Posts Tagged mushroom

Vegetarian Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes

    Back in December 2010, shortly before Christmas, Rita and I attended a book signing at Book People in Austin. Chef Alain Braux was signing his book Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food  and serving samples of his legendary Flourless Chocolate Cake.

    At that time Alain gave us permission to publish his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes. Since then I have cooked up many, many of those crêpes. The batter holds up very well in the refrigerator so I can have crêpes for several mornings before all of the batter is gone. Initially the filling centered on variations of ham, egg, and cheese but as we move into spring my thoughts turn to lighter versions. This concoction of smothered sweet onions, mushrooms, and calabacitas* in coconut milk sauce passed the taste test with our neighbors Barb and Dona.

*Note: Calabacitas is Spanish for ‘little squash’. It looks like a first cousin to zucchini being shaped slightly different and having a lighter, mottled green color. The seeds are finer and disappear almost entirely when cooked.

    The recipe for the crêpe can be found -> HERE. BTW, I cook these crêpes using coconut oil because  1) it has exceptional browning qualities and 2) coconut oil is very healing to the digestive system.

Savory Vegetable Filling
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped 3/8”
1 medium calabacita or zucchini, chopped 3/8”
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
sea salt, pepper, garlic powder
coconut oil for sautéing
1-2 ounces coconut milk (from a can)

    Sauté each of the vegetables separately in coconut oil until lightly browned and season each batch with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside the mushrooms and squash as they finish. When the onions have caramelized add the mushrooms and squash back into the skillet with the onions. Add the coconut milk, cover with a lid, and place over low heat to ‘smother’ until you are ready to fill and serve the crêpes.
    Extra filling may be stored in the refrigerator as well as extra batter.

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

    I had one of these crêpes for dinner. I took a picture of it for the blog, and then I inadvertently deleted it before saving it to the hard drive . . . . Maybe because I was daydreaming about how it would be possible to add ‘smell-a-vision’ to the picture. It was that good!


Update 2011-03-21: Another Savory Crêpe – yummy as well as beautiful!

Crepe for Dinner!

Crepe for Dinner!

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Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan

SOS Kitchen Challenge
SOS Kitchen Challenge

 This month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is spinach.  The choice of spinach as the challenge’s ingredient really kick started my efforts to makeover my long time favorite recipe for Spinach Mushroom Pie. There is nothing like a challenge for motivation – thank you Ricki and Kim! Be sure to check out their sites for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

   There was such wonderful feedback from my taste-testers on the texture of the Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’ at the end of March that I printed out both of my recipes and started splicing. It always helps to have a plan of attack even if you eventually deviate from that plan.

    The blender and I had another ‘go-round’. And the red spatula lost a few more bits. The red shows up and is easy to pick out of the blended mixture so from now on all of my spatulas are going to be red!

   The cashews were soaked for well over twenty-four hours. The spinach was leftover from a batch of sautéed fresh spinach with garlic. The mushrooms were fresh. There was cooked quinoa on hand to use somehow in place of ricotta but I wasn’t too sure about how that would work out. And hazelnut meal was ready to stand in for grated Parmesan to provide taste and texture. Whew! That’s a lot of ingredients to bring together.

Gathering the Ingredients

Gathering the Ingredients

   So the first order of business was to prep the mushrooms. Clean, slice, sauté and put them in the mixing bowl with the spinach. Add 1/2 of the quinoa, hazelnut meal, and seasonings.

Saute the Mushrooms

Saute the Mushrooms

   Drain and rinse the cashews, warm in the microwave briefly (so they don’t solidify the coconut oil) and place them in the blender jar. Pulse the blender gently to begin the breakdown process. Add the warm coconut oil and the remainder of the quinoa also slightly warmed – and work the blender pulse control. This is where I had to improvise. The mixture became too thick sort of like super library paste so I warmed a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk (I was out of almond milk) and added it to the mixture. This was better but still way too thick. So in went another two tablespoons of warm coconut milk (how did we ever function without a microwave?). This was still incredibly thick but at least it was manageable. This is where I considered adding more liquid but the spinach and mushroom mixture had its own liquid going so I just dumped and scraped the nut mixture into the spinach mixture and stirred it all together.

