Monday, January 14, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets- the Final Thoughts

After having flubbed the original V-con chickpea cutlet recipe, I fired up my engines and tried, tried again. Luckily I had quite a bit of cooked chickpeas left over in my fridge that were, thankfully, still fresh and ready to be ingested.

For those of you new to the situation, last week I attempted to make these much-talked-about cutlets and ended up zesting a wee bit too much lemon in the recipe. This week, I followed the directions very closely. Actually, I followed them exactly. The result? Well, the over-whelming lemon flavour was gone, but sadly, the cutlet did not excite me.

I had added some bread crumbs to the outside and fried them up, which made it more interesting, but I just can't understand everyone's obsession with the recipe. I mean, they were very good, don't get me wrong, but there was no real flavour to them. There was nothing that stood out or especially pleased my taste buds in any way. They were good enough to swallow down after smothering in mustard and whatever other condiments please your taste buds, but they kinda tasted like a whole lotta nothin' otherwise. AND they were still really chewy from the wheat gluten.

But, alas, they satisfied my hungry belly.

chicklepeacut

Still having cooked chickpeas left over, Mike decided to try his hand at them. We put our heads together and made a much better cutlet. First, at my suggestion, he added a tsp of dijon mustard to the mix. Then, after having mashed and kneaded it long enough, Mike decided that the gluten was too gluteny and tossed in a bit more veggie broth. That really did the trick. No more nasty strings of gluten! Finally, he squished them out as thin as can be and generously layered whole wheat bread crumbs on either side. Once they were ready to fry, he put a nice helping of olive oil in the frying pan (not a recommended step for the weight-conscious) and did 'em up. When they were nice and brown and crispy, he padded each side of the cutlet with a paper towel, soaking up as much excess oil as possible (so we don't have heart attacks or, at the very least, have to roll out of the bed in the morning).

The result? Delicious! The right amount of crispyness and even that 'barbeque' flavour really hit the spot. Even the texture was just right. There was no chewy gluten consistency anymore!

Again, there was no real distinct flavour, which is disappointing because I LOVE chickpeas in most forms, but it was ten times better than before.

Here they are breaded and ready to go. (Mike is the master bread-crumber, I think.)

breadedchickpeacut

I would have gotten an 'after' picture, but I was just too hungry smelling these beauts to bother!

Conclusion? Personally, I wouldn't go out of my way to make this very often. They are tasty enough to hit the spot, but they just don't have a special or unique flavour to them. Even Isa and Terry suggest smothering them in mustard sauce. They must just be a form of substance rather than a decadent dish on their own.

In my opinion, black bean burgers and lentil burgers are far, far tastier. The beans give off enough flavour that one doesn't need anything beyond pepper and a little garlic powder. I'll have to make them again real soon and I would be more than happy to share recipes with any who might like to give them a try.

Mike loves 'em, though. I was craving brownies all night and he was craving another chickpea cutlet. That's just because he loves all things fried, I think. ;)

Now, of course I wasn't going to let this entry go by without a stew review! To go along with our cutlet dinner, I simmered up a vegetable medley stew.

veggiemedleystrew

Chock-full of potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, garlic, onions, green peppers and diced tomatoes, this stew was hearty and filling. I just mixed in balsamic vinegar, turmeric, cumin and chili powder. The chili powder brought the stew to a whole new level. What could have been a plain root veggie stew turned into a mouth watering delight. Mike said- and I quote- 'It's the best stew you've made so far'.

Lastly, being as obsessed with pasta salad as I am, I made yet another concotion for work lunch this week. It's the typical pasta salad with flax oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and garlic powder. The only difference is the minced vegan pepperoni I threw in. I'm sure I could find a homemade recipe, but I decided to be lazy and buy the pre-packaged pepperoni. It tasted much better than I thought it would and after whipping it around in my food processor and sprinkling it throughout, the salad became very reminiscent of the dish my mother used to make when I was a kid.

pepperonipastasalad

My mother didn't cook a lot of extravagant dishes. She was the 'buy it frozen or boxed and do the rest' kind of lady. But when she did cook, it was delicious. My favourite dish of hers was her pasta salad. She would use ziti, tomatoes, sharp cheese, peppers, onions and Italian dressing. But! There was always one ingredient that I am ashamed to say was my favourite: kielbasa. Looking back, it grosses me out to think I loved that stuff as much as I did, but since becoming vegetarian at the age of 12, I never got to experience that flavour again. My mother continued to make a vegetarian version for me, but it was always missing the meat!

