Mushroom, Butternut + Butter Bean Stew

As the year closes, I find myself going deep into the quiet of the year, resting more, sleeping more, reading books, writing, reflecting, baking, and listening to music. The few days between the end of Christmas socials and the return to routine come the new year are some of my annual favorites because I usually can truly go internal, shut down as much as I prefer to from the world, and clear my calendar of most obligations. This year (and decade actually) have brought much — struggle, challenge, growth, overcoming fears and accomplishing goals — but they’ve also taught me the importance of rest.

If you too have a day or more before the return to activity in 2020, you might consider resting more, drinking warming tea, eating comforting, nourishing soup or stew, and perhaps catching up on some good reading or reflecting. These are my favorites lately:

– My 2019 solstice reflection and my 2018 solstice reflection, which I’m lately pondering again
A few good things from 2019
Brigit Anna McNeill’s beautiful reflections
– This Ginger, Licorice and Chamomile Tea, the most popular recipe on my blog this year, and the drink I make nightly after dinner as I begin my evening wind-down.
– This Irish Vegetable Soup, also quite popular this year
Whole Grain Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread, a blog favorite
Brussels Sprouts done right
– and a Moroccan Quinoa Salad

Now for this stew.

Over on the Run Journal at Territory Run Co., I’ve shared this delicious recipe and tips for how to balance virtually any recipe to make it especially tasty.

When it’s cold and wintry outside, this is the stew to come in and warm up with after a long run. It’s also incredibly flavorful and wholesome, providing a balance to some of the treats and feasts of the season. Mushrooms of any type can be used, and are wonderful for eating in the winter. They are known to benefit the immune system through modulation of the inflammatory process.

Get the full article and recipe here.

Savory Spinach Crepes with Sautéed Mushrooms

IMG_2278

 

When I was on study abroad several years ago, my roommates and I frequented  a handful of restaurants semi-regularly, one of which was a creperie in Dublin’s city center. Like many that cater to the brunch crowd, this was an order at the counter establishment, and all the cooking was done just to the right of the till, behind the counter. I remember watching each time as the cook spread buckwheat or regular batter across the big crepe pan, let it sizzle, flipped, and then added toppings. Ever the one to favor vegetables, I often reverted to the menu options that leaned heavily towards spinach and mushrooms.

 

IMG_2254IMG_2255IMG_2258IMG_2263

 

Like in years past, The Recipe Redux challenged us to Grab a Book and Cook this month and because I wouldn’t want to break from tradition too terribly much, I reached for my newest Green Kitchen Stories cookbook and found a recipe on page 127 I’ve been tweaking for quite some time. I had even transferred my version to a word document, dated last from July. Of course it was a quick and savory green crepe recipe, leaning heavily on spinach and mushrooms. Apparently my preferred crepe flavors have changed remarkably little in all these years.

David and Luise use rice flour and eggs in their crepes, and then they dress them up with an extra step of tahini, apple, and garbanzo salad. I never did favor that particular combination, the extra step involved, or the heavy egg flavor that came through, as I’m often particular about how and when I’ll take my eggs. Instead, I tweaked the recipe over time to include buckwheat, garbanzo or garbanzo/fava flour for extra protein without another topping, and aquafaba as an egg alternative.

Being quick and easy, these are weeknight friendly and the batter will keep for a couple days in the fridge if needed. As an extra note for those who have allergy/intolerance restrictions or prefer to avoid purchasing unnecessary ingredients, I realized a few months back that my favored buckwheat flour was no longer being milled in a gluten-free facility. I tend to opt for metrics when working with flours anyway, and if you do too and have a semi well-stocked pantry and a coffee grinder, unroasted buckwheat groats (not kasha) will grind into a fine flour as quick as can be and doing so mostly skips the gluten-contamination issue. I also tend to keep leftover aquafaba (chickpea cooking water) in the freezer for occasions that call for quick crepe meals like this one, but if you’re partial to eggs and/or have flax or chia, those options work as well.

 

IMG_2273


Savory Spinach Crepes with Sautéed Mushrooms
, serves 3-4
adapted from Green Kitchen at Home

Crepe batter

¾ cup / 112 g buckwheat flour
¾ cup / 112 g garbanzo or garfava flour
6 Tbs. aquafaba (or 2 eggs, or 2 Tbs. ground flax or chia plus 6 Tbs. water)
2 cups / 500 ml non-dairy milk
1 cup / 250 ml water
a pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
1-2 tsp. coconut oil, for sautéeing

Mushrooms
1 lb./450 g mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. coconut oil
a couple sprigs fresh or dried thyme
salt and pepper

Optional Accompaniments
plain coconut yogurt
additional spinach
toasted sunflower seeds

  • Place the crepe ingredients in a large mixing bowl and blend, using a hand (immersion) blender, until smooth and green. Alternatively, mix the batter ingredients together in a blender. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes while you prep and cook the mushrooms.
  • For the mushrooms, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, garlic, sliced mushrooms, thyme, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and glistening, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside while cooking the crepes.
  • To cook the crepes, heat an 8 inch (20 cm) sauté pan over medium heat. Add a pinch of oil and when it is melted, about 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the crepe batter. Tilt the pan until the batter is evenly distributed. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until each crepe is golden and can be turned easily. Repeat with the remaining batter until all the crepes are cooked. There will be about 12 in total. Place the finished crepes on a plate in the oven on the lowest setting while cooking the remaining batter.
  • To serve, top each crepe with yogurt, if desired, and mushrooms. Feel free to add a small handful of additional spinach and/or some toasted sunflower seeds alongside to round out the meal.

