Monday, November 19, 2012

Running up that hill *

People can be hard on each other for no reason. No reason at all.
We all want to be loved, accepted and nurtured by our environment and the people we surround ourselves with, we all seek the same fundamental things in life and yet many times, we are out to get each other, to make each other feel bad or less of a person.

If we stopped and realized that we're all in this together, things would be so different.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if we were all kind to one another, smile to those around us, laugh at each other's jokes, help each other with what may seem trivial to us but know that to the other person is vital?

Going through difficult things in life makes you recognize what's important, what really matters. It makes you realize that the energy you give off, feeds those around you and what you give is ultimately what you get back.

Life is so precious, our loved ones and those we count on are precious. If we paused to think about that every once in a while, our lives would be better. Reaching out, trusting and being open to people is important. Even if it seems difficult sometimes.

As always, for me, food is one of the things that makes life better. Maybe I sound like a broken record when I say this, but sharing food with the ones I love and appreciate, is what counts.

A couple of weeks ago I won a copy of Aran Goyoaga's book 'Small Plates & Sweet Treats' on a giveaway on El's beautiful blog Fresh. Aran, the creator of canelle et vanille, wrote a wonderful book, filled with stunning recipes and photographs. When I got my hands on it, I was flipping through it like crazy, getting excited about every single one of her recipes, which are all gluten-free.

I'm not on a gluten-free diet, I actually can't imagine not eating gluten, but her recipes can easily be converted. The one I chose to cook first though, chestnut crêpes with creamy mushrooms, was a gluten-free one. I was taken by the type of flour she used; chestnut flour. I had never used it before but being a lover of chestnuts, I was sure I was going to love its flavor, and I did.

Chestnuts and mushrooms have an affinity for each other so it was not surprising that the marriage worked. The thin crêpes had a nutty, earthy and vaguely sweet flavor with a hint of nutmeg that intermingled with the woody, creamy wild mushrooms and the fresh thyme to create a combination of flavors that was simply brilliant.

* The writing of this post was accompanied by the music of Kate Bush and this song in particular.

Chestnut Crêpes with Creamy Wild Mushroom Filling
Barely adapted from Small Plates & Sweet Treats

These crêpes are deeply satisfying and filling and they'd make the perfect lunch served with a leafy salad.

They can also easily be turned into a sweet treat by omitting the parsley and pepper in the crêpe recipe. Pair them with hazelnut spread, hot chocolate sauce, drizzle them with honey and serve them with whipped cream; the possibilities are endless.

Chestnut flour has been used in Italy for centuries and is considered to be a staple in Italian cuisine. That counts for something, right? Don't be afraid to use it, but in case you can't find it where you live, you can substitute with all-purpose flour.

Yield: Ten 25cm crêpes


for the crêpes
100 g chestnut flour
250 ml fresh whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ tsp salt
Pinch of grated nutmeg
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

60 g unsalted butter, melted, for greasing the pan

for the mushroom filling
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
450-500 g assortment of wild mushrooms (I used shiitake, chestnut, oyster), cut in half or quartered if too big
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp crème fraîche
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

Special equipment: immersion blender or stand blender, 25 cm non-stick sauté pan or crêpe pan, heatproof brush


make the crêpes
Place all the ingredients for the crêpes in a large bowl or in a stand blender. Use an immersion blender to mix the ingredients well or mix in your stand blender. (In case you have neither kind of blender, whisk vigorously with a hand whisk).
Place the crêpe batter in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 hours before using.

You can make the crêpe batter a day ahead if you wish.

Just before starting making the crêpes, take the batter out of the refrigerator and transfer it into a pourable container. It will be easier to add to the pan.
Heat the non-stick sauté or crêpe pan over medium-high heat and lightly brush the bottom and sides with melted butter. Whisk the batter and add 3-4 Tbsp right in the center of the pan, swirling it quickly around so that the batter coats evenly the bottom of the pan. You're aiming to make thin crêpes. You need to swirl the pan quickly because if you wait, the batter will solidify before you get the chance to spread it evenly around the bottom of the pan.
Cook the crêpe on one side for 30-40 seconds or until it takes on a golden color and the top is set and then, using a spatula, lift the sides of the crêpe a bit all around and, carefully yet quickly, flip it over. Cook on the other side for 10 seconds, transfer it to a large plate and continue cooking the rest of the batter, placing each one on top of the other.
You can either eat them now or place them in the fridge (after they have cooled), covered tightly with plastic wrap, and eat them the next day. They reheat really well.
You can also freeze them for 1 month.

