Chick peas

I ate these with olive oil and salt.

AKA garbanzo beans. In full unadorned loveliness. The stuff of hummus. Where have you been all my life and why has it taken me so long to discover you? Available dried or canned. Excellent in soups, salads, as a side or a snack or in this case a snack that turns directly into another snack connected to another snack, and so on, until they're entirely gone and you go, "Well, I guess that was a meal, then, wudn'it?"

Recommendation: Beano™ before starting off. Wouldn't do to drive out your loved ones.

These were dried because I like watching dried things soak up water and because it gives me a chance to infuse them with salt while they're soaking. Sort of like Sea Monkeys. Except bigger. And not swimming. Then cooked, although already soft, they get even softer and yet another chance to infuse them with salt in case the first infusion was insufficiently salty. I cooked mine in a pressure cooker because I like to play with the thing and because it's fast. Get it up to pressure, let it go for a few minutes, cut the heat, and let the pressure subside. Pop it open and your face is filled with the aroma of chick pea. They're irresistible, just plain like this, but you can doll them up however you wish.  You could spend a lifetime experimenting with curries.


Karen put the idea in my head earlier today. These are made the same way as biscuits or a pie crust by rubbing cold butter into flour until the texture changes to floury fat or fatty flour, cannot decide really which it is, at any rate the ratio of fat to flour is controlled,

Baking powder is baking soda with its own powdered acid and corn starch to keep them separated. Here, today, both baking powder and baking soda are used for double rising action. A citric acid is included to activate the additional baking soda. Salt. Refined wheat flour is awful without salt.

I happened to have an apple sitting there. Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg go with apple. Half of a lime was within easy reach so that is the acid for the baking soda. My microwave has convection capability, so I set it at its highest which is 400℉ for 22 minutes.

I'm guessing here:

1 + ½ C flour mixed AP and Whole wheat
4 oz butter cut in
1 + ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Mixy mix mix

⅓ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk

Mix. Press into dough ball careful to stop working the dough and stop adding milk as soon flour is moistened, squeeze into cohesive ball,

Flatten out into a square. Cut diagonally. Separate wedges, these were baked disunited.  Bake.

Salmon salad

Salmon that the boss of a friend caught. (Got more. Yay!)

* hand-made mayonnaise
* pre-washed greens
* enough cilantro and basil to rival the pre-washed greens
* mirepoix with mushrooms added cooked in olive oil and steamed with white wine.

French fries

Seasoned with salt and Rosemary

and with three sauces, ketsup, garlic ginger mayonnaise, and stone-ground mustard.

Shrimp pineapple salad

+ homegrown tomatoes
+ mung bean sprouts
+ onion
+ flavored goat cheese
+ ginger/garlic mayonnaise
+ white bean paste
+ pan fried brioche bread

White bean sandwiches

You process any bean your little heart desires into a paste just as you can process garbanzo beans into hummus. Mexican cuisine is big on black beans flavored with lard in lieu of olive oil, and cumin instead of za'atar or sumac or whatever other Middle Eastern spice you manage to scrounge up at the spice market. 

This paste is made from a can of white beans. White beans because I carelessly opened a can by mistake last night when I was going for a can of chick peas.


Used ingredients that would go into a brioche:

* 1/2 Cup of milk
* 1 egg
* Tablespoon of Butter
^^^ warmed in microwave to 125℉, added 1/2 teaspoon yeast.  
* 1/2 teaspoon white sugar (yeast food)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* handful of wheat grains run through coffee grinder into powder
* AP flour by the tablespoon to form a dough

What to do.

Mix dough, divide into thirds. Divide each third into thirds and form into patties like you intend squat little pizzas. Press into floured board and cover with plastic. Cover that with kitchen towel.  Allow to rise. Fry till done. I like to keep a lid smaller than the pan so I can drizzle a small amount of water onto the lid and let it seep through the crack and steam the frying bread underneath. That way they're fried and slightly steamed simultaneously. Helps assure the insides of the bread is cooked.

Bean paste

* can of white beans
* processed with
* juice of 1/2 lime
* 1/4 Cup white wine
* any seasoning you have on hand.

Made mayonnaise again, just for this.

*goat cheese. Flavored goat cheese left over from the party. This stuff doesn't last. Goat cheese goes rank really fast. Therefore, it's something of a race to see if I can use it before it must be tossed.

Chocolate cheesecake, Ina Garten's Money Maker

Four out of four diners agree, this is the best cheesecake they've ever eaten and I'm genius for making it. One guest insisted I was lying by my answering that this was the first I ever made it. Ina Garten, the renowned Barefoot Contessa and quite the teacher offers her Hampton's Money Maker. Bless her. It's a blast to make. Use high quality bitter dark chocolate for the filling, and ordinary semi-sweet chocolate for the ganache. Supportive notes of espresso, vanilla, and touch of almond round out the flavor profile. Stiffened with three large eggs and a quarter cup of corn starch.

