It’s official. I’m in love with chickpea flour. The stuff is awesome. Also called Besan, or Gram flour, I get mine from the wonderful nuts.com. (Haven’t heard of Nuts.com? GO THERE NOW. Seriously, if I got some kind of kickback for everyone I refereed there, and who subsequently got just as addicted to their site as I have, I’d be rocking right now. I don’t get anything. I just LOVE them. Try their spicy black bean sticks. Or one of their many trail mix blends. The dried strawberries! The unsulphered, less sugar pineapple! I could go on for ages….)

I originally bought my chickpea flour to make an Indian flatbread. I never got to it. Instead I made some chickpea cookies to use up the flour. They were… odd. An interesting texture, but hard to tell when they were done and a little bland. I wasn’t sold on the magic of chickpea flour yet. I still had flour left though, and came across a recipe for chickpea flour pancakes on Oh She Glows. It sounded amazing. But I couldn’t get it to work. No matter what, the pancakes I made ended up a combination of not fully cooked with crispy and stuck to the pan. I couldn’t get a single one to flip properly. The parts that I salvaged? They were great. I looked up other recipes, tried different pans… nothing worked. UNTIL NOW! I recently picked up the cook book Teff Love. I was looking for some info on the author and came across her website- and a whole section devoted to Pudla! (Plus a great tip I’d never tried to use an onion to help season a cast iron pan.) The Pudla was thicker than my previous attempts. I was patient and let it sit long enough to cook. It flipped beautifully. At last! Crisp crunchy outside, savory inside. Alas, I have no photos, I inhaled the thing super fast and didn’t even think to take one.

Butecha

Butecha from Teff Love

Chickpea flour doesn’t just make amazing savory breakfasts though. While at our favorite drinking spot getting to know the locals, Chris and I ended up chatting with Rob, a chef/owner of a few local restaurants. We talked about being vegetarian in a very meat-heavy neighborhood, and he asked if we’d ever tried Burmese Tofu. What now? THIS STUFF IS MADE FROM CHICKPEAS! Soy free ‘tofu’? Sign me up. With my huge bag of flour taunting me in the pantry, it was only a matter of time till I tried to make some myself. I had a few recipes bookmarked, but sort of forgot about it for a while. Then my Teff Love cookbook showed up in the mail… included inside, a recipe not only for a quick chickpea tofu, but also some suggestions of what to do with the stuff. I bookmarked the Butecha and grabbed my chickpea flour. Making the stuff was fascinating. Stirring over a low heat, the watery powdery mixture of chickpea flour, water and spices hits a point where it just solidifies, like a custard.  I may have overcooked mine before spreading it out in a pan to solidify, it wasn’t ‘light and pillowy’ like some of the recipes suggest, but it sure was interesting. Solid and bright yellow. I diced it up and stirred in a mixture of oil, onion, salt, garlic, jalapeno and lemon. I’M SOLD. Mashed up on some toast? Delicious. In a wrap with diced cucumber, tomato, pickle and sirracha? Yum. (Ok, the pickle may have been overkill, but whatever, it was delicious.)

Jon's mastery at work

Its been a while since we’ve had a real party at our house. We’ve been waiting for cold weather to have another pizza party, because having the oven on all night gets the kitchen really hot, so we end up opening all the windows. I was a little less organized with the invites this time… I forgot to invite a few people (sorry!), but the folks who came were a great group. Turned out to be quite a cross-section of friends, and seemed like everyone got along.

toppings!

We had so many toppings! Our kitchen is fair-sized, but gets crowded pretty quickly. We started out pretty organized. One area for making the pizza shape on a cutting board, one area for toppings. Of course by the end of the night, pizza making was happening all over the kitchen… but the initial organization helped out.

We bought toppings, as did many of the guests…. lots of veggies, various kinds of meats, pineapple, cheeses… I think one of the best ones was a mushroom paté that Jon made. I like the taste of mushrooms, but not the texture. The paté was awesome because it was all flavor and none of the rubbery texture. (I’m calling it a paté because I don’t remember what he called it. I think mushroom reduction is really more accurate.)

mmm... pizza

Jen and Andrew brought an extra stone this time, which was great. Last time we used cookie sheets, and they don’t have quite the same crispy effect on the crust. We made 8 times the recipe again, the pizza bianca recipe from “The Easy Way to Artisan Breads & Pastries.” I’m not sure if we had less people than before, but we definitely have more dough left over this time.

I had intended to take more photos of the party, but I mostly got shots of the pizza instead of the people. We ended the night with some games. I finally got to play apples to apples, and we played an abbreviated game of Outburst.

It was a good night.

potatoes and fish

Its been a tasty weekend. I’ve been craving mashed potatoes, lately, ever since seeing Mickey’s leftover lunch last week. Threw some spices in with the potatoes, and paired them with flounder from Ippolito’s. It was a little bit of an odd combo, but rather tasty. Then again, I think mashed potatoes might be one of my favorite foods ever, so I don’t think I’d ever complain about a meal that includes a heaping serving. I’ve also been wanting to make pumpkin waffles, ever since reading this post on the Craft blog. My mom gave me a waffle maker a few months ago, so I figured it was a perfect time to try it out. Well, it didn’t really work, so they ended up as pancakes. I have a few left over, waiting for me to toast in the morning… mmmmmm. Other tasty things made but not photographed: tomato, cucumber and mozzarella salad (not as good as John’s from the fish fry, though), BBQ chicken with pumpkin sauce, grilled zucchini and some rather good Wisconsin cheese and crackers (with some of Jes’s AMAZING peach jam). Although we didn’t really make that last one, we got the cheese for watching the cats, so I suppose it was a little bit of work. :-)

It was a crafty weekend, too… with much work done on my costume for this Friday’s performance. Feathers everywhere! At least the cats aren’t here anymore to mess with my work, I think they’d make quick work of the wrapped hair sticks. I’m feeling much better about the performance after getting together with M. and working out the choreography. I think it will be quite a show. (Check out the info over on our Rag Tag site, in performances…) I’m also looking forward to helping M. out with her costumes for various projects she has coming up… its nice to be sewing someone-else’s project for a change, and not having to figure it all out on my own. Plus she’s a lovely host and I just love her amazing studio, even if it is a bit of a haul to get there. At least the bike ride is a good workout!

purple peppers...

purple peppers...

