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Pomarola, Tuscan Tomato Sauce

Ravioli With Tomato Sauce

Ravioli alla Pomarola

Come mid-summer, Italian markets sell freshly picked sun-ripened plum tomatoes by the case (10 k, or 22.5 pounds) and Italians snap them up, because there’s no dish quite so refreshing on a hot day as a bowl of pasta seasoned with lots of freshly made pomarola and a handful of grated cheese.

This classic Tuscan recipe expands well, and most households make gallons of it when the flood of tomatoes reaches its peak in August and tomato prices drop. A last thing: If you get a hankering for pomarola before tomato season begins, you can use canned plum tomatoes – you’ll probably want to sauté the herbs in this case.

  • 3 pounds (1.5 k, and if they’re watery, you will want more) plum tomatoes, cored and cut into pieces
  •  A clove of garlic
  •  A stick of celery about 6 inches long
  •  A small carrot
  •  A quarter of a medium onion
  •  A small bunch of parsley
  •  A fresh or dried hot pepper, with the seeds discarded (optional)
  •  Olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  •  A scant half teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  •  A bunch of basil

Pomarola can be made either with or without sautéing the other vegetables.

If you sauté them it will be richer, and if the tomatoes aren’t vine ripened, you may want to. However, the sautéing does curb the tomatoey taste of the sauce, so if your tomatoes are of the really good vine-ripened variety, you will want to forgo it. Also, pomarola made without sautéing is easier to digest.

If you do decide to sauté, begin by mincing the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper, and parsley. Sauté them in a quarter cup of olive oil; meanwhile, cut up the tomatoes. As soon as the onion has turned translucent, add the tomatoes and a teaspoon or so of salt to the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

If you decide not to sauté, place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pepper, cut up tomatoes, and parsley in a pot, add just a few drops of water, and simmer till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

Regardless of the procedure you chose, once the tomatoes are cooked, you should crank the pomarola through a food mill, discarding the skins and seeds. Or, if you’d rather, puree the sauce in a food processor. If you do, you may want to add a half teaspoon of sugar to counter the tartness of the tomato skins (many Italians do). In either case, check the seasoning and return the sauce to the fire until it has thickened, and a drop put on a plate no longer gives off a huge watery halo (depending on how water the sauce was to begin with, this can take up to an hour).

When the sauce is done, stir in the basil leaves and turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce at once to clean jars, sealing each from the air by pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the sauce. Screw the lids onto the jars, and once they have cooled, refrigerate them. If you decide to expand the recipe, fill a couple of jars for immediate use. Put the rest in sterilized canning jars with lids that seal, put the filled jars in a canning pot with water to cover, and boil them gently for an hour before removing them and letting them cool. Check the seals of the lids before putting the jars in your pantry.

Using your pomarola: Figure about a quarter cup of pomarola and a quarter pound of pasta per serving. After you’ve cooked and drained the pasta, stir in the pomarola and – if you want – a dab of butter, then serve it with freshly grated Parmigiano (or pecorino romano if you cannot get fresh Parmigiano). For a variation, heat the pomarola over the stove, and, assuming that you’re serving four people, stir in a half cup of fresh cream when it begins to bubble. When the sauce is heated through, use it to season your pasta, which is now Rosé.

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Pappa al Pomodoro

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa Al Pomodoro

Pappa al Pomodoro sounds like kid’s food, and it is — for kids of all ages. In the past it was also very much a homey dish, a tasty way to use up leftover bread that no housewife would have dreamed of serving to a guest. Now it’s on the menus of Florence’s trendier restaurants.

  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 crumbled dried hot peppers (go easy, you want a little heat, but not too much)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 pound blanched, peeled, and sliced sun-ripened plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • A 1-pound (500 g) loaf of stale Tuscan bread
  • Hot water as necessary
  • Freshly chopped basil for garnishing

Sauté the onion and the garlic in the oil, and when they’re lightly browned, add the tomatoes, hot peppers, and the tomato paste. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have fallen apart.

While the tomatoes are cooking, slice or break the bread into 3-4 pieces and soak them in a bowl of cool water for a minute or two, then remove them, squeeze out the excess moisture, and crumble them into the tomatoes. Do the crumbling and adding a piece at a time; you want to add enough bread to have a dish with body, but not so much bread as to overwhelm the tomato flavor of the sauce.

Stir the mixture over a low flame for a few minutes, until it thickens. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for fifteen minutes. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped basil and good olive oil on the side. It’s better made a day ahead and reheated.

