Crêpes Florentine {Grain-Free}

Crepe CloseThis is a story about Paris.

In my early 20’s, I did some short-term non-profit work in Kenya.  I had an option of extending my layover in London for $20 for up to two weeks.  I jumped at the opportunity to do a little backpacking and fulfill a lifelong dream to visit Europe.  I took the Chunnel from London to Paris and couldn’t wait to fall in love with the City of Lights.

Except it was broad daylight and I was lost and carrying a 50lb pack with all of my worldly possessions in it.  After wandering and backtracking and asking directions from the disapproving locals, I found my hostel after an hour.  I nearly cried with relief.

The neighborhood was…sketchy.  Close to the Moulin Rouge, it had a fascinating mix of people, mostly tourists, drug addicts, and aggressively struggling artists.  I was terrified and charmed at once.

I checked into the hostel which matched the neighborhood.  It was filthy, but I was in Paris.  Paris is dirty, right?  Like every other big city in the world.  I paid a few extra bucks for bed linens, threw my stuff in my room, and took off to explore the city in the early summer light.

I found the subway with no problem this time.  I boarded and felt my heart leap as we came above ground and I had my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.  I might have gotten choked up seeing the great steel structure.  I had dreamed of Paris since I was a little girl.  And my dream was coming true.

I got off the subway at the nearest stop to the Eiffel Tower.  I made a beeline for it, overwhelmed with the grandness of it.  It was everything I dreamed it would be.

I spotted a man with a small crêpe stand, and ordered a Nutella crêpe. It was the most revolutionary thing I had ever eaten. Then I ordered a savory crêpe with spinach and ham and brie.  It was the second best thing I had ever eaten.  I took my crêpes and a bottle of water to the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower and laid back.  I watched people come and go, everyone full of laughter and early summer sparkle.  Then I grabbed another Nutella crêpe on my way back to the train.

It was 9:00pm and still light outside.  I made my way back to my hostel, suddenly feeling very vulnerable.  I held my head high, looked straight ahead, and expertly ignored the calls for attention and invitations to share cigarettes with French men.  I got to the hostel with a sigh of relief and headed up to my room.

I opened the door.  A tiny mouse scattered across the floor.  It was charming in an odd way. I mean, it was very Parisian, right?  I made my bed, took a shower, and headed downstairs to see what was happening in the bar/lounge.  I made some friends, shared a cheap bottle of wine, and then went back to my room to sleep.

Except I did not sleep.

I pulled my sheets back and there were…unwanted bed mates.  I wish I could say they were bedbugs, but they were much larger and horrifying.  I swatted them out of my bed (remember, I had just been in Africa so it was NBD), and pulled out my can of African bug repellent.  I opened the window to ventilate the room and tried to settle in.

My sleep was uneasy, to say the least. Noise and lights and music from the street drifted into my room and I felt like I was actually in the middle of the revelry. People on the fire escape outside my room were drinking and singing. It was too hot and poisonous to close the window, though.

I finally nodded off around 3:00, only to be woken up by a cat chasing a very large rat around my room.  They had both entered through my open window. I watched the cat catch the rat, incapacitated it, and then took his leave through the window.  Then it was just me and a slowly dying rat in my pest-infested hostel room at 6:30 am.

It was a sign.

I got up, showered again, packed all of my gear, and checked out.  I spent the morning searching for a decent place to stay, and in the process offended every Parisian ever with my questions and unintelligible French. All the good hostels had been booked well in advance.  I ate another fantastic crêpe by the Eiffel Tower and then booked an overnight train to Prague.  While I loved the tower and crêpes, I couldn’t leave Paris fast enough.

I’ve been back to Paris a few times since then.  Each experience was progressively better, but besides the food, art, and architecture, I never was able to surrender my heart to the city.

I still have a strong affinity for crêpes, though.  They’re hard to master, but I certainly try even with my food intolerances.  I gave this recipe a go, and I love the simplicity and versatility of it.  The crêpes themselves are simple, and so is the filling.  This particular crêpe lands somewhere between a Florentine and Lorraine, so I created a hybrid.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Crepe Big

Ingredients for Crêpes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon

Directions for Crêpes:

  1. Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender or magic bullet until smooth.
  2. Tap the batter on the counter to release some of the bubbles. (I’m too impatient to wait for them to settle on their own!)
  3. In a lightly greased sautee pan on medium low heat, pour batter into pan. Rotate the pan quickly to spread batter out before it cooks too much.  You want the crepe to be thin and even.
  4. Flip when crepe is firm and the batter is no longer shiny on top.  Once flipped, the crêpe will cook very quickly, (30 seconds).

