Autumn mushroom crepes.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2011
If there was a culinary disadvantage to be named whilst growing up in an almost mono-seasoned (you could optimistically consider wet and wetter to be two different seasons coming with the monsoons) equatorial climate, it would be that you hardly have the distinct seasonal food groups that come with a Nordic climate. Coconuts and bananas for example, seemed always in season when I was young. So now when the leaves on the trees in Sweden are turning from a vibrant green to shades of mellow gold and red in our garden, serving up some creamy mushroom crepes to an autumn themed meal felt just about right.
I wanted a rounded, full flavoured mushroom crepe that resounded with the deep taste of autumn mushrooms from the forest, so I used a variety of mushrooms that included porcini, oyster mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, portobello and chantarelle.
In the movie about iconic food guru Julia Child, a horrified reference was made to cookbook writers who don’t test cook their recipes. I made a mental note about that but didn’t quite take the reference seriously till recently when I tried out a chicken paté recipe that will certainly not make it into this blog. The paté turned out bland, with a texture of latex sponge despite that it sounded yummy when I read the recipe. And it occurred to me – hey – this must be a fill out recipe that the printers might have written themselves just because there was a white space leftover on a page somewhere in the cookbook? Of course the paté was saved, having eaten it with a lot of chilli sauce, but then again, if you like chilli sauce, then most anything will be saved by adding just that.
Anyway this is to say that the following seemingly simple recipe on how to make mushroom filled crepes, has been tested, several times over, and that I and our guests loved it. So, go ahead and try this if you like. Even with reasonable alterations, this should turn out a successful lunch or side dish, set within an autumn menu or dining theme.
Here’s what went into our version of mushroom filling:
2 medium sized yellow onions, diced
3 generous tablespoons butter, browned in the frying pan
ca. 500g of all sorts of autumn mushrooms
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
ca. 200 ml cream
1 tbsp flour
A mixture of half and half Swiss hard cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated to go on top of the crepes before baking
For the crepes, we used one that came out of one of my favourite Swedish cookbooks, Bonniers Kokbok with first print from the 1960s in Sweden:
500 ml milk
150 – 200 ml wheat flower
half tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
Chopped and sauteed separately from the mushrooms.
We started with melting the butter and sweating the onion till they turned caramelized and translucent. Then all mushrooms were added, seasoned and cooked till soft. The milk and flour came in thereafter and the stew was left on low heat till it had the desired consistency. As a last touch, the Oloroso sherry, the nutty taste of this sherry complements the taste of autumn forest in the mushrooms.
The onions are done when its raw and slightly acid scent turns soft and sweet.
Flour, just enough for thickening, into the mushroom stew.
Crepes – just about two parts milk to one part flour, plus an egg or two.
For the crepes, most of all, I believe patience is key to making crepes that needn’t be discarded. There is no science in this for us, we simply mixed the flour and the milk with a whisk and then poured the batter by spoonfuls into the frying pan, swirling the batter around to get as thin a crepe as possible without the skin breaking. We had a total of close to 20 medium sized crepes from ca. 500 ml of milk.
Mushroom crepe rolling is a lot less fuss and hassle than popiah rolling actually.
Once the crepes and mushroom stew is done, all that was left to do was to put them together, roll them neatly in an oven safe dish, topple the grated cheese on top and bake till the cheese melted.
We served this with an array of autumn roots such as beets, turnips, carrots and Jerusalem artichoke for its colours on a plate. Completely fun, and gorgeous to look at when serving.