I grew up on the Highveld, where the Summer Thunderstorm reigns supreme over all weather. They are mighty and godly storms which seem to make the earth tremble at their power and lash gallons of watery bullets at us mere mortals. They don’t last longer, usually, than an hour or so, but their intensity leaves the earth looking and smelling freshly scrubbed and sparkling clean. They arrive from November onwards, two or three times a week, late in the afternoon, when the days heat as built up a lethargic haze around everything and mirages shimmer down the end of the street. Their first big, plopping drops turn to steam on the tarmac and create a low, foggy haze for a few minutes before the real water arrives. I loved where I lived because you could always see the approach of the storm long before it arrived, the enormous, billowing clouds almost black with vengeance and the tell tale white anvil pointing the way high above the drama. A few minutes before the rain arrived to interrupt a Summer swim or drench you on your walk home from school, ruining your squelching school shoes (much to Mum’s horror), there was the squall. The strong, warm wind smelling of earth and wet and Summer. I loved it. I would stop my intrepid walk, turn my face to the wind and breath in Africa. I miss that now. I live on the 10th floor with a view towards the weather and I see the threatening clouds of rain sweeping in from the west, but somehow nothing lives up to the power of an South African Highveld Thunderstorm.
Rain on a school day, however, meant more than just drenched shoes and less swimming time. It meant crepes. My Gran, who lived with us, would be timeously putting the first ladle of batter onto a hot, buttered skillet as my brother and I came through the door, laden with wet jerseys and soaked books. Sugar and cinnamon, with just a dash of fresh lemon were the flavour of choice. In fact, up until early adulthood no other flavour even existed in my world-du-crepe, and it’s still a classic I love to bits. But up we grow and flavours a fancy we will find, so here’s something a little more substantial for a light dinner:
Quinoa Crepes with Beetroot and Bluecheese Sauce (served with a peach, corn and pistachio salad)
for the crepes:
1 cup Quinoa flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1½ cups soy milk
2 Tbsp olive oil
for the filling:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
grated beetroot, to make about a cup (I used 7 small Italian beets)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
for the sauce:
½ cup water
2 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp cream
about 50g semi hard blue cheese of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
first make the crepe batter:
– mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
– beat the egg with the soy milk
– add the egg to the dry mix and beat until smooth.
– add the olive oil and mix well. The batter should be quite thin and runny. Add more milk if needed. Let stand while you make the filling
make the filling:
– heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute for 5 mins. Add the beetroot and maple syrup. Season and let simmer gently on a low heat with the lid on for about 10 mins while you make the sauce and crepes.
make the sauce:
– heat the water in a small saucepa.
– mix the cornflour with a little cold water to make a paste. Add to the warm water, stirring continuously until thickened. Add the cream and cheese and season to taste.
cook the crepes:
– put your oven on its lowest setting and the rack as low as it can. Put a plate in the oven to keep warm.
– heat a heavy bottomed, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Add a couple drops of grapeseed or other high burning point oil if desired. Using a soup ladle, put one ladle of batter into the hot pan, quickly swirling the pan to spread the batter evenly.
– as soon as bubbles pop on the surface (just a few seconds) flip the pancake and cook a few seconds on the other side before removing to the plate in the oven.
– when all crepes are cooked, spread a spoon of filling over the crepe, to taste, and roll up. Cover with sauce.