   The pie plate was previously prepped with a coating of hazelnut meal stuck on with coconut oil (far left in the ingredients picture). Next all of the filling was carefully spooned into the ‘crust’, smoothed over, and moved into the 350*F oven where it baked for 45 minutes. I had no clue as to ‘how long’ to bake it – the ‘cheesecake’ had taken an hour. The pie was tested at 30 minutes with a thin knife and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes. After that test I returned the pie to the oven with the heat turned off so that the remainder cooked on residual heat. So it took a full hour like that ‘cheesecake’. Did I mention that the kitchen now smelled deliciously of all the herbs?
   After removing from the oven (total oven time was 60 minutes) the pie sat on a cooling rack while my guilty conscious drove me out into the yard to pull weeds and cut back the stems on the bloomed-out irises. Plus I was afraid of burning my tongue if I tasted this experiment too soon and all of you know what that is like! Finally it was cool enough to put in the fridge so I could ignore it for a while longer and allow the seasonings to mellow. And it was so worth the wait . . .

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan
3 tablespoons hazelnut meal
Cooking oil or spray to coat a 9” diameter pie pan

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours (1 1/3 cup expanded)(138 g)
2 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut butter, slightly warm
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, warm
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk, warm

2 cups chopped, steamed fresh spinach
or 1 package (10-16 ounces) chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
or 1 can spinach, well drained
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh mushrooms, sautéed
or 1 8-ounce can sliced mushroom, well drained
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dried savory

Plan ahead: At least one day before put the cashews to soak and cook enough quinoa so that you will have 1 cup for the pie filling. Store the quinoa in the fridge and the cashews as well if they soak for more than the 24 hours (and that’s OK).

Prepare a 9” pie pan by coating it with oil or spray. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of hazelnut meal into the pan and then tilt and rotate it to distribute the meal to create a very thin ‘crust’. Do this maneuver over the bowl for mixing the filling so that any spills are saved – set the pan aside. Turn the oven to 350*F.

Put the spinach and mushrooms in your mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa, hazelnut meal, and dried herbs. Stir well to distribute the seasonings.

Drain the water from the cashews. If they have been refrigerated then warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Dump them into the blender jar. Add the coconut butter, sea salt, the 1/2 cup warmed quinoa, and 1/4 cup coconut milk. Start the blender and begin to break down the cashews, pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. Dial up the blender speed and begin to puree the mixture; again pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the remainder of the coconut milk only if you really need it but do not hesitate if you do need it. The worst that can happen is that it takes a few minutes longer to bake. When the blender mixture is perfectly smooth like nut butter then add all of it to the vegetable/herb mixture and stir so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared pie plate and smooth down the top. Transfer the pan to the oven and set the timer for the first test (about 30 minutes). It will not be ready unless you have a really hot oven. Testing is similar to any other baked item – the knife should come out relatively clean. Add another 15 minutes and test again. If it is still not ready then put it back, turn off the heat, and go away for 15-30 minutes.

Cool the dish on a rack before cutting into serving portions. This recipe provides 4-8 servings depending on the rest of the meal. I cut it into 8ths so that it lasts more days for breakfasts and snacks!


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Monday in the Kitchen

   Who remembers anymore what carrots look like fresh out of the garden? It came as somewhat of a startle when a large sack of carrots- roots, frost bit tops, mud, gnats and all showed up in the food pantry last Friday afternoon. The carrots themselves were fat and beautiful but I knew we would have to work fast to get them distributed. We divided out two pound bags and started giving them out with food orders. There was not the usual flood of clients that day (a rare occurrence) so we gave them out to all comers who stopped by the window. At the end of the shift Ann and Megan had already left and I didn’t have time to write up a note and put that one last lonely bag in the fridge. So I brought it home to reacquaint myself with basic veggie preparation.

