We continue the struggle to get enough protein with a primarily vegetarian diet.
I found a recipe here for lentil meatballs http://www.theppk.com/2011/03/spaghetti-nos-with-mini-lentil-meatballs/ and modified it a bit. It's not very different from falafel except the tomato paste and yeast give it a meatier taste.
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp bread flour
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1 egg (this and the cheese make it non-vegan)
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flax meal
(Without thinking, I measured 1 1/2 cup dried lentils and now we have enough cooked lentils for a week.)
Chop and dump everything from part A into a blender and mix it up. I probably went overboard and got pure paste. I would have preferred a bit more texture. Take the results and mix in Part B to make a dough. Add more breadcrumbs until the dough is dry enough to handle.
Make a few dozen little balls and fry them enough to get a crust and then bake for about 20 minutes.
They can get dry so serve in a sauce
I've made beer about ten times. Only one of the batches was what I would call good. And unlike years ago, there is so much good craft beer available now, it's no longer practical for me to homebrew. Besides, I don't need the calories.
I made wine once (once on purpose, a few times by accident) and it wasn't good. Not bad, but not good.
The next step is to home distill, which I've done successfully once. The contraption was quite a sight, as well as a quite a fire hazard. After weeks of prep and hours of work, I got about an ounce of rather harsh, but genuine moonshine.
Thinking of the cheapest and easiest way of doing some kind of DIY booze, I decided to try infusing vodka.
My choice of infusor (as opposed to infusee) was chai tea. Of all the gimmicks and trends with booze generally and infused vodka specifically, I hadn't seen chai tea - infused vodka. So I got some cheap stuff and dumped in a bunch of chai tea (the real stuff with whole cloves and cardamoms, etc.). The result was very smooth but not that tasty. Something in the mix (I think the cinnamon sticks) helped mellow the bite and there was no heat from the alcohol. But I'm not a fan of the flavor of cinnamon outside of apple pie, and something else in the mix gave the flavor an astringent quality. The problem with chai is that there are so many ingredients I couldn't identify the good bits from the bad.
The next step was to do batches with individual ingredients from the chai so that i only used the subset of ingredients that contributed positively.
Vodka worked OK but then I learned/realized that vodka (the cheap stuff, anyway) was essentially industrial ethanol mixed about 50/50 with water. I can buy grain alcohol (chemically the same as the stuff Brazilians use to fuel their cars) for about $10 for a half gallon.
I decided to infuse small amounts of grain alcohol with cardamom, cloves, corriander. I took small bottles and poured in 1/4 cup of the grain alcohol and one teaspoon of the spices (whole, not ground).
I let them sit a few weeks and then tasted by filtering out the bits (with a coffee filter) and mixing the now-infused alcohol with water (1 part alcohol to 2 parts filtered water. I had tried 1:1 but the alcohol burned too much) making it about 30% abv by my estimation.
All came out slightly yellow, like urine in the bowl, basically.
- Cloves: Far too harsh and bitter. This was surely at least part of the problem with the original chai vodka
- Coriander: This was a bit of a lark since I did not expect it to be good, but it was the best of the bunch. A slight grassy taste but more complex than that. I would use this again, perhaps as bitters in a cocktail with other ingredients. It was pleasant by itself too - not sweet.
- Cardamom: Also harsh and similar to camphor. It tasted like cleaning solution. I had high hopes for this one since I think of the taste of cardamom to be an essential part of chai tea.
Every herb and spice release different flavor compounds depending whether they are soaked in water, oil, or alcohol - and some end up better than others. This is why vanilla extract is an alcohol solution while clove and orange extract are usually sold in oil form.
So I'll try more but keep coriander in mind as one to do again.
We've been doing a lot of family breakfasts at home lately and I've had a chance to perfect my pancake recipe. The oats make them very tender (I tried once using mostly oats and the pancakes were tender to the point of falling apart) and this recipe uses more baking powder and egg than most other pancake recipes I've seen. The powder make the pancakes lighter and the extra eggs help hold the oats together.
These are also sweeter than other pancakes.
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp oil
whisk and fry in 1/4 cup dollops. Makes about 10 light, smallish pancakes, enough for 2 adults.
mix 4 parts plain yogurt with 1 part honey
(this is super easy and a great general sweet topping)
and /or Peach Tarragon Compote:
(great if you have old, bruised, overripe peaches. The tarragon is subtle and makes the peach flavor more complex)
Rub off the peach skin (as much as is practical. You can leave the skin on if you want or are lazy) and dice it
1 tsp or so of dried tarragon (it has a slightly anise/fennel aroma but won't make your food taste like licorice, which anise and fennel can)
Put it all in a small lidded pan and heat over low for 15 minutes or so. The peaches will soften and release a lot of liquid.
