suspension of disbelief or making cookies from chickpeas

Last post mentioned that my food science schooling involved lots of science and no cooking. Yet it wasn’t all hard work. Classes like Music 101 and General Theater helped me satisfy department requirements and also gave me insight into subjects completely outside of my major.

It was in the theater class that I learned about “suspension of disbelief.” In a good stage production, the audience suspends disbelief; limitations of live theater don’t prevent folks from believing what they see on stage. And it’s this phrase I thought of when deciding to pursue today’s recipe.

While my jury is still out on the merits of facebook, I’ve come to enjoy posting to my deLizious business page. Family, friends, clients, and even complete strangers have been pestered encouraged to sign on with a Like as well as to help make it more of a community by sharing their own fun food (and drink) finds. It’s gratifying when someone takes me up on this, so I was thrilled when my friend Kristine brought Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites to the deLizious party. This recipe, found all over the internet, promises “NO FLOUR, NO OIL, NO WHITE SUGAR.” And it contains chickpeas.

I shared the post and was surprised to see it prove popular, generating a healthy discussion on whether it might taste good (I had my doubts, having been burned before with those beet brownies) and whether it truly was sugar- and oil-free if it contained chocolate chips.

Noting that Dinner of Herbs had made these same cookies and given them thumbs-up via her facebook page, I decided to go for it. I’d suspend my disbelief that legumes don’t belong in baked goods.

Of course there were changes along the way. It made more sense to use the entire 15-ounce can of chickpeas instead of measuring out the 1 1/4 cups called for. A jar of nutella beckoned from the pantry when I reached for the peanut butter. (And when I emptied it before having the amount needed, cashew butter provided the balance.) Peanut butter chips and chopped chocolate stood in for the chocolate chips, and you know I used more than the 1/2 cup called for. Finally, instead of hauling out my food processor, I put everything in a bowl and whirred it (mostly) smooth with my stick blender.

canned chickpeas etc.

canned chickpeas etc.

And? I’ll agree with D of H and give them that thumbs-up. They’re a bit mealy, though not enough to bother. I can tell they contain chickpeas, but only because I know they’re there. Named well, they taste a lot like raw cookie dough even after baking. But to call them cookies seems a stretch. (That said, for gluten-free, they’re phenomenal.) No one will mistake them for Mrs. Fields‘ latest.

dough balls

dough balls

just baked

just baked

cooling

cooling

Do I not love them because I know what’s in them or are they just not that amazing? Can’t say. They’re tasty enough, but still strike me as a bit odd. Bottom line: I have trouble suspending my disbelief. Chickpeas shine in salads, hummus, pasta dishes, soups. But to puree them into a cookie seems sacrilege and I’m unable to get past that enough to rave about these treats.

If you’re in the mood, I challenge you to make these chickpea cookies and report back. Do you like them or no? How adept are you at suspending your disbelief when it comes to baked goods?

Mickey is back!

Mickey is back!

stack of gooey

stack of gooey

raw cookie dough?

raw cookie dough?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed well and patted dry
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or any combination of nut butters )
1/4 cup agave nectar (original recipe called for honey)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking pan or coat with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine all the ingredients except chocolate chips; blend with immersion blender until smooth. (Or process in food processor.) Add chocolate chips; stir to mix.

Scoop mixture into small mounds on baking pan. Bake 10 minutes or until just set. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 dough bites.

roasted guaca-chickpea-licious

A great deal on perfectly ripe avocados (69 cents each!) had me thinking guacamole. Knowing they were at that use-them-now stage of ripeness lent a sense of urgency to this project, but somehow it wasn’t urgent enough as days went by without any guac. A post from Sophie gave me the brilliant idea to combine avocados with chickpeas for a tasty spread. But again–in part because I had neither the smoked paprika nor the alternate suggestion of smoked sea sat on hand–this didn’t get made. (Sorry, Sophie!)

Tonight, though, I knew it was use it or lose it. Those bargain avocados would go to waste (and that’s no bargain) if I didn’t get my guac on. Or maybe my chickpea spread on? Then again, a friend had recently explained how she roasts peppers, onion, and tomatoes for her guac–maybe I should go that route? Things were getting mighty confusing.

So I did what home cooks have long done: I made it up as I went along. First the roasted veggies. I really wanted to try my friend Kathleen’s method of roasting veggies–garlic included–before mixing them into the avocado. I grabbed what I had in the fridge–half a tomato, two small sweet yellow chiles, an already diced and seeded jalapeno, one-fourth of a red onion–and laid it all on a baking stone. Spritzed generously with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt, they roasted at 450°F alongside a foil packet of an oil-rubbed garlic clove.

