Crepes of Wrath with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Chicken Mushroom Spinach Crepes

Crepes dressed and ready for the oven

Crepe Fail

After four days…I’m over the crepes. Don’t get me wrong, I love crepes – they’re buttery, creamy goodness which can hold any combination of deliciousness. They’re easy to make – except for the inevitable crepe fail…They store in the fridge or freezer for a long time. They’re bipolar – can go sweet or savory…

But after this week, I’m over it. And the last of the crepes in my fridge have become the bane of my existence.

My crepes of wrath.

So here’s the last I’ll speak of crepes.

Chicken and Mushroom Crepes (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray

Defrost a 10oz package of frozen spinach and squeeze out excess water

1. In a medium saute pan over med/high heat melt 2 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil

2. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and saute until fragrant (about 2 mins)

3. Cube 4 breasts of chicken and add to the garlic, butter, OO mix. Add salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on all sides and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Cubed Chicken Browning in Garlic, Butter and OO

4. Into the pan add 3 portobello mushrooms sliced and 1 8oz package of sliced shiitake mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to brown on both sides

Mushroom: Portobello and Shiitake saute in garlic

5. Add all of the chopped spinach and stir

Mushrooms and Chopped Spinach

6. Add 1 – 1 1/2 cups of the mornay sauce (mornay sauce with chicken stock recipe). And re-add the Chicken.

Note, if sauce is too thick, you can add more chicken stock…Simmer until heated through.

Savory Crepe Filling

7. Put remaining mornay sauce in a sauce pan to heat.

8. Assemble the Crepes (Savory Crepes Recipe)

  • Schmear a bit of the warmed mornay sauce in the center of a crepe
  • Top with a good amount of the mushroom, chicken, spinach mixture
  • Roll the crepe and place in the baking tray
  • Repeat until all crepes are assembled – 8
  • Cover the crepes with more of the mornay sauce

9. Into the oven until heated through – 20  – 25 minutes

Joey the Doorman

Serve one portion to Joey the doorman – who much appreciated the free dinner…

OK. That’s it. Let us not speak of crepes again for a while. Crepes …out.

There’s Got To Be A Mornay After

Elton John's Daniel

Daniel’s Reptile Eyes are on here…

People mess up song lyrics. That’s just the way it is. I, myself, have confused a lyric or two. Like Elton John’s Daniel – the line ‘I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain’, I misheard as ‘I can see your reptile eyes heading for Spain’….Reptile eyes? Really? Made sense to me at the time. And, I sang it that way for years until I was called out during a heated game of Song Burst.

Other favorite wrong song lyrics I’ve heard are:

  • Prince’s Rasberry Beret became his ‘Strawberry Parade’
  • Billy Idol’s Eyes Without a Face became ‘How’s about a Date?’.

Both good, but maybe my favorite – and it wasn’t my mistake – was a friend who thought Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair‘s line ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’ was actually ‘Our Sweet Saviors; Mary and Tom’. Mary and Tom – and what sweet saviors they were.

This record has Scarborough Fair!

Mixing up song lyrics on purpose is also entertaining. And since Sunday I’ve been singing the following songs in my head:

  • Mornay Has Broken
  • It’s a Beautiful Mornay
  • It’s 4 O’Clock In The Mornay
  • And…Sunday Mornay 

Mornay Sauce is a versatile sauce and one that is hard to make just a little of. Luckily it can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

So when making this sauce ‘There’s Got to Be A Mornay After‘.

A mornay sauce is perfect for a savory crepe dinner. The Legitimate Crepe from yesterday’s post. That crepe recipe makes anywhere from 20 – 30 crepes depending upon how many you flub up and how many you eat during the cooking process. Either way, if you’re doing dinner for 4 with 2 crepes each, there are certainly enough crepes for two dinners. I thought we might want to look at making a Mornay Sauce that could go two ways.