Instructions do not call for a bain Marie, so against better judgement I didn't use one. It cracked on the top but nobody cares because it's doused with ganache at the end anyway. That's what the water bath would be for, crack prevention. Water cannot get hotter than 212 ℉ or 200℉ in Denver which ensures a gentle immediate environment within a slightly hotter oven. The very light crust reminds diners of delicate brownies. The result is a light foamy cheesecake unlike the dense NY style that sits like peanut butter on the palate and like straight up butter at the back of the mouth. At some point about halfway through an overly thick slice of dense NY style cheesecake you realize you possess vestige gills that have become suddenly uncomfortably clogged. The stuffed diners all go, "Oh no, no, no, just a thin little slice for me." Knowing they can't possibly make it through a giant slice. I ignored them and cut thick pieces for everybody because I knew it to be foam and not just because I wanted to be rid of it, which I did. They each scarfed it uninhibitedly like animals even though it followed a very heavy and extensive meal. Guarding their plates like K-9s do. Licking their plates clean. Whimpering for more. OK, I might have made up that last part.

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. I added a trace of powdered clove for mysterious oomph.

For the filling:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee
1 3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
For the ganache:
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust:

Place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until combined. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the espresso and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

To make the filling:

Cream the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extracts and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door opened wide for 1 1/2 hours. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature, until completely cooled.

For the ganache:

Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Drizzle the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.

This cheesecake concluded a dinner party for a small group of friends.If you're interested, and who wouldn't be?  Here's a rather lengthy description of the rest of the dinner party with no photos.  

Chocolate smoothie

* Frozen banana

* Frozen pineapple

* Milk

* Vitamin and protein powder

* Cocoa powder

* I got out the hand-made ice cream but didn't use any. I used so much frozen pineapple, and since the banana was frozen, it was near totally frozen. Had to keep adding milk to make it thin enough to process in the blender and to suck up through a straw. That's why it's a smoothie and not a milk shake as I intended.

Chicken vegetable soup

* Chicken broth, hand-made

* Frozen roasted chicken bits from the chicken that produced the broth

* Frozen vegetables

* Sliced onion, crushed garlic

* Grocery store curry

* Fresh basil.

Hummus, flat bread

For the hummus:

*  Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) dried.  Canned beans can be used but I never tried them.  Soak overnight.  Cook in salted water.  Pressure cooker is fine and rapid. Garbanzo beans can be eaten raw but cooking them results in a smoother product.  I had no idea until I tried this just how good salted garbanzo beans are all by themselves.  I enhanced a bowl of cooked beans with olive oil, basil, and peppper, but frankly, it wasn't much of an improvement over straight salted cooked garbanzo beans.

* Tahini.  Tahini is like peanut butter made from sesame seeds.  In fact, peanut butter can be substituted.

*  Olive Oil

* Garlic, crushed and onion, chopped, salt and pepper to taste

* Lime juice.  I actually went outside, crossed the street and scored a sack of limes just to make this hummus.  I probably could have used vinegar but I didn't want that.  

* Process with some of the cooking or soaking water into a loose paste.  

For the flat bread.

* 1/2 Cup water

* 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

* 1 Cup shifted flour

* 1/8 teaspoon salt

* 1 teaspoon brown sugar (yeast food) 

Roll out into four exceedingly flat discs.  Cover and allow to rise.  Don't concern yourself with it rising.  It doesn't actually have to, just let the dough rest if you're in a hurry, it doesn't matter.  Fry for a few minutes and flip.  Weight down with a pot while it fries when it puffs up. Mine burned a little here and there but I don't care.

I recommend popping a few beano tablets before eating a pile of this stuff. 
They are beans, after all.  

This dish is indescribably delicious.  Therefore, allow me to describe it.  You can make it into whate ever you wish.  I went heavy on Ras el Hanout and ground sumac, which are two spices I picked up for experimental purposes. There are 1,000 different curries, you could spend the rest of your life experimenting with them.  My original idea was to add jalapeño peppers but I switched mid-stream. I still might add them to the remainder, just for some BANG! It goes well with cheese, nearly any herb, and toasted nuts. You can use it for dip, a snack, or make a meal of it. The fiber quotient is off the charts.

Couscous salad with chicken, homemade broth and snow peas

Neglected to photograph the couscous before it was cooked. It looks like whole grain, but it's actually pasta bits, like spaghetti chopped into rice, that has been precooked. You can get it from the bins at Whole Foods, The Vitamin Cottage, places like that, or in boxes at the grocery store that come with *gasp* flavor packets.

 It's prepared by mixing it with a hot liquid, any hot liquid, and allowing it to soak covered for 10 minutes. The ratio of liquid to couscous grains varies wildly. It all depends on how wet you want the final dish. 1 to 1 liquid to couscous results in a dry and fluffy product, 2 to 1 liquid couscous results in exceedingly wet product.  By any reasonable definition, this must be considered a fast food.

I'm aiming for dry and fluffy.

