Americans sure do love fried foods, so I’m not quite sure why we haven’t jumped on the bean/legume fritters bandwagon. Clearly the rest of the world has a leg up on us: countries in the Middle East have their chickpea Falafel, Brazil has its black eyed pea acaraje, and both India and Burma have yellow split pea fritters.
If you’re a fan of yellow dal, then you can probably imagine how good hearty, spiced dal would be in fried appetizer form.
Soaked yellow split peas are processed until nearly smooth and then combined with garlic, onion, spices and fresh cilantro. Form the mixture into little discs or balls, and shallow fry them until golden and crispy. These might not qualify as health food, per se, but I’m guessing that these vegan treats are a whole lot better for you, and a whole lot tastier, than what’s coming out of the fryer at your local fast food chain.
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If you were to poke around my kitchen right now, you’d see a lot of jars and bottles containing all sorts of liquids and other curiosities. There’s the large jar of vinegar that’s steeping with orange peels (for a natural, orange-scented all-purpose cleaner), a small container of vodka with zested citron peel for a test batch of limoncello, and a giant bottle that holds my first, and possibly failed, attempt at making kombucha.
These endeavors aren’t for the inpatient or the overly tidy. Not only do I have to wait a week or two, but all of these experiments are taking up almost every horizontal surface of the kitchen.
So it sure is nice to throw a simple, healthy and, most importantly, quick meal to the mix. There’s nothing quite like immediate gratification.
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Pumpkin soup, pumpkin spice granola, and pumpkin smoothies are all year round staples around here. Every year around Thanksgiving I go on the typical food blogger pumpkin bender, but have the foresight to stockpile plenty of canned pumpkin in my pantry for the months ahead.
Yes, canned pumpkin. It’s a rare occasion when I actually buy a standard American pumpkin for cooking purposes. They always seem too big, too dangerous to cut, and it just doesn’t seem to meet my required effort to reward ratio.
I’m far more likely to cook with kabocha, often called Japanese pumpkin, a hard winter squash that’s available year round (around here anyways) and right-sized for smaller households, generally coming in at an average of 2-3 pounds. They also tend to be short and squat, which makes cutting them a little less dangerous than your average pumpkin cutting Russian-roulette.
Another bonus? You don’t even have to peel the skin. Hello time saver.
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With the exception of a great Asian food recipe round-up from Kevin at Closet Kitchen and a couple recipes here and there from some of my favorite food bloggers, it seems like Chinese New Year passed without much fanfare from the food blog community. I was too busy to really celebrate last weekend, which meant I missed out on nian gao, a sweet, sticky rice flour dessert that many eat for good luck in the coming year.
So when I saw this recipe for a sweet sticky rice cake dessert from Naomi Duguid’s cookbook, Burma, I thought it would be a relatively good substitute for the Chinese New Year favorite.
Although this Burmese rice cake is made with whole sticky rice, as opposed to sticky rice flour, both desserts are sweetened with palm (or brown sugar), which gives the cakes a nice, caramel quality and flavor. It also couldn’t be much simpler. Just toss a bunch of ingredients in a rice cooker (or saucepan), cook until the rice is done, press into a pan and sprinkle with coconut. Easy.
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