Thursday, 30 September 2010

sheer beanius! part 2: Persian-inspired biscuits

These are loosely based on a persian sweet called Nan-e Nokhochi, which are usually just chickpea flour, oil, sugar and cardamom. These have a similar taste, but a different texture, and are oil-free. They make stupendously good hiking or biking treats.

2c cooked chickpeas
1/2 c soy or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs rosewater
3 tsp cardamom
dash salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar (pref brown) + stevia to taste
1 tbs arrowroot
1 and 1/3 cup chickpea flour

Blend chickpeas, milk, vanilla, and rosewater until you have a smooth paste. Empty into a bowl and add everything else. Mix. Using wet hands, take tablespoon-sized chunks and roll into balls. This makes 12. Place ball on a teflon cookie sheet (or a greased cookie sheet). Flatten. Cookies will not expand much. You can use more sugar if you don't have stevia (about 1/4 cup more should do it), but it will affect the structural integrity of the cookies, so you may want to make smaller ones and just bake them a little less long.

Bake at 200C for 15 mins. They should brown slightly. Cool. Eat.

Friday, 24 September 2010

sheer beanius! part 1: yer basic black beans

It is fall. Truth be told, Edinburgh has only two seasons: days getting longer, and days getting shorter. We are now officially in the "days getting shorter" one. Which means beans. Lots and lots of warm, comforty beans. Now, I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite legume. I love chickpeas. Mung beans are the cutest legume ever. And black beans are just so creamy and dramatic. I cook a lot of beans, in a lot of ways, but I have a few favorite things that I come back to over and over: ginger tomato dal, chana masala, white beans and seaweed.... and cuminiferous black beans, which is what I've done here. It's really simple, and much better the next day as leftovers. This is my standard thing to do to black beans, and the key is to use truly outrageous amounts of ginger and cumin, and to pre-toast the cumin and coriander, then grind them.

caramelize 3 chopped purple onions, crank up the heat, deglaze with a bit of red wine or veg broth, drop the heat again, then add:
3-4 tbs chopped ginger
2 tbs (heaping) cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbs coriander seeds, toasted and ground
lots of ancho chili powder
pinch cinnamon
tsp oregano
bit of freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, chopped (optional, and I left it out this time because I ate these beans with roasted pumpkin)

let that cook together for a bit, then add
3-4 c black beans with some of their cooking liquid (depending how liquidy you want this)
kernels from 1 ear of corn (or use frozen)
salt to taste
1 tbs cocoa powder

cook that down for a bit, then douse it with lime juice and serve it with piles of cilantro. I had it on baked pumpkin (japanese pumpkin. the pointy orange ones). I also had baked kale that I used smoked chili for, otherwise, I might have added a bit of smoked paprika to the beans.

I usually cook my own beans from dried, but canned will work just fine so long as you rinse them. In that case, you'll need to add water instead of the bean cooking liquid.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


For my friend M's birthday, we went berry picking. We'd emailed in advance, and been told that the place was open until 6, and there was lots of soft fruit in the fields. When we got there, it was closed for the season, and the girl at the counter said she'd never heard of the woman who'd sent us the detailed emails about opening hours and fruit. We were confused. Who was this mysterious woman who'd given us information? Why was she answering the fruit farm's email? The girl at the counter didn't have any answers, but since we'd come all that way on the bus, she said we could pick some apples if we wanted to. Why not? And so off we went to pick apples. And on the way to the apples, we found Jostaberries (a black currant-gooseberry hybrid). And this is the cake that came out of it. If you can't find jostaberries (I'd sure as hell never seen them before), use any tart berry, such as gooseberries.

Mystery berry farm birthday cake

Start with at least 3 cups of jostaberries
-put these in the oven at about 100C, in a single layer, and let them dry out a bit while you eat dinner... say about 30 mins - 1 hour. You should see them forming syrup, but they should still have their own shape.

After dinner, assemble the cake:

2 c ww pastry flour
1/3 c cocoa
2 tbs carob
2 tbs cornflour (north america)/ maizemeal (uk)
1 tbs baking powder
1 and 1/2 c sugar (I used a mix of white and brown)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom

mix all of these together

1 tetra pack of firm silken tofu
1/2 cup pear puree
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 vanilla bean

blend all of these together. if you don't have a supa-blender, use vanilla extract, or scrape the seeds out of the bean and use those.

Remove berries from oven, and heat the oven up to 190C
Oil and flour a 9 inch cake pan.

Stir 2 tbs of sweet vinegar into the cake batter (I used blackcurrant vinegar), or 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar if you don't have blackcurrant or some other sweet vinegar hanging around. You can also just skip the vinegar, but the cake will be a bit denser.

Spread half the cake batter into the pan, then the jostaberries, then the rest of the batter. You can't really stir the berries into the batter because they are too delicate after the baking and will explode. Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar, and bake for 55 minutes (check after 45). Allow to cool for 10 mins, take out the pan carefully, and serve with chocolate sauce and a drizzle of blackcurrant vinegar. Carob vincotto would also be nice.

....and in case you haven't guessed. Berry season is totally over. I saved this post for a week when I was too busy to actually post. Haahahahahahaha! I'm sure frozen berries will work just fine.

music: Happy Birthday, sung with enough enthusiasm to make up for my lack of skill (duh)