Crêpes with Nopales – Cactus Pear Compote

It is only so long I can go without making crêpes, and most often that crave is for something sweet rather than savory. I do have a bevy of savory crêpe recipes in my arsenal. However, “sweetness” seems to always win out when I make them. Earlier today, while  at the fruit and vegetable market (one of my regular favorite spots) I picked up a few cactus pears–prickly pears, if you will–and immediately I figured a nice compote would work well with these with some classic French, lovely crêpes. Initially I thought of mixing them with apple when composing the compote but dismissed that idea as I wanted the flavor of the pear to take center stage.  The crêpe recipe that I use is a classic Julia Child recipe, posted below.

Garnished with fresh lemon thyme, a sprinkle of cinnamon on the left, and a few crumbles of feta on the right. I think I can eat feta on just about anything. I love the tartness that it imparted as opposed to the sweetness of the cactus pear compote. The star anise added a nice complement as regards esthetic garnish. However, it was steeped in the sauce when comprising the compote to add its unique flavor

The crêpe was very lite, delicate and flavorful

Served

Recipe components along with a roja pelona cactus pear – time to make the crêpes. Crêpe Recipe: 1 cup flour (I used all-purpose flour although the recipe called for instant-blending flour), scooped and leveled, 2/3 cup each milk and cold water, 3 large eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 6 Tbsp clarified butter or melted butter with the foamy milk fats spooned off.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl, then whisk in by dribbles the milk and water to make a nice smooth blend. At this point if you really want to ensure a perfectly smooth batter, pour it through a fairly fine-meshed sieve to remove any lumps.  I also added 2 Tbsp sugar. For savory crêpe creations,  I leave out the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and salt

Add 3 Tbsp of the melted clarified butter

Whisk to blend smoothly. If using all-purpose flour, let it rest 1 hour or more in the refrigerator. If instant-blending flour was used, it should rest 10 minutes.

 Heat the crêpe pan until drops of water dance about, then brush lightly with melted butter.  Spoon 1/4 cup into the pan at a time, tilt in all directions to attain a nice thin circle. The batter should cover the pan with a light coating. After about 30 seconds or so, gently lift the edge with a spatula. The bottom should be lightly browned. Flip using your spatula or fingers as I do at times. Careful there! Cook another 15 to 20 seconds, maybe 30. Transfer to an awaiting plate, and repeat the process 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is used up.

My crêpe stack is building. If you don’t use them right away, they can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag up to 2 days or in the freezer for several weeks. I never do that, as they are so very delectable. No they don’t last very long in my household.

Prickly pear cactus fruit, also known as tunas, are native to Mexico, grows wild just about everywhere. There are hundreds of varieties with vast flavor profiles,  from brisk and tart to creamy-sweet. The variety I used is the roja pelona as already mentioned.  This variety is devoid of thorns that some other varieties have.

After peeling — Chopping the cactus pear. It has a very nice taste reminiscent of that of kiwi. As you can see, the flesh of this fruit is juicy and has a brilliant, beautiful deep red color. Almost “Ruby” red  🙂

Our prickly pear was combined in a pan with wine–a nice Riesling– star anise 1 Tbsp butter, and 1 Tbsp sugar or to taste until you get the desired sweetness. I simmered this for about 6 minutes. Star anise has a very prominent licorice-like flavor that some people do not care for, so leave it out if you wish

Added 1 Tbsp of orange marmalade, some lemon zest,  and simmered 6 minutes more until the pear was basically falling apart

The seeds of  all tunas are edible, but I preferred to strain them out as I wanted a smooth consistency

Beautiful color, beautiful aroma, beautiful flavor!

Also among the garnish was a little fennel frond. Fennel has a licorice taste as well and I thought it went nicely with the star anise

Delicious, I’m ready to make more!

As you can see, this wonderful fruit requires diligent care when harvesting. I would suggest using long tongs should you ever have the pleasure of doing so.  Although this variety has no thorns…you’ve got to work through some to get to the fruit…ouch!

Tunas or prickly pear cactus fruit. “Opuntia”  Opuntia is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. The most common culinary species is the Indian fig opuntia. Most culinary uses of the term “prickly pear” refer to this species. That little tidbit is courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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