Simone Ciattini’s Panzanella, Illustrated

Panzanella: Enjoy!

Panzanella: Enjoy!

Panzanella is a refreshing Tuscan summer bread salad. Panzanella is quick to make, requires no cooking, and is the perfect thing to enjoy ona picnic.

Making Panzanella: What You'll Need

Making Panzanella: What You’ll Need

To Make Panzanella for four 8oer parhaps less; people tend to want more)  you’ll need:

  • 1 pound (500 g) several-days-old Tuscan white bread, sliced (see note)
  • At least 6 leaves basil, shredded
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 small sweet red onion (e.g. tropea or vidalia), sliced and rings separated
  • Half a cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) canned tuna fish, crumbled (quite optional)
  • Minced parsley (optional)
  • 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into eighths (quite optional)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 or more tablespoons good olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Though the basic ingredient in panzanella is bread, there’s a great deal of room for improvisation.

I have one friend who insists the bread should be seasoned with just olive oil, vinegar, and basil, and another who throws in a host of ingredients including tuna fish and raw onions. So if there’s something you don’t like in the ingredient list, feel free to change it or leave it out. This said, begin:

Making Panzanella: Add Vinegar to the Water

Making Panzanella: Add Vinegar to the Water

Acidulate the water with the vinegar and soak the bread in it, for 20 minutes at least (if you plan ahead you could even leave it over night).

Making Panzanella: Slice the Bread

Making Panzanella: Slice the Bread

Making Panzanella: Soak the Bread

Making Panzanella: Soak the Bread

Making Panzanella: Squeeze Out the Moisture

Making Panzanella: Squeeze Out the Moisture

Squeeze the bread to remove moisture — it should be damp — and crumble it into a salad bowl.

Making Panzanella: Got Bread, Now Assemble!

Making Panzanella: Got Bread, Now Assemble!

Making Panzanella: Onion, Tomato, Basil, Cucumber, Olive Oil...

Making Panzanella: Onion, Tomato, Basil, Cucumber, Olive Oil…

Mix in the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Let the panzanella stand for ten minutes to give the bread time to absorb some flavor, and serve.

Making Panzanella: Mix well

Making Panzanella: Mix well

The wine? Something light, perhaps a Rosato di Bolgheri (or del Salentino).

About the Bread:
You’ll need a loaf of day-old Italian bread, of the kind that has a quite firm crust and crumb with enough body to be able to stand up to being thoroughly soaked. American-style soft breads of the sort baked in a baking tin simply will not work for panzanella, because they will collapse into a paste.

Alessio’s Crespelle alla Fiorentina, An Illustrated Baked Pasta Recipe

Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Enjoy!

Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Enjoy!

Crespella is the Italian word for crepe, and they go back a very long ways. They also look beautiful, and are quite easy to make – once you have the hang of it – and are therefore the sort of thing that people will think you have gone to great deal more effort to make than you have. In short, the perfect beginning to a Sunday dinner or holiday meal, or something to serve company. Don’t let the length of the ingredients list scare you. Alessio Pesucci figures the below will serve 10, though you may find hearty eaters wanting seconds:

To Make 10 Crepes:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) white flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) clarified butter (one could use regular butter if need be)
  • 3/5 cup (140 ml) milk, warmed to 100 F (40 C)
  • A pinch of salt
  • More clarified butter to grease the pan

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds (650 g) ricotta, ideally sheep’s milk, well drained
  • 2 1/2 pounds (1.2 k) well-washed spinach
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (30 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • A pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • A pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 1 quart (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (50 g) flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch freshly ground nutmeg

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 2/3 pounds (750 g) ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A small onion, minced
  • Minced celery equivalent to half the volume of the onion
  • Minced carrot equivalent to a third the volume of the onion
  • 6-7 fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

To Assemble It:

  • 10 portion-size oven dishes
  • 1 1/3 cups (75 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Flipping a Crespella

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Flipping a Crespella

We’ll begin by preparing the crepes:
Whisk the eggs until they are yellow, adding a pinch of salt. Next, whisk some of the flour into the eggs (don’t worry about lumps at this stage), followed by some of the milk, more flour, and more milk until all is added; whisk until the batter is smooth and runs in a thin stream from the back of a spoon. From start to finish, mixing the batter will take about 3 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch diameter (30 cm) high-sided skillet with a non-stick surface over a fairly brisk flame until it is hot — a drop of water should dance upon it. Lightly grease it, remove it from the burner, and pour a small ladle of batter (a bit more than 1/4 cup) into it at a slant, turning the pan so the batter coats the bottom of the pan.

