Friday, April 23, 2010

Amaranth-kale griddle cakes

I recently bought whole amaranth for the first time. It is a small grain that reminds me a lot of quinoa. I ate some just as the whole grain, but I also saw this recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and wanted to try it out. Next time I will probably double the amount of kale I use, and I'll add more salt. Those changes are reflected in the recipe. This recipe was quite nice. The amaranth has a lot of texture, which is really nice and chewy in these cakes. And you know how I feel about kale. This is a perfect "breakfast-for-dinner" food. Not sweet like a lot of breakfast-for-dinners are but still good with maple syrup. Many different things could be subbed for the kale, or you can omit it altogether. I think peas or sweet potatoes would be particularly good.

Amaranth-kale griddle cakes
1 egg
1 cup chopped sauteed kale
1 cup cooked amaranth*
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp fresh thyme

Using a fork, beat egg slightly. Beat in kale. Stir in amaranth, salt, and pepper. Stir in flour and baking powder. Add almond milk and try to make the mixture into a stiff batter. You may need to add a bit more almond milk. Stir in the thyme.

Heat a nonstick crepe pan over medium until it is hot. Plop the amount of batter you want down on the pan. Cook, turning once or twice, until both sides are lightly browned. Serve plain or with maple syrup or yogurt or a giant serving of kale.

*Cook amaranth like quinoa: Cover in twice its volume of water, bring to a boil, and let simmer until grain is done, about 15 minutes. Drain if necessary. I think 1 cup dry amaranth probably gives about 2 1/2 cups cooked, but don't hold me to it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What I ate for dinner last night

This is just a quick meal I made with some stuff I had in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Since Jon has left and I will be out of town for a lot of the summer, I have been trying to eat through a lot of the food we've accumulated. I call it the freezer/pantry reduction diet. So this is what I had for dinner last night. The seasonings are Indian, but I don't know that the ingredients are particularly authentic. That didn't bother me, though. It was delicious over basmati rice. I tried to figure out a short, descriptive name for this but failed.

Indian-spiced chickpea, sweet potato, tofu skins, and kale stir-fry-ish thing

Vegetable oil for sauteing
1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp amchoor powder, optional
1/2 tsp kalonji, optional
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
4 oz tofu skins, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 bunch kale, washed, large stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop for about 45 seconds. (This can be slightly dangerous and is not advised for children or the shirtless.) Lower the heat to medium, add the cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the rest of the spices, the onion, and the sweet potato. Stir to coat vegetables with oil and spices. Pour about 1/4 cup water into skillet to deglaze and put the cover on to let the sweet potato steam. Check on it periodically, push it around a little, and add more water if the pan gets dry and the spices start to stick.

When the sweet potato is tender, add the tofu skins and chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add the kale and cover the pan to let it steam. Check after a couple minutes and push it around a little to help it wilt. When the kale has wilted, remove pan from heat and serve.

Chickpea-artichoke salad

Why yes, when I'm in my office, I do eat my lunch off of an old frisbee that a dog chewed on, decreasing its flyability but not affecting its plate-ishness.

This is a salad in the style of egg salad or tuna salad, not a green salad or even a lentil salad. And it is also the answer to a prayer. OK, maybe it's not that dramatic, but I've been looking for a good savory sandwich spread. Sandwiches are a cheap, easy lunch to throw together in the morning, but as a vegetarian, I often feel limited to peanut butter and jelly. While it's good once in a while, I find that I don't really like sweet lunches. Egg salad and pimento cheese are also good sandwich spreads, but they can be pretty heavy, and the calories add up quickly. (I don't count or try to limit my calories, but I also don't like to throw them around like they're nothing, and eating pimento cheese for lunch every day adds up.) I felt like chickpeas should be an integral part of my ideal sandwich spread, but I couldn't figure out what would go with them. Mashed up chickpeas and mayo just didn't sound appealing. Then this month's Vegetarian Times had the answer: Chunky chickpea-artichoke salad. It's made with jarred or canned artichoke hearts, and the artichoke texture really makes the whole mixture remind me of tuna salad. (I don't eat much tuna salad these days, so take it with a grain of salt.) I used chickpeas I had cooked because I think the texture would be too mushy using canned chickpeas.

I like to eat it on homemade pumpernickel bread with sprouts and/or lettuce. Relatedly, if anyone has a really good pumpernickel recipe for a bread machine, I'd love to try it. The one I'm using has a great flavor but is very short and dense. I know a high-rye bread is not going to rise like a wheat bread, but I'd like a little more rise without sacrificing flavor or too much texture. I tried adding more yeast and a little gluten, but it didn't do much good.
When I'm not eating my food off a frisbee, I sometimes use a paper towel from the bathroom.

I think I have found my lunch solution for the days when I don't have leftovers. Yippee!

Chickpea-artichoke salad
adapted from Vegetarian Times
This recipe is vegan if you use a vegan mayonnaise replacement.

1 16-oz jar artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 15-oz can)
1/4 cup chopped green onions, green and white parts, plus a little more of the green parts for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cornichons or other slightly sweet pickles
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (I omitted it because peppers are kind of expensive at the supermarket right now, but they'd probably be good)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay*
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Combine all ingredients (except green onion garnish) and pulse in food processor until desired texture has been reached. Serve like you would tuna salad. Garnish with remaining green parts of green onion if desired.

*I had never heard of Old Bay seasoning, so I just sprinkled various spices I thought would be good in: black pepper, marjoram, tarragon, dill, thyme, oregano. I plan on playing with the spices to vary the salad a little each time. I think a lot of different spices and spice combinations could be used to good effect. Next time I might try smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cumin.