Tag Archive for savoury crepes

Ze Bite

Last week was a really tough, slog-through-the-work kinda week. By the time I got to Friday, I was pooped, and I felt like I’d earned a treat.

So got dressed up and headed out to meet my friend Raj for lunch. Now, Raj is turning 35 this year, and she has a list of things she wants to get done before she does. One of them is “have lunch in Paris.” Now, we didn’t actually go to Paris, but we dressed up in our best French outfits and ate crepes, so it was pretty darn close.

Raj and I make funny faces and eat crepes. It's Friday.

Raj and I make funny faces and eat crepes. It’s Friday.

Ze Bite is a food truck that has been operating on the streets of Vancouver for about two years. The owner, Mathieu Gicquel, also had a “before a I turn a milestone birthday” to-do list, and it included living abroad, owning a business, and learning to speak English. He knocked off all three with Ze Bite (although his English has a charming Parisian accent that influences the names of the dishes he makes, and if you want to practice your French, he’d be happy speak en francais with you).

Gicquel grew up in kitchens, namely his grandmother’s kitchen in France. Restaurants are in his family, both his sister and his uncle have them. Gicquel, however, became an engineer. But after moving to Canada at the age of 31, he decided he wanted to own his own business, and food seemed like a natural fit.

ze bite collage 2.jpg

Ze Bite, which promises to be “a taste of France in one bite,” offers crepes and baguette sandwiches. There is also a soup (Mediterranean tomato) and a salad available.  You’ll mostly find them in the 800-block of West Cordova.

Gicquel’s menu is heavily influenced by Morrocan spices, especially on Ze Moroccan. It’s chicken marinated with cumin and other moroccan spices, and served with mint, hummus, greens and grainy dijon. You can have it on your choice of a baguette (Gicquel sources his baguettes from Baguette and Co) or a gluten-free buckwheat crepe, which he makes right in front of you. Click here for a Gluten-free, Vegan Buckwheat Crepe recipe.

Other menu options include Ze Pig, a citrus and spice braised pork with crispy apples and spicy jalapeños, or Ze Francais, which rosemary ham, tomato sauce, dijon, and greens. I had the vegetarian option, Ze Provencal, with tender roasted eggplant, zucchini, and peppers, finished with greens, tomato sauce, dijon, and herbs du provence.

For dessert, there are many sweet crepe options, like Nutella, salted butter caramel, Raspberry Jam, or the classic sugar/butter combination.

Gicquel is also incredibly passionate about spreading his love for French food to the younger generation. He has a program where he brings the truck to high schools and teaches the kids how to make crepes.

Ze Bite is worth tracking down–it’s the taste of France, right here in downtown Vancouver. Find them onine at ZeBite.ca.

Asparagus & Swiss Chard Crepes (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Mother’s Day has just past. For me, Mother’s Day is always tinged with a bit of sadness. I love spending the day with my boy, but there’s always the feeling of missing my own mom. And when you’re not partnered, you have to keep your expectations for potential spoiling pretty low.

So, I did what I always do to cheer myself up–I headed to the kitchen. I decided to make crepes. While most people think of crepes as a sweet dessert-type item, they are actually very good in savoury applications as well. Think of the crepe as more of a tortilla–a vessel for wrapping things up into delicious packages. Buckwheat, contrary to its name, is actually gluten-free, but it makes a less pretty crepe than the sweet ones that are made with regular flour. I cut mine with TJ’s gluten-free flour mix to lighten them up a bit. This is a solid, utilitarian crepe that can take on a more robust filling.

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Asparagus & Swiss Chard Crepes

I am currently having a love affair with rainbow swiss chard. In fact, I just bought some seedlings for my pot garden, so I’m pretty invested in chard right now. Asparagus, of course, is in season, so I’m loving it large right now. And the boy has developed a thing for leeks. “I like how they smell, mom, and they make a cool noise when you rub the leaves together.” They do. On both accounts.

A boy and his leek.

I finished these off with a balsamic reduction (which made the crepe a little soggy, but really added to the flavour), and a few dollops of goat cheese (which you can leave off if you are going vegan).

For the crepes:

  • 3/4 c buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c gluten-free flour mix (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c soy or rice milk
  • 4 tablespoons melted vegan butter or coconut oil
  • It’s always a good idea to mix crepe batter and let it rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before making the crepes.

Method:

  • Pour the wet ingredients it a blender, and mix quickly.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, and with the motor running, add slowly to the wet ingredients in the blender until completely blended.
  • To make the crepes: heat your crepe pan over medium heat. Brush with a little coconut oil to keep from sticking. When the pan is heated, lift off of the burner, and place a ladlefull  of crepe batter in the centre of the pan. Swirl the pan with your wrist until the batter runs all around and forms a thin pancake the size of the pan. Place back on the burner and allow to cook to the point where bubbles are forming and bursting. Flip carefully, let cook another minute or so, and remove from the pan.

For the filling:

Ingredients:

  • 1 smallish leek
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tbsps vingar (apple cider or coconut, something less acidic)
  • salt & pepper
  • chevre
  • balsamic vinegar, reduced

Method: 

  • Slice the leek in half, length-wise. Discard the outer tough leaves, and the root end. Wash well in between the layers. Slice into half-moons all the way up, but you may want to not use the tougher, greener tops of the leeks. Wash the swiss chard well and dry it. Cut or rip into bite-sized pieces, again discarding the tough stems.
  • In a large frying pan, heat a couple tablespoons of EVOO over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute them gently for about 5 minutes. Season. Add the swiss chard, mix well, and then cover for about 5 minutes, until the chard wilts down some. Season, and add the vinegar. Toss well.
  • In a separate grill pan, grill the asparagus. You need about 2-3 stalks per crepe. You could also BBQ the asparagus. You are looking for nice grill marks, and an al dente texture.

To assemble: 

Lay a crepe out on a flat surface. Add a generous spoonful of the leek/chard mixture, and then top with a few stalks of asparagus. Crumble some chevre on top, and then finish with a squirt of balsamic reduction. Roll up and enjoy!