Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This recipe came about with a need to use a few produce items in the fridge that wouldn’t last much longer. Swiss chard and mushrooms became a staple combination in our house last summer using the beautiful chard we grew. Missing those flavors, I picked up some chard and oyster mushrooms at the store with the intention of using them in that night’s dinner.

Fast-forward almost a week and I still hadn’t done that. Pete working overtime and then my being out of town for work got in the way. Last Thursday I remembered those delicious ingredients while at work and planned out that night’s meal in my head. A little fresh parmesan and some beets would go into the mixture, along with my new favorite, whole wheat angel hair pasta. It was a great week night dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

With beets being such a tasty addition to that Swiss chard-mushroom mix, I wanted to make it again, but amp it up a bit given the extra time I had for cooking on the weekend. Crêpes came to mind, thinking this would be the perfect filling for thin and savory French pancakes.

Because of the red and green color combination, it also seemed a fitting dish for the Christmas season. A dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest on top, and you’ve got yourself one visually appealing and scrumptious meal. And it’s special enough for company, which I hope you’ll have lots of during the holidays. Enjoy!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

If you want to give your crêpes an extra pretty touch, reserve a ¼ cup of the shredded beets and a little Swiss chard, chopped extra fine, to add along with the crème fraiche and lemon zest for garnish. The unfilled crêpes can be made ahead of time, wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two or frozen, tightly-wrapped, for up to a month.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ a large onion or one whole small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. mushrooms (maitake, oyster, crimini), or a mixture of all three, chopped

½ a large bunch, or whole bunch if small, Swiss chard, large rib removed and sliced into ribbons

1 large beet, peeled and shredded

Salt & pepper, to taste

8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (gruyère or parmesan would work as well)

Crêpes, recipe follows

Crème fraiche

Micro-planed zest of one lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in the beets and mushrooms and cook about 2 more minutes. Mix in the Swiss chard and cook another 2-3 minutes or so, until the chard is tender. Add additional salt, along with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

To serve, place a cooked crêpe in a skillet over medium heat and sprinkle about a quarter cup of the shredded cheese down the center (the first-cooked side of the crêpe is usually prettiest, so make that the outside). Cover pan and let crepe warm and cheese melt, about a minute. Spoon chard-mushroom filling down the center and roll. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Alternately, you could preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and fill crêpes with cheese and filling, roll, and place in a baking dish. Bake until hot, about 20 minutes. Move crêpes to serving plates and garnish as described above.

Crêpes
Recipe from Myra Goodman’s The Earthbound Cook, one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 cup plus one tablespoon, whole wheat pastry flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¼ cup whole milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional melted butter for the crêpe pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add eggs and milk and whisk until mixed. Whisk in melted butter and continue whisking until the batter is very smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Place a cast iron skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat and when hot, brush with some melted butter. Pour or ladle ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan, lift the pan off the stove, and tilt and swirl the pan so that the batter spreads thinly across the bottom of the pan in a widening circle; don’t worry if the crêpe isn’t a perfect circle (and in my experience, the first crêpe never turns out pretty, but the rest do).

Cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crêpe batter; depending on how hot your pan is, the crêpe will be ready to flip in 30-45 seconds. With a spatula, lift up a corner of the crêpe to check if the cooked surface is lightly golden around the edges, and if so, flip. Cook the second side about 30 seconds. Remove crêpe to a platter, with a sheet of wax paper or parchment between each crêpe. Continue with remaining batter. Makes about 8 crêpes.

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

I have a new favorite pizza! Again.

Earlier this summer I discovered how great rainbow chard or beet greens and mushrooms taste when roasted and served together. With the beets in our garden finally ready, I had a huge bag ‘o beet greens to make into something delicious.

How about a pesto? Could it be that beet green pesto is really a thing? It is. And it’s really good. Skeptical at first about the chosen recipe because it was different from most pesto recipes I’ve done in the past—it didn’t include lemon juice, it called for raw rather than toasted nuts, and it had less than half the olive oil. Once made though, it had amazing flavor and I thought it’d be great on pizza. Of course I would include mushrooms for that great combo of greens and mushrooms, and why not include the beets too?

After roasting two portabella mushroom caps and a couple larger beets, I spread the beet green pesto over a homemade whole wheat pizza crust, topped it with sliced roasted beets and portabellas, and after pondering the best cheese to enhance this combo, I opted for a bit of shredded pepper jack. Not too much—just enough to add a creamy spiciness to go with the other robust flavors.

Veggies ready for roasting

Veggies ready for roasting

Prepared for this uncharted pizza territory to be a total bust, I, along with my dinner guest and fellow foodie, Dawn, were surprised to fall in love with this new pie. The earthiness of the pesto and mushrooms, sweetness of the beets and the piquant heat of the pepper jack came together in pizza perfection. Enjoy!

Oh, and by the way, the pizza dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas. You can refrigerate half the dough for a day or two, freeze it for a couple months, or just make two pizzas. My second one was a roasted cherry tomato and onion pizza that just had a brush of good quality olive oil as a sauce. It was great!

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

This recipe sounds very time-consuming, but you can make everything ahead of time and then do the final pizza assembling and baking shortly before you’re ready to serve it.

Beet Green Pesto (from Oh My Veggies blog):
About 4 cups washed and dried beet greens, stems and thicker middle ribs removed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place the beet greens, garlic, walnuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running slowly, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary to achieve a saucy consistency (I didn’t need any additional oil). Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using.

Pizza dough:
1 ¼ cups warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F.)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

1 tablespoon honey

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups unbleached white flour, plus additional flour for kneading and rolling

2 teaspoons sea salt

Place warm water in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in yeast and whisk in honey. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix flours and salt. Add gradually to yeast mixture, either mixing with a wooden spoon or dough hook of a stand mixer until combined. If doing by hand, turn out of bowl onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough. If using a stand mixer, knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise till double in size (about an hour) in a warm, draft-free place.

