I Fazzoletti della Nonna

Baked Stuffed Crepes

In My Native Romagna, it is not uncommon, even now in the late 1980s, to find that older farm women keep their heads covered with a black kerchief folded into a triangle. That is likely to be the reason these triangularly folded stuffed crepes from Romagna are called fazzoletti della nonna, grandmother’s kerchiefs. It is, regrettably, a dish that few remember and even fewer continue to make.

The proportions of flour, milk, and eggs give Italian crepes a firmer consistency than those of other cuisines, but they are made by the same universal method. If you have a special pan or a favorite technique for making crepes, by all means use it. It is not how you make them but what you do with them that matters.

You can develop a broad repertory of stuffings. The four recipes that follow the basic crepe recipe illustrate two ways of using vegetables and two ways of using meat. One vegetable stuffing is made of green beans, garlic, butter, and mozzarella; the other has tomatoes, zucchini, ham, olive oil, onion, garlic, and fontina cheese. The first of the meat stuffings has ground veal, ham, butter, cream, nutmeg, and parsley; the one that follows is composed of dried wild mushrooms, julienned ham, and béchamel. Please note how in all four instances the ingredients for the stuffing are thoroughly insaporiti—sautéed and coated with the basic flavor base.

When arranging the fazzoletti in the baking pan, make sure the plump, stuffed end faces down and the folded, pointed end up, as described in the recipe. The pointed end has four layers of crepe that will withstand baking without scorching better than the single layer enclosing the stuffing. Less important, but not entirely negligible, is that it also makes a more attractive presentation.

Although I have never tried it, seafood stuffing should work well in fazzoletti. If I were to do it, I would prefer olive oil to butter, and I would top with oil-drizzled bread crumbs instead of Parmesan.

There is a dessert version of fazzoletti with a delicious apricot cream filling.

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Ingredients

  • cups flour
  • 1⅓ cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons butter

Method

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and add the milk in a thin stream, a little at a time, mixing vigorously with a fork to avoid making lumps.
  2. Add 1 egg at a time, beating it in rapidly with the fork. When all the eggs have been added, mix in a pinch or two of salt.
  3. Smear the bottom of an 8-inch skillet with ½ teaspoon of the butter. Place the pan over a burner and turn on the heat to medium low.
  4. Stir the batter and pour cup of it into the pan. Tilt and rotate the pan to distribute the batter evenly over the entire bottom.
  5. As soon as the batter sets and becomes firm, turn it over with a spatula. When the other side is firm, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the wrapper to a platter.
  6. Add ¼ teaspoon of the butter to the pan, return to the heat, stir the batter in the bowl, and put cup of it in the pan. Cook as described above and repeat the operation until all the batter has been used up. Stack the wrappers as they are done, one on top of the other.

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