This morning I woke up in a cold sweat.

No doubt it was due to the fact that I have to spend what feels like my thirtieth work day in a row attempting to clone my gene-of-interest into a lentiviral vector that not only likes to recombine in strange and unusual ways once it is transformed it into bacterial cells so that even though it seems like you have a whole plate full of positive colonies.  Really.  You have none.  Which you learn after you mini-prep FIFTY OF THEM.  (Ugh.)  But also likes to randomly degrade itself every other time you try to digest it, sending you on a wild goose chase looking for some nuclease-contaminated digestion ingredient that may or may not exist.

Fun times.


To those in science. I know you feel my pain.  Please send good cloning karma my way.

To those who have no idea what I just wrote…basically I have this circular piece of DNA and I want to put the DNA for the gene that I’m studying into that circular piece of DNA, so I have to cut open the circular piece of DNA and paste in my gene.  Which is much harder in practice than it is in principle because in experiments like this, whose success rely on every condition being absolutely perfect at every step…everything that can go wrong.  Does.  And you never have any idea why.  So all you can really do is try. And try.  And try again.  Ever. And anon.

Until you’ve finally pulled all of your hair out in the process and delegate cloning responsibility to your summer student while you go on vacation for a week.  Maybe she’ll have beginner’s luck.  We can only hope.

Otherwise…neither of us will have any hair on our heads by the end  of the summer.  And we won’t have our vector either.  Awkward.

Which brings me to the other thing I find equally as frustrating as molecular biology.

Pancake-making.  Tough stuff.

I know most of you are shaking your heads right now and half of you are going to unsubscribe from my blog because who in their right mind would take cooking advice from someone who finds making a damn pancake to be an unsurmountable task!?  It’s okay, I understand.

But in my defense, I have tried countless recipes.  There have been buttermilk, greek yogurt, and ricotta varieties.  I have tried greasing the pan with olive oil and/or butter and/or oxygen.  To no avail.  Whatever I do, they are dense and slightly charred.  Every time.

The last time I made them, The.Boy. suggested (in the sweetest way possible, of course) that I invest in some Bisquick.  After I finished throwing up in my mouth a little bit at the thought, I vowed then and there that I would someday make a perfect pancake (without the aid of any boxed mix, mind you).  Even if it costs me every hair follicle to do so.

You can degrade all of my DNA and dense-ify all of my pancakes.  But kill my spirit, you cannot!


So, crepes.  They are French, which should without a doubt make them infinitely more complicated than pancakes.

And yet.

I somehow managed to make ten of them.  All perfectly thin with a slight fluff.  Not a single burnt bit in sight.  Hallelujah.

And then I stuffed them with an utterly delicious swiss chard, caramelized onion, monterey jack cheese mix.

Pancake success story.  In my mouth.

I highly recommend making them.  Today.  So that even when your cloning attempts fail for the six hundredth time this month…you can at least have crepe-making under your belt.  And really…that’s far more impressive anyways.


Masa Crepes with Chard, Chiles, and Cilantro
Serves 4, adapted from Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

For the crepes

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/2 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

For the chard filling

  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, finely diced, seeds removed
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 big bunches of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese


  1. Put all the ingredients for the crepes in a bowl and stir until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Add the onion, chiles, and oregano and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cilantro and cook for a few minutes more, then add the chard and cook until wilted.  Season with salt to taste and cook until chard is tender, 4 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the greek yogurt and turn off the heat.
  3. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Pour 1/4 cup crepe batter into the pan and swirl around so that it forms a thin layer.  Cook until mostly set, about 1-2 minutes, and then flip.  Cook for another ten to fifteen seconds and remove to a plate.  Repeat with remaining batter, stacking crepes on the plate as you go. Spread half the crepe with the chard, add a little cheese and then fold the edges together so that the crepes form a half moon.  If desired, serve with a jicama cucumber salad dressed with some lime juice and a hint of chipotle chile powder.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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83 Responses to Masa Crepes with Chard, Chile and Cilantro

  1. FramedCooks says:

    This looks both delicious AND healthy – I think we need to clone YOU! Yum.

  2. I adore crepes!! This is such a great use of swiss chard.

  3. Lora says:

    Perfect looking crepes!

  4. I have faith that one day you will make that perfect pancake… and in the meantime these look like an amazing sub!

    Good luck today at lab!

  5. Ellen Lederman says:

    This looks and sounds wonderful. I’m with Colleen—there is never a bad use for swiss chard, but this sounds especially excellent.

    True confession: in the photo, I thought those were French fries on the side! I wasn’t sure that would be your style, so I reread the recipe and saw that it is jicama and cuke salad. Much healthier and more unique choice…and more you!

