My daughter was sick last week and I wanted to offer her a light meal that I hoped she would enjoy. I decided that crêpes were just what the doctor ordered (See my blog on crêpes). This way, I could get her and her siblings to eat a good amount of vegetables and fruit without any struggle.
I wanted to fill my savory crêpes with a creamy vegetable sauce and the dessert crêpes with strawberries. So, I purchased fresh organic strawberries and some organic porcini mushrooms from the greengrocer and started on meal preparation.
The batter took me no time to make and, while it was resting, I went to work on making the thick béchamel with mushrooms.
Traditionally, the béchamel sauce would be made first and the veggies added later. However, I am a lazy chef and I found that adding the vegetables into the roux not only speeded up the cooking process but saved me from having to clean an extra pan. Furthermore, the roux coated the vegetables and prevented lumps from forming. Win-win.
Channeling my inner Jacques Pépin (sorry Julia, but I switched loyalties when Jacques came on the cooking scene on KQED) I put together the following sauce.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: 12 servings or approximately 4 cups
thick mushroom béchamel
- 4 tablespoons butter (or oil)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 2/3 cup whole milk (or unsweetened soy milk), warmed for 1 minute in the microwave
- 1 pound mushrooms – button, portabella, porcini, crimini
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper (preferably white pepper) to taste
1.Using a glass measuring cup, pour out 1 2/3 cup of milk/soy milk and warm in the microwave for a minute.
2. Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic and start chopping the mushrooms into 1-inch pieces.
3. In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat.
4. Add the flour and garlic and whisk to moisten.
5. Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes until you smell a slightly nutty aroma. You just want to cook it until the flour loses its raw taste. Do not let it brown otherwise, the flour will lose its thickening properties.
6. Add the chopped mushrooms and the salt and stir to coat. Cook for 3 -4 minutes, until mushrooms soften and begin to moisten the roux.
7. Add the nutmeg and pepper.
8. Remove the pan from the fire and add 1/4 cup of the warmed milk and whisk well to remove lumps. Slowly add the rest of the milk while continuing to whisk to incorporate it into the roux mixture.
9. Place the saucepan back on the burner and cook the sauce over low/medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble.
10. The sauce will begin to thicken as it comes up to a boil but keep cooking the sauce for the full 10 minutes as it needs to reach its maximum thickness.
11. Once it has thickened, let it cool slightly and use it for filling the crêpes.
12. Any leftover mushroom béchamel can be used in a frittata, a soufflé, or before you can say, “Le voilà”, converted to a creamy mushroom soup with the addition of milk.
13. If I were making croquettes, I would only add 1 1/4 cup of milk to the sauce to ensure that the béchamel was of adequate consistency for binding and holding its shape when cooled.
Note: The secrets to success are:
- Not to brown the flour, just it cook enough to get the raw taste out;
- Warm the milk beforehand, don’t add cold milk to the hot pan;
- Move the pan off the hot burner before adding milk;
- Add only a few tablespoons of milk at first to the flour mixture to ensure that there are no lumps;
- Add the rest of the milk slowly while mixing well;
- Place the pan back on the low burner and cook SLOWLY- be patient – and mix constantly until the sauce boils and thickens.
Written by Anju Kapur of Anju’s Table. All content and images on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without my permission. Should you wish to share this recipe on your site, please add a link to this post as the source.