Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vegan Zucchini Pancakes and Green Tomato Chutney


Please don't think I'm complaining about my tomato plants this year because I did get a bunch of large, firm tomatoes.  However, it seems that while the plants were quick to set fruit, it took forever for the fruit to ripen on the vine.  And of course there were squirrels involved who took the opportunity to sample a few for themselves.  I got into the habit of picking the fruit when, by my best guess, it had reached it's full size but before it started to ripen and become squirrel fodder.  

Needless to say I ended up with quite a few green tomatoes on my hand, even after many had ripened on a sunny windowsill.  There are only so many fried green toms a person watching their pants size can indulge in.  I had to find another way to enjoy my green bounty and this green tomato chutney was the perfect answer.

I viewed several recipes and this one seemed representative of the species.  I liked that it wasn't a weird green color.  I added and subtracted ingredients to my hearts desire and came up with a sweet and spicy condiment that made a perfect accompaniment to my savory vegan zucchini pancakes.  Because tomatoes aren't the only thing going bananas in the veg garden! 

Yes, a zucchini or two every couple of days ain't bad.  I'd already done zucchini cake and Moroccan ratatouille but I really liked the sound of zuccihni  pancakes.  I went the vegan route, as some folks in my life right now are cutting out animal products and I don't want them to be alone on that band wagon.  

I started with a standard zucchini pancake, subbed the eggs with chia seeds, the milk with soy milk.  I also snuck some chickpea flour in there.  They turned out fabulous, the dairy and eggs aren't missed at all!  Topped with green tomato chutney they're a hearty breakfast or healthy light lunch and in between something to munch on while contemplating what else to make with my bumper crops.
green tomato chutney (adapted from here)

6 cups chopped green tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup minced red pepper
1/2 cup flame raisins
1/2 cup muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and cook for 1 to 2 hours or until liquid is absorbed and mixture is thick.  Cool before using.  Store in refrigerator for up to a week.  Makes about a pint of chutney.

vegan zucchini pancakes

2 medium zucchinis
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon fresh herbs
sea salt and black pepper to taste 
1/2 cup soy milk
oil for frying

Grate zucchini, place in strainer over a bowl.  Cover with a paper towel and weight the zucchini down with another bowl or similar heavy object.  Let sit for an hour, occasional pressing down on the weight to release moisture.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and set aside a cookie sheet.  Combine chia seeds with water and let sit until thick, about 5 minutes.  In a medium bowl whisk together chickpea flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, cumin, fresh herbs and salt and pepper.

In a large bowl whisk together chia mixture and milk.  Fold in flour mixture to combine.  Add zucchini mixture and mix well.

Heat oil in large skillet or flat grill on medium-high heat.  Measure 1/4 cup of batter for each zucchini pancake onto hot, oiled skillet; flatten with the back of spatula to about 4 inches.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes then flip and cook for 2 minutes more, or until pancakes are cooked through.  Transfer to cookie sheet and keep warm in oven.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.   Serve hot with a side of green tomato chutney.  Makes 8 pancakes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hungry Bird Bars

I've finally found a mascot for Almacucina and it's these Hungry Bird Bars, aka, sourdough granola bars, the Sourdough Surprise August challenge.  These bars will make you sore, loaded as they are with all things birds, and I, love like millet, sunflower seeds, raisins and nuts.

As treats go they are truly no guilt, it's all good, clean fun and healthy stuff.  They'll rev you up with energy but you won't get that sugar crash.  They are plenty sweet thanks to honey and dried fruits.  The walnuts, millet and sunflower seeds add crunch, the dates and raisins make them extra chewy and the starter holds everything together and adds a pleasant tangy background to it all.

Cut into 8 slices they are substantial, almost like a meal, and considering the main ingredient is oats I had no problem substituting one of these for breakfast on the run.  Cut into 16 bars they're equally  as good for that 3 PM office slump or that 7 o'clock after walk-before bedtime snack.  Just what the hungry bird ordered!
hungry bird bars

2 cups whole oats
1/2 cup millet
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
6 dates, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sourdough starter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a 9 inch square pan and set aside.    Soak raisins in 1 cup of hot water and in a separate bowl soak millet in 1/2 cup of hot water, each for about 15 minutes, then drain.

In a large bowl combine oats, drained millet, drained raisins, chopped walnuts, chopped dates and sunflower seeds.   In a small bowl whisk together honey and starter; pour over oat mixture and fold in until completely mixed.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before cutting.  Makes 16 servings.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fresh Pineapple Breakfast Cake

What was I thinking buying that whole pineapple?  I felt like I was eating it everyday and it just wasn't going anywhere.  It didn't help that I was the only one in the house trying to make it disappear.  Sure it was delicious,  extra sweet in fact, but how much pineapple can one person eat.

The only solution was cake.  Pineapple upside down cake came to mind, but that's a lot of work and way too sugary 'cause that pineapple was sweet enough.  I needed something easy and fast, something I could eat anytime of day, not just for dessert.

This Fresh Pineapple Breakfast Cake was the perfect fit.  I based it on this Berry Buckle and just left out some of the sugar (did I mention the pineapple was sweet), and added in some coconut.  Oh, so good!  Also subbed chickpea flour for almond flour which balanced the juicy fruit.  It was extremely yummy to the max!  The most perfect Sunday breakfast with a hot cup of Chia tea.  There's only one problem, would you believe I still have pineapple left over!

fresh pineapple breakfast cake

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour (or almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (or cinnamon or nutmeg)
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup cold cut-up butter (small pieces are best)
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh pineapple cut into bite sized chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour a 9X9 inch cake pan.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and sugar.  Cut in the cold butter pieces until the mixture is crumbly.

Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and combine with coconut, set aside.  Whisk together egg and milk and fold into  main mixture just until totally combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Top with pineapple and then top that with reserved coconut mixture.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake comes away from the sides and is a golden brown on top.  Serves 8.