  6. london bakes says:

    Your crepes look perfect and I love the combination of ingredients that you used to fill them!

  7. Danielle says:

    We make crepes a lot but I never thought of using masa. We have a huge bag in the pantry so I may attempt this.

  8. Amy says:

    I read that 1st paragraph 3x. Kept reading and was like “oh thank goodness, she’s going to explain.” Ya, um, that didn’t help. I’ll be needing some of these crepes so I can feel good about myself again.

  9. Hey Joanne I am sticking with you! The only pancakes that turned out really well are the corn pancakes that my mom used to make for us….and she use Jiffy Corn muffin mix. What can I say!!! I have to make these and I mean today. I have masa and chipotle chile powder, just need some sort of milk besides coconut milk. I love crepes! Nice job! Hang in there! 🙂

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve never heard of using masa in crepes, interesting. I love savory crepes

  11. Geni says:

    Yum, yum YUM! Love that the creeps are made with mass harina. Haven’t tried that before. Good luck with the gene thing. Makes my head hurt. P.S. I have a decent pancake run through on my pineapple upsidedown pancakes post. One trick is grease pan with 1 pat of butter and a T of canola oil. Alton says stir pancake batter 10 times no more…I usually do 12 or so. Leave lumps…

  12. Sam says:

    I have been eying this recipe since I got this cookbook for Christmas. D even flipped through it got to this page and said “I think I might actually eat that.” That’s a pretty good compliment for any recipe coming from a man who eats mostly bread and cookies.

    I hope it all works out with your experiment–I have a good friend who has her PhD in Microbiology and I listen to stories like this all the time. It’ll all work out eventually.

  13. Yum! I have yet to make crapes, but it’s on my food bucket list next to pizza dough. I love the idea that you used masa, I bet it makes it more hearty! The stuffing looks delish too!!

  14. I love this menu. I will make you eat quickly. I’m very excited.

  15. Sarah says:

    umm, i don’t think i understood most of what you said in that first paragraph. science is so beyond me. ha! i love this recipe, just like everything else you make. so inventive! 🙂 good luck at lab 🙂

  16. This looks amazing I can’t wait to try this wtih some dinosaur kale that has been chilling in my fridge 🙂

  17. GREAT idea. I need to use a savory pancake to wrap stuff since my daughtert is allergic to eggs. I typically use a tortilla but this would be fun.

  18. Ranjani says:

    Oh, I feel your pain about the lab work. But on the positive side, when you do job interviews, you’ll have great examples demonstrating problem solving and persistence in overcoming challenges! On to the food – I’ve actually never made crepes before. They intimidate me. But I love the idea of crepes filled with gorgeous fresh veggies, so I’m going to have to try!

  19. Marcia says:

    You just reminded me why I went into chemical engineering and not biology/science.

    Not that my experiments don’t go wrong…they definitely do.

  20. Jenna says:

    I’ve also struggled with the whole pancake making thing, so I’m glad to hear I’m not alone! I’m not sure why it’s so tricky . . . but yeah: dense and burnt.

  21. RJ says:

    ugh. I feel your cloning pain…spent three weeks just trying to move one construct into another vector…good luck!! sometimes a vacation/break from the bench is just what you need to bring the mojo back 😉

  22. Tandy says:

    I hope the gene cloning works! As you know, everything does eventually 🙂

  23. Karen says:

    I would love to eat these… so fresh and healthy!

  24. love2dine says:

    wow! i want to have all of them. that look so good… oh… gosh!

  25. Oh, I love Deborah Madision! Crepes packed with veggie goodness sound perfect. And with Masa?? Very cool.

  26. I’ve never used Masa but you’ve inspired me!!

  27. Eileen says:

    These look amazing! I’ve never used masa in crepes before. (Er, actually I’ve never made crepes at all–must get on that soon, because I love them). The combination with chard and cilantro sounds perfect!

  28. Well, I am one of those people that has no idea what you were talking about in the first paragraph. In fact, I think my eyes may have crossed while I was trying to read it.

    I can totally relate to your crepes though! They are beautiful

  29. Cara says:

    I think crepes are much harder to master than pancakes, so maybe now that you have that down, you can go back to pancakes 🙂

  30. kelsey says:

    This is exactly what i need right now.

  31. Oh – YES PLEASE! Masa crepes are brilliant…as are the things stuffed inside. Delicious.

  32. Christine says:

    Had to laugh at your intro…just when I was thinking WTF is she talking about, you explained it in lay terms. Apparently you can’t clone, but can read minds 🙂 The stuffed crepes look delicious. So much so that I may make the filling and stuff it in some hollowed out zucchinis and throw on the grill. Hope your student has some cloning luck!
    Did you make the fries BTW? Baked? They make me want fries right now!

