If you were to tell a French friend that you find making crepes rather intimidating, she would likely smile incredulously. You see, in France, even the average home cook has been flipping crepes since she was barely tall enough to see above the stove top.
If a child can pull it off, so can you -- no special equipment or birthright required. All it takes is a nonstick skillet, an attentive eye, and a fairly nimble wrist. The technique is exceptionally simple and begins with a single bowl of batter made from just eggs, milk, flour, and butter. The suave pancake that results, whether in its usual incarnation or more substantial buckwheat version, has an enticingly subtle, eggy, almost nutty taste that acts as a marvelous foil for countless other flavors savory or sweet. It also serves as a supple envelope, enfolding ingredients and delivering them in an elegant bundle.
Once you catch the hang of it, the world of crepes is yours. They can inspire a fancy finish to a formal dinner party or the most casual kitchen gathering where guests take turns making crepes, garnishing them however they like, and devouring them on the spot.
Sold in creperies and from street carts throughout France, crepes are commonly served at home to celebrate certain holidays and the first shimmers of spring. But they're enthusiastically received any time of year or day-at breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, or dinner.
One caveat that's crucial to bear in mind each time you make crepes: The first attempt out of every batch is inevitably a dud, even in the most experienced hands. Usually its because the cook was impatient and the pan was not quite hot enough, or she ladled in a little too much batter. Some cooks toss this practice crepe into the trash. Others feed it to their cat or husband. Or you can save it for breakfast the next day. Cut it into bite-size pieces, fry it in a touch of butter to offset its gumminess, and smear it with jam.