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Crepes with Kefir Cheese and Chai-Scented Pears

Mmmmmmm, bacteria. Of course, without it, we wouldn’t have one of life’s most perfect foods: cheese (as my brother-in-law can attest). One of these days, I’ll learn how to make it (anyone ever been to classes at the Cheese School of San Francisco?).

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Kefir cheese is made with a very particular, mysterious bacteria that grows on what’s called kefir “grains.” That’s all I can figure out from the little that’s online. To further the myth, it seems these cauliflower-looking (yes, cauliflower) “grains” were bequeathed by the gods in antiquity to some folks in the Caucasus Mountains. Magical, these grains can be kept, grown and reused forever if cared for properly. If anyone knows anything more about said grains, please comment!

I bought some kefir cheese on a whim at my local market. It turns out that my husband and I are big fans. It’s a really smooth, creamy and slightly tangy cheese that falls somewhere between yogurt and sour cream.

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With a tub of kefir cheese in the fridge and the onset of dessert withdrawl (it’s dangerous to go cold turkey after the holidays, you know), I came up with this recipe for a somewhat healthier dessert (hey, no butter! Ok, just a little bit.). Inspired by blintzes, it features pears poached in chai tea – a beverage that brings back memories of the college friends who taught me how to make a good cup.

Crepes with Kefir Cheese and Chai-scented Pears
- serves 2 -

Crepes *
3 eggs
1 ½ c milk
2T butter, melted
1 c flour
1/2 t salt

1 red d’Anjou pear (or another firm, non-grainy type of pear), sliced
½ c chai tea, brewed dark **
3 T sugar
scant 1t loose chai tea, ground in spice grinder

4-6T kefir cheese

For crepes: Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute (make sure the flour mixes in). Let stand for at least an hour at room temperature or in the fridge.  In a hot 8” non-stick crepe pan, pour just enough batter to coat the bottom (fill in the holes!). Keep heat medium high/high and cook each crepe for a few minutes until golden on bottom and you can slip a spatula under it to loosen. Flip out onto a piece of waxed paper.  Continue with the rest of the batter.

For pears: Pour the chai into a saute pan and add the sugar. Bring to a simmer and add pear. Simmer for a few minutes until the pears are just starting to turn slightly soft. Remove pears and continue to simmer the chai until reduced quite a bit (by half or more) to a syrup. Turn off the heat and add the pears back in. Sprinkle with ground chai and give it a stir.

To assemble: Spread about 2-3T of kefir cheese down the center of one crepe and fold into thirds. Top with pear mixture and drizzle with chai syrup. Serving: 1 crepe.

* This recipe makes about 10 8-inch crepes; you’ll have extra to make the dessert again or just eat ‘em.
** I used a really good loose chai tea; you can also make your own mixture with black tea and spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise.

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