Friday, July 6, 2012

lessons in the kitchen, and some adventures with chickpea flour

Today I tried two new recipes, with a common ingredient of chickpea flour. It's popular in many middle eastern recipes, and makes a nutty, protein-rich addition to your arsenal of flours.

You might think that everything that comes out of my kitchen is near-perfect, delicious, and that the new recipes I try always work out. You should not think this. Only the lovely, delicious, near-perfect looking ones make it to the blog. The rest are dirty little secrets that stay between me, my stove, and my cats, who see me swearing and complaining when black smoke is billowing from the stove.

The only way to become a better cook, like any other skill, is to make mistakes, and learn from them. These are the rules I try to convey when I'm teaching cooking to kids, but they are equally applicable in your own kitchen.

1. Everything will not be perfect.
2. You will make many mistakes
3. And sometimes, the most hideous things are the most delicious.

There are many examples of this last point. Raw hamburger meat looks disgusting, but I hear that hamburgers are one of the most delicious foods on earth. Another example: I let some kindergarten kids mash up an avocado, and they were like a flock of seagulls, yelling and screaming about how GROSS it looked. Then they tried it, and it was TASTY! Finally, sometimes what you think is a horrible mistake looks disgusting, but tastes delicious: for example, this Mark Bittman recipe I tried today, for Easy Whole Grain Flatbread.

The first is mine, the second is a photo from his website of what it's supposed to look like.

It's hideous. It's burnt. I can't get it out of the pan.

But then I tasted it (the bit I managed to pry from the pan), and WOW! The mustard and cumin seeds I toasted first in the oil popped in my mouth, the outside was crispy, and the centre was creamy and custard-like. At least, on the side that wasn't burnt to a crisp.

Final lesson: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I definitely will be making this recipe again. But with a few modifications. And a closer eye on the oven.

Here's a recipe that did work (and looked beautiful to boot) - 101 Cookbooks Baked Sweet Potato Falafel. As Heidi says in her description, this is not your usual crispy, fried falafel. It's soft and light, and I ate them on top of a salad of mixed greens and cilantro. But here's an amazing sandwich I was imagining:

sweet potato falafel + whole wheat pita + hummus + avocado + cilantro + pickled cabbage + cucumbers

It's going on the "make me" list.

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