Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Magic Pan Crepes Cordon Bleu and the Summer of Fun

So one of the greatest summers I ever had as a college student was spent working at the Magic Pan restaurant. The Magic Pan was the upscale San Francisco based eatery which had spread out as a national chain in the 1970's and 80's and capitalized on the crepe craze which was evocative of the 1970's fascination with new and trendy foods from Europe and other world cuisines.

Each location was different and had a unique look. But the one staple as well as the one thing that was most memorable was the giant spinning wheel of gas jets over which rotated specially constructed upside down saute pans dipped in crepe batter cooking hundreds of crepes and later in the chains life also serving as a cooking platform for "sauteed" Entrees such as chicken marsala and sesame chicken.

My best friend from high school and I Kai Larsen got jobs there our junior year of college and had a blast working, making really great money and also playing at the beach and all over northern Virginia. It was a summer of fun.

Of course a great deal of it was taken up with the work part. But we didn't mind because the crew we were a part of was awesome. We were 2 of 5 summer employees at the Pan. The rest were all full timers. They were so because for a restaurant job the Pan was a very lucrative place to work. Full all the time it was the favorite of the boozy ladies who lunch of Northern Virginia and young turks taking their dates out on the town for an impressive meal. Families and single ladies in groups all favored the Pan. Quite upscale for the time it had a "She She Fa Fa" reputation for being the place to be. Well that was while the food trends lasted and more and newer competitors were not sucking the customer base away. Which was the end of the Pan.

But this was the 80's and the Pan was still flying high. So for a cash job it was excellent as a student. I loved that summer and really have to say it was the most fun I ever had in a service job.

Now the food at the Pan was awesome I have to say. All freshly made nothing from a central commissary. And while some things were later out a can they were at least prepped on site. That's what eventually was the cost downfall of the chain and it's too bad. Regardless, the food was great. And that's what counts.

There were many favorites but today I will share with you the Pan's signature dish and one of the most popular on it's Menu. The Condon Bleu crepes were the epitome of how creative the chefs were at the Pan. They were basically a deep fried set of crepes filled with Ham Tuckey and Swiss cheese as well as a special herb cheese filling which was the secret to the dish. It was then topped by a mushroom béchamel . In short it was delish! Many would like to know the secret to this recipe and I actually have it from the old kitchen manual from the Pan. And so I share it with you, hope if you get adventurous you will try to make these cause I promise they are great!

Serve this up at your next dinner party and watch them swoon! Enjoy ya'll!

makes 4 servings You will need:

10 crepes (8 crepes plus 2 extra in case of tearing)

8 oz shaved ham or ham ground in the food processor

8 oz shaved Turkey
8 slices of swiss cheese
Herb Cheese recipe follows
1 eggs whipped for egg wash
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs seasoned with a little salt

Fill 8 crepes with Swiss cheese, shaved ham, shaved turkey and a small scoop of the French herb cream cheese. Fold into a square using the egg wash on edges to hold it together. Brush on the egg wash all over and coat with bread crumbs. 

There you have your Crepes Cordon Bleu. This is deep fried and served on a small oval covered with some sauce on a lettuce leaf with an orange twist/parsley bouquet. The sauce is a béchamel sauce with mushrooms.


1⁄2 lb Cream Cheese 1⁄4 lb Margarine (yes Margarine)  5 parts Garlic Puree 3 parts Thyme
2 parts Marjoram 4 parts Dill

Béchamel Sauce (butter, flour, milk, chives) Make standard roux cooking butter and flour add milk and whisk till thick add cooked mushrooms and chives


1 comment:

  1. Oh so yum!!! I'm so gonna try these - my son only eats 'American' pancakes at the diner, and I so try to persuade him to try English pancakes which are 'crepes'. We use to have Pancake parties every Shrove Tuesday and fill them with all sorts of delish things - although true tradition is lemon and sugar! But my mouth is watering and my memory stimulated by this fab article of how much further you can go with a pancake! Thanks for sharing!