Calling a pancake by any other name adds a touch of glamor, if not taste

March 15, 1992|By Marilynn Marter | Marilynn Marter,Knight-Ridder News Service

A pancake by any other name is still a pancake.

Around the world, from crepes in France and enchiladas in Mexico to blintzes in Russia and egg rolls in China, all are extensions of the basic pancake. And the closest in style, simplest in method and -- by reputation -- most elegant of these is the crepe.

Another advantage is that crepes are so thin and light, they add relatively small amounts of fat and cholesterol to the diet, even when made the traditional way with whole milk, butter and eggs.

But rather than get into bad habits, we've taken the health-conscious concerns of our times to heart and worked up a recipe for reduced-fat, reduced-cholesterol crepes. Substituting skim milk, margarine and either egg whites or an egg substitute for the original counterparts keeps fats, calories and cholesterol to a minimum.

The exact nutrient count varies with your choice of substitutes and fillings, but these slimmer crepes come in under 40 calories each.

Using low-fat fillings and sauces with these slimmer crepes, it's easy to turn out two-crepe portions with 200 calories or less.

Skinny skim milk crepes

Makes 18 to 20 6-inch crepes.

1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites or egg-substitute equivalent of 2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups skim milk

1 tablespoon melted margarine

In mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and salt, gradually adding flour alternately with milk. Add melted margarine. Mix well.

This batter can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until use.

To prepare crepes, heat a 6-inch, nonstick (or well-seasoned) crepe pan or skillet until medium hot. (If necessary, use a small amount of cooking-oil spray on pan before each crepe is cooked.) Remove pan from heat, add two tablespoons of batter and swirl quickly to cover bottom of pan. Return pan to heat for 30 to 60 seconds until bottom of crepe is golden. Flip or lift edges to turn crepe and cook other side for 15 to 30 seconds. Turn out crepe and keep warm while repeating procedure to cook as many crepes as desired. Refrigerate any leftover batter.

Note: For dessert crepes, omit salt and add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Light mushroom sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups sauce, 8 calories per tablespoon.

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups skim milk

1 chicken bouillon cube

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Make a smooth paste with flour and 1/4 cup of the skim milk. Dissolve bouillon cube in one tablespoon hot water. Blend into flour mixture. In a saucepan, over low heat, gradually blend flour mixture into remaining 1 3/4 cups milk. Add lemon juice, dry mustard, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Light white sauce

Makes 1 cup sauce, 9 calories per tablespoon.

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup skim milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 cube chicken or vegetable bouillon

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

dash of paprika

In saucepan, blend flour with 2 tablespoons skim milk to a smooth paste. Over low heat, blend in remaining milk, lemon juice, bouillon cube, salt, pepper and paprika, stirring constantly until thickened.

* For curry sauce: Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder to 1 cup light white sauce.

* For blue cheese sauce or other flavors: Add 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fat-free or low-calorie dressing -- blue cheese or other flavors as desired -- to 1 cup light white sauce.

The following recipe for a crepe casserole shows how previously prepared crepe and filling recipes can be combined for an easy evening meal on a workday.

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