Return the pan to the burner and cook until the crepe firms up. Use a wooden spatula to loosen the crepe, and flip it to cook the other side.

In all, the cooking time will be about 2 minutes, and with a little practice you can learn to flip the crepes with a flick of the wrist after loosening them: Hold the pan at a slant, dip it (moving the pan forward and down), and then pull back with a deft upwards flick: the crepe will rise up and flip over.

Prrof? I watched Alessio prepare these for a cooking lesson, and though some of the students had their doubts about flipping crepes with a flick of the wrist, everyone did it. So it’s not difficult.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: The Filling

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: The Filling

And next, the filling:
Wash the spinach well, and put it in a pot with the water that adheres to the leaves. Bring it to a boil and cook it for 2 minutes, by which time it will have wilted completely. Remove it from the pot, and as soon as it has cooled to the point that you can handle it, chop it finely.

Alessio prefers sheep’s milk ricotta because cow’s milk ricotta has a floury texture, but cow’s milk is what you have it will work well too.

Put the chopped spinach in a large bowl and mix the ricotta into it, together with the eggs, Parmigiano, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue mixing until the filling is creamy and homogeneous.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Spreading the Filling

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Spreading the Filling

As you make the crepes, lay them flat on your work surface. When you have finished making crepes (you should have about 10), put a dollop of stuffing on each and spread it out to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) or so.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Rolling Them Up

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Rolling Them Up

Fold the left and right sides of the crespelle in to help keep the stuffing in place, and roll the crespelle up.

Put the crespelle in a pan for now, and see to making the béchamel sauce and the tomato sauce.

First, the tomato sauce:
Blanch, peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery too. Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the chopped herbs and salt. Cook until the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, and simmer. Add the shredded basil shortly before assembling everything.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Putting Bechamel Sauce in the Pans

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Putting Bechamel Sauce in the Pans

Next, see to the Bechamel sauce:
Make a roux with butter and the flour, heating it until it is tan. Let it cool some while bringing the milk to a boil. Stir the hot milk into the flour mixture — the temperature difference will keep lumps from forming — and season the mixture with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer the béchamel sauce for 5 minutes, and then remove it from the fire. Stir in the cream, which contributes to the sauce’s texture, and spread a spoonful of béchamel over the bottom of each of the oven dishes.

Cut the crepes at a slant into sections about an inch and a half (3.5 cm) across, and divvy them evenly among the oven dishes. While you are doing this, preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Saucing Sliced Crepelle with Tomato Sauce

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Saucing Sliced Crepelle with Tomato Sauce

Sprinkle tomato sauce over the crepe sections, and spoon the remaining béchamel sauce over the tomato-coated crepes — it will keep the tomatoes from burning.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: More White Sauce

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: More White Sauce

Dot the crepes with the remaining butter and sprinkle the grated cheese over them.

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Grated Cheese...

Making Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Grated Cheese…

Dot the crepes with the remaining butter and sprinkle the grated cheese over them.

Bake the crespelle for 10-12 minutes, and serve them at once with an elegant white wine. I would be tempted by a good Vernaccia di San Gimignano along the lines of Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Fiore, or perhaps a Vermentino from the Colli di Luni.

An unillustrated version of this recipe

Florentine Baked Crespelle, Alessio’s Crespelle alla Fiorentina

Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Enjoy!

Crespelle alla Fiorentina: Enjoy!

Crespella, as one might guess, is the Italian word for crepe, and they go back a very long ways. They also look beautiful, and are quite easy to make – once you have the hang of it – and are therefore the sort of thing that people will think you have gone to great deal more effort to make than you have. In short, Florentine baked crepes are the perfect beginning to a Sunday dinner or holiday meal, or something to serve company.

Don’t let the length of the ingredients list scare you. Chef Alessio Pesucci of the Locanda del Gallo in Chiocchio figures the below will serve 10, though you may find hearty eaters wanting seconds.

