Back when we lived in France and had visitors from the States, I would badger them to bring me all manner of Mexican/Tex-Mex products. Canned black beans, corn tortillas, tomatillos, chipotle chilies in adobo...you name it...all of these random things were either impossible to find in France or super expensive (6 euros for a can of beans, really?). Now here in Thailand, we can find most of those things at OK prices (an exception being tomatillos...any sightings of them in Thailand, anyone?). But what I miss now are some of the Moroccan and other North African products that were a snap to find in Paris, particularly in the Barbes neighborhood where we lived. So when Luis went to Paris last November, I had him toting back harissa, preserved lemons and feuilles de brick (brick pastry sheets...perfect for samosas!). When our friends Marlene, Fatima and Hassna recently visited, I had similar requests of them, including this time fleur d'oranger (orange blossom water), which is quintessentially North African/Middle Eastern and absolutely wonderful!)
I don't know what's up with the oranges in Morocco and its neighboring countries, but they have no business being so good! I remember the endless glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice that we drank when we visited Marrakesh like it was just yesterday. In this part of the world, orange fruits are cherished but so are orange blossoms, the petals of which are used to make orange blossom water (it sounds better in French...fleur d'oranger). This lovely perfumed water is used in very small quantities to lend a subtle, delicate, flowery note to the many pastries for which the Maghreb and the Middle East is known. You can also sprinkle a few drops over a platter of orange slices garnished with mint for the perfect end to a Moroccan meal (along with some mint tea of course), or work a bit into other desserts like flan, panna cotta, whatever you fancy!
It's common in the Maghreb and in France to lightly flavor crepe batter with this essence. That's what I did for brunch today (me who basically never makes sweet stuff for brunch) and boy was it ever delicious! Topped with a simple orange sauce perked up with some lime zest and some more fleur d'oranger, this was truly perfect. Try it for brunch or dessert...I can just imagine a couple of the crepes topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some of the sauce ladled on...yum!
Makes 8-10 crepes depending on your crepe size and preferred thickness...we like our crepes on the thick side!
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups milk (I used skim milk)
3 tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
1 tablespoon fleur d'oranger (orange blossom water)
1. Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) in a large bowl.
2. Mix all of the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, butter and fleur d'oranger) in another large bowl with a whisk. Whisk well in order to completely break up the eggs.
3. Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well until you have a smooth batter.
4. Warm a (preferably nonstick) skillet and grease it with a bit of butter (on the back of a paper towel is perfect). Using a ladle, pour in a ladle full of the crepe batter. Let it cook for about a minute on the first side, then flip it with a spatula and cook a couple of minutes more.
5. Keep the finished crepes on a plate covered with a lid to keep them warm.
1 cup orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed, otherwise from the store will do)
2 teaspoons sugar (perhaps a bit more if you're using fresh juice)
Zest of 1/2 lime
Few drops fleur d'oranger (orange blossom water)
1 tablespoon butter (preferably unsalted)
1. In a small saucepan, mix together the orange juice, sugar, lime zest and fleur d'oranger. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until it thickens. I was a bit impatient so I didn't let it reduce as much as I should have!
2. Mix in the butter and let it melt. Stir and remove from heat. Ladle the sauce over your crepes. Garnish with some fresh orange segments and mint leaves if you wish (I didn't have any)