Add a tablespoon of sugar and stir it in until the sugar is dissolved
So much information on pizza delivery. Stories, trivia, advice...
Did you know:
"Pizza delivery is considered a hazardous job by the US government. They are third most likely to be murdered on the job, right after police officer and taxi driver."
The stat is not cited, but I believe it.
This is interesting both because of the novel method of showing a recipe via video and because the recipe is for a cake made of beets.
We had good luck making a chocolate cake using chick peas instead of flour+oil and this cake looks similar.
Anthony Bourdain answers questions from Reddit.
His answers remind me why he's popular and why I like him: he's very thoughtful and communicates clearly. The subject matter he discusses is interesting as well, but the main reason I like to hear him speak is that he thinks things through and describes his thoughts effectively.
La Cucina di Kat has a post about making potato chips in the microwave.
The idea seemed implausible since microwaves tend to make crispy things (e.g. toast, pizza crust) stiff, not the other way around. But I tried it and it totally works, the chips are very crispy and light. One potato made about 40 chips (sliced with a mandolin) and I had to do it in 2 batches since that's all that fits without overlapping the chips. It's a little time-consuming, maybe 20 minutes (slicing + 7 minutes each for 2 batches from one potato) but makes a decent snack and it uses almost no oil.
John sent me this link:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/11/video-pho-vs-faux.html which includes this video.
I love me some phớ - especially when the weather gets cold. Nothing beats it.
#1 Baked Falummus / Humafel
I tried making hummus. We had a bunch of dried garbanzos that I soaked overnight. We didn't have tahini so I used sesame oil. I tried pureeing them but they stayed pretty chunky. I blamed that on the oil/tahini switcheroo but realized that you're supposed to use cooked garbanzos. So I put the quart or so of raw hummus in the microwave but it cooked very unevenly, so it went into the oven on low heat. As the garbanzos cooked they absorbed all the moisture so I added a little olive oil and a 1/4 cup or so of water and stirred it in. I let it bake at 250° for a few hours and then tasted it. It needed a little oomph so I added a bit of sriracha. The flavor is good, both taste and texture is halfway between those of falafel and hummus. I've been eating it like peanut butter, spread thick on toast.
#2 Homebrewed Belgian Cider
I had a gallon of local cider. When I was a kid we would let the cider ferment in the plastic jug. That stuff was delicious and had a great effervescence. But that was possible only because the cider was unpasteurized and had wild yeast. It's hard to find that stuff now and my cider was pasteurized. I added the dredge from three different bottles of Belgian-style ales (including Duvel) hoping that some of the yeast was still viable. The airlock cap went on and I waited. It was a few days before I saw the first bubble but then the yeast went to town over the course of a few weeks. I finally bottled it today and tasted it. I was pretty careful about sterilization and I don't think any mold got in, but I think I let it go a little too long, and some of the alcohol had turned to vinegar. But all the sugar had been consumed. The flavor is very similar to kambucha. I don't taste alcohol in it, but there must be a good amount given how sweet the cider was and only a little vinegar taste.
Andrew Zimmern has a show where he eats weird things. He was in Bolivia and learned an old technique of preserving potatoes by freeze-drying them outside. Soon after harvest, the nights are below freezing and the days are above, so simply leaving potatoes on the ground means the water in the potatoes bursts the cell walls as it expands as ice at night. Then during the day the water drips or evaporates away. After a few days of this the skins are removed and the process is repeated a few more days. I've been replicating this with three russet potatoes: go in the freezer at night and thaw during the day. The surprise is how much water is in these potatoes. i was aware that potatoes are in fact mostly water, but to see how much that is was striking. They currently have the texture of hard-boiled eggs. You can roll them in your hand and they are quite pliant. I have no idea what I will do with them.
#4 Infused Whiskey
I sometimes put a cinnamon stick in the French press when making coffee, giving just a bit of spice to the flavor. One day I was making Manhattans and instead of bitters I dropped one of the used cinnamon sticks in the glass. The flavor was quite nice and I even got a bit of the coffee flavor from the stick in the drink.
There are lots of infused vodkas but I never see infused whiskey. I suppose tat since whiskey already has a flavor it doesn't need any infusion. But my cinnamon experiment was a success so i went further. I took some $15 Canadian rye in a decanter and added whole spices - ones often used in chai: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and cardamom pods. After just a day the liquor was noticeably fragrant. After a few days the flavor was obvious. The cardamom in particular had exuded a strong flavor. I had made, in a way, pre-bittered whiskey. The cardamom taste was a bit too intense actually. It reminded me of camphor. Next time I'll go with more cloves and cinnamon.