Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Recipe Box - Magic Pan Salad Dressings

Does anyone remember the chain Magic Pan? 
The Magic Pan was a small American chain of fast-food and take-away creperies using the recipes of a now-closed chain of full-service restaurants that specialized in crêpes, popular in the early 1970s through early 1990s, which peaked at 110 Magic Pan locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Background to the Magic Pan

The Magic Pan was a restaurant chain started by a Hungarian couple, the Fonos in San Francisco in the 1970's. The original concept had been an Austrian style crepe restaurant mostly with recipes from Mrs Fono's family background. There were ham crepes and spinach crepes and chocolate and strawberry crepes for dessert.

The business expanded and was purchased by Quaker Oats in the 1980's. They took the concept expanded it to a French country kitchen concept and rolled it out across the nation. The centre piece of each Magic Pan was the giant tile enclosed Crepe Wheel which spun around and cooked the crepes and other dishes while the customers looked on. It was one of the first "chain" restaurants in the country in a time when the US was just beginning to discover different foods. The Pan delivered that and at a decent price point. It was also a perfect time for a crepe restaurant as like fondue, crepes were all the rage in the 1970's.

The restaurant designed an automated system to make crepes
at a crepe station, consisting of a motorized conveyor that would heat metal pans. An attendant would dip the bottom of the pans in the crepe batter, to ensure an even coating. And then turn the pans upside down while placing them on the gas flame conveyor, so the thin crepes actually cook on the bottom of a clean & greased pan that’s facing upward. The ‘conveyor’ was a gas flame heated circular “wheel” about normal table height that slowly turned and held eight pans maximum at one time.

Image - Montreal Gazette

They had a location in the Eaton Centre (formerly Les Terrasses) in Montreal and served crepes and salads. Image source

  These restaurants just disappeared one day. While browsing the web for some information on the chain someone reminded me of their chicken divan crepes!!

This salad dressing has always been one of my favourites. I have substituted other fruits such as fresh raspberries in season and use raspberry vinegar instead.
I always add a smidgen of Dijon mustard to my salad dressings as well.


1 tsp. tarragon leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper, coarsely ground
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. tarragon wine vinegar
1 c. vegetable oil
Romaine lettuce
Sliced scallions or green onions
Mandarin orange sections
Toasted sliced almonds

Combine tarragon leaves, salt, pepper and sugar in medium mixing bowl. Add vinegar and mix well to dissolve salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in vegetable oil until mixture becomes creamy in color. Pour over salad of torn Romaine lettuce, sliced scallions and mandarin orange sections. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds. Yield: 1 1/2 cups dressing (more than enough for 1 salad).

SPINACH SALAD (Based on  The Underground Restaurant Chef  recollection of the Magic Pan's recipe)

1 cup vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup tarragon wine vinegar
1 tsp dry tarragon leaves
3⁄4 tsp salt 1⁄8 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1⁄2 tsp Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients except oil. Slowly whisk in oil.

Fresh spinach
Fresh mushrooms, sliced
Chopped bacon
Chopped hard-boiled egg

Wash and dry spinach leaves. Sprinkle mushrooms, chopped cooked bacon and chopped hard boiled eggs over spinach. Toss with dressing.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, my husband and I used to go to the Magic Pan at the Eaton Centre. I had forgotten all about it. Thanks for the blast from the past.


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