Cheese, Ham and Leek Crêpes

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Much as January is generally Diet Time, sometimes you still just have to have a meal that falls under the Comfort Food category. It is still winter, after all, and it’s cold out there! At times when I feel very gloomy indeed at the thought of eating yet another lettuce leaf, this recipe for cheese, ham and leek crêpes reminds me that life isn’t so bad.

My Mum has been making this dish ever since I can remember, but I only recently asked her for the recipe. For me, this really is the ultimate comfort food, as it reminds me of my childhood when I would get inordinately excited whenever I knew crêpes were on the cards for supper. I’ve never much liked sweet crêpes (if I’m going to have pancakes, I only like American style ones), but savoury ones are a different thing altogether. Crisp and bubbling on the outside, and filled with an oozing, cheesy interior, these are absolutely delicious. And if you want to give a nod towards your healthy eating goals, you can serve a salad alongside.

 Cheese, Ham and Leek Crêpes

Number of Servings: 3-4

For the crêpes (makes about 7):

2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 tbsp melted butter

For the filling:

1 leek, finely chopped
6 oz ham, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 oz grated cheddar to scatter over top

For the cheese sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk, heated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
A pinch of nutmeg
6 oz grated cheddar cheese

1/ Butter a casserole dish approx. 20 x 30. Preheat oven to 170°.

2/ Make the crêpes: beat the eggs well, add in remainder of the ingredients and whisk until smooth, then let stand for 30 minutes

3/ Heat a 8-9″ pan filmed with butter, pour in 1/2 cup of batter and tilt the pan so the batter is spread thin. Flip the crepe over so it cooks on both sides, until lightly brown. Continue until all the crepes are made, then set them to one side. Note: the crepes can be made in advance and frozen sealed in a plastic bag.

4/ Fry the leeks in the 2 tablespoons of butter until soft, then add the ham and let cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

5/ Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit (about 2 minutes – don’t let it brown). Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as sauce thickens. Bring to the boil, add Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes more. Add the cheese and stir in until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

6/ Using 1/4 of the cheese sauce, put a film of the sauce at the bottom of the buttered casserole dish. Reserving 3/4 cup of sauce for the top, mix the remaining cup with the leeks and ham. Spoon approx. 2 tbsps onto the bottom of each crêpe and roll up. Place filled crepes into baking dish. Spoon reserved cheese sauce in two rows over top and scatter with grated cheddar.

7/ Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 mins. Then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 mins until the top is browned and the dish is bubbling nicely.

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Enjoy! Do please let me know –  do you prefer sweet or savoury crêpes? What are your favourite comfort food recipes?