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 1 slice of ham, cut into postage stamp sized pieces
  • 1 handful of raw spinach
  • 1 small slice of brie

Directions for Filling:

  1. Heat up ham in a skillet (I use the crepe skillet)
  2. Add the spinach and just wilt it a bit.  It should be warm but not slimy.
  3. Put filling in an open crepe, and top with brie.
  4. Crack a little fresh pepper over it, and if you have it, a garlic mustard aioli.
  5. Fold up like a burrito, leaving one end open.  Serve immediately.

CrepeFilled

This is street food at it’s finest.  It’s so yummy and easy.  I love this for breakfast, especially because you get your greens in.  You can make the crepes in advance and use them for sandwich wraps, or make it sweet and add a little honey and vanilla to the batter and stuff with hazelnut chocolate spread.  You could make them thicker and call it a pancake.  The options are endless!i

This is as  close to Paris as I ever want to be again.  Italy, on the other hand…

Ouî Ouî,
Carrie

 

 

Grilled Kohlrabi and Apple Salad

Kohlrabi Apple Salad 1

I get seriously bored with food.  Can you relate?

I have a few tricks for food boredom.

  • Feel defeated and drink wine instead of eating food.
  • Give up entirely and eat Thai noodles or salami for every meal.
  • Eat frozen peas by the handful while standing in front of the freezer.
  • Roam the produce aisle or hit up a farmer’s market for inspiration.
  • Buy a piece of produce I’ve never even heard of and figure out what to do with it.

I bought the kohlrabi on a whim out of a compete and utter lack of kitchen inspiration.  I’ve had it a few times before at restaurants and knew the basic taste (broccoli-ish but way better), and that it was full of cruciferous goodness.  I also love a bit of sweetness with my broccoli, so I went with apple. Add the earthy crunch of the hazelnuts, tangy creaminess of the goat cheese with some fresh chopped herbs and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to give it a kick?  It’s a complete dish that hits every single taste and texture.

Kohlrabi Grilling

I tried this dish raw. It’s okay.  But it’s a million times better with just a touch of warmth and coconut oil.  I used my grill pan over the stove but I think an actual grill would make it much tastier.

Also, under-cook the apples.  The crunch is fantastic and provides just the right texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bulb of kohlrabi, sliced 1/4 inch disks (I use a mandolin for this, but a sharp knife and some excellent skills would work, too.)
  • 1 medium apple, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp goat cheese crumbles
  • 1 Tbsp chopped hazelnuts
  • 3 leaves of chopped mint or basil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Coat sliced kohlrabi and apples in melted coconut oil.
  2. On a hot grill or grill pan, sear kohlrabi on both sides.  If you want a softer texture, sear until it turns translucent. I prefer it more cooked, but to each their own!
  3. Next, sear the apples. (If you have a grill or large grill pan, you can sear them at the same time with the kohlrabi.)  It should only take about 30 seconds on each side, but if you prefer soft apples, sear longer until they are translucent.
  4. Layer the apple and kohlrabi, alternating slice by slice.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
  5. Add goat cheese, hazelnuts, and herbs.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and eat immediately.

Kohlrabi Apple Salad 2

This does not refrigerate well, so you should definitely cook this to serve. Room temperature is fine, too.

So, there you have it.  My way to get out food boredom.  It worked this time, but who knows about next time?

Never a dull bite,
Carrie

 

 

Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

Photo of Zucchini Goat Cheese LasagnaHave you ever prepared a dinner that made everyone happy?

Yeah, no. Me either. I share my recipes with the internet, which has something for everyone, but not everyone likes the same thing.

This one comes close to pleasing ALL people of the internet, though. Maybe even the closest. Except for the ones who don’t like goat cheese, tomatoes, or zucchini. So, roughly 1% of the internet population. Okay, maybe more. But that’s the great thing about the internet. It’s full of amazing people with vast ideas and preferences.

You’ll notice in the picture how the lighting is less than ideal. The food isn’t beautifully plated or photographed. That’s because EVERY TIME I serve this to my friends or family, it is consumed too quickly to take the time to make it pretty. I love eating and serving food that looks good. But I love eating and serving food that tastes good even more. Plus, I would much rather eat my food while it’s hot than waste precious minutes getting the “perfect” shot.

