Saturday, July 16, 2011

I love cucumbers

This is something that I forget almost every winter.  I love cucumbers.  I love the way they smell, I love the way they taste, I love their crunch and the fact that you would have to do something really bad to a cucumber to make it not naturally cool.  Something evil, like microwave it.

For however happy cucumbers make me, there is something else that makes me sad.  That thing is always the same: tomato seeds.  I don't know what it is about tomato seeds, but I find them utterly repulsive and everything about them makes me unhappy.  I hate cutting into a grape tomato to have the seeds squirt out and more than that, I hate slicing the core out of a "normal" tomato and finding it left behind a virtual colony of gross little seeds, encased in some gelatinous substance that then adheres them to the wall of the tomato I just want to dice.  There have been times that the sight has literally caused me to gag.

Fortunately for everyone, a cucumber and tomato salad cannot be beat and even I'll admit that.  Additionally, something wonderful happens to raw tomatoes when they marinate for 30 minutes or more in a "dressing" of sea salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.  It's almost as though the salt and lemon juice "cook" them a little.  My only complaint about this salad is the incredible amount of dressing left at the bottom of the bowl.

In case you haven't guessed, either by the salad or process of elimination, tonight's dinner was Chickpea Croquettes with Greek Salad Topping from Vegetarian Times: Quick and Healthy.  I've made this before, when it was originally featured in Veg. Times, but I don't remember being quite as impressed with it that time as I was tonight.

Since it was Friday and I was pretty proud of myself for making it all the way here again, I decided there was nothing wrong with a little cooking partner.  Meet Aperitif:

Malibu Pineapple Rum + Papaya Nectar + Lime Perrier

I don't know if I've only used this bag of chickpea flour for this recipe and nothing else (and therefore it has been sitting, bored and cold in the refrigerator, for a year) or if I've managed to sneak it into something else, but I have to say - I'm completely intrigued by chickpea flour.

What's even more awesome is that this stone-ground "good source of protein" has a recipe for hummus on the back which is created not by pureeing chickpeas in blender, but rather by combining this flour with water and a few other flavor elements.  I really want to try that when our current super-tasty Cava Mezze Roasted Garlic Hummus runs out.  Considering how great it is, that shouldn't take long.

I combined the hummus mix chickpea flour with cumin, salt, and chili powder, then whisked it until it was homogenous in color and not nearly as pretty as it is above.  In place of boring old water, I decided to mix it with vegetable broth for added flavor, so perhaps that was a contributor to my happiness with how it came out.

Add in some diced orange pepper for crunch and deception.  That's right - those little orange cubes are liars for two reasons.  One, they were supposed to be red, but red peppers are not having a happy season just yet.  More importantly, though, because the finished product was far more garlicky than I expected it to be, I kept expecting the crunchy texture to lead to the distinct realization that I'd bitten into a clove of garlic.  That was not true, though, as the sweetness of the pepper shone through after only an additional chomp.

One of the most rewarding parts of the evening was cooking up 8 of these suckers without setting off the fire alarm.  This may not sound like an achievement to you, but almost every time I "fry" something with spray oil on a skillet, I end up overjudging the heat I need on the burner, which results in me burning at least the surface of something (they're "blackened," like cajun-creole, ya know?) and generating enough smoke to set off the alarm.

That didn't happen tonight because I finally figured out that it's okay to a) cook with the exhaust hood running and b) lower the heat once the skillet it where it's supposed to be.  This results in more evenly (and quietly) cooked food.

When I was preparing to set the table and deliver our dinner to it, I turned to find Angst had camped out in "Roast" position in front of the fridge.  Bizarre little cat.  Turns out he was thirsty and knows that's where Mommy keeps the "special" (Brita) water.  Spoiled, I tell you.

Anyway, dinner was delightful, especially with the crunch and sweetness of the orange pepper to break the potential monotony of a pretty bland-looking meal.  Chickpeas in chickpea flour?  It doesn't exactly scream excitement.... but maybe it should.  After all, it is spiked with chili powder and cumin.

Speaking of spiked....

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