We found some amazing purple peppers at the farmers market at Rittenhouse. They turned green when we cooked them, but had an interesting flavor. We’ve been marinating tofu and baking it lately- its super easy, and a great thing to have around to throw onto veggies or in a salad or wrap…. I want to try making my own tofu soon, but I have a few supplies (like pie weights and cheesecloth) that I need to pick up before I attempt it. The rest of the meal was fresh corn (from the market) couscous cooked with mint (from my garden) mixed with a rather spicy jalapeno (from the garden) and a pepper and onion (from the market). The baked tofu and salmon burger (from Ippolitio’s, a few blocks away) topped off the whole thing. mmmmm….. Then some blueberries and blackberries from the market with whipped cream for dessert. Quite a satisfying meal, and aside from the whipped cream, pretty healthy, too!

mmm.... dinner

mmm.... dinner

Swung by EMS to buy some hiking pants, the awesome zip-off-into-shorts kind. I was hoping to bring them down to the beach on Monday, but they didn’t have my size in the color I wanted. How come light khaki is the color of choice for hiking gear? All the light colors seem like a terrible idea for hiking, or any activity where you run around in the woods. I ended up buying way too much hiking gear from REI’s website… but I still need to go to I. Goldberg to stock up for my trip with Jen. I really can’t wait for our hiking weekend….

I think this was a rather productive weekend, and I’ll share a list because it makes me feel like I actually got things done:

  • baked muffins for breakfast during the week (a little bland, the recipe needs work)
  • knit a pair of socks, from toe-tip to just below my Achilles
  • fought with epoxy, with the end result of 3 finished hair clips and one that needs another pass at gluing
  • relaxed at Ultimo
  • altered my sari top (let the front hem down about an inch)
  • worked on one of the on-going will-never-end documentaries
  • used my garden’s tomatoes, a pepper and some basil in a delicious casserole with chicken and scallops
  • bought a bathing suit

cucmbers making a run for the alley

Things I wanted to do, but didn’t:

  • Walk to FDR park to check for the geocache, and just enjoy the open space
  • finish the documentary
  • decide about my upcoming vacation quandary
  • vacuum my room
  • re-dye my hair
  • bike to the craft store (got thread at Pearl instead, but still should have gone for the ride to get supplies for the necklace I want to make)
  • make a mobile/wind chime/light catcher for the back yard
  • make a cucumber salad
  • sew something from scratch
  • make tofu from scratch
  • yoga

Always too much to do. I’m torn between relaxing on the weekend and chipping away at my list. I think I need to be more disciplined about it- work on the list in the morning, relax in the evening….

so good

so good

I made so much food! The best, by far, was the strawberry bruschetta, from a recipe in Grid magazine. I also made rotini pasta with stir fried veggies (zucchini, broccoli, carrots and a red pepper) and pesto. My favorite salad ever: tomato with fresh mozzarella and basil. Blueberry mint cupcakes with blueberry vanilla frosting (from coconut and lime). Fruit salad. Angie brought over fresh lemonade, Kahlua brownies and roasted veggies with garlic. Also had cheese and crackers, and chocolate….

cupcakes

cupcakes

Ended the night playing with sparklers in the backyard. Lovely gathering. And I have tons of leftovers for lunch this week, as well as fresh fruit for smoothies… mmmmmm….

I don’t think I’d make the cupcakes again. As tasty as they are, I don’t think they are amazing enough for the effort. That could be partly my fault. I filled the cups too high, and they kind of exploded. Also I think I added too many blueberries, so they didn’t puff up as nicely as I think they were supposed to. The icing was very sticky and messy. Good, but a little too sweet for me.

Also, while getting supplies for the party, I picked up an amazing hippo planter. A woman was selling things on her stoop with the help of her adorable daughter. He immediately caught my eye, and I knew I’d be walking away with him. And when I found out he was 50 cents- sold! I walked away laughing, he’s just so silly! He sits on the window staring at me. I love it. I bought a plant for him while picking up cut flowers from the guy who sells plants in Passyunk square. It fits the hippo perfectly.

amazing hippo

amazing hippo

the result of 6 full potatoes

the result of 6 full potatoes

We made a huge batch of sweet potato biscuits to bring to Thanksgiving. Like last time, the plan of attack was to roast the sweet potatoes, and then base the size of the batch off of how much mashed orange goodness we had. 6 sweet potatoes gave us a little over 5 times the recipe. Now, if you are going to make sweet potato biscuits in this method, I would recommend splitting your batches. Not dumping them all into one bowl that looks like it might be big enough. Because it won’t be. Especially when you add the milk (that you had to run out to the corner store/deli/ 40 store to pick up). And definitely won’t be big enough when you add the potatoes.

At this point I had to stop taking photos, and actually help out.

At this point I had to stop taking photos, and actually help out.

And even though the recipe says you can use parchment paper, do not…. because it will make the fire alarm go off and majorly smoke up the entire kitchen. And may or may not be responsible for burning the bottoms of some of the  biscuits.

But when you have your huge batch finally all out of the oven… I highly recommend that you eat them with jam. Honey is very good also. mmmmmm…..

all waiting in line...

all waiting in line...