   Into the sink with all of them, spray hard to soften and rinse off most of the mud, and untangle the tops (they were a large, green&brown, unruly fright wig mass) – they filled up the sink. Then I cut off the roots and carefully picked out the good green tops and threw away the brown ones. The roots were scrubbed with a brush to remove the last bits of mud from the crevasses, the greens were rinsed again and all of it set aside to drain. The top part of the carrot where the greens join the root was too hard to clean so that bit was trashed as well.

Tops to the Trash

Tops to the Trash

   Why bother with saving the greens? As I learned after my previous post on Carrots the green tops are not only edible but they are fabulously nutritious and all of that is usually thrown away by the time carrots arrive in the produce section of your grocery store as I was notified by the World Carrot Museum.

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
I hadn’t cooked quinoa in quite a while – too busy with baking experiments and other activities. But when I came across this recipe at Karina’s Gluten-Free Goddess blog for Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf something clicked into place. Mushrooms and green peppers in the fridge?, check, garlic?, check, parsley?, no but I have used carrot tops as a substitute before – so I really, really had to make this dish!

Time Out for Lunch!

Time Out for Lunch!

All About Stevia
   Ricki’s blog, Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is one of my favorite reads. Today she had a very interesting discussion going, All About Stevia. This product is something I have been playing with since Rita bought me a bottle of Sprout’s brand of liquid stevia over the holidays. So far I really like it as a sweetener in my lattes, both café latte and chai latte. The recent recipe for Banana Coconut Muffins has been well received by my taste test crew – with no added sugar, the sweetness all comes from a banana and that liquid stevia. And finally I have really gotten into Ricki’s super healthy creation Chia “Tapioca” Pudding. I’ve been having it most mornings for a couple of weeks.

Chia Seeds
   Chia has a fascinating nutritional profile and is now starring as one of the newest ‘super foods’. Soaked chia seeds are gelatinous in texture and a spoonful of chia seed mixed into liquid will set up as a soft pudding. I use 1/2 cup of warm almond milk adding one tablespoon of chia, eight drops of stevia, and four drops of vanilla. When set aside for several hours it becomes very much like a tapioca pudding because of the swollen seeds. They are seeds and may not be suitable for consumption by anyone that has texture issues! Chia is available pre-ground and if you plan to use ground chia I say buy it that way – I keep both on hand. My attempt to grind them with a mortar and pestle would make a good you-tube comedy – not one of the seeds were ground; instead they popped out all over the counter like a flea circus. The whole dry seeds are extremely hard and also have a static charge – not easy to chase and gather them back up.
   Ground chia is one of several substitution possibilities for replacing egg in baked goods for vegans or for those folks with egg allergy. Sprouted chia seeds can be used in salads and for sandwiches as well as on your Chia Pet.

Neglected Bananas
    Four weeks ago I bought bananas to ripen for banana muffins and possibly banana bread. Two batches of those Coconut Banana Muffins later and there were still four v-e-r-y ripe bananas hanging out in the guest room. So this afternoon I conjured up a new recipe that I had been thinking about, put it together, and I’ll post about it tomorrow. It’s been quite a long day in the kitchen.


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Spinach Casserole

    This is another one of those versatile recipes that can be a side dish or a full meal with vegetarian options as needed. The truth is this recipe was inspired by the Greek Spanakopita spinach, onion, cheese, and herb pie. The mushroom layer is optional and not even part of the dish that inspired this – I just like mushrooms a lot and the ones in the produce section were locally grown and looked especially good. This is a great low-carb meal for the New Year’s get-back-in-shape resolutions as well as a super healthy year around choice.
    The spinach layer is where the essential combination of seasonings comes together. Fresh parsley really sparks this and it is worth waiting to get your hands on some before you put this together. I scattered a packet of seeds in the flower bed 4-5 years ago. In spite of my black thumb, deer, rabbits, Texas sun, and most recently freezing rain there was still fresh green parsley out there on January 1for this recipe. The dill came dried in a jar; you can use garlic powder, but please find fresh parsley somewhere. The lemon zest is part of the classic seasoning but afterwards I decided not to use it anymore.
   Classic Spanakopita is enclosed in rich flaky phyllo pastry dough. This casserole ignores all grains and either stands alone or layers with meat, tofu, or beans. We had some extra lean ground turkey with Italian seasonings in the freezer that I sautéed for the bottom layer to make a hearty meal for Rita and David before they departed for Virginia. The leftovers made my lunches for a couple of days . . . .