  33. Pancake making is, indeed, tough. However, you make it look like a piece of cake! This whole dish intrigues me.

  34. I have no idea what that cloning business would be like but it sounds incredibly frustrating! I’m sending good cloning karma your way, and good pancake making karma! Though I agree with you about crepes vs. pancakes .. Everyone seems to think crepes are so hard but I find them easier than pancakes – they cook so quickly and there’s no guessing when they’re done. Love what you did with yours!

  35. Katie says:

    I feel your pain. Pancakes and I do not get along that well. These crepes look beautiful though. I’ve been nervous about trying them. Love the chard filling too!

  36. Jenn Kendall says:

    yum, love that spicy chard filling! such a creative dish Joanne! and yay for conquering the pancake 🙂

  37. Love this dish Joanne!! I just had something similar for Brunch at a place near our house a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about creating a dish like this. Now, I can just make yours 🙂

  38. Margarita says:

    Most of my friends are scientists because DFJ is one and they talk about that stuff all the time. They would stay late at work on Friday nights to get these cultures done so they don’t have to go back to the lab in weekends and I hear endless complaints but relief to not have to work on a Saturday. Lol! Love these corn crepes… This never crossed my mind, coz I would never have thought that masa harina can be worked out tu turn fluffy and soft.

  39. Saguna says:

    Pancakes for dinner- awesome. I totally needed this crepe recipe in my life.

    I’m a terrible pancake maker. I always blame too-thin non-stick pans… But I think I might factor into the end result (as well as much as I’d like not to admit it)..

  40. Ooooh, love crepes! I had no idea they could be made with masa like that… That sounds so good!

  41. daphne says:

    I agree pancakes and crepes- tricky! But you do it so well! And made it savoury! I love it how you turn sweet into savoury and savour into sweet.

  42. marie says:

    I grew up on crepes, sweet though, never savory. We called them (& still do) rolly pollies.

  43. OohLookBel says:

    I like how you compare making pancakes to molecular biology. I wouldn’t know about the science, but pancakes are HARD to make well. You seem to have mastered it, though, these look perfect.

  44. Kari says:

    I’m not in your branch of science, but I still feel your pain. And send serious good luck and happy cloning vibes.

    These crepes clearly don’t need any more happy vibes because they have more than enough of their own. Seriously impressive!

  45. That Girl says:

    This just got added to the menu for next week!

  46. Good luck with your DNA troubles! I’m sure you’ll get it to work eventually.

    I’ve never had an issue with pancakes, but crepes are way tastier, so your pancake issues don’t really matter. This dinner sounds totally delicious.

  47. Reeni says:

    These crepes look so good I just went and ordered this cookbook! It’s kind of like a gourmet grilled cheese. Utterly delicious!

  48. Pam says:

    I’ll admit it. You crack me up and hurt my brain at the same time. Lentiviral vector? What? Anyway – sending you some good cloning karma your way.

    The masa crepes on the other hand, I totally understand. They look fantastic!!!

    Have fun on your vacation!

  49. Hey Joanne! Your crepes look utterly delicious!! Funny I actually just made some crepes myself too! But seeing how yours look so wholesome, hearty and healthy, I guess I might have to revamp my thoughts on my own crepes! haha.. And for the record, I don’t believe you can’t make decent pancakes if your crepes look so perfect!! 🙂

  50. SO absolutely scrumptious!! I’ve been eating chard like nobody’s business this month. I get huge, glossy bunches of it at the Farmer’s Market and it makes me happy just looking at it. So much goodness. 🙂

  51. Johanna GGG says:

    Is it wrong that dense and slightly charred pancakes sound good to me? Your crepes look even better though – I have only made crepes a few times and been amazed at how well they come out – I agree that it doesn’t seem right! Love the filling too – savoury pancakes/crepes are awesome

  52. Never made crepes – love eating them. I hope you get your DNA thingy sorted :s

  53. Hotly Spiced says:

    Your science stuff is doing my head in. what a challenge. I’d be so mentally drained I wouldn’t be able to tell if a pancake was burnt or raw. Lovely meal to cheer yourself up after a hard day in the lab though xx

  54. You did it again! These masa crepes with chard filling look out of this world delicious!

  55. Barbara says:

    Fabulous job with your crepes, Joanne! Fun to see a healthy version of a crepe dish…I won’t feel at all guilty eating those!

