Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Crêpes

This morning I awoke to the winter wonderland our local weather boffins had been hysterically predicting for the past few days. (The most recent estimate says we have 33 inches of fluffy white stuff on the ground, which makes this snowfall not only meteorological, but Christological!)

That much precipitation - combined with the travel ban and state of emergency declared by the governor - brought with it the absolute certainty that no one was going anywhere, which in my mind is the perfect excuse for an elaborate brunch. I briefly considered the usual suspects: tofu scramble, pancakes, French toast, etc. but wanted to try something new and exciting, so I decided on crêpes.

Now, I freely confess that I had never made crêpes since being vegan, and had only done so once or twice back in the olden times, so I approached the project with a certain degree of trepidation. Fortunately, a Facebook plea yielded several helpful responses, and I ultimately chose the recipe from Vegan Brunch, which is arguably my favorite of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's great (and growing) list of cookbooks.

The enterprise turned out to be not nearly as difficult or fiddly as I'd feared and the end result was an epic brunch that was exactly what I wanted. Moreover, I'm now emboldened to take on that wild mushroom crêpe cake from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two: the Moby Dick of my veganization aspirations, and a worthy project for a future snow day. (So watch this space!)

But today, I encourage you to make this restaurant-worthy recipe, which manages to be delicious, filling, easy, and surprisingly quick, while feeling quite fancy for a day spent in one's pajamas.

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Crêpes

~ 1/2 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 small onion, diced small
~ 2 cups chopped, frozen spinach, thawed
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, garlic powder, tarragon
~ 1/2 tsp. white pepper
~ Dash each: nutmeg, cayenne
~ 1 tbsp. flour
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk

~ 1 batch plain crêpes (I used the Vegan Brunch savory variation)
~ 1 batch "good white sauce," with the addition of 2 tbsp. chopped parsley and 1 tsp. English mustard

~ Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit and coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
~ Coat a large, nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook the sliced mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and fragrant. Sprinkle with salt and transfer to a bowl.
~ Add the olive oil to the pan and saute the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes.
~ Add the spinach and the seasonings, and cook a few minutes more, until wilted.
~ Stir in the flour, the nutritional yeast, and a bit of the milk and mix well, until then flour and nooch are dissolved.
~ Gradually add the remaining milk, stirring constantly, and cook another 7-10 minutes, until thickened but still creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.
~ Put about 3-4 tbsp. of filling across the top half of each crêpe and roll it up into a tube. Continue until all the crêpes and filling are used up (I had just enough of each).
~ Arrange the filled crêpes in your greased baking dish. Pour about 3/4 cup of your prepared white sauce right down the middle, and sprinkle with a little extra fresh parsley.
~ Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes, until heated through, and serve the crêpes immediately, applying the extra sauce to individual servings as desired.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Smoky Kale Cornbread

While I occasionally add chopped scallions to cornbread and/or muffins,  I'd never thought of using leafy greens until I had a pile of extra kale left over from a recent batch of chowder. Since I was already making cornbread to go with the soup, I decided to chop it fine, mix it into the batter, mess around with the spices, and see what happened. The resulting loaf was not only a tasty way to get a little extra veg into the meal, but a delightful, positively Seussian shade of green - and with nary a nasty egg, slice of ham, or pushy Who named Sam in sight.

Smoky Kale Cornbread
~ 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
~ 3/4 cup cornmeal
~ 5 tsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, smoked paprika
~ ½ tsp. each: thyme, marjoram, white pepper
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed, beaten with 3 tbsp. water
~ 2 tbsp. melted Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
~ 2 cups very finely chopped kale

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and coat a bread pan with cooking spray.
~ In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and dry seasonings.
~ Combine the milk, beaten flax/water mixture, melted margarine, and chopped kale.
~ Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and fold in the wet mixture. Stir until well-combined, but don't overmix.
~ Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
~ Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before turning out, and for a few minutes more before slicing.