** To make 10 crepes **

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) white flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) clarified butter (one could use regular butter if need be)
  • 3/5 cup (140 ml) milk, warmed to 100 F (40 C)
  • A pinch of salt
  • More clarified butter to grease the pan

** For the Filling **

  • 1 1/2 pounds (650 g) ricotta, ideally sheep’s milk, well drained
  • 2 1/2 pounds (1.2 k) well-washed spinach
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (30 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • A pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • A pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

    ** For the Béchamel Sauce **

  • 1 quart (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (50 g) flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch freshly ground nutmeg

** For the Tomato Sauce **

  • 1 2/3 pounds (750 g) ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A small onion, minced
  • Minced celery equivalent to half the volume of the onion
  • Minced carrot equivalent to a third the volume of the onion
  • 6-7 basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

** To Put It All Together **

  • 10 portion-size oven dishes
  • 1 1/3 cups (75 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

We’ll begin by preparing the filling: Wash the spinach well, and put it in a pot with the water that adheres to the leaves. Bring it to a boil and cook it for 2 minutes, by which time it will have wilted completely. Remove it from the pot, and as soon as it has cooled to the point that you can handle it, chop it finely.

Alessio prefers sheep’s milk ricotta because cow’s milk ricotta has a floury texture, but cow’s milk is what you have it will work well too. Put the chopped spinach in a large bowl and mix the ricotta into it, together with the eggs, Parmigiano, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue mixing until the filling is creamy and homogenous.

Next, make the crepes: Whisk the eggs until they are yellow, adding a pinch of salt. Next, whisk some of the flour into the eggs (don’t worry about lumps at this stage), followed by some of the milk, more flour, and more milk until all is added; whisk until the batter is smooth and runs in a thin stream from the back of a spoon. From start to finish, mixing the batter will take about 3 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch diameter (30 cm) high-sided skillet with a non-stick surface over a fairly brisk flame until it is hot — a drop of water should dance upon it. Lightly grease it, remove it from the burner, and pour a small ladle of batter (a bit more than 1/4 cup) into it at a slant, turning the pan so the batter coats the bottom of the pan.

Return the pan to the burner and cook until the crepe firms up. Use a wooden spatula to loosen the crepe, and flip it to cook the other side.

In all, the cooking time will be about 2 minutes, and with a little practice you can learn to flip the crepes with a flick of the wrist after loosening them: Hold the pan at a slant, dip it (moving the pan forward and down), and then pull back with a deft upwards flick: the crepe will rise up and flip over.

Prrof? I watched Alessio prepare these for a cooking lesson, and though some of the students had their doubts about flipping crepes with a flick of the wrist, everyone did it. So it’s not difficult.

As you make the crepes, lay them flat on your work surface. When you have finished making crepes (you should have about 10), put a dollop of stuffing on each and spread it out to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) or so.

Fold the left and right sides of the crespelle in to help keep the stuffing in place, and roll the crespelle up.

Put the crespelle in a pan for now, and see to making the béchamel sauce and the tomato sauce.

First, the tomato sauce: Blanch, peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery too. Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the chopped herbs and salt. Cook until the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, and simmer (add the basil shortly before you assemble everything).

Next, see to the Bechamel sauce: Make a roux with butter and the flour, heating it until it is tan. Let it cool some while bringing the milk to a boil. Stir the hot milk into the flour mixture — the temperature difference will keep lumps from forming — and season the mixture with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer the béchamel sauce for 5 minutes, and then remove it from the fire. Stir in the cream, which contributes to the sauce’s texture, and spread a spoonful of béchamel over the bottom of each of the oven dishes.

Cut the crepes at a slant into sections about an inch and a half (3.5 cm) across, and divvy them evenly among the oven dishes. While you are doing this, preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).

Sprinkle tomato sauce over the crepe sections, and spoon the remaining béchamel sauce over the tomato-coated crepes — it will keep the tomatoes from burning.

Dot the crepes with the remaining butter and sprinkle the grated cheese over them.

Bake the crepes for 10-12 minutes, and serve them at once with an elegant white wine. I would be tempted by a good Vernaccia di San Gimignano along the lines of Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Fiore, or perhaps a Vermentino from the Colli di Luni.

This recipe, Illustrated.

Crespella, as one might guess, is the Italian word for crepe, and they go back a very long ways. They also look beautiful, and are quite easy to make – once you have the hang of it – and are therefore the sort of thing that people will think you have gone to great deal more effort to make than you have. In short, Florentine baked crepes are the perfect beginning to a Sunday dinner or holiday meal, or something to serve company.

Don’t let the length of the ingredients list scare you. Alessio Pesucci figures the below will serve 10, though you may find hearty eaters wanting seconds.

