Brunch. The best meal of the day.
Is it because it's early, usually on the weekends, that it can so easily become a mind-blowingly special meal? You haven't quite cleaned the Saturday Night Fever out of your eyes, your tummy's still mulling over the myriad of beverages you've consumed, but lo-and-behold, someone sets a pile of perfect Eggs Florentine in front of you, and you look around, wondering if this is as perfect as your life will ever be. I mean, how did someone poach an egg this early in the day? Amazing.
I happened across this recipe on that classiest of all recipe websites, Recipelink. Based on a Cordon Bleu feat from (obviously) the 80's, it calls for a pile of crepes, tomato-paprika concasse, and a mushroom-bacon reduction. I've altered the fillings and finishing glaze, and it is one of those amazing make-ahead dishes that shouldn't be make-ahead. It's also delicious.
Savory Crepe Cake
18-24 Crepes (I like this recipe - but if you have one you rely on, use it)
10 tomatoes, plum, sliced in half lengthwise
8 oz asparagus, frozen or fresh, minced
Pile of chives, chopped
Brie, one smallish hunk, cubed
Emmenthaler, approx 10 oz or 1.5 cups shredded
Parmesan, 1 cup shredded
Butter, 4 tablespoons
Flour, 4 tablespoons
Milk, 1.5 cups
2 eggs, separated
Preheat your oven to 350f. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 1.5 hours.
As your 'maters are caramelizing, make your crepes. You can just pile them on a plate as you finish - they'll be ok. If you're nervous about sticking, you can separate them with parchment paper, but I've yet to have this issue.
Make the asparagus filling:
Saute your asparagus until it's soft and add a handful of chives. Continue cooking until the asparagus has a bit of brown on it. In a small saucepan, melt two tablespoons of butter, then add 2 tablespoons flour, and stir until the flour cooks to a light tan. Take the pan off the heat, pour in 3/4 cup of milk, return pan to heat, and whisk until the sauce thickens a bit. Add 1/2 cup Emmenthaler, the cubed brie, and stir until cheese melts. Add your asparagus mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
Make the cheese glaze:
Melt two tablespoons of butter in another small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons flour. Stir until the flour cooks to a light tan. Take the pan off the heat, pour in 3/4 cup of milk, return pan to heat, and whisk until the sauce thickens a bit. Add 3/4 cup Emmenthaler, 1/2 - 3/4 cup Parmesan, and stir until cheese melts. Take pan off heat and stir egg yolks in. Cover and set aside until ready to use, just before serving.
Make the roasted tomato filling:
Carefully chop your roasted tomatoes, removing some seeds but saving as much liquid goodness as possible. Season with salt, and if you so desire, about 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika. Set aside.
Butter a large baking dish with a cover (you want a dish that leaves about 1-2 inches on all sides of the crepe stack, to facilitate slicing and serving). Lay a crepe in the middle of the dish. Carefully spread 1 tablespoon of tomato filling to the near-edges of the crepe (it'll be thin, and that's ok). Cover with another crepe. Spread 2 tablespoons of asparagus filling over the crepe, and lay another crepe on top. Repeat until crepes and filling are gone (occasionally, I have leftover crepes - which is no problemo - because then it's crepesnacktime).
If you're cooling this to serve later, cover the crepe stack and stick it in the fridge, along with your separated egg whites and cheese glaze. You can make the stack and glaze up to 4 days in advance to delectable results.
Warm the Crepe Stack in a 350f oven for 45 minutes, take it out, and increase the the oven's heat to 400f. Gently warm your cheese glaze in the microwave or a small saucepan until it has the consistency of a thick dip. Stir in egg whites. Using a large spoon, spoon the glaze over the crepe stack, spreading it, until it starts to drip over the edge. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Emmanthaler and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until the glaze has turned a golden brown.Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
The end result is very cake-like: the golden exterior reveals layers of color when sliced. Serve with a fruit or savory salad (as pictured) as this is a heavy meal. Easily feeds six, 8 at a stretch. I'd love to figure out how to serve this from a cake stand one day, just for kicks. That would be pretty hot.