Now, having come across a simple suggestion to throw vegan pepperoni in the batch, I can taste those smokey, spicey flavours without sacrificing my ethics or the life of an animal. I'd like to discover a homemade version because the pre-packaged ones are always low in nutrition and high in sodium. But for now, this is a great way to satisfy those cravings lost in time.

That's it for now! But before I go, I promised a few of you my recipe for hot cocoa. Sorry it took so long! I'm still working on perfecting it, but it's delicious enough for me to have the guts to post it. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!

This recipe makes 2 cups, so divide or double accordingly.

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups milk (I use vanilla soy milk)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp vanilla powder (optional)

Simmer water, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt in a pan over moderate heat, stirring until lumps are dissolved. Add milk to ingredients. Stir and bring slowly to a simmer. Ready to serve once fully blended and warm. For enhanced flavour (highly recommended), stir 1 tsp vanilla powder in each cup and enjoy!

20 comments:

mike said...

I'm still dying for another cutlet! Those were soooooo good. Maybe if we use canola oil next time they'll be a little healthier.

-:>D

p.s. I'd still like a brownie too.

bittersweetblog said...

Aw, what a drag about the cutlets... At least they weren't inedible. That's usually a mark of progress in my eyes!

Mm, hot chocolate... Sounds good right about now. I'd love to get my hands on some vanilla powder, but I haven't seen it anywhere. Where do you get yours?

Rage And Love said...

The cutlets look amazing!

And I totally understand not being able to get the "after" picture...been there, still doing that :-)

The veg stew looks superb and your pasts salad looks better than mine!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Well, the cutlets at least *look* very pretty... I'm partial to black bean burgers as well :o).

But oh my goodness, that dish with the butternut squash looks stunning; butternut squash is one of my favorite foods (I *may* like it even more than chocolate, but don't tell anyone, as I have a chocolate-covered reputation to live up to!). I'll definitely be trying your stew combination... and the hot chocolate too!

vegetalion said...

you stew is so pretty! I want some.

Liz² said...

yeah, that's pretty much it, eh? They were filling but no real standout flavour (and gluten strings, weird!). I love your adaptation, though. Kinda makes me think of what chicken-fried steak would be like (which I've never had, but it makes me think of it, :p).

vegetalion said...

never had crepes! and I thought my crepe history was sad! I'll make them for you sometime.

Vegan_Noodle said...

I liked the cutlets because they were just so easy to make if I didn't feel like doing the whole boiling seitan bit. I like your addition of mustard, sounds good.

Oh yay, we're supposed to get a cold front coming in and some hot cocoa sounds like just the thing to go with it...

VeggieGirl said...

the cutlets seem to be hit or miss with various bloggers - sorry they didn't work out for you!! but hey, the stew, pasta salad, and hot cocoa sound lovely!

Theresa said...

Too bad about those cutlets. I'm going to give them a try anyways, since Andy views things like that as a way to get sauce (usually BBQ, sometimes tomato) into his mouth. So a lack of flavour isn't such a big deal for him.

Black bean burger recipes, please!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

I had a reaction similar to yours the first time I tried the cutlets. But I put the leftovers in the fridge for a couple days and reheated them later, and then...WOW! They were delish! Give them another try as leftovers, and maybe you'll see what other people are raving about... Or maybe you just really don't like them, haha.

Oh, that stew! Butternut squash is my baby, so I could totally go for a nice hearty bowl of your bestest stew!

Yay, I'm so excited to see your cocoa recipe! I'm constantly changing mine up, and mine is similar to your except for I've never used salt or vanilla powder... Could be the awesomeness I'm looking for, thank you thank you! (And thanks for the tip on adding bread crumbs to the sweet potato fries, good idea.)

Romina said...

I have yet to try this recipe, so I will try the original recipe before any modifications, but thanks for the heads up!

Rural Vegan said...

Thanks for the honest review of the cutlets. Life is too short for eating foods without enough flavor!

You make the best looking pasta salads ever, send some to Illinois!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

And while you're sending some to Illinois, send some to Texas, too ;o)

Ruby Red Vegan said...

I just made some of your hot cocoa and I LOVE it! The recipe I normally use is the exact one from Sinfully Vegan (but I made it up myself first and then saw that the author had come up with the same thing to the T, weird). I'm definitely going to keep using your recipe, and I'll pick up some vanilla powder soon (I made it without). Thanks!

domingosiete said...

I've made the chickpea cutlets a few times already and I decided that I don't like them fried, they taste much better baked (not too stringy when they're baked)and my husband agrees. you should try them baked.

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Louise said...

There might be something to the leftover comment. I think it was another Isa recipe, maybe black eyed pea croquettes (is that a word?) that I was just "Eh?" about until I left a couple in the fridge for a few days. Then they were amazing.

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