Mornay Sauce, two ways

First! Mise En Place: Butter, Flour, Warm Milk, Salt, Pepper, Shredded Cheese (this is Jarlsberg but a sharp cheddar or gruyere works as well)

Mornay Sauce Mise E Place

Mise En Place for Mornay Sauce

1. In a medium saucepan over med/high heat melt 2 1/2 tbsp of butter

Butter Melting

2. Whisk in 3 tbsp of flour and stir until completely combined – about 1-2 mins

Mornay Sauce

Whisking in the Flour

3. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of warm milk and continue to whisk – the sauce will begin to thicken

Milk added and whisking away

4. BTB (bring to boil) and then RTS (Reduce to Simmer) – then add 1/8 tsp of Pepper and 1/4 tsp of Salt. Continue to whisk until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Sauce will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon

5. Stir in 3/4 cup of shredded Jarlsberg cheese and continue to whisk until all of the cheese is melted in.

That’s the basic Mornay Sauce…..

Since we are going to make two different crepe dinners….Divide the sauce into two equal parts and keep both over a low heat.

The Mornay: Into one half stir in 1 Cup of frozen peas and 1/2 Cup of frozen corn kernals plus 1 tbsp of fresh Thyme (not your sweet savior, Tom, but Thyme) and the zest of 1/2 a lemon. Let cool and set aside. (Yes, you can use fresh peas or fresh corn).

Mornay Sauce with Peas, Corn and Lemon

The Mornay After: Into the remaining half, stir 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Once combined, let the sauce cool and store in the refrigerator.

Tomorrow: a delicious Lemony Shrimp crepes dinner followed by an earthy Chicken, Mushroom and Spinach crepe dish on Thursday.

I don’t know if Mary and Tom ever made it to Scarborough Fair. But I do know that you can Just call me Angel Of the Mornay.

Guerillas in the Midst of Shrimp Tacos

I’m a little bit of a homophone-ophobe. This is a real condition. Seriously. It describes a person who fears words that sound similar but have two entirely different meanings. Like it was so sweet of the hotel to give us this suite. And I loved the kind maid who made the bed. Just typing it makes me shutter.

In the ’70’s there were constant news reports about the Sandinista Guerillas in Nicaragua. In our house, once my father was home, we watched the news. Well, at least the news was on. I can’t say I really was watching it. It was more like background noise I had to endure until prime time programming (Dallas, Taxi, Different Strokes etc) was available. We had one TVone. So, everyone watched the same thing and the bigger people generally got to dictate what that one thing would be.

Anyway, the fighting in Nicaragua had been going on for years, but really heated up in 1979 after the formal unification of the Sandinista guerillas.

This was also around the time that you could find Planet of the Apes television series starring Roddy McDowall reruns on TV.

And, I was pretty young.

So, when the din of the news reported on the guerillas in Nicaragua, I was certain that they meant gorillas.

Yes, to answer the obvious question, the news rolled footage of the guerillas – but it was 1979 and the footage was grainy, not all high def like now. Even when I would watch the reports, I thought the soldiers could totally be gorillas – like the ones on Planet of the Apes.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned about guerillas and then even more time passed before I was able to admit to my mistake. I’ve had homophone-ophobia ever since.

Recently, I was taking my first stab at using tomatillos – which I was a little afraid of. See ‘Tomatillo’ sounds a lot like ‘Tomato’ (though not an exact homophone). But, just as guerillas are completely different than gorillas, – tomatillos not like tomatoes at all. If you’ve never used them and want to google ‘tomatillos’, you’ll be told that tomatillos are more like gooseberries. This information didn’t help to ease my fear as I’ve never used those either.

This is the recipe from FoodNetwork Kitchens that I used for reference and then tweaked. It’s for two pretty decent sized servings.

Shrimp Tacos with an Avocado/Tomatillo Salsa

Marinate 1/2 lb of large, cleaned and deveined raw shrimp in a mix of lemon and lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper for about an hour. I do use frozen ones and it’s fine. Just fine.

Put 1/2 of a small chopped onion, 1/2 a chopped and seeded jalapeno and 1/2 clove of garlic mashed in a food processor. I often sub shallot for garlic – but since the garlic is going to be processed, it won’t dominate the sauce. Finely chop.

Add in 2 peeled and rinsed chopped tomatillos, 1/2 an avocado chopped, 1/2 tsp of salt, the juice of 1/2 a lime and pulse the mixture until chopped but still chunky.

You can stir in a little bit of sour cream at this point. The sour cream is a nice juxtaposition to the spiciness of the jalapeno and garlic.

