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In the Kitchen with Gram...Cannelloni!!

Well, my friends, what I'm sharing with you today is not your average "every day" meal...this is something special. Something you'll save for special occasions, for important guests, for days when you have loads of time (and energy) to devote to an extra special meal.

And extra special it is!!

Gram clipped this from a newspaper many years ago...this is well worth the effort, but let me forthright with you, while this meal is technically "easy", it does take some time (and helps if you have a "crepe maker" to help you out!).

DISCLAIMER: We doubled the recipe, but I will post the "single version" recipe below...easy to double if you need to!

The crepes...easy, but take a while.

First up, make your batter...heat butter and milk,

Beat some eggs,

Measure your dry ingredients, and mix it all together...then let it sit for a bit.

Now, get a small frying pan nice and hot and start frying. Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and quickly tilt the batter around so it covers the bottom of the pan.

 A large, offset spatula helps with flipping your crepe...lift an edge, slide the spatula under it and flip 'er over!

 Now, grab your nearest grandpa, and make him brown your hamburger:

Didn't he do a good job?!

Add in the onion, garlic and spinach and mix it all up.

 Let it cool a bit, then add the Parmesan cheese and cream:

And the beaten eggs and mix well. Set aside to cool.

While the meat mixture (which will be the filling for the crepes) cools, get started on your red sauce. Onions in plenty of EVOO:

When they're nice and soft, add in the tomato products and seasonings:

And stir it all together.

Then, put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 40-60 minutes. 

So, while your tomato sauce is simmering away, it's time to get busy on the crepe rolling.

Put a dab (not too much, a generous soup spoon was plenty) and spread it down the middle of the crepe.

Now, roll it up, not too loose, but not super, crazy tight, either.

After rolling the crepes up, set them aside and get started on the white sauce. The white sauce comes together quickly, but needs fairly constant attention so it doesn't scorch, but there's nothing difficult about it.

First up, more butter. Melted.

Then add in the flour, and whisk together well:

Next, add in the half and half, whisking well to get rid of all clumpiness!

When it's nice and smooth, add in a "Gram 1/4 tsp" of pepper:

And some salt:

Now for the fun part...seeing it all come together!

A dab of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan:

Then, lay the crepes on top of it...we found that 12 crepes fit well in a 9x13 inch pan.

Next up, white sauce over the crepes, spread it evenly around:

And, tomato sauce over the cream sauce:

And spread that to cover evenly:

Then, give them all a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese! (That one in the back was for me...not a huge cheese fan here...)

Then, bake and voila...Cannelloni!! Not to be confused with it's similar sounding dessert counterpart, Cannoli. "Take the gun, leave the cannoli." Name that Movie.

Gram's Cannelloni
Printable Recipe

Crepes (best if made day ahead):
2 c. milk
4 T. butter
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Heat milk and butter together in a pan. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together, stir in milk/butter mixture to cool slightly, then slowly add beaten eggs, whisk batter until smooth, let stand 15 minutes before "frying". (Batter will be very thin.)

In a hot (we found the "7" level on the burner to be good), 4-5 inch skillet, pour 2 T of batter, tilting and turning pan slightly so as to cover bottom of pan, work quickly, as batter begins to cook immediately when hitting pan. Allow to brown slightly, then using an off set spatula, work under the crepe, and carefully flip to brown other side. Set aside to cool, then stack, separating every 2 crepes with wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and keep cool until ready to use. (May make up to 24 hours in advance.)

Meat Filling:

1 lb lean ground beef
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
10 oz. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
5 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with butter, add olive oil, onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft then add spinach, mix well and transfer to bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then add remaining ingredients, mix well and chill until ready to roll crepes.

Tomato Sauce:

4 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 large can crushed tomatoes
6 T tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp each, salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in sauce pan, add onions and cook until translucent. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer, partially covered for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cream Sauce:

6 T butter
6 T flour
2 c half and half
1 tsp salt
Dash of pepper

Melt butter in saucepan, whisk in flour, combine well, then whisk in half and half until smooth and add in salt and pepper. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly (mixture scorches easily). Simmer 2-3 minutes (it will thicken as it cooks).

To assemble cannelloni:

Place a heaping tablespoon of meat filling down center of crepe, roll up sort of tightly and set aside. After all crepes are filled and rolled (we had more crepes than filling), place a small amount of tomato sauce in 9x13 pan and lay crepes, seam side down, on top of sauce. We found that 12 crepes fit well in 9x13. When pan is full, spread a generous cup of cream sauce over crepes, then a generous cup of tomato sauce, spreading evenly over crepes. Sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Freezes well!



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