I really hate making mistakes. Not only because they sometimes wreak havoc (“What? The model of Stonehenge on stage was supposed to be 18 FEET high, not 18 inches???” or, “What? But I thought the BLUE was the ‘panic button,’ Mr. President!!!”), but also because they make me feel really knuckle-brained sometimes (“Um, HH, can you come pick me up? I’m kind of stranded out here in the woods with The Girls. I’ve locked my keys in the car. . . and it’s running.*”).
Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t have my share of doozies lurking around in my past (though at least mine aren’t as egregious as the Y2K fiasco, or 8-track tapes, or Julia Roberts in Mary Ryan, Steel Magnolias The Pelican Brief Stepmom anything except Pretty Woman). True, there were those three months I dated philandering Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants); but for the most part, my mistakes tend to the be the innocuous kind, such as dialing my friend Babe’s number when I meant to call the CFO instead (I may be great at remembering phone numbers, but I don’t always note to whom they are attached); or buying decaf instead of regular; or wearing stripes with paisley (which, as we all know, couldn’t possibly go together).
And then there’s the entire gamut of food mistakes.
Salt instead of sugar? Done it. Chocolate seized while melting? Been there. Pie crust with soggy bottom? Don’t ask. Noodles so al dente they could double as a gardening implement? You betcha. Usually, these mishaps don’t bother me too much. Especially when it comes to baking, I realize that the process is so mercurial that what works perfectly one day may turn out completely different the next, so I compensate by adding extra sweetener, reducing the amount of flour, substituting a different kind of nut, or doing whatever is required to appease the petulant confection.
When it comes to cooking, I’m less inclined to experiment. Yet that’s exactly what I did this past weekend, purely as a result of my own gastronomical gaffes.
You know how some women will work an entire outfit around a single accesory? For instance, they might spy a cute little fuschia-and-orange flowered scarf and then go out and purchase matching pumps, belt, handbag and turtleneck, just so they can wear that scarf to a dinner party on Saturday night. In the end, that little rectangular scrap of rayon costs $872.48. Well, I must confess, I am that woman when it comes to ingredients. Which brings me to. . . . The Mistake of the Miso.
Mistake Number One: On Sunday, I decided to construct a brunch menu based on some extra miso gravy in the fridge. Originally, I’d planned to serve the gravy with sweet potato fries for dinner on Saturday, only to discover that I’d grated the last potato as part of The Girls’ dinner the previous night. (“And we really did appreciate that, Mum. But don’t worry about the extra gravy–we’d be happy to help you out with that.”)
Having gravy but nothing to slather it on, my imagination went to work. Mashed potatoes and gravy at brunch? Excellent. But what to accompany it? I pulled out a recipe I’d been eyeing for Tempeh-White Bean sausage patties from Vegan with a Vengeance . I planned to finish off the plate with simple pancakes sans the typical fanfare (my usual recipe contains fruit and other extras, not necessary here). Everything, it appeared, was in order.
Mistake Number Two: Since the sausages were somewhat time-intensive, I started with those. Isa does caution that these are softer than typical processed sausages, but mine fell completely apart on the plate, looking something like shards of clay from an old planter that had fallen off the windowsill. Would the HH eat broken patties? They did smell heavenly, however, so I set any worries aside and kept them warm while I moved on to the pancakes.
Mistake Number Three: Ah, yes, bad things always come in threes, don’t they? Perhaps it was something in the air. Perhaps it’s finally time to fill that new eyeglass prescription. Whatever the reason, the pancakes were a disaster as well. As thin as the line between sexy and hooker; as flat as the line before you call a Code Blue; and altogether too chewy, though not quite enough to cross the line from springy over to rubbery. I knew these would not pass HH muster, as my Honey favors airy, light, cake-like pancakes. (“Mum, seriously, we can help you out with that! Just toss a couple our way. . . “).
These griddle cakes were, it occurred to me, much more akin to crepes than true pancakes (though, according to Epicurious, a crepe is “the French word for ‘pancake,'” which would suggest the only difference between the two is the language in which you mumble, “Please pass the syrup”). For many of us, however, crepes evoke a thinner, more flexible cake, suitable for enveloping a sweet or savory filling. It’s sort of like the distinction between a scone and a biscuit, I think; but to get the scoop on that one, you’ll have to read Johanna’s blog.)
So. I found myself with crepes. And decided to just go along with that.
Rectifying all the Mistakes in a Single Delectable Brunch: In the end, I decided to re-assign the basic elements of the meal, crumbling the sausages as if they were ground meat, and mixing in a few chopped veggies. I stuffed this mixture into the crepes, then smothered the whole shebang with miso gravy. The dish was accompanied by a tried-and-true dandelion salad.
The resultant meal was a bit more elaborate than I’d anticipated, perhaps, but truly memorable. The HH appeared to relish every mouthful, peppering the meal with an occasional interjection of “Very nice,” or “Very tasty,” somewhat like Anthony Hopkins in 84 Charing Cross Road. When he’d polished off the first crepe, he requested another, and thoroughly enjoyed that one, too.
I once read that “there are no mistakes in cooking, only new recipes.” I can only agree. And this new recipe is definitely a keeper–make no mistake about it.
Savory Filled Crepes
This dish makes a satisfying, filling brunch or light dinner. Vary the filling ingredients according to your own tastes–we didn’t have any mushrooms when I made this, but I think they’d be excellent in the filling, too.
“sausage” patties equivalent to about 5 patties, crumbled (I used the Tempeh-White Bean Sausages from Vegan with a Vengeance)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 rib celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
3/4 cups plain soymilk
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
3/4 cups whole or light spelt flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 recipe Miso Gravy (or gravy of your choice)
Make the filling: In a nonstick frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage mixture and vegetables, and saute until the onion is translucent, up to 10 minutes. Keep stirring the mixture so that the sausage crumbles and resembles ground meat. Once cooked, turn off heat, cover, and keep warm.
Make the crepes: Measure the milk into a glass measuring cup, then add the oil and ground flax; mix well.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the milk mixture and stir well to combine. (It will seem very watery; this is as it should be).
Over medium heat in a small nonstick frypan, pour about 1/3-1/2 cup (I used a soup ladle), just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (roll the pan around a bit if necessary for the batter to cover it evenly). Cook until lots of bubbles appear on the surface, 4-5 minutes, then flip and quickly cook the other side only until dry. Remove to a plate to keep warm. You should end up with 4 or 5 crepes.
Once all the crepes are made, divide the filling into four equal parts, and place a strip of filling across the middle of each crepe. Using the sides of the crepe on each side of the strip of filling, fold toward the centre and overlap to cover the filling. Turn over seam side down onto a platter or oven-safe plate. Pour warm gravy over top and serve. Makes 4 servings.
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*In reality, this actually happened to the HH and I had to go pick him up, but I switched our identities in the anecdote because I didn’t want to embarrass him by telling the real story on this blog.
WOCA Recap: Now that the (first) week of WOCA is over, I want to thank you all for your comments and encouragement. I can say that the week was not too bad (if by “not too bad” you mean “ripping-your-hair-out-frenzied-housecleaning-ricocheting-off-the-walls-like-a-whirling-dirvish-growling-at-your-dogs-like-a-pitt bull-staffie-cross-cravings-that-almost-felled-you-like-a-200-year-old-oak” not too bad. But I can now say I’ve gone (more than) a week eating only foods that are good for my body. I’m thinking of continuing, in fact, since I fear that even one bite of chocolate will send me into an instant replay of my previous bingeing. Rather than bore you all with my chocolate pangs, I’ll just try to soldier on and will mention only pertinent chocolate-related events or recipes, as they come up.
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