Check out my first board for Learnist, all about cooking the most delicious (not to mention the cheapest) part of the chicken: the legs!
Chickpea flour is one of those wonderous miracle flours. High in protein (6 grams per 1/4 cup serving) and fiber (5 grams per 1/4 cup serving), and relatively low in carbohydrates (18 grams per 1/4 cup serving, only 13 of which are effective, after you subtract the fiber), it's an ideal product for anyone avoiding gluten or refined carbohydrates.
Well, the latest stud on my culinary dance card is none other than chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour (the lattermost is not to be confused with graham flour, famously used in graham crackers). I first learned about it when my friend Andrew told me about a pizza crust he made with it. He said it was deliciously crisp and flavorful--not to mention tailored to accommodate several dietary restrictions.
My ongoing curiosity about chickpea flour was recently satisfied on a Sunday trip to Vik's Chaat in Berkeley, where I like the food, but I love the adjacent Indian grocery store, with its affordable bulk spices, unique teas, outrageously cheap and delicious raw nuts, and fabulous selection of paneer. At Vik's, an enormous two-pound bag of chickpea flour could be mine for a song (OK, for $3).
Chickpea flour is one of those wonderous miracle flours. High in protein (6 grams per 1/4 cup serving) and fiber (5 grams per 1/4 cup serving), and relatively low in carbohydrates (18 grams per 1/4 cup serving, only 13 of which are effective, after you subtract the fiber), it's an ideal product for anyone avoiding gluten or refined carbohydrates. It tastes nutty but light, and when cooked in a little bit of oil, become outrageously crispy on the exterior while maintaining a lovely tenderness on the inside.
After much research and several flops (some of my attempts to make this literally flopped, and not in a good way) I have nailed what I believe is the most perfect chickpea flour flatbread around. It's somewhere between naan and a dosa or crepe. Serve it with curry, soup, creamy greek yogurt for dipping, or eat it on its own. I promise, you, too, will be hooked.
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan) $3 for 16 oz.
- pinch of salt Pantry
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped Optional
- pinch red chile pepper flakes Optional
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil Pantry
Recipe Serves 2
- Sift the chickpea flour and salt together into a mixing bowl, using a sifter or a fine mesh strainer.
- Whisk in 1/3 of the water, to form a thick paste, making sure to eliminate all of the lumps.
- Whisk in the remainder of the water. The batter should look and feel like thin pancake batter.
- Stir in the cilantro and chile flakes, if using.
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat.
- Pour the batter into the pan, jiggling the pan a little bit if necessary, to help the batter spread.
- Cook the batter for 3-4 minutes, until it becomes firm, and the bottom turns golden brown and crisp.
- Carefully flip using the largest spatula you own, then cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, until it also becomes golden brown and crisp.
- Remove from the pan, cut into wedges, and serve.
Life is exceedingly good these days.
The sun is shining like crazy here in San Francisco, thanks to our requisite October Indian summer.
Rosh Hashanah came (deliciously) and went, and September ended with a bang: the very exciting news that Young & Hungry, was picked up for a second season! The writers get started next week, and I simply cannot wait!
(I guarantee that in the second season, Gabi Diamond will be using every last one of those kitchen utensils.)
To celebrate all this awesomeness (and, because I was hungry), I whipped up this delicious, gluten-free, non-fried, absolutely fabulous nacho dish. Healthy sweet potatoes (one of my all-time favorite ingredients) get sliced, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, and lightly salted.
After a quick trip to the oven, and a flip halfway through, they get clustered together, ready to be cheesed.
Then cheese, oven time and delicious toppings get added, and you have yourself a glorious grain-free, lower-carb, but still utterly decadent appetizer, snack, or even lunch.
I mean, look at that.
- 1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced into 1/8th-inch rounds $1
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
- pinch of salt Pantry
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese $3.50 for 8 ounces
- chopped onion, chopped cilantro, sliced black olives, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, or other desired toppings Optional
Recipe Serves 2
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the sweet potato rounds into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and use your hands to toss well, coating each round.
- Arrange the oiled sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet, ensuring there is space between each one. Use 2 baking sheets if necessary.
- Sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Bake the sweet potato rounds for 12-13 minutes, until they begin to brown lightly.
- Once they have begun to brown, flip the rounds and bake for another 9-11 minutes.
- Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven (but leave the oven on), flip the browned sweet potato rounds once again, and arrange in a cluster, so they are all touching (you may have to make 2 batches).
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the sweet potato rounds and return to the oven for another 5-6 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with desired toppings.
- Serve immediately.
Since the figs are baked whole, they turn jammy and sweet inside, and every bite of tender cake is met with a taste of that figgy goodness.
