masy’s one-bowl crêpes + orange blossom passion fruit

Masy's crêpes

You might know my aunt Masy (pronounced MAH-see) from her kadeh, lawash, kbeibat, kleicha, or chipteh. She’s the most creative and resourceful cook, and the couple of recipes I’ve shared barely scratch the surface. My cousins Kris, Krissy, and Sourma (Masy’s kids) all describe her as passionate and proud, and stubborn yet flexible; she’s so good at throwing ingredients together, making substitutions, and making do with what’s around. Sometimes this results in disaster, but it just rolls off her back (something I aspire to). And sometimes her ingenuity results in the most amazing food you’ve ever had in your life. Take her crêpes, for instance. She’s got them down to a science.

Besides their total perfection, my favorite thing about Masy’s crêpes is that you can make them with just one single bowl. Crêpe batter is super thin, and therefore hard to mix together, so most recipes have you use a blender to make sure it turns out lump-free. Indeed, if you were to just dump and stir all the ingredients together, you would have a really hard time getting a smooth and silky consistency. Blenders work great, and some are even almost easy to clean, but nothing beats a single mixing bowl dirtied in pursuit of breakfast. And if you have a digital scale (or if you have that sixth sense digital scale brain, like Masy), you don’t even need to dirty a single measuring cup. But no worries if you don’t—I’ve provided both volume and weight.

Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes

The key to using a bowl instead of a blender is to add the liquid slowly. First, you mix the eggs and butter with the dry ingredients until they smooth out. Then you slowly add half of the milk while whisking, and finish it by adding the rest of the milk and giving it one last whisk. It comes together into a silky smooth batter in no time.

Not only are blenders annoying to clean—they also limit the amount of batter you can make. But using Masy’s technique, you can make as much crêpe batter as your mixing bowl will allow. Crêpes keep super well (I’ve got storage instructions at the end of the recipe), and they disappear quickly, so in this case, more is always better.

One last thing I love: Masy cooks her crêpes over a higher heat than I’ve seen in most other recipes. She really lets the pan preheat, until the butter sizzles and browns almost immediately. They get a slightly caramelized brown butter flavor, which brings out their sweetness.

I’ve been enjoying them with orange blossom-scented passion fruit and a little drizzle of sweetened condensed milk, but they are delicious with just about anything. If you want to adapt this recipe for a savory crêpe filling, add just one teaspoon of sugar instead of three tablespoons, sprinkle on just a pinch more salt, and add some chopped herbs to the batter.

Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
Masy's crêpes
passion fruit
crêpes with orange blossom passionfruit

Masy’s crêpes

yield: about 12 big or 15 medium crêpes
total time: 30 minutes
download a PDF to print

  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) butter, melted

  • 3 tablespoons sugar (41 grams)

  • 6 large eggs at room temperature* (308 grams)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (2 grams)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (1.5 grams)

  • 1 1/4 cup flour (200 grams)

  • 2 cups room temperature milk (470 grams) (which you’ll add in 2 additions)

  • More butter for the pan (have a half stick ready, although you won't use it all)

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Don’t add the milk yet.

  2. Add the flour to the egg mixture, and whisk together until there are no dry lumps (don't worry too much about over-mixing, but do stop when there are no more dry lumps).

  3. Slowly dribble in the first half of the milk, while whisking. Then whisk in the other half of the milk. You should end up with a smooth, lump-free batter.

  4. Place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and let it pre-heat for a couple minutes. Get ready to move.

  5. Peel back the butter wrapper halfway, and swipe the butter over the surface of the hot pan. It should sizzle and begin to turn brown after a couple seconds (but it shouldn't burn). Pour about 1/4 cup (more or less, depending on the size of your pan) into the buttered pan, and quickly tilt the pan around to coat the surface evenly. Let it cook for about 1 minute, then flip and cook for 30 more seconds (the fastest way is to flip it mid-air with the pan, but that takes a little practice. Watch some youtube tutorials and give it a try).

  6. Remove finished crepes to a plate to cool, and continue cooking the rest of the batter. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for a few days (reheat in the same pan for about 30 seconds, or microwave briefly). Crêpes have a high ratio of egg:flour, so they do alright in the refrigerator, but for longer-term storage, place them in a gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, simply leave them in the refrigerator overnight or gently microwave them.

crêpes with orange blossom passion fruit

  • 1 batch of crêpes (above)

  • 6 ripe passion fruits

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons orange blossom water

  • sweetened condensed milk

  1. Carefully scrape the passion fruit pulp into a bowl. Add a little orange blossom water, to taste (between 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon per 1 passion fruit—keep it subtle), and gently stir together.

  2. Fold the crêpes up and serve at the table with the passion fruit and sweetened condensed milk on the side.

* Put the in-shell eggs in hot tap water for about 5 to 10 minutes to bring them to room temperature. For the milk, microwave it for a few seconds to take the chill off.

Masy's crêpes

kubba hamuth

kubba hamuth

I recently had a great conversation with my friend Tony about community-centered cooking. He’s preparing for an exciting upcoming project on Syrian food and community traditions, and we also talked through a dolma project I’m working on. The two subjects aren’t entirely unrelated, or as Tony put it—“If you’re sitting down rolling dolmas with your neighbors and family, you’re bound to connect and share very intimate details, because you have all the time in the world. And that’s so beautiful.” We covered so much ground, and whenever the topic would shift, Tony would preface it by saying, “So, I don’t know if you want to fall down this rabbit hole, but…”

And here’s the thing about me (and I think probably also Tony, and a lot of food writers): I love falling down rabbit holes. I’m currently falling down a dolma rabbit hole right now, but I think the next one I want to fall down is kubba, because from where I stand, I have a lot to learn.