** To make 10 crepes **

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup (80 g) white flour

1 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) clarified butter (one could use regular butter if need be)

3/5 cup (140 ml) milk, warmed to 100 F (40 C)

A pinch of salt

More clarified butter to grease the pan

** For the Filling **

1 1/2 pounds (650 g) ricotta, ideally sheep’s milk, well drained

2 1/2 pounds (1.2 k) well-washed spinach

2-3 eggs

2/3 cup (30 g) freshly grated Parmigiano

A pinch freshly ground nutmeg

A pinch freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt

** For the Béchamel Sauce **

1 quart (1 l) whole milk

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (50 g) flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

A pinch freshly ground nutmeg

** For the Tomato Sauce **

1 2/3 pounds (750 g) ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

A small onion, minced

Minced celery equivalent to half the volume of the onion

Minced carrot equivalent to a third the volume of the onion

6-7 basil leaves, shredded

1/2 teaspoon salt

** To Put It All Together **

10 portion-size oven dishes

1 1/3 cups (75 g) freshly grated Parmigiano

1/4 cup unsalted butter

We’ll begin by preparing the filling:

Wash the spinach well, and put it in a pot with the water that adheres to the leaves. Bring it to a boil and cook it for 2 minutes, by which time it will have wilted completely. Remove it from the pot, and as soon as it has cooled to the point that you can handle it, chop it finely.

Alessio prefers sheep’s milk ricotta because cow’s milk ricotta has a floury texture, but cow’s milk is what you have it will work well too. Put the chopped spinach in a large bowl and mix the ricotta into it, together with the eggs, Parmigiano, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Continue mixing until the filling is creamy and homogenous.

Next, make the crepes.

Whisk the eggs until they are yellow, adding a pinch of salt. Next, whisk some of the flour into the eggs (don’t worry about lumps at this stage), followed by some of the milk, more flour, and more milk until all is added; whisk until the batter is smooth and runs in a thin stream from the back of a spoon. From start to finish, mixing the batter will take about 3 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch diameter (30 cm) high-sided skillet with a non-stick surface over a fairly brisk flame until it is hot — a drop of water should dance upon it. Lightly grease it, remove it from the burner, and pour a small ladle of batter (a bit more than 1/4 cup) into it at a slant, turning the pan so the batter coats the bottom of the pan.

Return the pan to the burner and cook until the crepe firms up. Use a wooden spatula to loosen the crepe, and flip it to cook the other side.

In all, the cooking time will be about 2 minutes, and with a little practice you can learn to flip the crepes with a flick of the wrist after loosening them: Hold the pan at a slant, dip it (moving the pan forward and down), and then pull back with a deft upwards flick: the crepe will rise up and flip over.

I watched Alessio Pesucci of the Locanda Del Gallo prepare these for a cooking lesson, and though some of the students had their doubts about flipping crepes with a flick of the wrist, everyone did it. So it’s not difficult.

As you make the crepes, lay them flat on your work surface. When you have finished making crepes (you should have about 10), put a dollop of stuffing on each and spread it out to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) or so.

Fold the left and right sides of the crespelle in to help keep the stuffing in place, and roll the crespelle up.

Put the crespelle in a pan for now, and see to making the béchamel sauce and the tomato sauce.

First, the tomato sauce:

Blanch, peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery too. Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the chopped herbs and salt. Cook until the onion is translucent, add the tomatoes, and simmer (add the basil shortly before you assemble everything).

Next, see to the Bechamel sauce:

Make a roux with butter and the flour, heating it until it is tan. Let it cool some while bringing the milk to a boil. Stir the hot milk into the flour mixture — the temperature difference will keep lumps from forming — and season the mixture with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer the béchamel sauce for 5 minutes, and then remove it from the fire. Stir in the cream, which contributes to the sauce’s texture, and spread a spoonful of béchamel over the bottom of each of the oven dishes.

Cut the crepes at a slant into sections about an inch and a half (3.5 cm) across, and divvy them evenly among the oven dishes. While you are doing this, preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).

Sprinkle tomato sauce over the crepe sections, and spoon the remaining béchamel sauce over the tomato-coated crepes — it will keep the tomatoes from burning.

Dot the crepes with the remaining butter and sprinkle the grated cheese over them.

Bake the crepes for 10-12 minutes, and serve them at once with an elegant white wine. I would be tempted by a good Vernaccia di San Gimignano along the lines of Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Fiore, or perhaps a Vermentino from the Colli di Luni.

An illustrated version of this recipe