Buckwheat Crepes with Brie and Mushrooms

buckwheat crepes
When faced with a good brunch menu, every restaurant-goer agonizes over the sweet or savory meal conundrum….Right? Is this just me?

During the week I’m on autopilot with breakfast. It’s always some variation of yogurt, fruit and oats. Oatmeal with fruit, yogurt with fruit, yogurt with oats and fruit.

But when the weekend rolls around, I like breakfast to be an event. A leisurely late breakfast where I pay people bring be strong coffee and warm food is at the top of my “treat yo’self” list.

Since I usually lean toward the fruity and sweet during the week, Saturday morning I wake up thinking of buttered bread, oozy egg yolks and melted cheese.

But sometimes that unexpected french toast with fruit compote, pecans and maple puts a snag in my ordering plans and changes everything I thought I knew I wanted from my brunch.

Maybe my dining partner will agree to share a “breakfast dessert”? That’s not a crazy idea, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be on the same page.

(Full disclosure: Fabes is always up for a breakfast dessert. Which is why we’re getting married.)

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Mushroom Lentil Burgers

mushroom lentil burger 1

Can we talk about the importance of a good burger? When the mood strikes, it’s impossible to shake, right?

My favorite burgers involve a whole heap of stuff. I like condiments and lots of little accessories on all the things I eat, but especially on burgers.

I love caramelized onion, melted cheddar, bbq sauce, tomato, and lettuce for crunch. But lets be real, with all of that stuff, sometimes it doesn’t really matter whether the burger underneath it all is beef or chicken or legume – especially if the meat version isn’t up to scratch, I’ll take a veggie burger in a heartbeat.

Despite my love of a perfect beef burger and obsession with toppings, I think a good-quality veggie burger can be just as badass as a meat one, albeit in a slightly more hippie kind of way.

The key to an excellent vegetarian-friendly burger begins with packing lots of flavor into the pattie.  (See also various add-ons above.)

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Vegetable Miso Ramen

vegetable miso ramen #voraciousvander

While we’re talking food hugs. Let’s talk about miso broth and noodles.

I mean, if warming and satisfying are what you’re after, a big bowl of flavorsome broth,  full of veggies and noodles is a good way to go.

It’s the perfect sick person food. Or well person food. Or tired and hungry person food.

This, paired with some sassy comments from Maggie Smith, is guaranteed to soothe most troubles away.

I have limited ramen knowledge, but I know that there are a few different types of broth that can be used when fashioning a bowl of the noodle soup.

This is an easy miso-based one that requires little more than stirring miso paste into some simmering stock. It’s a simple way to get your bowl of goodness started pronto.

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Vegetarian Pho

Are you a pho addict yet? I didn’t know about this brothy Vietnamese soup until a couple of years ago, but once I did I was hooked. HOOKED I tell you!

Most commonly you see it made with thinly shaved raw beef that’s cooked by the heat of the broth and ladled over rice noodles. You’re given mix-ins like bean sprouts, lime, basil and chilli on the side that you can add at your own discretion. Interactive food! You know I love that.

But it’s often hard to find vegetarian-friendly versions of pho in restaurants. Luckily, you can make this aromatic broth at home pretty easily and load it up with all the veggies you want.

My version used a heap of mushrooms and spinach, as well as soba noodles in the place of the rice noodles. Traditional? Not all all. Vegetable-packed, slightly spicy, aniseedy pho-like goodness? Yessir.

You can easily make this broth non-vegetarian by using beef or chicken broth and fish sauce. I personally prefer the fish sauce here instead of soy sauce, but it’s up to you. You could also add cooked shredded chicken or prawns.

Vegetarian Pho Broth (serves 4)
adapted very slightly from The Kitchn

- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
– 4-inch/10-cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
– 2 3-inch/7.5-cm cinnamon sticks
– 2 star anise
– 4 cloves
– 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
– 8 cups vegetable stock (or stock of you choice)
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
– 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Char onion and ginger directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. Rinse with water.

In a large pot, dry roast cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning. When spices are aromatic (about 2 minutes), add vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots, and charred onion and ginger.

Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and keep hot until ready to serve.

Vegetarian Pho
– soba noodles (or rice noodles)
– 3 cups mushrooms
– 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Toppings
– finely chopped chilies
– finely chopped green onion
– bean sprouts
– basil
– mint
– cilantro
– sriracha

Prepare noodles ahead. For soba noodles, cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes (according to package) strain and portion into bowls. If using rice noodles, soak in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes or according to package instructions. Pour broth over the noodles when you’re ready to serve.

I added sliced mushrooms to my finished broth and cooked covered for about 10 minutes until tender, adding the spinach in the last minute or two. Serve hot with desired toppings.

Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup

It’s been a grey and rainy week. I’ve been caught in the rain three mornings in a row trying to go for a run. My umbrella’s all bent out of shape. I don’t want to leave the house.

What’s your favorite rainy evening ritual? Mine looks like sweat pants, bad tv (wuttup Revenge), a glass of red and a curry.

I don’t love the rain, but I don’t mind the excuse it gives me to get cozy, make something warm, and treat myself right.

I was impressed with this recipe for 2 reasons:
It develops a rich Thai flavor in less than a half an hour – if you’re craving a Thai red curry, this is probably a quicker bet than delivery.
It’s also easily adaptable for whatever vegetables you have at home. Asian veggies like bok choy, baby corn and snow peas are all at home here, but mushrooms, green beans, carrots, spinach and even sweet potato are all welcome too.