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Punch down dough and turn out onto floured surface. Divide dough in half and refrigerate or freeze half for another use (or better yet, make 2 pizzas!).

On floured surface, roll/toss dough to make a 12-14 inch round (or sorta round). Place round on pizza stone and bake 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. This can be made ahead of time and wrapped in plastic for up to a day or frozen for a up to a month.

Roasted Veggies:
2 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned, stems removed and gills scraped off

2 large beets, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss beet slices with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Place beets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush tops and bottoms of mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place stem side up on baking sheet next to beets. Roast for about 15 minutes, until beets are tender. You may need to remove beets from the pan and roast mushrooms for 5-10 minutes longer, until tender. Slice mushrooms into strips about ½ inch wide. Roasting can be done ahead of time.

To assemble pizza:
Beet green pesto

Roasted beets and mushrooms

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Just before baking, spread pesto onto partially baked crust (you won’t use all the pesto). Top with roasted beet and mushroom slices. Sprinkle pepper jack and parmesan evenly over pizza. Bake about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is golden. If you’d like, turn the oven to broil for about a minute or two to brown the cheese slightly. Watch the pizza closely if you do this—it can go from perfect to burned in seconds.

Remove pizza from oven onto large cutting board and cut into wedges. Serves 2-4.

Vegetarian Borscht

Borscht
In honor of the warm, friendly, and mostly snafu-free atmosphere it appears the Russians have delivered as Olympic host country, how about a batch of borscht?

Pete and I have been having so much fun watching these world class athletes throw their hearts and souls into competition and giving us thrills, chills, exhilaration, joy, and in some cases disappointment (never in the athletes, just some of the results). From the beauty of the opening ceremony, through the excitement of competition and the personal stories, the games have brought so much enjoyment, we’re sad to see them coming to an end with the closing ceremony tonight.

The skiing has especially entranced us. Near and dear to our hearts have been the cross country races, (we both got our first skinny skis when we were 12 and love the sport, with Pete still competing in Vasaloppet USA). And the amazing downhill events: super G, giant slalom, ski-cross. Also the different snowboarding events, sliding sports, hockey (yes, it still hurts), speed skating, figure skating and curling, it’s all been such a delight to experience from afar.

We’ve also recently had the excitement of the biggest snowstorm of this winter, so a soup is especially appropriate. And the stunning color of borscht is a beautiful backdrop to our snow-white landscape.
SnowCardinal
No matter how old I get, I still get giddy over the prospect of a good old-fashion blizzard, and this latest storm didn’t disappoint, although it has made driving extremely slow and stressful, even a couple days after the snow ended and the sun came out. Oh well, spring is less than a month away, and we’ve got borscht to warm us when we come inside. That, and maybe a shot or two of vodka! Vashe zdorovie!

Pulled together after reading a few recipes (including this and this) borscht is a hearty, filling soup that only needs some crusty whole-grain bread on the side for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Shredded beets and carrotsSachet

Borscht

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 medium beets, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

2 large carrots, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks

3 ripe tomatoes chopped (can use good quality canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)

8 cups water

3 cubes good quality vegetable bouillon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 bay leaves

4 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnishes:
Chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, beets, carrot, and potato. Continue to cook for several more minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the veggies are cooking, cut a square of cheesecloth and place the bay leaves and whole cloves in the center. Bring the corners together and tie with kitchen twine or string, making a sachet or bouquet garni. Set aside.

To the stockpot, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir it all up and then place the sachet or bouquet garni into the soup and give it another stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Remove the sachet from soup before serving.

To serve, ladle the hot borscht into bowls. Squeeze a little lemon over soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with lots of chopped dill. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread for a full meal. Makes about 8 servings.


Bowl of Borscht

Beet Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

Beet salad

Last night was a fun girls’ night patio party at my house. My two besties, Lori and Dawn, came for dinner and wine on the patio. Pete was gone to the cabin for the weekend, so what better time for an evening with my two dearest friends?

Our main course was the paella that I blogged about a while back, and while it was on the stove, we munched on little eggplant rounds baked with a panko-parmesan coating that we topped with pumpkin seed pesto and marinara. Our dessert was a simple blueberry puff pastry galette drizzled with white chocolate ganache.

Paella

Galette

It was a truly delicious meal, but the prettiest dish was the beet salad with horseradish vinaigrette. I’d had a hankering for horseradish vinaigrette where you could actually taste the horseradish. While out for dinner recently, I had a green salad, supposedly with horseradish vinaigrette, but I couldn’t taste the horseradish at all. It was good, but lacked that zesty horseradish bite. While googling, I came across a Mario Batali beet recipe with horseradish vinaigrette and adapted it to my liking. The use of both golden and red beets makes this salad really beautiful! And delicious! Even Lori, a non-beet lover (or so she thought!), deemed it wonderful.

The arugula, with its rich, peppery taste, was the perfect green to support the mellow roasted beets and the assertive dressing. Enjoy!

Beet Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette
adapted from a Mario Batali recipe  

½ pound golden beets, washed and stems trimmed off

½ pound red beets, washed and stems trimmed off

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Dressing:
1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2-3 green onions, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
4 loosely packed cups arugula

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place beets in a medium bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil. Roast for 1 hour or until beets are easily pierced with a knife. When beets are cooled, rub beets to remove skin. Cut beets into bite-sized pieces.

To make dressing, mix vinegar, mustard, horseradish, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in olive oil while whisking and continue to whisk until olive oil is fully incorporated.

To serve, place arugula on a platter and mound beets in the center. Sprinkle with celery and green onions. Best served at room temperature. Serves 4.