I mean, growing up Middle Eastern American, I know a bit about kibbeh/kubba. In case you’re not already familiar, kubba is a meat and grain dumpling—there are a ton of different varieties, some named after the towns they’re from, and some named after the style in which they’re made. While most are dumplings, some kibbeh are baked in a tray or eaten tartare/sashimi style.

My family is Assyrian from Iraq and Syria, and we have our family specialties. As you might expect, my Syrian family makes kbeibat and kibbeh bil sanieh, and my Iraqi family makes kubba Halab (from Aleppo, but also very popular in Iraqi cuisine) and sometimes also kubba hamuth. But I haven’t experienced all that much kubba outside of these.

kubba hamuth
kubba hamuth

So when I sat down to do a little research for this blog post, I realized that what I’ve been calling kubba hamuth is actually very different than most recipes out there. Most of them (e.g., Philip Juma’s and MidEast Chef’s) use rice or rice flour instead of wheat or bulgur. The only other recipe I found that uses bulgur is Julian’s from Assyrian Dishes (who also adds greens—in her case swiss chard, which I highly recommend trying). I spoke with Hilda Sterner, whose kubba are made with rice, and she said that she would personally call my stew kubba pirdah, but that she also knows of a version that is made partly with cream of wheat.

This is all just to say that I don’t actually know what to call this stew, except kubba hamuth for now. Kubba hamuth basically means “sour kubba,” referring to the lemony tomato stew it’s simmered in, so the most crucial thing is that it’s tangy. And while I’m tempted to spend all week obsessively researching kubba, I’m going to have to wait a while to fall down this particular rabbit hole. I’m looking forward to learning more about the nuances and regional variations of all the different kinds of kubba, whether fried, boiled, stewed, or baked in a pan. But for now, while I’m busy tilting at other windmills, I’ll just leave you guys with my recipe for kubba hamuth (…or something!). This is definitely the kind of recipe that’s fun to cook as a family, so I hope you enjoy it in good company.

kubba hamuth
kubba hamuth

kubba hamuth

yield: 9 servings (about 55 kubba)
active time: 1 hour 15 minutes
total time: 2 hours
download a
PDF to print

kubba shell

  • 1 cup extra fine bulgur #1 (200 grams)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (454 grams)

  • 1 teaspoon baharat

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. Soak the bulgur in a few inches of cold water for 15 minutes, then strain it through a fine mesh sieve, wringing it out with the back of a spoon for a few seconds to get rid of excess water.

  2. Combine the strained bulgur, ground beef, baharat, and salt in a food processor, and blend together for 3 minutes, until it forms a dough. The bulgur will still be a bit grainy, but it will break down slightly.

kubba filling

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (454 grams)

  • 1/4 of 1 onion, finely minced (45 grams)

  • 1/2 cup finely minced parsley (30 grams)

  • 1 teaspoon baharat

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon softened butter (14 grams)*

  1. Hand-mix the ground beef, minced onion, parsley, baharat, salt, and butter, just until combined.

  2. Stuff the kubba: Wet your hands as you work to keep things from sticking. Take a level tablespoon of the kubba shell, roll it into a ball, and flatten the ball out in the palm of your hand. Take a shy tablespoon of filling, place it in the center of the flattened shell, and wrap the sides around it until it makes a sphere. Roll the sphere in your hands to smooth it. Repeat, and pace yourself as you work, so you don’t run out of the shell or filling.**

stew

  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil (43 grams)

  • 3/4 of 1 onion (135 grams)

  • 2 jalapeños, pith removed and minced (50 grams)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baharat

  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes (2 400-gram cans)

  • 3 1/2 cups stock

  • Salt to taste

  • 4 packed cups torn or coarsely chopped dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach (100 grams)

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)

  1. In a stockpot or large dutch oven, place the butter or oil over medium heat for a couple minutes. Once the butter melts, add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring every minute or two, until they're a little golden.

  2. Add the jalapeños to the stockpot, and cook for 3 minutes to soften them a little.

  3. Add the baharat, give everything a stir, and then add the diced tomatoes and stock, and season to taste with salt. Bring it to a simmer over high heat, and then add the kubba one by one, slightly flattening each ball into a disc between your palms right before you add them. Allow about 30 seconds for everything to come back up to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low.

  4. Cook covered for 10 minutes, then gently stir everything, cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

  5. After 20 minutes total, remove from heat, add the greens,*** give everything a gentle stir, and then add the lemon juice. The greens will take about 2 minutes to cook with the residual heat. Give it a final stir right before serving.

* You can make the filling with a fattier ground beef, but I developed the recipe this way so that you won’t have to buy 2 different kinds. But if you have 1 pound lean meat and 1 pound higher fat meat, feel free to skip the butter.
** This recipe has the right ratio of filling to shell, but no worries if you have some leftover at the end. Simply make a few small meatballs with the leftover filling (or the leftover shell), and throw them right in with everything else.
*** Letting the greens coast will help it stay green instead of turning gray, but if you’re making this ahead for guests, you might want to add the greens at the last second, because it will continue to cook as it cools down. Everything else can be made ahead of time, reheated later, and the greens added at the last minute. If you’re just making this for yourself and your family, it keeps great as is, and the leftovers will be delicious. Kale in particular isn’t traditional here, but it’s fairly traditional to add some greens or other veggies to the stew, and kale is just what I had handy when recipe developing, so feel free to add your favorite veggie instead.

kubba hamuth