Spicy Coconut and Lentil Soup
adapted from Donna Hay’s Off the Shelf
(makes 4 serves)

- 2 tablespoons oil
– 2 tablespoons red curry paste
– 4 spring onions, light green and white parts thinly chopped
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 2 cups coconut cream
– 1 cup red lentils
– 1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced in half
– 2 cups spinach, chopped

Heat the oil and curry paste in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add in spring onions and cook 1 minute.

Add stock, coconut cream and lentils and cook for 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add snow peas and cover, simmering for 2 more minutes.

Stir in spinach and let it wilt down. Serve hot with rice or grilled flat bread.

Mushroom Ragout with Polenta

I typically go meatless several days a week, but I especially try to abide by Meatless Monday. I like to think of it as a re-set after indulging in beef tacos and/or a slab of pork belly on the weekend. That said, I try not to make a meatless day too bleak by comparison. Mushrooms – lots of them – are nearly always my go-to in this situation.
High on the comfort food spectrum, this mushroom dish is hearty, complex and warming. I chose to serve it over a pillowy bed of polenta to feel the maximum love. (Doesn’t a big buttery mound of sunny-colored polenta topped with a thick vegetable gravy feel like a big hug to you? Is that just me?) I would happily serve this with buttered and herb-flecked rigatoni, over just-set scrambled eggs or with a big hunk of crusty sourdough. Whatever melts your butter! (Literally.)

Mushroom Ragout
Adapted from David Tanis’ recipe as seen on The Kitchn

- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
– 1 large onion, finely diced
– salt and pepper
– 1 pound mushrooms (I used cup mushrooms and white button mushrooms), cleaned and sliced
– 3 garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt or Microplaned
– 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
– 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage
– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 cups porcini mushroom broth (see recipe below), warm

In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring well, until it begins to brown. Lower the heat to medium, season the onions with salt and pepper, and continue stirring until nicely caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove the onion to a small bowl.

Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining tablespoons of olive oil, and turn the heat to high. Add the mushrooms, stirring well to coat with oil. Keep the heat high and sauté the mushrooms until they brown lightly.

Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, add the garlic, thyme, sage, and pepper flakes, and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium, add the browned onion and the tomato paste, and stir well to coat the mushrooms and to dry the mixture slightly. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring.

Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir it in. Ladle in 1 cup of the hot mushroom broth, stirring well as the mixture thickens. Add another cup of hot broth and let the ragout cook for another 5 minutes. If it’s too thin, cook it a bit longer; if too thick, add a bit more broth. Taste for seasoning. (The ragout can be made a few hours ahead and reheated.)

Porcini Mushroom Broth
– 3 cups water
– 1 bay leaf
– 4 or 5 slices of dried porcini mushrooms
– half a small onion
– 1 small celery stalk
– 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer a cook for 30 minutes. Strain to to use.

For Polenta:
Different types of polenta call for different methods, so follow the instructions on your polenta packaging. When mine was finished cooking I stirred in 2 tablespoons of butter, a bit of salt and several grinds of pepper.

Egg Bakes with Mushroom, Potato and Sage

Five minutes before I leave for the grocery store I review my list of things like dish soap, paper towels, shower gel, tissues…you know, boring non-food things.

30 minutes later I return with: two types of herbal tea, one Cadbury Creme Egg, a medium-sized jar of Nutella ($2 off!), Romaine lettuce and some marinated feta.

See what I did there? I completely ignored the boring list and skipped right to all the good stuff that we may or may not actually need.

What happened over that period of time, you might wonder, in which a normally clear-headed person completely glazed over and abandoned all responsibility in favor of childish, irrelevant purchases?

I don’t have a good excuse. All I can say is I love to food shop.

I deplore things like shoe shopping, furniture shopping, or anything in a department store. Give me a specialty cheese shop, a farmers market or a huge Whole Foods any day.

I slowly pace up and down each of the aisles (except the ones with cleaning supplies. Who needs that shiz?) making sure I don’t miss a good bargain or something totally crazy that I didn’t even know about. (Reese’s Ice Magic Shell! Feta marinated with preserved lemon and herbs?!)

Sometimes all this excitement gets in the way of the task at hand as I am left powerless to all of the enticing produce.

For serious shopping excursions I try to organize the supervision of Mr. F. Luckily, he’s good at remembering boring cleaning items and encouraging chocolate purchases. Add in the fact that he tolerates my borderline crazy food obsession and that’s what I call a happy partnership.

In order to clear room in our fridge for all the impulse-buys, I like to use leftover cooked vegetables to make individual egg bakes. A little ramekin with a perfect just-set egg nestled on top gives the leftovers a total makeover.

Technically the veggies don’t have to be leftover, but just a little pre-cooked.

I had leftover roasted potatoes, so to those I added mushrooms sautéed with shallots, sage and rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes, then cracked an egg on top. A sunny egg yolk makes everything more awesome. Fact.

Mushroom, Potato and Sage Egg Bakes
(Serves 2)

- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
– 1 shallot, finely chopped
– 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
– 1 cup leftover roast potatoes, diced into small pieces*
– 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, packed in their own oil, drained
– 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
– 2 eggs
– salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F. Lightly grease the ramekins with a little bit of olive oil or butter.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes until translucent.

Add mushrooms, sage and rosemary and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and slightly golden, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cook an additional 2 minutes to heat through.

Remove from heat and stir in sun-dried tomatoes.

Divide the mixture between two 1-cup ramekins, making a slight well in the center. Crack an egg over each.

Bake for about 10 minutes until egg is just set. Serve with good crusty bread.

*Notes:
I used leftover roasted potatoes. You can cook your potatoes quickly by cutting them into very small cubes and cooking them in the large pan before you add the mushrooms. Heat olive oil in the pan over a medium-high heat and cook potatoes covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Continue the recipe by adding the mushrooms and cooking with the potatoes, until they are soft and golden brown.