* Decided on home-made chicken broth instead of water.  The chicken broth is in its gelatinous aspic form which is a sign of incredibly wholesome broth, a meal unto itself, actually.  Everything else is, er, gravy.
* Frozen chicken bits from the roasted chickens that produced the broth
* Snow peas that have lasted longer than I ever expected. They're rather old
* Garlic
* Olive oil, which is weird because I already discarded chicken schmaltz which is excellent itself. Sometimes I don't understand myself.
* Parmigiano Reggiano, a boat load of basil and cilantro, lettuce.
* Cumin and salt and pepper.

I sauteed the garlic in olive oil.  While I was at it I tossed in the snow peas and the frozen chicken bits. 
Before the garlic burned I covered it and poured in a few tablespoons of white wine, right on top of the lid, which is smaller than the saute pan so it fell between the edges and created steam underneath finishing off the snow peas and preventing the garlic from burning.  If you saw this in action, you'd be impressed with the breezy mad skillz displayed. It only cooks for a minute.  Now, do you see what I did here?  I could have done this garlic burn prevention, snow pea finishing, chicken bit warming with water or with some of the heated broth, but instead, I chose to use wine.  How come? Because wine can substitute for the acid portion of a salad dressing.  Acid + oil.  The olive oil is already in the mix.  Rice vinegar, saki, merin, grapefruit juice,  lemon juice, all would have worked to do the same thing.   Perks right up the final dish which is a bit base (alkaline) without it.  

Pour over the couscous granules.

Cover for 10 minutes

Rip up the herbs, grate the cheese

Mix it all together.  Fluff it up. 

Voilà!  You're a genius.  

Roasted chicken soup

Soup with stuff piled up out of the bowl with a little broth on the bottom.

Free-range chickens picked up at Whole Foods. They  looked kind of scrawny so I got two.  Brined for a few hours, didn't make a noticeable difference. Roasted in oven bags. The dark meat was perfect, the white meat was over cooked, which was fine with me. Picked the carcasses and froze the bits separately so they didn't form one huge frozen chicken clump, then put in freezer bags.

Broke the large bones with pliers to expose the marrow. Cooked out every last molecule of chickeny goodness in a pressure cooker for an hour and a half in two quarts of water. No vegetables, no herbs, no salt, no pepper, no nuthin'. Strained and chilled the broth. Removed the layer of fat. Chicken gelatin, aspic,  remained.  

*  chicken broth + water
*  two small waxy potatoes
*  handful of chicken bits
*  onion
*  crushed and diced garlic
*  few tablespoons of pre-cooked brown rice
*  1 tablespoon miso
*  Aerogarden-grown basil, window-grown sage, store-bought cilantro, in quantity added as a veritable salad to the liquid at the end.
*  sour cream on a whim. 
*  sea salt to finish

Lox, heirloom tomato sandwich

I think this exemplifies the beauty of a simple well-made sandwich.

Once a friend's mother made this. We were in high school. I didn't like it but her's didn't have tomato. That was an impressive disconnect. The son was an archetypical Western cowboy but his mother was an elegant divorcée who served us elegant sandwiches in their elegant home. It didn't fit. 

The thing that makes this sandwich different is the tomato and the bread. It is an heirloom tomato and they taste different than regular grocery store tomatoes, and the bread is my own sourdough bread. 

This is what the crumb looks like.

 Norwegian lox, Happy Cow cream cheese. 

Pacific salmon, orange sauce

This is the Pacific salmon a friend gave me that his boss caught. Caught and killed. Killed and cleaned. Cleaned and deboned. Deboned and cut up into segments. Cut into segments and packaged. Packaged and passed around as the most splendid gifts. I'm going to miss this when it's gone. *sads* A large segment was cut into four slices. Covered with a dry rub made from

Powdered ginger
Dry mustard
Garlic powder
Ground coriander
Salt / Pepper

Then compressed in one of those bags with the air sucked out and left in the refrigerator all day.

The sauce was made with orange juice, lemon rind, juice of lemon, corn starch, touch of mustard and salt and whipped with immersion blender and heated. The immersion blender was on high and splashed a whole bunch of the sauce on the floor. Quite a mess, that.

Frozen pineapple chunks added on a whim. Basil from the AeroGarden.

The four salmon segments coated in the rub were steamed for about 7 minutes over one of those folding steamer things with flaps that fit to various sized pots. Checked, and steamed a few minutes more. (I prefer my salmon cooked all the way through, but just barely.)

Plus another Newcastle. That's the second one today and now I run the risk of turning into a sot.

Chicken miso soup

Pasta and homegrown tomatoes

Rape! Help. No, please, Mister. No! Help!
Rape Rape Rape Oh, nooooooooes.
Help! Help! Help!


Noooooo! Help! Oh, no. Please please. Noooooo


Stop! No don't do it! Rape! Rape1 Rape! Help!


Help me! Please! Please! Please! Noooooooo. Nooooooo!
Noooooooo. Nooooooooo. Please. Oh, noooooooooooes.
Help! Rape! Rape! Rape! Nooooooooooooes..

*twist, twisty-twist, pluck*

Help Help Help. Oh noooooooo!


All that up there, plus a couple of breakfast sausage discs and a handful of pine nuts toasted with the sausage. Olive oil and butter melted into a bowl. Ingredients tumbled together.

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