This grain-free lasagna, utilizes creamy goat cheese, has a strong vegetable base and substantial protein punch. This is ideal for a cold winter evening, a hearty weekend lunch, and like a charm in the toaster oven if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart tomato sauce (Homemade is best but if not, be sure to buy organic and with NO SUGAR added.)
  • 
1/2 lb organic grass-fed ground beef or turkey, browned
  • 
12 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds (the mandolin is a wonderful and inexpensive invention which yields perfect results)
  • 
6 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 
4 oz parmesan, shredded
  • 
1-2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
fresh herbs, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a baking dish, coat sides and bottom with olive oil.
  2. Layer zucchini, meat, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, sauce, and cheeses.
  3. Repeat step 2 twice, then finish with parmesan on top.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until bubbling and brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork with Carrot Fennel Slaw

Photo of Pulled PorkNow, I have to tell you: I ate strictly paleo for a few years. I loved it, and felt great while eating lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and properly raised animal protein. I’ve added some select grains back into my diet. I know. WHY?  HOW?  It all started when I got pregnant. I was fairly sick for the first two trimesters, and very particular about what I ate for the third.  I had a hard time digesting veggies unless they were cooked to mush, and couldn’t tolerate many animal proteins.  As much as I wanted to eat mostly paleo, even tried to force myself to, my body and my baby did not agree. And since I believe it is super important to listen to my body, I complied.  I tried cutting out grains again after Echo was born and it had a negative impact on my milk supply.  So, as long as I’m the head milk-maker, I will continue with a small serving of sprouted grains or brown rice a day.

Now, I have to tell you something else: I am committed to eating properly-raised protein. Because of Echo’s food allergies, the typical diet of conventionally raised animals is problematic because it is full of grains. So, the animals eat the grains, I eat the animals, Echo drinks my milk, and then he has a reaction to the grains the animal ate. Crazy, right? This means I scour the weekly grocery ads for deals, and buy in bulk when I find a good price on meat at our local co-op or Whole Foods. I make deals with friends who raise their own chickens, and sometimes go a week or two without eating animal protein at all if it is too cost prohibitive. Because BUDGET.

During the days following my son’s birth, many people gifted us with food.  One of our favorites was pulled pork made by our friend, Gwyn.  She inspired me to make this simple crockpot-style meal. I lucked out and found pork shoulder for $2.49 a pound and made a huge batch. This meal is especially nice if it’s too hot to cook and you don’t have time to anyway because you’re too busy cuddling your new baby. It’s also wonderful on a cold day, or to share with friends over dinner and wine.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder:

  • 
3-5 lbs Pork Shoulder, trimmed of some fat
  • 1/4 cup of a dry spice rub (I made my own with whatever I had in my pantry: S&P, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, celery salt, cinnamon, parsley, tumeric, onion powder.)
  • 2 Tbsp Braggs Amino Acids (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Organic Black Strap Molasses or raw honey (optional)
  • 1 onion, sliced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Method for Pork Shoulder:

  1. Rub pork shoulder with amino acids, black strap molasses, and then spice mixture.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Wake up early and put the pork shoulder in the crockpot with apple cider vinegar and onion.
  4. Cook covered on low setting for 8 hours-10 hours.  Or longer.  This is really hard to mess up.
  5. Serve with slaw and impress everyone with your cooking skills.

Ingredients for Fennel Carrot Slaw:

  • 2 bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced (I recommend using a mandolin.)
  • 
2-3 carrots, shaved (I use a veggie peeler.)
  • chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 
1 tsp raw honey
  • Sea Salt and Pepper

Method for Slaw:

  1. Combine fennel, carrots and as much cilantro as you’d like in a bowl. I like LOTS of cilantro.
  2. Add vinegar, honey, S&P and mix thoroughly.
  3. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving to set.

My husband used Ezekiel tortillas as a conduit, but you can use lettuce or a sweet potato instead.  The sweet potato is especially delicious, and that’s what I used.  I also topped it with some goat cheese crumbles and it was heavenly.  You could use queso fresco or feta if you don’t like goat cheese, or avocado if you’re trying to avoid dairy altogether. This heats up great in a frying pan for leftovers, and a great filling for a quesadilla.