Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

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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!
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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.

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Savory Whole Wheat Crêpes

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Last week I had the occasion last to prepare a special breakfast for special people. My parents were passing through on their way home from vacation and it worked out for them to stop by on Friday morning. Early in the week, as I ruminated on what to make, crêpes came to mind. I’ve made this versatile crêpe recipe on a number of occasions—they’re perfect with just about anything you come up with as a filling. On Friday, bell peppers, red onion, sliced fennel, and vegan apple-sage sausage fit the bill, with some shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan added for richness. A topping or sauce isn’t necessary, but I had some arugula-tarragon pesto and that added a crowning touch to our special breakfast entrée.

I rounded out the meal with banana nut chai muffins (made earlier, pulled from the freezer, and warmed in the oven), served with vegan cream cheese mixed with pumpkin butter. On the side was a mix of chopped apples and pears topped with an apple cider sauce. And hot mugs of dark-roast coffee, of course! Really a nice autumn-themed breakfast, ideal for hanging with Mom and Dad while hearing about their North Shore fall color trip.

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Savory Whole Wheat Crêpes
Made with whole wheat pastry flour, these crêpes are light and delicate, even though they’re whole grain. Adapted from The Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for the crêpe pan

To prepare the crêpe batter, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Alternately, you can whisk all ingredients in a medium-size bowl until smooth. Refrigerate, covered, 1-3 hours (I just set the blender jar in the fridge).

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Just before cooking the crêpes, prepare your filling. For breakfast, it can be as simple as scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, or a breakfast potato hash with veggies, even a combination of eggs and hash, or just a good flavorful shredded cheese. For brunch, lunch or dinner, a spinach, mushroom, shallot mixture, sautéed in a little olive oil and a splash of sherry along with some shredded Gruyère cheese make a delicious and sophisticated-tasting filling. Endless possibilities—whatever strikes your fancy.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. (to keep crêpes warm until all are made and assembled). When you remove crêpe batter from the fridge, it should have the consistency of thin pancake batter. If too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk and blend to combine.

Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat. When hot, brush with some melted butter. Pour ¼ cup batter into the center of the pan. Lift the pan off the burner, and tilt and swirl the pan so the batter spreads thinly around the bottom of the pan in a widening circle. If it’s not a perfect circle, that’s just fine. Cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crêpe; depending on how hot the pan is, the crêpe will be ready to flip in 15-30 seconds. With a spatula, lift up one edge of the crêpe to see if the cooked surface is lightly golden. If so, flip the crêpe.

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If using cheese, sprinkle the cooked side with about ¼ cup cheese. Spoon about 1/3 cup of your crêpe filling on top of cheese. Fold two opposite sides over filling and press down with the spatula to seal. Transfer to a sheet pan in the oven to keep warm. Alternately, you can place the cheese and filling on one half of the crêpe, and fold in half, before transferring to oven. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.

Serve immediately. Adding a sauce affords additional flavor and looks pretty, but isn’t absolutely necessary. Pesto, a white sauce, red sauce, chutney—anything that you think would pair well with the filling. Makes 8-10 crêpes.

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