  56. These would make a great brunch! I love the healthy swiss chard filling!

  57. marla says:

    Savory pancakes/crepes ?? I NEED these after my hike today!!

  58. They look fantastic! I really need to try some Swiss chard already.

  59. Faith says:

    You sure rocked these pancakes! Savory crepes are so good, especially filled with things like chard and cheese. 🙂 Love it.

  60. Suzi says:

    Joanne I am sure glad that you got these pancakes down this time around. I would hate to see you without any hair if we ever run into one another,LOL. These look fantastic and the swiss chard in a crepe with caramelized onions is a winner in my book. I love this idea.

  61. Camila Faria says:

    These crepes look a-ma-zing! I must try this recipe!!!

  62. Three bunches of chard, Joanne. Way to go with the greens!

    I was secretly hoping you had tried the masa crepes from Bean by Bean.. I have a grand plan for them but haven’t yet tackled making the crepes yet… But tell you what, when I make them, I will let you know.

    And until you figure out real pancakes, try these with wheat germ… gosh, these peanut butter banana pancakes are utterly delicious:

  63. Rachel says:

    I’m a chronic pancake ruiner but my troubles come with flipping them. They always end up on top of each other! I guess with one crepe in a pan maybe I would be more successful. These sound deeeelicious!

  64. Cathleen says:

    Aww, I feel your pain. This is why I gave up on biology. And physics and chemistry, I was AWFUL at experiments, and we had to do error analysis. This is why all my effort is going towards math. It won’t get me anywhere, but I love it WAY more than doing experiments that don’t go my way.
    Congrats on the crepes! They look delicious, I LOVE savory crepes

  65. Shannon says:

    these must’ve been delicious, b/c i’m drooling! bisquick has a special place in my heart b/c i grew up on it, but it’s still tough to see myself using it 😉 i’m currently dealing with an assay that is just as finicky as your cloning project, so i totally feel your pain. hang in there!

  66. Mary says:

    He can’t help but love these, Joanne. They really sound delicious and if you serve them he’ll be delighted. Affection leads to altered states. Have a wonderful holiday. Blessings…Mary

  67. Pancake making IS super tough! My favorite restaurant makes them so buttery and fluffy and no matter what I do, it’ll never be like theirs. Ugh.

    Anyway, I am over the moon with these crepes. I’m not much of a savory crepe person but you know I’ll still love this.

  68. Dining Alone says:

    I am in tech, and it has its own frustrations for sure. I feel your pain. I have never made or even attempted to make pancakes from scratch, so you are already a step ahead of me.

  69. Lynn says:

    That’s looks super delicious!

  70. elly says:

    I pretty much just learned how to make pancakes this year (well, can you say you learned if you just suddenly started being able to do it by accident?), but I somehow mastered crepes before, too. So weird! These look awesome, and the filling options are endless. Can’t wait to make these.

  71. Carolyn Jung says:

    Have you tried whipping the egg whites separately before folding them into the pancake batter? That usually makes for some really airy, fluffy pancakes. But I know what you mean — so many pancakes are just OK. It’s rare to come across ones that really take your breath away. 😉

  72. Gloria says:

    Love crepes !! and these look amazing!!

  73. sophia says:

    Well, see, there you go. Why are you in science in the first place, my dear Joanne? Tsk, tsk. ;-p
    Hope you master everything the way you mastered these delicious crepes though!

  74. Those are some amazing photos! You’re making me very hungry here…and I totally understand the crepe > pancakes issue…I can make crepes a lot better than I can pancakes..for some reason…

    I am so glad I’m not in science. 😛

  75. it sounds healthy and delicious. the pictures are also delicious. I’ve made crepes lasagne with spinach and feta yesterday, and it was delicious as well.

  76. Chris says:

    Masa crepes, who woulda thought? I’ve only ever done basic crepes and they were exceptional.

    I can understand your pancake fail/crepes success issue. It does seem backwards but I can nail a perfect smoked brisket yet cooking a lowly chuck roast always gives me trouble.

  77. I just made chard tacos and they were wonderful. Man it’s been a long time since I’ve made crepes.

  78. Erica says:

    What a great idea to use masa for the crepes…the filling sounds delicious, Joanne!

  79. Kerstin says:

    Oh no, not cloning, ugh, can you find an undergrad to do it for you? 🙂

    The crepes look so good and healthy!

  80. Eliana says:

    Love this healthy spin on Mexican. Looks amazing Joanne.

  81. These look wonderful! I love making crepes, but have never thought to do it with masa harina… And your filling sounds awesome! My girlfriend and I both love kale, but she (thinks she) hates chard… I think this might be THE RECIPE that will get her to change her mind. 🙂

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