Before roasting

Meanwhile, I pureed two of the über-ripe avocado along with the half-can chickpeas I had on hand. Also tossed in the mix was another clove of garlic as I wanted its raw bite as well as the roasty sweetness that would come from the roasted clove. Just for kicks I added a few sprigs of leftover parsley along with a generous handful of cilantro leaves and stems. Next up was the juice of two small limes (2ish tablespoons, but just guessing) and a stick blender took care of the rest.

When the roasted veggies were done,

veggies after roasting--don't they smell good?

veggies after roasting–don’t they smell good?

I added them to the avocado-chickpea puree along with another 2 or so tablespoons lime juice and blended them into a smooth of a paste as possible. A fan of chunky guacamole, I rough-chopped the final two avocados and gently stirred/mashed the cubes into the other ingredients along with another 2 or 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro. Lots of freshly cracked pepper and coarse salt followed. A taste test suggested I needed a bit more bite and plenty more heat, so in went two additional cloves minced garlic and a generous pinch (just shy of 1/4 teaspoon?) cayenne.

The resulting mixture was hard to define. Guacamole, maybe, but what were chickpeas doing in there? Certainly not a hummus: the texture was more spread than dip. And the roasted veggies added an earthy sweetness not found in guacamole or hummus. The good news? Definition not required to enjoy this–or any other–dish. A savory and delicious combination of recipes, tips, and tricks, it’s proof that you don’t always have to know where you’re going when you cook.

defying definition, but it tastes so good!

defying definition, but tastes so good!

culinary mash-up: chickpeas, margaritas, shabu-shabu, ice cream cake

This weekend I enjoyed one of the craziest–and most fun–meals I’ve yet to experience. Gracious friends invited us over for shabu-shabu–a Japanese dish that owes its name (if Wikipedia is to be believed) to the sound the food makes as it cooks in bubbling broth–along with the host’s amazing margaritas. Already known for his margaritas, our friend had kicked things up a notch after a recent trip to Cozumel. He promised they were even Better now that he was using a homemade lime sour mix. I was asked to bring dessert and also slipped in an app as I’d just seen a Must-Make-This-Now recipe in a recent Bon Appetit.

So, we have Bacony Roasted Chickpeas: a Mediterranean-American-Italian appetizer.

tasting as good as they look

tasting as good as they look

They were simple to make–just a handful of ingredients–and went down easy with the made-to-order margaritas.

margarita anyone?

margarita anyone?

The shabu-shabu was also great fun. Think fondue with an ethnic, less kitschy twist. Our hostess had set it up perfectly: Both halves of the pot held boiling broth, though one half also had a few drops of hot sauce added. Ingredients from the trays of prepped food (gorgeous shrimp, fish balls, mochi, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, tofu, sprouts, udon) were tossed into the broth with chopsticks, then fished out when cooked as desired. Between “interactive eating” and the fabulous ingredients, this meal was as stellar as they come. As we enjoyed tossing and fishing (and eating), we patted ourselves on the back: save the tequila in the drinks, this was crazy-healthy party food.

Shabu Shabu

Shabu-Shabu

boiling broth

boiling broth

Those back-pats ended, though, when the ice-cream cakes came out. With extra mint-chocolate chip ice cream on hand, I’d made two layer cakes of chocolate cookie crumb crusts (14 or so ounces cookies crushed to crumbs and mixed with 1/4 cup melted butter, then pressed into a 13x9ish-inch pan and frozen), a thick layer of minty ice cream, generous drizzles of homemade hot fudge sauce, and clouds of sweetened whipped cream. With cases of Girl Scout cookies in the basement, I couldn’t resist topping the cakes with cookie pieces. One cake might have done it for the amount we needed; I made two so I could stir creme de menthe (3 or so tablespoons) into the ice cream that went in the cake for the grown-ups. It was Grasshopper Cake, after all.

finale!

finale!

Adding the pepperoni pizza ordered in for the kids, this was quite a feast. A culinary mash-up indeed. Here’s to great meals and great friends and great times. If you want to entertain, but worry think that you can’t come up with the Perfect menu, take a page from this post. The foods don’t have to go together. They need only to be made (or purchased) and eaten in the spirit of friendship.