Saturday, February 14, 2015


Do you do Pancake Day? Pancakes happen on Shrove Tuesday (this year it’s February 17), otherwise known as Mardi Gras or, in Spain, Carnaval. Eating pancakes the day before the beginning of Lent is not only a custom in England, but also in Galicia (northwest Spain).


Filloas--crêpes from Galicia, typical for Carnaval.
In Galicia they’re called filloas and they are rather more like crêpes than like hefty pancakes. Perhaps due to a shared Celtic ancestry, crêpes are as popular in the northwestern Spanish regions of Galicia and Asturias as they are in Brittany. Filloa comes from the Latin folio, meaning "leaf". They are a favorite dessert during Carnaval—the festivities preceding the penitential Lenten season.

Filloas are also made during the winter pig slaughtering. Then pig’s blood is incorporated in the batter and the crêpes are fried in lard. Variations of filloas are made with corn meal or rye flour instead of wheat flour. Filloas quemadas are crêpes flambés, usually with brandy, anise or herb liqueur made from orujo, the local grape brandy.

Filloas may be served folded into quarters and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or folded around a filling. Other sweet alternatives are custard cream or chestnut purée. The crépes are served too with savory fillings such as seafood or grelos (broccoli rabe, the signature green of Galicia).

Filloas de Leite
Galician Crêpes

This basic recipe can be used for sweet or savory crêpes. The crêpes should be very thin, so add enough water to the batter so that it covers the bottom of the skillet.

Makes 18-20 crêpes.

4 medium eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 teaspoons aguardiente (anisette liqueur), optional
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup water (approx)
Olive oil, butter or pork fat to grease the pan

Combine the eggs, milk and aguardiente, if using, in a blender and blend to combine. Blend in the flour and salt. Add enough water to thin the batter. It should coat a spoon but be thin enough to pour and spread in the pan.

Let the batter rest 1 hour so that all the bubbles have settled. The batter can be prepared a day before cooking and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.

Flip the crêpe. (Photo by Leo Searl)
Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet on medium-high. Rub the skillet lightly with oil, butter or pork fat. Scoop up batter with a ¼-cup measuring cup, not filled to the top, and pour the batter into the pan. Tilt the pan so batter covers the surface. Let it cook until the edges of the crêpe release from the pan. Lift an edge with a spatula and, with the fingers, turn the crêpe to cook the reverse side. Each crêpe needs about 30 seconds on each side.

Remove the crêpes as they are cooked and stack on a plate. They can be served immediately, dusted with cinnamon and sugar or dolloped with honey,  jam or fruit puree. Or have ready one of the following fillings.

The following recipes are adapted from Cociña Galega by Álvaro Cunqueiro and Araceli Filgueira Iglesias. The titles are in the Galician idiom, not Castellano Spanish.

Filloas con Recheo de Marisco
Galician Crêpes with Seafood Filling

Seafood-filled crêpes with a cheese gratin topping.
Use any combination of shellfish—shrimp, mussels, clams, cockles, scallops. Cook shrimp in salted water with a bay leaf. Drain, saving some of the liquid to use in the sauce for the crêpes. Peel the shrimp. Steam open the mussels, clams, cockles or scallops. Strain and keep their cooking liquid. Discard shells.

Serves 6.

12 crêpes

For the filling
1 leek, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cups cooked shellfish
3 tablespoons white wine or dry Sherry
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
2 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons shellfish cooking liquid
Salt and pepper

For the bechamel sauce
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup shellfish cooking liquid
2/3 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 ½ ounces grated cheese
Pimentón (paprika)

Sauté the leeks in butter until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the shellfish and wine. Cook 2 minutes. Add the chopped egg and breadcrumbs. Cook 2 minutes to thicken. Add a little of the cooking liquid to make a mixture that is creamy in texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fold like an envelope.
Place a crêpe on a work surface. Place a spoonful of the filling just below the center. Fold in the sides of the crêpe, then fold up the bottom. Roll the crêpe to the top. Place in a buttered gratin pan. Continue filling and rolling the remaining crépes.

Prepare the sauce. Heat the butter or oil in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook it 2 minutes. Whisk in the cooking liquid, then the milk. Cook, whisking the sauce, until thickened. Taste for salt. Shellfish cooking liquid can be quite salty, so the sauce may not need additional salt.

Preheat broiler or gratin element in the oven.

Spread the sauce over filled crêpes. Top with grated cheese and sprinkle with pimentón. Place under broiler or gratin until crêpes begin to bubble and tops are browned, 4-5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Shrimp and mussels are folded into these crêpes.

Filloas Queimadas con Recheo
Flambéed Crépes with Nut Filling

With a nut filling, filloas are ready to be flambéed.
Serves 6

12 crêpes
2 ounces hazelnuts
1 ½ cups ground almonds
½ cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon brandy + more to flambé
¼ cup + ½ tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Spread the hazelnuts in an oven pan and toast them in a preheated medium oven until lightly golden. Remove and when cool enough to handle, rub off the skins. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Combine with the ground almonds.

In a bowl cream the butter until fluffy. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the ground nuts and stir the rest into the butter with 1 tablespoon of brandy and ¼ cup of sugar. 

Spread filling and fold in quarters.

Place a crêpe on a work surface. Spread a spoonful of the nut filling on a quarter of the crêpe. Fold over half of the crêpe, then fold again. Place the crêpes as they are filled on a heat-proof serving dish.

Sprinkle the reserved ground nuts over the crêpes. Sprinkle with ½ tablespoon sugar and the cinnamon.

Heat about 1/3 cup of brandy in a soup ladle. Very carefully ignite the brandy and pour the flaming brandy over the crêpes. Serve the crêpes once the flames subside.


  1. Wow both these crepes look and sound phenomenal! Pinned for later!


    1. Kelsey: I hope you enjoy the Galician version of crêpes.