If you’re of the mind, check out past December Recipe Redux posts:
Toasted Oat Porridge with Chamomile, Walnuts + Spiced Apples, from Chefs on the Farm
Chili with Chocolate and Walnuts, from Green Kitchen Travels
Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad, from Vegetarian Everyday

recipe-redux-linky-logo

mushrooms + garbanzos on toast with cider + thyme

IMG_7354

 

Growing up, I showed horses and my favorite discipline was dressage. I remember quite distinctly at the end of each test, after the final bow, of letting all my breath out, feeling suddenly exhausted, and realizing I had forgotten to breathe, again.

 

I’ve been taking a break from running these past few weeks because of an injury and the process has me going a bit mental. I’ve been turning instead to yoga to get me through. Bittersweet that it is, I can see progress in the yoga. I feel the difference in certain postures, that I can go a few breaths deeper than before. More importantly, through it I’m finally learning how to breathe.

 

IMG_7356

 

The transition from running has opened up space, realizations. I’ve been using it to fill voids that I wish weren’t there, like a band-aid that isn’t fixing the problem but merely covering it up so it’s not so exposed. Problems and injuries don’t go away because of their band-aid. They go away because they’re given the other things necessary to heal: time, rest, honesty, fixing the underlying problem, giving up control to a higher power, breathing.

 

The truth is, I had an eating disorder. I used running, both physical running, and running away from the situation, to heal and band-aid the recovery. It was years ago and I long considered myself recovered, but there’s scar tissue; a lot of it. I’ve been tiptoeing around it for months, hoping the scars will sort themselves properly without too much mental muscle. It’s funny when I write it like that, how silly that sounds. Of course unaddressed issues don’t sort themselves without work.

 

IMG_7361

 

I know there is no miracle fix to cure me in a week and my mind does not have to be my enemy. I don’t have to hate the things it thinks, beat it up for not being good enough, punish and restrict my body to master control of it, or band-aid it to ignore the ugliness of the wound. I have no business comparing or wishing things weren’t the case. I have to work at acceptance, at forgiveness, at okay-ness, and just be kind. I’m practicing gratefulness, daily.

 

The thing of it is, I love the goddamn band-aid and the kick-ass feeling of accomplishment. Running is simply what I do so there is grieving here too.

 

IMG_7363

 

I’ve been praying a lot though this process. I’m motivated by achievement, by progress, by better, faster, another box checked. I have a tendency towards extremes, and there’s a fine line between achieving to be a better person and teetering off into unbalanced territory. Through yoga and prayer, I’m realizing I don’t always have to be achieving big things. Enjoyment doesn’t have to mean pushing so hard to go further, faster, better. Progress can stew together slowly, painfully slowly, and it’s alright to be cracked open, raw and exposed in the meantime. Just breathing.

 

Back to yoga. Each time I return to the mat I’m reminded how much tension I carry. Even though I’m not running, my muscles are so tightly wound up, my mind too, confused amidst the misaligned mental fibers. I’m reminded to return to the breath. Just breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe in and let it go.

 

IMG_7383

 

mushrooms and garbanzos on toast with cider and thyme, serves 2

This dish is special simply because it’s quick and comforting. The cider melds in with the mushrooms and garbanzos to make a sweet little savory gravy. I used hard cider and splurged on fancy shitake mushrooms from our local mushroomery. A cider-juice and any type of mushroom will work, though the nicer ones will result in a richer flavor. Choose a thick, rustic-type bread to hold up to the mushrooms and garbanzos. If you eat gluten-free and want to make your own, I recommend Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. My favorite is the Quinoa Sandwich Loaf, shown here. Unlike most gluten-free bread, Jennifer’s recipes are predominately whole grain and use chia seeds instead of tons of eggs to bind the flours, resulting in a real-bread texture.

1 Tbs. canola oil

1 shallot, minced

1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, chopped small

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed

splash of apple cider vinegar

1 cup cooked chickpeas or other small white beans

3/8 tsp. poultry seasoning or make it yourself

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1-1 1/2 cups hard apple cider

1 tsp. arrowroot starch

splash of water

2 thick slices bread, toasted

  • In a medium sauté pan, heat oil over medium high. Toss in the shallots and cook until they are soft and sizzling, 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the mushrooms, thyme, and vinegar, and cook until the mushrooms start to soften.
  • Stir in the seasonings and chickpeas, and then pour in the cider.
  • Once the cider starts to bubble, turn it down to a low simmer, and cook until the cider is reduced by half to three-quarters, stirring occasionally.
  • In a small dish, whisk the arrowroot starch with a splash of water and then pour into the mushrooms and beans. Let cook another minute or so, until it thickens up.
  • Toast the bread, and then lay each slice on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Spoon the mushroom mixture atop and serve warm.