Spinach Casserole
Optional extra protein layer:
1 lb. ground lean meat, well seasoned
Equivalent amount of seasoned tofu
2 cups of cooked, seasoned drained beans

Optional mushroom layer:
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing
1/2 lb. fresh sliced mushrooms

Spinach layer:
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 lb. spinach (frozen OK, fresh is better)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground dill
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Cheese and egg mixture:
2 large eggs
8 ounces feta cheese, coarsely grated, reduced fat OK
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, green can OK
1/3 to 1/2 cup thick yogurt or sour cream, low-fat OK

Prepare your optional protein layer and set aside. If using mushrooms then sprinkle lightly with sea salt, sauté them in a skillet with a bit of olive oil until they are fragrant and slightly brown and then set them aside.

Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and sauté the onion and garlic. When they are translucent then add the spinach, cover, and steam until the spinach is bright green and tender, maybe 6-8 minutes. Add the parsley, dill, and lemon seasonings and mix well.

Lightly oil a square, oven-proof baking dish. Cover the bottom with cooked ground meat, sautéed seasoned tofu, or your favorite cooked beans (well drained) if you use this layer. Then layer the sautéed mushrooms in if you are using them. Then carefully spoon the spinach mixture in next. Beat the eggs and dairy products together and spoon over the spinach, spreading to cover.

Place the casserole in a 350*F oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The mixture will be firm enough to cut into squares for serving. Let it cool for 5 minutes or so before serving. The recipe makes about 6 – 8 servings depending on your layers and how hungry you are.


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Mushroom Croutons

    A potluck supper is exactly that. Sometimes there is an abundance of desserts and appetizers and not much else. Sometimes everyone is inspired to bring baked beans or macaroni and cheese. The planning committee this time made a great to-do about how we always run out of meat at the end of the line so guess what – nearly everyone brought meat. There were a few bean casseroles, a macaroni and cheese casserole with bacon, tomato and onion, and two salads! One of them was this salad that I made up at the last minute from what I had bought at the farmer’s market and when the bowl turned out to be only partially full, a raid on the pantry. I had forgotten fresh tomatoes and mushrooms so those came out of the pantry as well – talk about the-mother-of-invention! It was so gratifying when several people remarked on how much they enjoyed the spinach salad.

Hodge Podge Salad
Large bunch of fresh spinach; washed, stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Bunch of carrots; washed, tops removed, and shaved into strips with the peeler (don’t peel them first)
Bunch of leeks; washed, tops removed (saved), and sliced crosswise into thin rounds
Celery; tender center stalks including tops, washed and sliced thin
Can of black olives; drained and patted dry
Julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (who hasn’t sometime forgotten fresh tomatoes?)
Light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (it came in a bottle)

And finally:
Mushroom Croutons
8-oz package of fresh mushrooms, sliced
(in this case, a can of mushroom pieces, 8-oz drained weight, drained and patted dry)
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder

    Cut the mushrooms, fresh or canned, into fairly uniform pieces so they will cook evenly. Lightly oil or spray a skillet, add the mushrooms, turn the heat to medium high, and sprinkle the mushrooms with salt to draw out their moisture. As they heat up and begin to cook in their own juices adjust the heat so that they continue to give up moisture but do not scorch. As they cook keep stirring and add the garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. The garlic and onion powder will absorb a small amount of the juice and begin to form a coating on the mushroom bits. They are ready when there is no discernable moisture remaining in the pan. Add the mushrooms to the salad.  Toss while adding a moderate amount of dressing depending on the size of your bowl. Use enough to lightly coat the salad without pooling any in the bottom of the bowl. Add tongs and serve.


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