Grain-Free Crepe Pinwheels with Smoked Salmon and Herbed Cheese: Brunch and Beyond

Wow, it’s hard to believe that we’ve passed yet another month; at long last, we are through the dregs of dwindling winter vibes, and all the bountiful colors, heavenly scents, and lovely animated sounds of spring are finally in full-swing!

This season always calls for celebration and transformation at my house. Windows opened wide, closets and cupboards purged, gardens freshly mulched, and my favorite cheerful tablecloth pulled out of its winter hiding spot. It is my absolutely favorite time of year, and I do all I can to milk every last ounce of pleasure from it.

And with the merriments of spring upon us, many of us are planning further festivities for Easter and Passover this month. In my household, Easter means egg hunts, frilly new dresses, lilies, and hot cross buns.

And delighting in an extra-special breakfast or brunch.

Recently, these crepes have been my most fervent fixation in grain-free experimentation, and it took some time to get the recipe right. Not only was I attempting to create a grain-free crepe, but additionally, I wanted to do it with the fewest alternatives to grain possible. This meant no outright swapping of flour for another starch or meal of some sort. And though I discovered that my original strategy of using scarcely more than eggs and dairy was not entirely achievable, I was able to keep the binders, in this case almond meal and coconut flour, to a bare minimum.

The secret, I discovered, is grated parmesan cheese.

The cheese gives structure and elasticity in the absence of flour, and it lends a wonderful depth of umami flavor. The results are a wrap that holds up with relative stability and is also incredibly low in net carbs, making this an ideal recipe for anyone following a ketogenic, low-carb, or high-protein protocol. The crepes themselves can be eaten as is, as a snack, or wrapped around your favorite fillings, for a more substantial meal—though I’d caution that the cheese lends a saltiness that complements savory fillings more than sweet, unless you’re a lover of weird sweet-salty pairings, like I am. I am especially fond of these crepes with peanut butter and a light drizzle of honey.

Smoked Salmon is a classic, and beloved, brunch food for me. In fact, it’s essentially the only seafood I would consider eating for breakfast, and I honestly find it more suitable adorning a breakfast or brunch spread than with any other meal of the day. Additionally, it’s one of those items that isn’t necessarily an everyday food for most people, especially those living away from the coast, so it always seems a little more appropriate for a special, celebratory occasion.

Here, I’ve paired the smoked salmon with a delightful herbed cheese filling, all nestled inside the crepe and sliced in easy to eat, bite-sized servings. A welcome, and delicious, addition to a celebratory brunch for Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, or any other worthy occasion. (If my research is correct, these can even be considered kosher, if prepared with compliant ingredients.)

The recipe makes about a dozen crepes, likely more than you’ll need for the pinwheels. Extras can be refrigerated for quick snacks or frozen for later use. Be sure to keep the crepes flat on a plate and wrap tightly with a couple layers of plastic for best results.

Use a well-seasoned pan, approximately 7-9 inches, or a dedicated crepe pan, for optimal, hassle-free cooking. And always ensure you’ve cooked the first side well enough to allow you to flip the delicate crepe over without tearing it.

Once you get into the groove, the process gets more streamlined and effective. Try not to get discouraged if you mess up the first one—for some reason the second or third crepe always goes better than the first. I believe it has something to do with the pan and the chef getting accustomed to each successive crepe, but it’s definitely a law of nature in “Crepe-World”!

Grain-Free Crepe Pinwheels with Smoked Salmon and Herbed Cheese

Makes approximately 24-36 pinwheels, depending on the size you cut them
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Crepes (makes approximately 10-12 crepes)

5 eggs + 6 egg whites
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons almond flour
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons water
2 oz. cream cheese
Butter, for the pan

Pinwheels

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 green onions or 1 handful chives, chopped
1 handful fresh dill, chopped
2 teaspoons cracked pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
8 ounces cold-smoked salmon

Method

  1. Prepare crepes: For the most efficient process, get all your equipment ready. You will need one well-seasoned 7- to 9-inch pan, one plate, a paper towel, and some butter.
  2. Place all crepe ingredients in a blender and blend until completely combined. You can pour the batter straight from the blender.
  3. Heat crepe pan over medium-high heat until quite hot. Dab a little butter on the paper towel and rub butter all over base and sides of pan. Pick up pan with one hand and using the other, pour just enough batter from the blender into the pan to coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter, swirling pan so batter coats evenly.
  4. Return pan to stovetop and let crepe cook until deeply browned on bottom, with “dry-looking” batter on top. Using a heat-resistant spatula, or your fingertips, carefully flip crepe over in pan and briefly cook the other side, about 10 seconds. Transfer crepe to plate and repeat process with more batter. Stack cooked crepes atop one another on the plate, this will keep them flat and from drying out. Repeat until all batter has been used. Cool crepes, then wrap plate tightly and refrigerate until chilled. Can be made up to 3 days in advance (though fresh always tastes best, of course.)
  5. Prepare cream cheese: Place room temperature cream cheese in food processor. Add herbs, lemon, and pepper. Process until blended and smooth. Set aside.
  6. Prepare pinwheels: Use the nicest crepes for making your pinwheels. Lay one crepe on a clean cutting board. Spread approximately 1/6 of the cream cheese in a thin, even layer over the crepe. Lay approximately 1⅓ ounces of smoked salmon in a single layer over the bottom two-thirds of the crepe. Roll tightly, from the bottom up, using the cream cheese at the top to seal the crepe. Set aside and repeat process with 5 more crepes.
  7. Once 6 crepes have been rolled, slice each into 4-6 serving pieces each. If you like, you can trim the ends first, for more uniform pieces. Arrange on a platter and keep chilled until serving.

Image from Briana Goodall. 

Briana Goodall, CPC

Briana Goodall is Chef and Owner of Green Cuisine Personal Chef Service. Visit her website at www.mygreencuisine.com.

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