Snacks

Herby, scallion & leek pancakes made with chickpea flour


Story 4 in Food & Fiction


My sketchers were mostly white, a little dusty from the walk. I was now standing with the trees to my back. I peered into the field in front of me. There a large rock had anchored itself into the earth, breaking the horizon. I adjusted the stick resting on my shoulder, the contents in the bandana at the end bounced slightly. So far, this was the farthest I had traveled alone from home before. I watched for ticks on my socks as I moved through the tall grass, just how my Dad showed me. The amber bristles tried to paint my legs as I walked. They tickled past me in waves. I floated across the sea. Drifting steadily towards the island.

The rock was part concrete. It was a ruin? A shipwreck? I inspected the base and found old bits of newspaper stuck to the hardened mixture. I was curious at my discovery. I dropped my bundle, crushing the saltine crackers which were so preciously tucked into my knapsack. It was one of the few items I selected for my journey. I tried to read the bits of newspaper, trying to find clues or a date. It was unreadable and I moved on. There were little imprints of leaves hardened into the concrete. I spent what felt like hours tracing fossilized leaf veins with my finger tips. I loved my rock, it was my secret of unknown histories. I climbed on top of my ship and looked out at my grass ocean. It swayed gently, the waters were calm. I sat down and hugged my legs to my chest and sipped on a mini plastic bottled water I brought. I marooned myself.

After awhile I poked through my supplies and I sprinkled the crushed saltines in the grass for the birds. The last thing I packed was my journal. I stared at the cover. It was denim with a rhinestone butterfly. I opened the inside cover and read my own hand, it said "Do not read. Please." I obeyed my own rule and closed the journal. I tried to remember why I came out here by myself, why I wanted to run away. I had been angry, that is all. I could not remember anymore, all that mattered was my oasis. A silent place with something no one else found interesting. From my lookout I saw a car coming down the road that cut through the field. The car kicked up a cloud behind it. I jumped down and hid behind my rock... I did not want to expose my location. The car passed and my hideout was safe. I folded the journal back up into the bandana and tied it in a knot at the end of my stick, like I had seen in cartoons. I began to worry that sharing my saltine crackers with the birds was a mistake... a grave error in my operation. I knew there was more food back at the house... but should I return?

I looked back from where I had come, I could see my house from behind the trees. It's red brick peaking through the planted evergreens.  I wasn't far away from my home after all. I could come back to my oasis whenever in need. I headed back towards the tree harbor... to shallower grass waters of the back yard. I had not even been gone an hour.

Years later, long after the rock was hauled away, the field was leveled, homes were built, and I had moved away; I would think about that oasis. Some things, like that rock, just exist somewhere out-of-place. But really, they are exactly where they need to be.

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Recipe (Servers 2)

Chickpea Flour - 3/4 Cup

Baking powder - 1TB

Egg - 1

Butter - 4TB, melted

Milk - 2/3 Cup

Ground coriander - 1 tsp

Fresh Herbs - 1/3 cup - 1/2 cup, chopped. (I used dill, cilantro, and parsley)

Olive oil - 1TB

Leek - 1 - sliced into thin half rounds

Scallions - 3, sliced thin (using both the white & the green part)

Garlic - 2 cloves, minced

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chard - 1/2 a bundle (enough for a handful or two), chopped

Lemon juice - 1/2 a fresh lemon (scant 1TB)

Butter or coconut oil (of other fat/oil) to coat pan for cooking pancakes

Chop up  leeks, scallions, herbs, and garlic, then set aside. Trim and chop up the chard into slivers. Place in a bowl with the lemon juice and a tiny pinch of salt & drizzle of olive oil. Toss the chard and then place in the fridge to marinate while you make the rest.

Add the 1TB olive oil to a medium skillet on medium low heat. Let it get warm and them add the garlic, toss for a minute, then add the scallions & leeks. Cook, tossing occasionally, for several minutes to soften. Turn off the heat and then dump the mixture into a bowl. Set these cooked onions aside for now.

In a large bowl mix together the chickpea flour, baking powder, coriander, 1/2tsp of salt, and a 1/2tsp of pepper. Stir this together and then make a well in the center. Add the egg, milk, and melted butter. Combine well with a fork until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps. Add in the cooked scallion mixture and fresh chopped herbs. Combine well.

Heat a small amount of butter or other oil in the same medium skillet - just enough to coat the surface - over medium heat. Once warm, place a heaped 1/4 cup serving of batter into the skillet. Let it cook several minutes, until bubbles are coming up in the center of the pancake. Flip and then cook a few more minutes on the other side. Repeat this with the rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes warm with a generous handful of lemony chard piled on top. You can also serve with a dollop of high-quality sour cream or creme fraiche. This is completely optional. Next time I'd go without - but it makes the photos look nice! Makes two large servings.


Winter fresh rolls with edamame paste & chile carrots

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As I write I am listening to the mixed sound of soft thud & sharp pops that comes from the wintery mix beating down on the skylight above my head. Last night, I kept waking up in the early morning and doing a quick peak outside, hoping for snow, and disappointedly I would snuggle back into bed. I really wanted to see my dogs' paws and noses happily buried into the fluffy snow, I wanted to make oatmeal cookies and hot cocoa and I wanted to curl up by the fire and read fairy tales. Alas, the sleet and ice is here, snow will have to wait until next week. While a good portion of the country is under snow and ice right now, you think I'd have something like hearty warm soups, or a cassoulet, or perhaps a veggie packed shepherd's pie. Nope, I have for you spring rolls.... well, winter rolls. 

