25 October 2011

Crackly Coffee Shortbread

My drip coffee ritual is now a common occurrence during the work week, thanks to a generous coworkers gifting of an electric burr grinder to the kitchen area. This also means that a dwindling bag of beans, not quite sufficient to brew a cup, has become something of an issue. I think I've got a solution to that, though. Adding to my long list of shortbread recipes is this one, a pleasantly crunchy, caffeine-spiked addition to any breakfast, snack, or tea time. The amount of beans I used was essentially a random guess that turned out to work quite well; the vanilla amount less so. The butter, sugar, vanilla, and coffee stage of the recipe smelled like heaven, but adding the flour muted the vanilla and baking it seems to have eradicated it completely. I'd recommend playing around with the vanilla amounts to try and preserve that flavor.
Crackly Coffee Shortbread
Makes ~12 cookies
1 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp roasted whole coffee beans, plus extra for garnish
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. If you don't cream them and instead just mix them, you will get a denser cookie. With a mortar and pestle, grind down the coffee beans to a size bigger than granulated sugar (if you like crunch) or finer (if you don't). Incorporate the coffee and vanilla into the mixing bowl. Add flour and mix until the dough goes back to being a dough, not a bunch of clumps of butter and flour. You may need to "knead" the dough a little by hand if mixing via spoon.

Take a portion of dough about the size of my thumb, or about 1/12th of the dough, and roll into a ball. Flatten between palms of hands and place on a baking sheet. Garnish each cookie with a bean or two (optional) and maybe a fancy design (also optional). Turn oven to 350 and while that is heating, place the cookies in the fridge (not optional in the slightest). After no less than 10 minutes in the fridge, and if the oven is heated, bake for 22 minutes or until the edges have taken a very light browning.

21 October 2011

Cookin By The Book

Doing something new - following a recipe. To the letter. Well, minus E's dislike of spicy things. We cooked some Baingan Bharta last night. A dish we originally ordered because, honestly, we were too immature to not order a dish that sounded like an XXX version of a sitcom that doesn't exist. A dish we were surprised to find looked like cat vomit, but tasted nothing of the sort. Not that I would know, but if cat vomit tasted as good as the dish we had you can't really blame cats for eating it. The original plan was to make ratatouille, like in the movie of the same, but the grocer only supplied giant eggplant so it wouldn't be as pleasing to the eye. Hence, cat vomit. Obviously.
The recipe involved cooking with yogurt, something we swore would never be done again. There have been some spectacular fails of meals involving that ingredient. But it seemed to work out fine; I think because we used plain yogurt, not greek, and we cooked it at a high temperature for ten minutes. The only modification we made to the recipe was removal of the jalapeno and the addition of some cayenne pepper. We used two small heirlooms, one red and one green, for the tomato portion. They barely colored the dish. It still looks like vomit. But quite tasty.

18 October 2011

Brussels Burgers

This past weekend I went on a quick climbing trip to Bishop; the climbing, weather, scenery, and company were all grand. The food... well, I guess I am spoiled. Bishop has enough coffee shops that I have a favorite one but the other meal options were very much not the urban fare to which I have become accustomed. There were many sandwiches and heavier foods, the veggie options being somewhat sparse. Far too lazy to cook the night I got back (hello burrito), I rectified matters the next night with what might be considered a veggie slam dunk. I've made bean burgers in the past, though the emphasis has always been on the beans. Not this time, though that did lead to issues.
A mostly-bean patty is easy; mashed beans stick together rather well. A patty which is half shredded veggies needs a little more coaxing. Even more so, in fact, than I could provide. I ended up with a few chicken nugget-sized patties but mostly got a hash of sorts. I would recommend either caving and using an egg for binding, upping the flax seed and water content, or trying something with more cornmeal and water. Possibly even using the liquid from the canned beans.
Brussels Burgers on Sweet Potato "Buns"
Makes maybe 10 patties (serves 3ish)
1 sweet potato
1 can garbonzo beans (15 oz, I think ~2 cups?)
~8 brussels sprouts (an equal volume to the beans)
2 shallots
4-6 button mushrooms
2 tbsp cornmeal + extra
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Slice the sweet potato into thin, circular pieces. Toss them in a small amount of olive oil and salt. Put the slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Coarsely chop the shallots and put them in a large frying pan over medium with a dash of oil. Shred/dice the brussels and add them to the pan after the shallot has softened with a splash of oil. Stir every minute or so, and dice the mushrooms. After the brussels have softened, add the diced mushrooms and sesame oil to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

This should take under 20 minutes; at the 20 minute mark, flip all the sweet potato slices over and put them back in the oven. Empty the beans into a bowl and mash them into a paste; add enough of the pan contents so that it is 50/50 beans/not beans. Add in the cornmeal, water, flax seed, soy sauce, pepper, and cumin; stir to evenly distribute everything.

You'll want to take out the sweet potatoes 10-15 minutes after you flip them (depending on thickness), so that might be during the next stage. Just shut off the oven and leave them in if it is.

Heat the large pan from before with a nice amount of oil over medium high. Put a layer of cornmeal on a plate and take slightly-larger-than-golfball bits out of the mixture, shape into patties, and coat with cornmeal. Cook them for about 5 minutes, flip them, and cook them for a few minutes longer (enough to make both sides brown and somewhat crispy).

Serve on potato buns with any extra brussels mixture as a side. It shouldn't need ketchup, but some people are weird.