Transfer to a bowl and top with some fresh chopped cilantro. Set aside.

Pre-heat a grill pan to med/high. Spray with cooking spray.

Take the marinated shrimp and, if you want some spice,  toss with 1/2 tsp of chili powder and immediately place on the grill pan. The shrimp will cook quickly – about 2 minutes per side. I like a little char on my shrimp. Why? Because as per Anne Burrell: ‘brown food is good food’.

In a second pan, warm up 4 flour tortillas. Put a pan on medium and drop the tortillas in there for a minute or so per side. You just want them warmed, not toasted. You can use wheat or corn, but I really prefer flour.

Topped each warmed tortilla with a heathy schmear of the avocado/tomatillo salsa and 2-3, depending on size, shrimp. Garnish with some more cilantro (remembering that cilantro seems to be polarizing – you either love it or hate it) and a lime wedge.

The salsa makes this meal. And, helped me to overcome my fear of those tomato-sounding tomatillos.

You don’t hear a lot about the guerillas in Nicaragua anymore…or much about the original Planet of the Apes for that matter. Still, when I think back on my homophonic mistake, I know I can’t be the sole soul who made such an error. I mean, didn’t anyone think that Jane Goodall as played by Sigourney Weaver was In the Midst of Guerillas?

Have some Banana Bread, Robert Pattinson

A friend asked me recently why emotional stress has such a strong effect on one’s physical well-being. Break ups tend to bring on intense stomach pains and dramatic weight loss. Many therapists would argue that any emotional distress has a profound impact on one’s personal well-being. How well you sleep, perform at work, socialize, exercise etc are all intimately tied to your emotional health.

Thus, comfort foods; the only things we can eat when we can’t eat anything.

When I was little, my mother used to threaten us kids with jail time. Seriously – jail time. This was before the invention of the ‘time out’. We were told that we would be sent to jail where they only served bread and water. I thought; ‘Whatever Mom! I WANT to go to jail because bread is my favorite food!” It still is. Whenever I’m sick or sad, I crave bread – generally toasted and then slathered in butter. (When on the distress diet, I’m not worried about caloric intake). From the moment I can smell it heating – It starts to make me feel better.

This morning, Robert Pattinson fresh off his break up with Kristen Stewart, was on GMA. It was just his second public appearance since the split. And he seemed OK. Like Edward, in Twilight, he was relatively serious, put together and poised. Though he did joke with George Stephanopoulos about his Cosmopolis costar, Paul Giamatti’s, huge fan following in Brooklyn Heights. If you had been living under a rock lately and you were watching Robert this morning, you really wouldn’t suspect that anything had happened. You’d have no idea that he, the world’s sexiest vampire, had been cuckolded. And, making it worse, it had all played out in the tabloids. You wouldn’t know anything…

Anything except that…he looked a little thin.

So, I got to thinking  how I could help and thought I might send him some Banana Bread.

Here’s a simple recipe I found online and tweaked just a bit:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×5 in loaf pan. You should really have a pretty colored one – I think bright colors can also help in treating a broken heart.

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking soda an 1/4 tsp of salt.

3. In a second bowl, combine 1/2 cup of softened butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. I like to use the darker, but either is fine.

4. Gently beat two eggs and stir into the butter/sugar mixture. Add 1 tsp of vanilla. Add 2 – 2 1/2 cups of mashed over ripe bananas. Whenever I have an aging banana, I peel it and put it in the freezer and defrost when I’m ready to make banana bread.

5. Combine the wet mixture with the dry ingredients and stir just until the mixture is moist. (You can add walnuts at this point…but you also may be too sad to chew hard nuts and can leave them out)

6. Pour the mixture into your pretty colored loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes.

7. After about 10 minutes, you should be able to easily flip the loaf pan and release the banana bread. Serve it warm and slather it with butter. Go ahead – you’re thin and sad…

I don’t know Robert Pattinson personally but we’ve all been through a break up or two and I felt for him over the past weeks. And, I’m not a Twi-hard, but thought (besides the weight) he looked pretty good. I do hope he’s OK and getting through it. I’d like to see him eat more. Now, if I just knew where he was staying so that I could deliver the bread….and reassure him that this too shall pass and there will, no doubt, be a New Moon.