After Thanksgiving marathon eating and the patchwork of holiday parties and gatherings that come over these next 3 weeks... some lighter food is needed in between the decadence! Don't worry, the ample amount of ginger and the addition of spicy chile carrots make these fresh rolls satisfying on a winter's day. Unfortunately I did't get many in-process photos... winter's darkness creeps up on us quite quickly. So I'm providing some photos of-late via my iphone :). Don't worry, one of the next posts I have in mind will be extremely winter-appropriate and warming to boot. 

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*Also if you don't want to make these all at once, store the carrots & edamame past in separate container in the fridge and then just assemble to order. :)

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Winter rolls (Makes 15)

Spring roll wrappers - I got a packet of 15

Edamame - 16 ounce bag of frozen/shelled edamame

Scallions - 3 scallions, chopped

Light coconut milk - do not shake it - 1 can - use just the top 1/3 portion - the thick, white part

Garlic - 4 cloves - grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Ginger - 1-2 TB (depending on taste) I used closer to 2TB -grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Greens - a small handful or two of dark greens (I used baby kale)

Carrots - 1lb bag - peeled & julienned

Sesame oil - 1Tb

Rice vinegar - 3Tb

Soy sauce - 1Tb plus extra for dipping (I use tamari)

Mirin - 1-2 tsp

Sesame seeds - 1TB, I used black sesame seeds

Dried arbol chiles - chopped fine, plus a few extra seeds or substitute dried chile flakes

Salt - to taste

Hot water

* This would be extra yummy if you let the chili carrots sit in the fridge overnight, or a few hours, to get extra spicy, but it is an optional step.

Peel & julienne the carrots and place into a bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari, mirin, sesame seeds, & dried chile. Pour the sauce over the carrots and stir together with your hands, massaging in the sauce as you go. Set the carrots aside. 

Set on a medium pot of water over high heat to boil. Meanwhile chop up your scallions, grate or mince your garlic & ginger and add these into a blender or food processor. Once the water is boiling, dump in your bag of edamame. Let the edamame cook a few minutes until they are not longer frozen and they are soft and bright green. Drain the edamame really well and then add it to your blender or food processor. Add in the coconut milk to the edamame mixture and a good pinch of salt. Process the mixture until it is well combined and smooth, stopping and scraping as needed. Taste and adjust for salt. Dump the mixture into a bowl and set it aside with your carrots.

Heat up enough hot water to fill a large bowl halfway, so you can dip the rice papers in easily. Prepare a clean work surface for rolling your spring rolls and set out your rice wrappers, bowl for hot water, bowl of edamame paste with a spoon, greens, bowl of carrots, and a clean platter. Once the water is done heating, pour it into your prepared bowl. Now you are ready to assemble. Dip one of the rice wrapper into the bowl of water until it starts to "melt" and get really soft and translucent. Takes about 20 seconds or so (If the water if too hot to handle, throw in an ice cube or two). Pull the rice wrapper out and lay flat on your prepared surface. Smear on a spoonful or two of the edamame paste across the center of the rice wrapper... stopping and inch or so from the edges. Add in a little pinch of fresh greens and a small handful of carrots, all the while stopping about and inch from the edges. Fold in the side edges of the spring roll and then grab the end closet to you and fold it over the center ingredients, tucking and rolling it over on itself until it becomes a roll! Yay! Place on the clean platter and then repeat with the other 14 rice wrappers. Serve with a bowl of tamari for dipping.

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Asparagus fritters + a chive sauce

Fritters.

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Fritters have kind of reached that "cult favorite" status in the foodie world, along with things like hand pies. There seems to be at least one fritter recipe in new cook books and a constant stream of new fritter recipes online. And, why not? They are delicious and adaptable, you can pretty much make any vegetables into fritters. What is not to love? But really, I think we just have an obsession with things that are bite sized, it makes it all the more fun. Fritters are not something I frequently make. I really like fritters but they have never been a meal sort of thing for me. They are more finger foods in my mind, really good for bringing to potlucks. So it really surprised me when I found myself making these. These fritters, served on a bed of spring greens and drizzled with a yogurt, chive sauce makes a really delicious fritter meal. Fritter, happier. 

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Recipe (makes about 10 fritters)

Asparagus - 1 bunch, sliced into thin rounds

Young vidalia onions - 3 (replace with shallots or a sweet yellow onion instead), sliced

Lemon zest - from 1/2 a lemon

Lemon juice - 1 lemon

Whole wheat flour - 1 cup, generously heaped

Eggs - 3

Milk - about 2/3 cup depending on the amount of your onions

Chives - 1/2 a bunch, finely chopped

Yogurt - 2/3 cup plain whole milk or greek yogurt

Chervil - heaping 1/2tsp (dried)

Salt/pepper- to taste

Coconut oil - 2TB (ok to use olive oil but I prefer coconut oil at higher temperatures)

Spring greens - a few small handfuls

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Slice and chop up all your vegetables. In a large bowl beat together the milk and eggs. Then beat in the flour. The mixture should be a thin cake batter at this point. Stir in all your chopped up veggies (except the chives) until combined. Then add in the lemon zest and juice of 1/2 the lemon, stir until combine. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. 

Heat up a large skillet on high heat with 1Tb of the coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, scoop in desired amounts of the batter onto the skillet and let cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes. As needed, add more coconut oil to the pan. I could fit about 4 fritters in the skillet at once. While the fritters are cooking in a bowl stir together the yogurt, chives, remaining lemon juice, chervil, and salt/pepper. 

Once the fritters are cooked, serve them on a bed of spring greens drizzled with a generous amount of the chive sauce. Enjoy! Fritter, happier.

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