The first time I had Rosh Hashanah honey cake (and the next several therafter), I was not impressed. So often, it had a dry, crumbly texture, and a cloying aftertaste. This never seemed right to me, especially for a dessert intended to symbolize the sweetness of a new year.
This year, I have decided, our Rosh Hashanah dinner is going to be the most delicious yet. I have the sauce for my Jalapeño-Honey Chicken all ready to go, and my Olive Oil Challah dough has been prepared and needs only to be braided into a sweet, round loaf, and baked to golden-brown perfection. With a meal that good, there's no way I'm finishing things off with a crappy, dry cake, tradition or not.
I made this cake crazy moist with eggs, oil and a healthy dose of unsweetened applesauce. Just to make sure that every bite is rich and sweet and flavorful, I plopped fresh figs (Black Mission ones make for a dramatic presentation) into the cake batter (I left the stems in for a little extra drama).
Finally, I topped the whole thing with chopped almonds, which toast up gorgeously in the oven as the cake bakes.
Since the figs are baked whole, they turn jammy and sweet inside, and every bite of tender cake is met with a taste of that figgy goodness. This is a perfect end to any Fall meal, and would be amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside. That said, you could probably also get away with serving this with coffee and calling it breakfast.
However you serve it, if you're celebrating Rosh Hashanah tonight, I hope your new year is delicious and sweet and a little bit quirky--just like this cake.
- 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed Pantry
- 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, brought to room temperature $1.50
- 3 eggs $1.50 for 6
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (you can make it yourself with this recipe--just leave out the orange and cardamom) $2.50 for 12 ounces
- 3/4 cup brown sugar Pantry
- 3/4 cup honey Pantry
- 2 1/4 cups flour Pantry
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder Pantry
- 1/2 teasoon baking soda Pantry
- 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
- 2 tsp. cinnamon $1.50 for 1 ounce
- 12 fresh whole figs (any kind--I used Black Mission figs) $4
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds Optional
Recipe Serves 12
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper (trim with scissors as needed),, a little oil or use cooking spray.
- Using an electric mixer or a whisk, mix together the oil, eggs, applesauce, brown sugar and honey until well-incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Add the flour mixture and coffee to the wet mixture in the bowl.
- Mix gently, just until smooth.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and shake gently to even the top.
- Arrange the figs, bottom-side-down in the pan, making sure to distribute them evenly.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool to warm or room temperature and cut into squares, ensuring that each square has a fig in it.
One of the things I love most about Jewish holidays is the emphasis on special and wonderful food (though, to be fair, we make pretty much everything about special and wonderful food). Golden, warm challah, tender brisket, moist, delicious kugel--we're a people that likes to eat.
Next week (Wednesday evening, to be exact) marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (and the first of the High Holy Days). A classic dish on the Rosh Hashanah table is roast chicken, which, for me usually means my Third Date Chicken, or my Best Ever Roast Chicken Legs, but this year I want to shake it up a bit. Or, more precisely, spice it up a bit.
Jewish cooking is all about making meaning with food (just look at a Passover seder plate to see what I mean), so this year, I'm making meaning with chicken. Honey is a traditional food used on Rosh Hashanah, intended to symbolize the sweetness of a new year.
So, by that logic, honey blended with garlic and ripe, just-spicy-enough jalapeño chiles and brushed onto juicy (and affordable!) chicken legs, roasted until the meat is outrageously tender and the skin is sticky-sweet and crisp (with just enough heat to keep it interesting) should symbolize a downright incredible year to come.
This chicken is crazy easy to make and it's even easier to double or triple the recipe. Though I prefer it hot out of the oven, it's delicious at room temperature, or even cold the next day. The jalapeño cooks down with the garlic and honey into a sticky almost-jam, glazing the chicken legs with spicy, garlicky sweetness, and turning them a gorgeous dark brown.
Serve the chicken with a roasted vegetable or two, homemade challah, and maybe my friend Tori Avey's Honey Apple Cake for dessert, and you're looking at a year (or, at the very least, a meal) that is simply unstoppable.
- 1 jalapeño, de-stemmed and chopped (remove the seeds if you are sensitive to heat) $0.25
- 1/4 cup honey Pantry
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped Pantry
- 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
- 2 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks) $6
Recipe Serves 2
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the jalapeño, honey, garlic and salt. Puree until mostly smooth (it's OK if there are a few small chunks of jalapeño left).
- Use paper towels to carefully dry all sides of the chicken.
- Use a pastry brush or a spoon to slather 2/3 of the honey-jalapeño mixture all over the chicken pieces (reserve 1/3 for later).
- Roast the chicken for 25 minutes, then brush or spoon on the remaining honey-jalapeño mixture and roast for another 14-17 minutes, until the chicken skin is golden-brown and crisp and the meat is cooked through.
- Let the chicken legs rest for 5 minutes, then serve hot.