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.