Savory Spinach Crepes with Sautéed Mushrooms

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime

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Each year at the beginning of the holiday season, I try to reflect on the people and experiences for which I am grateful. This past week, I’ve been selecting snippets to share, either directly, over on Facebook, or here in this space. When I reflect on the objects that matter most in this life, there’s only a short list: My bible, my wedding ring, my running shoes. Perhaps another day I’ll share about the first two, but this reflection and recipe are about the symbolism of the shoes.

 

Each pair is temporary, special only for a time and then easily replaced. Once done, they get jammed into our tiny front closet, worn out completely in garden work, and eventually tossed in a donation bin once a sizeable pile has accumulated. I tend to treat each pair extra nice until it hits 400-500 miles and then all emotional attachment is heaped on the next. The shoes I’m currently running in are neon-orange and turquoise, and they contrast with whatever I tend to throw on above. Depending on the day, I can pull off looking like I’m late to a one-act circus show.

 

I started running within the first couple weeks of moving into my freshman dorm in college, and over the many years since, I’ve come to know each of the places I’ve lived and visited in my running shoes. I have run 5am dim streets in Limerick, jet-lagged, no phone, no idea where I was going, no one in the whole world knowing my location. I’ve run the streets of La Grande, all hours of the day and night, just to feel alive and at peace. I’ve gotten to know the nooks and crannies of Corvallis, the suburbs of Dublin north and south, the pear orchards and cattle ranches of Southern Oregon’s Phoenix and Eagle Point, the Christmas tree farms and nurseries of Sandy, the angry farmer’s dogs on the outskirts of Albany, the oak savannah, communter-town streets and horse farms of Wilsonville. There was a month when I ran the rural-ish Keizer roads, and then a school-year of running all the west-side neighborhoods of Roseburg. It’s safe to say I’ve seen a good portion of Oregon in my running shoes, both the streets, forested and mossy trails, the beach, and the infinite farm roads. And still, there are all the travel cities I’ve gotten to know in between.

 

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Far more than what I’ve seen in these shoes and the ones that have come before, is what they’ve made me feel: Release from the worry and guilt that makes up my personality. Clarity; knowledge of what sits right in my soul. Cleansing from anger. Cleansing from feeling anything at all. I’ve caught up with good friends and high-fived others out on the paths. I’ve been visible and seen–a role model to the neighbors who knew me as “that runner girl,” and my current neighbor, a 55-year-old bachelor, who frequently runs out the door in his skivvies(!!) to ask, How many miles today? I’ve skipped biology lectures and headed for the trails instead. I’ve conjugated Spanish verbs over and over in my head, and I’ve run faster each mile, using my anger over a guy to fuel each step. I’ve pumped up the techno-dance-treadmill-tunes, and I’ve taken all my closest girl friends out for one last run as a single lady. I’ve listened for the first sounds of the birds in the morning and taken in countless sun rises that never fail to leave me astonished and breathless at the beauty of this world. I’ve meditated on simply living and breathing and just plain being a better me.

 

These shoes have enabled me to find out who I am, to push myself beyond the comfortable, to accomplish things, to release my competitive spirit. They’ve been a way to spend happy weekends with William–and most of all, they’ve helped me to develop a better relationship with my body, to be able to listen and nourish it with the foods and nutrients it needs.

 

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This recipe is one I’ve eaten countless times these past few weeks. After a long or hard run, I tend to go through phases where I desire certain foods. I’m of the belief that my body is either telling me I need to eat those foods because of their nutrients–or I’m simply crazy. Perhaps, a little of both. ;) Eggs, quinoa, and winter squash have been on repeat lately and like many of my favorite recipes, this one came about when I grabbed a random bunch of ingredients from the fridge in a post-run hunger. It was perfect from that first time to every subsequent helping I’ve made since.

 

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Quinoa + Winter Squash Bowl with Cumin + Lime, serves one
1 Tbs. cumin-lime dressing, see below
1 jalepeño or slightly spicy pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1- 1 1/2 cups roasted winter squash, chopped
2 eggs
large handful of spinach or other greens
1 cup cooked quinoa
more dressing, to taste
  • In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 Tbs. dressing on medium high. Sauté peppers for 5-10 minutes until soft, and then add roasted winter squash. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, until squash is warm.
  • Crack eggs directly into the skillet, and stir them amongst the vegetables, making a scramble.
  • When eggs are almost cooked through, add spinach and quinoa and heat through entirely.
  • Pour it all into a bowl to serve, and add more dressing to taste.
 
Cumin-Lime Dressing, adapted from Laura 
1 small jalapeño, seeded
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
juice of 2 limes + a little bit of zest
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper
  • To make the dressing, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spring Green Fennel Millet Cakes

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I look down at my black work pants. They’re starting to fade in the fold lines, and I have to use a lint roller to make them black again. My favorite blue sweater is comfy, but people are starting to associate me with it. There are likely a few researchers at work who cannot remember my name and instead refer to me as “Blue Sweater Girl.” My shabby black pumps have seen me through many long days of teaching over more than a couple school years, and my scarf was a gift given in my senior year of high school.

Back when I was 13, I spent many hours agonizing over my sense of poverty, and how my shoes weren’t the stylish ones all my friends had. I’m beyond being quite so sensitive these days, but still often feel that people must look at me and immediately think my clothes are more worn than a professional situation dictates. And boring. How frequently can you wear the same blue sweater before people start to notice?

My job is active, and I’m rarely in the same space all day; for this reason I take a little more liberty in regularly dressing in my most comfortable professional clothes. As I dressed this morning in the same blue sweater-scarf outfit, I briefly practiced awesome negative self-talk and went on with my day. “So what if I’m wearing the same outfit again?” I thought.

In the afternoon, I gained a good dose of perspective when the dental hygienist gushed about the blue sweater, the lovely scarf, and how my outfit just “went.” Then she practiced her own form of negative self talk by muttering, “Now I really feel like I need to go shopping.”

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Not-enoughness. We are all surrounded by it. Encouraged to go after more without enjoying what we have. I think about my blog, my writing, my running times, my friendships, my job, and yes, my wardrobe, and I compare myself to the world around me.

I don’t need to. We don’t need to. We only need to be our best self, and to be kinder to her or him. We can all use a good dose of perspective. We are all good enough. In this new season let’s step outside our heads, refocus our energy  and send out our light.

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Spring Green Fennel Millet Cakes
The Recipe Redux challenged us to celebrate patties and Paddy’s Day all month long. These patty cakes are versatile, crunchy, filling, slightly sweet, and have that clean-spring-green look and feeling about them that we crave as the sun comes out and the flowers and trees blossom again. Make up a big batch or two and snack on them throughout the week. 
 
1 cup cooked millet
1 cup cooked small white beans
3/4 cup shredded carrots (about 1 large) 
A large handful of spinach leaves
1/3 cup raw almonds, chopped and toasted
1 cup diced fennel bulb
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 egg or flax egg (1 Tbs. + 3 Tbs. warm water)
salt and pepper, to taste
  • Prepare millet and white beans. Shred carrots and chop and toast almonds.
  • In a food processor, measure in millet, beans, carrots, and spinach. Process until the beans are no longer whole, but make sure the mixture is not entirely smooth.
  • Pour out the millet-bean mixture into a medium bowl, and then incorporate the remaining ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste prior to adding the egg.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay parchment paper onto a baking stone or pan. Using a round cooking cutter (about 3 inches in diameter) for structure, scoop the mixture into 8 cakes directly onto the baking stone.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes and then using a spatula, turn the cakes. Bake for 5 minutes more.
  • Remove from the oven and cool before eating.