach and mushrooms combine for savory and fresh tasting crepe fillings.
Chicken, asparagus, spinach and mushrooms combine for savory and fresh tasting crepe fillings.

Very quickly, dinner came together as we topped the crepes with grilled chicken, cheese, asparagus, mushrooms, fresh spinach (right out of the bag) and a drizzle of Velata raspberry syrup. It was heavenly. It was also filling without feeling heavy and was a perfect way to enjoy making and eating a weeknight dinner together.

Bon Appetit

The Sage Leopard

Grilled shrimp for us, yogurt for the dog

The Sage Leopard ate pumpkin puree and plain yogurt tonight because I forgot to go to the vet today to buy his kibble. He prefers the pumpkin and yogurt anyway so I don’t feel guilty.IMG_5164

Meanwhile, my raclette grill cooking experiment is getting fishy… with Atlantic salmon and Gulf shrimp. Living in Houston means you must have real Gulf shrimp or hold your head in shame for serving anything else. I bought a handful today at Kroger to go with a nice hunk of salmon we are grilling.

Rather than hand off the protein to my man to cook while I handle the veggies and sides, we cooperated in this. He instructed me on how to clean the shrimp and I handed off my camera for him to capture how simply elegant this kind of easy grilling is.

salmon, shrimp and pineapple on raclette grill
salmon, shrimp and pineapple on raclette grill

It’s not just the novelty of this Velata raclette grill. It’s the antithesis of hassle. It’s downright liberating. I’ve typically been a failed perfectionist. Now that I’m middle aged, I just don’t have time for that. I want to enjoy every moment I can make. Make good food without making an ordeal of it.

simplicity and delight, grilled and boiled (and a 'lil butter)
simplicity and delight, grilled and boiled (and a ‘lil butter)

Reclaiming Quality Time at the Table

cooking Velata style at the table
cooking Velata style at the table

We tend to settle into routines that become our life, routines we might not even like so much anymore. I love cooking and typically start dinner by putting garlic and olive oil in a pan. Soon enough a voice calls out from the livingroom to commend the scent. The aroma misleads one into thinking dinner is almost on the table.

But, it is just the start of the cooking process. Historically, I find myself alone at the stove, smiling at the veggies in the sauté pan, mushrooms in another pot, meat in the oven, veggies on the chopping board. I hold my wine glass aloft and breath in the bouquet and aforementioned garlic aroma. Looking down at the array of food cooking on different burners, I ask myself, “Why?” This is a lot of work with a lot of pans. Wait a minute, this is fine some of the time, but all the time? Plus, I don’t get to see my boyfriend until I bring the completed meal to the table.

I reflect back to amazing meals we have shared on the patio with a Lodge hibachi. We sat there taking in the sunset, wrapping Korean BBQ in sesame leaves and dipping the wraps in sauces. What if we could capture that sensory and visual interaction of all that, but indoors, without charcoal?!

picking peppers to grill
picking peppers to grill

Recently, a friend told me she was buying a Velata raclette grill from another friend and began to describe how you can cook at the kitchen table with this electric grill. I remarked this reminded me of Korean BBQ and she said the raclette grill has its origins in Europe and yes, melting cheese. My mind raced from one potential recipe to the next.

crafting breakfast together with Velata on a weekend morning
crafting breakfast together with Velata on a weekend morning

Grilled Halloumi cheese over grilled romaine and veggies? What about a grilled cheese sandwich with rosemary ham lunchmeat served with cornichons? Don’t just serve food – make each meal an event, an experience. I already embrace that philosophy and practice, and visualized how this grill could realize the vision even further.

I decided to put a Velata raclette grill on my kitchen table and proceeded to start making meals right there. I started on a Friday night by placing sausage on one side of the grill and veggies on the other: asparagus, red onion, peppers, etc. I put an aged Gouda and some feta cheese in the little raclette pans.

eggs in the Velata raclette pans are so easy
eggs in the Velata raclette pans are so easy

We sat at the table watching everything cook while sipping on craft beer. We pulled off what was ready to eat and enjoyed. We were hooked.

The next morning I made eggs in the raclette pans and cooked pancakes on the grill. Then I found out about the Velata crepe maker. Oh, what a wonderful journey we have begun!

The Sage Leopard