Cornmeal Crepes with Red Onion, Roasted Peppers and Goats Cheese

photo-9It’s March and everything’s coming up cabbages. Irish eyes are smiling and corned beef’s featured in grocery stores. In Ireland the food scene is a far cry from overcooked vegetables, and it often out-French’s the French with a penchant for freshness, seasonal, artisan cooking. Even in Cork City, a dazzling vegetarian restaurant, Café Paradiso, shines as brightly as anything in San Francisco.

In a recent cooking class, I adapted this Paradiso recipe for cornmeal crepes, given our American supplies. It’s a great little starter or luncheon dish for winter when sweet red onions and meaty red peppers are abundant in our markets. It could be the center of a meatless meal, and it’s almost gluten free.

The only step that might need some practice is roasting the red peppers. My routine is to roast peppers whenever I have a little extra space while I’m baking. For example when loaves of bread are in a 450º oven, I slide in another narrow pan with a pepper or two. After the skin puffs and blackens in about 20 minutes, turn the pepper to make sure it puffs on all sides. Once out of the oven, pop the roasted pepper into a pot with a tight-fitting lid or into a plastic bag and let it steam. When the pepper is cool, peel away the skin like a sheet of waxed paper, pull out the seed core and separate the pepper lobes. Drop the juicy roasted pepper into a jam jar, sprinkle with a little salt and refrigerate. Roasted peppers will keep for a week in the fridge.

Cornmeal Crepes with Red Onions, Peppers and Goats Cheese

2 eggs
½ cup fine cornmeal*
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne and ½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2/3 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons water

*Look for fine cornmeal in the bulk bins of Whole Foods or sift regular cornmeal to remove coarser particles that can be used for polenta.

Whisk eggs in a deep bowl. Blend in cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne, paprika and oil. Gradually beat in milk and water. Let the thin batter rest at least half an hour. Whisk and cook 2 tablespoons at a time into 10-12 lacy 7-inch pancakes.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup diced red onion
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ cups diced roasted, peeled red pepper (2 large peppers)
¼ chopped green Serrano chili (optional)
½ cup frozen corn, defrosted, chopped
chopped fresh parsley
3-4 oz. crumbled goats cheese
salt
pickled red onion** and chopped parsley

Sweat the onion in olive oil until tender. Add garlic, red pepper, chili, and cook to combine flavors. Add corn and simmer to thicken. Season with salt, add chopped parsley, cool and mix in cheese. Use to fill corn crepes either rolled into cylinders or cut in half and folded into triangles. Warm in moderate oven 10 minutes or heat in an oiled frying pan. Garnish with pickled onion and parsley. Makes a starter for 4-6 or lunch serving for 2-3.

**Sprinkle chopped raw red onion with fresh lemon or lime juice, let stand 15 minutes until color brightens. Season with salt.

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