Dramatic Improvisations in Soft Drinks and Grilling

So, I’m flying recently on a small commuter jet out of Newark. It’s a beautiful day and I’m not anticipating any issues. I’m a pretty good flier and while I do clutch the arm rests during turbulence, I really never panic. We frequent fliers tend to take for granted the safety instructions – I do note that the no-smoking sign is on but I never follow along on the safety pamphlet located in the seat pocket in front of me. The sing-song rhythm of the safety instructions and other inflight announcements give me a sense of security when flying. So, when the flight attendant veered off script, I perked up and paid attention….

Here’s what she said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen…” [dramatic pause with sigh] “I have some really bad news….”

We’re in the air at this point so I’m now starting to breathe heavily as my pulse rate shoots up. When you’re flying, ‘bad news‘ might be along the lines of “we’ve lost cabin pressure and in just a few seconds your heads will literally explode” or if it’s the 1970’s “we’ve been hi-jacked and are headed to Cuba”….

The flight attendant after her dramatic pause announced: “We have no juice on board…”

Another pause as I wonder if ‘no juice’ means we’re out of fuel and will be plunging 25,000 feet to the ground. Farewell life!

She finished with: “We do have Coca-Cola products; Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Coffee brewed on board. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Really? Really? No juice! – tragedy. Now, that was a dramatic presentation!

I, myself, may have been accused from time to time of being a little dramatic. And, today I’m feeling dramatically and tragically sad about the rapidly approaching end of summer. With this inevitable end comes the return back to the City. No more weekends on Nantucket. No more trips to Ohio. A fading tan and thus fading beauty. No more summer Fridays. No more road trips. No more trips upstate and antiquing.  No more beachiness. I don’t hike, but think I may miss hiking as September nears. I am spiraling in despair…And, then I realize most sadly with a gasp a sigh and a tear, no more use of friends’ and family’s outdoor grills.

So, just as we passengers on that Delta Connection Flight to Cincinnati had to make do and drink Coca-Cola products or coffee in lieu of juice, I will bravely improvise and return to my indoor grilling solutions.

First things first, you need a grill pan. I have this one. It’s my only piece of Calphalon and while I’m not really into Calphalon products, I must admit, this pan works perfectly and is large enough to grill 3-4 pieces of meat/fish/chicken but small enough to stack on a 12 inch frying pan in my limited kitchen cabinet space.

Here’s an easy affordable indoor grilling recipe:

Grilled Cod Filets

Basic marinade so as not to overpower the fish…

In a small bowl, combine the juice of one lemon with a tbsp of dijon mustard using a whisk. When totally combined slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup of olive oil and continue whisking until all bubbles are gone and mixture is wholly emulsified.

Add a tsp of crushed thyme to the mixture. Fresh Thyme is good too – just know that the ratio of usage is 2 to 1 fresh herbs to dried. Add salt and pepper and pour the mixture over 2-3 filets of cod. If you’re so inclined, you can chiffonade some basil leaves and put on the fish. Cod (not black cod) is a very affordable fish.

Cover and put in the fridge for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium/high heat and even though the pan is non-stick, spray sparingly with cooking spray.

Add fish and grill 4-6 minutes per side depending on thickness.

A few hints for perfect preparation without neighbor aggravation:

1. Open your windows to create a cross draft. If you only have windows on one side (like in my apartment) open your door. The fish will smoke up and this will keep you from setting off the smoke detector in your apartment/house.

2. Use cod or tilapia or sea bass or any white flaky fish when indoor grilling. These are not stinky fishes. DO NOT grill salmon indoors as the scent will stay in your home for days afterwards.

3. If you’re in an apartment, you might want to close the doors to any adjoining rooms while indoor grilling – while cod is not a fishy-fish, the ‘grill scent’ will permeate towels or bedding.

For one Delta Flight Attendant, no juice in the service cart evoked the inner thespian. For me the inevitable end of summer has be spiraling to despair. It’s all about how you recover and react to these tragedies. I will buck up and bravely face life without an outdoor grill.  You can be dramatic about it but sometimes you just have to improvise.