Important notes about crêpes:
1. Crêpes can be intimidating, especially if you haven't cooked them before. You need to keep in mind that the first crêpe will always be a disaster and it'll end up in the bin. It's kind of like a test to see how much of the batter you need to add to the pan, how you're going to spread it around the pan, how you're going to flip the crêpe. I never throw the first crêpe away though, I just test to see if the batter needs more salt etc. So, don't be discouraged if even the first couple of your crêpes turn out to be not very appealing. On your third crêpe you'll be doing perfectly.
2. I use a long and narrow offset icing spatula to flip my crêpes. Other people use two spatulas, others use a fish spatula. Nothing is set in stone. See what works best for you.
3. Even if the crêpe tears a little, it's okay. It happens to me all the time and as long as it's not a large tear that will cause the filling of the crêpe to seep out, then it is definitely a keeper.
4. Crêpes, and these in particular, don't stick together so don't be scared to stack them.

prepare the mushroom filling
In a medium-sized sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the two garlic cloves and sauté for a couple of minutes in order to infuse the olive oil. Be careful not to burn the garlic because it will give a bitter taste to the oil. Remove and discard the garlic.
Add the mushrooms and the thyme sprigs to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms soften and slightly caramelize. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and then add the crème fraîche. Stir well until you have a creamy sauce and immediately remove the pan from the heat.

assemble the crêpes
Take one crêpe and lay it open on a plate. Add 3 tablespoonfuls of mushrooms down the center of the crêpe, sprinkle with some chopped parsley and roll it up. Sprinkle some more parsley on top and continue doing the same with the rest of the crepes.

Serve the crêpes immediately.


  1. What a lovely, gentle and inspiring post. I like to think I live by the "we're all in this together" ethos and treat people the way I would like to be treated. These crepes look beautiful and I am so interested in using chestnut flour!

  2. How delicious and what uplifting words. Beautiful shrooms, too!

  3. i feel just exactly the same way about food. and love your photos - that one of the fresh mushrooms is gorgeous.

  4. These crepes look absolutely delicious!!

    A lovely blog you have here and we can't wait to read more from you!

    Have a great day from fellow foodies,

    Chloe & Sarah

  5. This looks so delicious! I am getting ready to do something with chestnuts ('tis the season), but cant think how I can find chestnut flour here; I 'll check at the Italian deli in town, they ought to have it. Your photos are so beautiful, it makes me want to eat them right off the screen!

  6. What perfect words to start my day. Thank you , Magda - you continue to be an inspiration to me and countless others.

    The crêpes look lovely, and I have some chestnut flour on hand... I can't wait to try these! The mushrooms are gorgeous, too!

    ~ David

  7. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy — I try to love my life the same way. Thank you, Anna.

    Banana Wonder — thank you :)

    a. maren — I'm glad I'm not the only one. Thanks and welcome.

    Chloe and Sarah — welcome to my blog, I'm so glad you dropped by. Have a wonderful day!

    tasteofbeirut — you can order it online if you can't find it where you live. I'm sure you'll love it. I know you're an adventurous cook :)

    Cocoa and Lavender — thank you so much David for your sweet words!

  8. The recipe seems great and I love your words ... Thank you for both !
    Did you find chestnut flour in the Hague as I have been looking for some for quite a time and did not find any !

    1. Thank you!
      I bought the chestnut flour at Ekoplaza but Marqt also carries it.

    2. Thanks ! I just have to go now :)

  9. Your words ring so true. I do agree with you that of all things, food tends to bring people together (maybe because when our tummies are full we're less likely to be cranky?)

    The crêpes look beautiful. I've never used chestnut flour before, so I'll be on the lookout for it!

  10. These look absolutely delicious. My mother used to make savory crepes every sunday for brunch and we all would have loved these!