Monday, June 30, 2014

Finger-Licking Crispy Chickpeas with Lime and Sumac

I have tried crispy chickpeas before but have yet to find the ultimate version to please the kids and me and my husband. The most recent attempt was crispy chickpeas with honey and cinnamon, which tasted ok but not ideal. Then my husband and I went to West City Kitchen on a date night and tried their crispy chickpeas with sumac and lime. My taste buds went crazy. It was like those lime and chili Tostitos from the 90s but oh so much better. When we went back with the kids a week or so later, the toddler was equally enamored. I just had to find a way to make these at home, though I knew I wouldn't be frying them. I hadn't got around to sourcing sumac when I saw a tower of world spice mixes at Trader Joe's. While I knew I'd want better-quality sumac at some point, I also knew that if I waited to obtain it, the chickpeas of my dreams could be months, rather than hours away, so I bought the TJ sumac. In typical fashion, I decided that the sumac needed to be paired with (any guesses?) smoked paprika. After a few tries at different temps and doing the spices before baking and after, I have hit on a recipe that works for us. These are just the perfect cocktail snack--crunchy, salty, moreish morsels that grade-schooler and toddler also devoured.
I've found it difficult to crisp my chickpeas evenly--some crunch like crackers while others are soft in the middle. The addition of lime juice further compromises crunch. I don't care. I could still eat a can's worth of chickpeas without blinking and the rest of the family seems to agree, this is also why, though they're best on the first day, I'm happy to polish off any leftovers the next day. If your looking for optimal texture on each  and every chickpea, you'll have to do your own testing. Please let me know what you find out!

INGREDIENTS
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas drained, rinsed and well dried
2 TBSP oil of your choice
4 tsp ground sumac
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt (I use kosher salt)
1/2 tsp sugar
Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan or baking tray with Silpat or parchment (you could also try an unlined tray)
  2. Spread the rinsed, drained and dried chickpeas evenly on the pan and bake until crunchy, 30-40 minutes (your cooking time may well vary--start checking around 30 minutes)
  3. Turn off oven but leave tray in there
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high in a large skillet
  5. Stir in spices, salt and sugar and cook briefly until fragrant, 1-2 minutes
  6. Add hot chickpeas to pan and coat them with the spice mixture
  7. Dump into a small to medium sized bowl and stir to coat. Add lime juice to taste
  8. Try to prevent yourself from eating the whole batch in one go


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another Beet and Carrot Salad

The first beets have come in at the farmers' market and I wanted to see if the toddler would enjoy them. I thought of making the original beet carrot salad I published on EATS! years ago, but thought my older child might prefer something with a more interesting flavor profile. A quick search yielded this Epicurious recipe that sounded appealing--using the suggested modifications from reviewers, it had a similar ingredient list to our go-to Easier Orange Tofu recipe, with less emphasis on the orange and more on the ginger. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Asian flavors with beets but it worked extremely well.

As usual, because I had no shallots on hand, I simply added an extra clove of garlic. I also reduced the oil quite a lot, as we like a tart-ish dressing. (Even doing this, the dressing did not make me pucker). Finally, I am reducing the quantity of vegetables here because 3/4 lb each of beets and carrots makes a LOT of salad, even for a family of four. The good news is it holds beautifully for several days. Paired with Evan's grilled halibut and salmon with a garlic-soy-maple syrup marinade (recipe to follow), broccoli, and red quinoa, we had a great Sunday dinner.

I used red beets and orange carrots and blithely mixed them (instead of keeping them separate as Epicurious recommends). The market vendor and I joked that next time I should use purple carrots and golden beets, which were also available! Joking aside, doing that might keep the colors more distinct.

INGREDIENTS
3 TBSP unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce (if you need a gluten-free dish, make sure your soy sauce is gluten-free)
2 cloves peeled garlic
Zest of one mandarin orange or half a full-sized orange or 1 lemon (optional)
3/4 to 1 tsp honey (optional)
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
3 TBSP olive or other oil
1/2 lb trimmed beets
1/2 lb trimmed carrots

DIRECTIONS

  1. Using a blender or mini food processor, blend rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and zest and honey if using until garlic is finely chopped and ingredients are well mixed
  2. Add oil in a steady stream if possible or just dump into a mini food processor and blend until oil has been well incorporated. Set aside
  3. Using the grating attachment on a full food professor, grate the carrots, then the beets, putting them in a large bowl when done. If you don't mind sore arms, of course you could use a box grater
  4. If your dressing has separated, give it another whiz and pour over the beets and carrots. Stir well
  5. Let marinate in fridge or on counter at least an hour. Keeps very well for several days