Vegan or Vegetarian, Who gets to eat Mushroom Stuffed Egg White Crepes?

I've always been confused with what constitutes the diet of a "vegan" vs. a "vegetarian". Can a vegan eat egg products and does the vegetarian have to stay away from dairy? It's all so confusing that every time the subject comes up, I just have to go to the fridge and pull out a nice 8 oz. tenderloin of beef just to calm me down.

I should know all of the rules by now; after all, I have amongst my friends, a couple of vegetarians - well, wait one minute. One is a vegetarian and the other, a vegan. And you ask why  I get so confused? It's quite a feat to juggle menus, especially when you've got both at the dinner table, along with the meat eaters and a non fish eater thrown in just for the added excitement. I can't wait until the food sustainability advocate comes barging in wanting a seat at the table! I'm sorry folks, the restaurant's closed. I'll take 'walking on eggs' for 2,000, Alex.

Speaking of eggs, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, they are one of most versatile foods around and no fridge should be without a dozen or two and so easy to get. Just wait until the hens have left the hen house and like a fox, sneak in and raid the nest. In all seriousness however, they can conveniently be found in your neighborhood supermarket in sizes small to extra large.

A recent recipe that I came up with was enough to dazzle my vegetarian friend. Using egg whites, several varieties of mushrooms, a bit of coconut cream, and few herbs and spices was all that it took to come up with my mushroom stuffed egg white crepes. Served as an appetizer or a part of the main course, these crepes will certainly entertain the palates of vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Your shopping list for a party of 4 should include:

8 egg whites (from medium to large eggs)
1/2 cup of coconut cream
1/2 cup of vegetable stock or white rice wine
6 cups of several varieties of mushrooms (sliced or chopped)*
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup of finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of olive oil**
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray (vegetable)

*Suggestions for mushroom varieties can include baby Portabella, Chanterelles, Cep, Porcini,  Lobster mushrooms, and a variety of Asian mushrooms.

**If your diet permits, also use 2 tablespoons of butter. It will add a lot of flavor

Begin by preparing the egg white crepe mixture. In a bowl, add all the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the coconut cream, a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Heat an 8 inch frying pan over medium heat. Spray the cooking spray to cover the bottom the pan completely. Now, with a ladle, pour enough of the egg whites to thinly cover the bottom of the pan to about 1/8 inch thickness. Roll the pan around so that you get even thickness of the crepe, just as you would if making regular crepes. Watch the crepe so that it doesn't burn. You won't need to turn it over like a regular crepe as the egg whites will cook to the top. When all liquid egg whites have solidified, using a spatula, carefully remove it from the pan and place open on a plate. Before making the next crepe, spray the pan with more cooking spray. Repeat the process until approximately 8 crepes have been made.

Wipe the pan clean, you will be using it to make the crepe filling. When sauteing mushrooms, you don't want to over crowd them as they will tend to create too much moisture and you won't get that rich sauteed flavor. Slice and chop your mushrooms and add to a large bowl. Add all the other dry ingredients to the bowl (garlic, shallots, parsley, basil, tarragon) and thoroughly mix well. Do NOT add the salt and pepper yet. Separate the mushrooms into 4 portions.

Heat the frying pan over medium high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes before adding a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once olive oil is added, begin sauteing the first quarter of the mushrooms. Saute until they begin to brown. Remove mushrooms from the pan, add some more olive oil and saute the second batch. Continue the process until all mushrooms have been sauteed.

Return all the mushrooms to the pan over a medium heat and cook for about 1 minute. Now add the vegetable stock (or white rice wine) and stir to de-glaze the pan. Add the coconut cream and Dijon mustard and stir well. Reduce heat and add a couple of tablespoons of butter (if diet permits). Salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat. If you want, you can add a couple more tablespoons of coconut cream and stir.

To fill the crepes, lay out an open crepe on a dinner plate and add a couple nice tablespoons of mushrooms to the middle. Taking the end of the crepe closest to you, fold it over the mushrooms away from you, then tuck each side inward and continue to roll the crepe. Transfer to a dish and into a warm (not hot) oven until ready to serve. Continue doing this until all crepes are made.

Serve two to a portion, along with a side of vegetable of your choice. If diet preference permits, you may add a spoon of white cream sauce (like a Bechamel sauce) and sprinkle grated Gruyere over the top.

Who knew Guacamole could be so easy (and tasty)?

I must confess that I've never made Guacamole before. It has always been so convenient for others to make or bring to a party that it never really crossed my mind to do it myself; however, the other day there were two nice sized Avocados staring at me in the face on the kitchen counter, perfectly ripe, not too soft, not too hard. The mood struck me to prepare one of them sliced with a drizzle of my Dijon vinaigrette, along with a couple slices of crusty French bread. Stopping short of running the knife though the peeling, I decided, since I had nothing better to do, to come up with a recipe for Guacamole, my way. And so I ventured into uncharted territory and began to gather my ingredients, creating the recipe along the way. Here's what I came up with:

2 large Avocados (firm but ripe)
3 cloves of garlic (crushed and finely chopped)
1/2 large onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup of fresh finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of Pimientos
2 tablespoons of bottled sweet red chili pepper sauce
1 green onion (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut each Avocado in half, remove the pits, and carefully remove the meat from the shell with a spoon into a bowl. Set the shell halves aside.  Using a fork, mash the avocado meat and pour the lemon juice in,  stirring well so that ingredient is well incorporated. Now add the sweet chili sauce, green onion and parsley and stir. Set aside.

Using a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the chopped onion, garlic, and pimientos until onion is softened and translucent. This usually takes about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once cooled, add sauteed mixture to the avocado and mix thoroughly. Add a couple pinches of salt and pepper and taste for correct seasoning.

With a spoon, return the avocado mixture to the shells, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour. Serve 1/2 avocado per person along with chips and a spoon. You may just want to use the spoon alone. This recipe is absolutely delicious and works great as an appetizer or snack for the Sunday ball games. I think I finally made my first Guacamole - or at least my version of it.