This month's IMBB has a very exciting theme: Our host Cucina Testa Rossa challenges us to come up with some authentic regional French recipes for this one!
I started with visions of making a Nicoise feast with Pan Bagnat and Aioli with vegetables, but life intervened and brought me a busy week, so here I am returning to my favorite French vegetarian stand-by: Crepes. Simple thin pancakes that are a very basic recipe, but oh-so-versatile: they can be filled with savory fillings (think veggies and cheese) or sweet ones (nutella or fruit) and can be featured at all meals from brunch to a luxurious after-dinner dessert. It is certainly a recipe worth including in one's repertoire!
So here it is: Crepes filled with a savory mixture of spinach and mushrooms in bechamel sauce. Or rather Crepes Epinard et Champignon avec Sauce Bechamel (Merci beaucoup, Laura of Cucina Testa Rossa for that wonderful translation!)
This particular filling that I chose today is for three reasons:
1. I am particularly obsessed with the combination of spinach and mushrooms; sauteed together in some butter and garlic, I think spinach smells better than Chanel #5. See examples here and here.
2. A couple of years ago, I was visiting friends in Chicago and they took them to a cute little creperie for brunch. This delicious creamy spinach-mushroom filling was the one I chose that day and it was just perfect for a lazy Saturday morning....this is the attempt to recreate the dish.
3. Last weekend I checked out a great little cookbook from the library: Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. What a gem of a book! It contains all sorts of master recipes for basic French cooking, including one for crepes and its many variations (one spinach-mushroom combo too) and for various classic french desserts. This post is dedicated to Julia!
Now for the recipe...
Savory Mushroom-Spinach Stuffed Crepes
Part un: Make the bechamel sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk, heated
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, heat the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat, the flour should stay golden. Whisk in hot milk, then cook the sauce for 2 minutes, stirring continuously while sauce thickens. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Part deux: Make the vegetable filling
3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup packed chopped baby spinach leaves
1 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
Bechamel sauce (recipe above)
1. Saute onions and garlic in the butter.
2. Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook till spinach wilts and mushrooms cook through.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cool the vegetables slightly, then stir in the cheese and bechamel sauce.
Part trois: Make the crepes
Recipe from Julia's Kitchen Wisdom
(makes 8-10 large crepes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 tbsp melted butter (more for greasing pan)
1/4 tsp salt
1. Blend all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter.
2. Let the batter rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. Heat a non-stick pan and grease it with some butter (I like to simply rub on a piece of cold butter so that it melts into a thin layer on the pan).
4. Make crepes using a small ladleful of batter for every crepe. Ladle on the batter, tilt the pan to spread it, then cook till golden-brown on one side, flip over and cook briefly on the other side.
5. Stuff each crepe with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable sauce. Serve hot.
The crepes were golden and beautiful, not to mention melt-in-the-mouth delicious! This recipe is so easy and calls for simple ingredients; I know I will be making it again and again. Thanks, Cucina Testa Rossa, for inspiring me to make this wonderful French brunch!
Tagged with: IMBB23 + French