Saturday, February 26, 2011

Faux "Chicken" Cutlets (Vegan)

Chickpeas are by far my absolute favorite bean. I have not had potatoes, gravy, and chicken cutlets (obviously) in the longest time. I decided to replicate the Thanksgiving comfort-food eating experience with non-meat products. Gravy was not that hard to replicate, but chicken cutlets-that is a challenge! I thought about bean burgers and falafel; what composes these meat-like products? I looked at for inspiration. What I found was Isa Moskowitz's brilliant Chickpea Cutlet Recipe. Her recipe called for vital gluten flour as a binding agent, but I decided to keep it simple. I worked with what I know, and this is what I came up with:


Yield= 4 cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (I toasted 1 slice of whole wheat bread and pulverized it in the food processor)
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic
about 1/4 cup water
about 1 tablespoon olive oil, for greasing

Heat a metal skillet on medium heat.

Dump all ingredients, except water, into a food processor. Pulse until combined. With the food processor running, stream in 1/4 cup water (add more or less, if needed) just until the ingredients aggregate into a doughy ball.

Divide the mixture into four equally-sized portions, and form each portion into an irregularly shaped cutlet. Lightly grease heated skillet with oil. Add cutlets to pan, flipping when nicely browned on each side. Drain browned cutlets on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Enjoy with meat-less gravy, smashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Feel free to add additional spices to my ingredients list.

These cutlets were so comforting!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spiced Flax Muffins (Vegan)

These muffins are so flavorful and moist; you would never guess that they are totally vegan and loaded with flaxseed! Flax is a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and free-radical fighting lignans (a class of antioxidants). I buy my flaxseed ground (I'm too lazy to buy whole flaxseed and grind it myself) and store it in the freezer (this helps prevent rancidity and preserve the integrity of beneficial fats). Ground flax can be sprinkled in oatmeal, yogurt, muesli, granola, quick breads, or muffins. It has a very earthy/bran-ish/granola-like taste, so don't go too flax crazy. You just have to be mindful of proportions. Ask yourself, how much flax is in this recipe compared to other ingredients (whole grain flours, nuts, etc.)? With that mentioned, the following muffin recipe has the perfect amount of flax. These muffins would be great slathered with organic almond or peanut butter, and can easily be frozen and thawed for future use.

I found this flax muffin recipe on the blog of "A Chef in Med School", and immediately fell in love. I thought it was rather odd that the creator of "A Chef in Med School" (Michelle Hauser) and the creator of my blog, "A Chef in College: Chronicles of a Pre-Med Student's Culinary Adventures", (me) had strikingly similar blog names. I guess we think similarly? Anyway, Michelle's recipes and educational videos are great, and I highly recommend that they are looked at by any aspiring chefs.

I took her awesome recipe and altered it a bit (I used many of her suggestions) to veganize it. Feel free to do the same. Other liquid sweeteners, like honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc. could be used instead of the agave nectar. Raisins, craisins, chopped dates, nuts, etc. could be thrown into the batter. Different spices, like ground ginger, cardamom, or nutmeg would be great substitutions for the spices my recipe requests. Have fun and enjoy!


Yield= 10-12 muffins, depending how generously you decide to fill your muffin tins.


1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1 cup wholewheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup millet flour)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1 cup veganized buttermilk (1 Tablespoon vinegar + enough non-dairy milk to yield 1 cup)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


3 Tablespoons oats

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups, and preheat oven to 400 F.

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate, larger bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients all at once and stir until just combined (lumps are okay). Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with oats. Bake until muffins spring back when touched and pass the toothpick test (about 15-18 minutes). Let muffins cool, and enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Japanese Soba Noodles with Veggies

Soba noodles are thin, buckwheat-based noodles that are popular in Japan. They can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature and can be served with virtually any sauce. The last time I remember having soba noodles was when I went to Japan (about a year ago), and this makes me sad. Lately I have been trying to experiment with grains I usually do not use. I do not recall ever cooking with buckwheat, so this gave me even more of an incentive to purchase a package of soba noodles. What did I do with these lovely noodles? Take a look:


-Roland© Organic Soba Noodles (enough for one person)

-1 Tablespoon sesame oil
-Several shakes of tamari, or soy sauce
-About 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
-Ground ginger, to taste

-1 small onion, cut into wedges
-1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin coins
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Small handful of baby spinach
-1/4 cup frozen green peas
-Crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds for topping, optional

Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Toss in soba noodles, cook until tender, drain in a colander, and set aside. At the same time, heat a metal skillet or wok on medium heat. Add sesame oil, tamari, ginger, onion, and carrot. Mix constantly. Once the onions and carrot become crispy, add the mirin and garlic. Continue to stir constantly, occasionally adding water if the pan becomes too dry. Toss in the spinach and peas. Let all of the liquid evaporate and the spinach wilt. Stir in cooked soba noodles and remove from heat. Spoon noodles into a bowl and top with crushed red pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

Enjoy with chopsticks and a cup of hot green tea.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with a Caramel Glaze

The recipe for these cupcakes was taken directly from "Baking From The Heart"(2004), a collection of baking recipes complied by Michael J. Rosen. The actual cupcake recipe was provided by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, and more specifically, Lewis' mother. This gingerbread recipe was allegedly discovered inside of an old notebook, and is approximated to be about 100 years of age. How can somebody say that there is no historical aspect to cooking? Scott Peacock's quote about this recipe's lineage pretty much summarizes everything I believe about cooking:
"Cooking is a dialogue that takes place between a person and whatever he or she is making. Between the past and the present. Between one generation and another. So even is I make a dish that isn't exactly the way you remember it tasting in your family's version, tasting and smelling my version can reconnect you with those people and that special dish, because it turns out that what we're all looking for is not so much an ideal that's taste, but an ideal that's emotional: an echo of that time when you felt secure and loved and all things were still possible."

Now what about this recipe? What did I think? The cupcakes were very moist and had a robust molasses flavor. They were definitely not what I was expecting. These cupcakes were not airy and fluffy; dense and powerful would be better words to describe the consistency. They were more spicy and gingerbready than sweet. The caramel glaze is a must because it adds an unexpected sweetness and beauty to the finished piece. I really liked these cupcakes and had a lot of fun putting them together (the caramel glaze was especially exciting to prepare). However, I would not say that everyone at the party would love these cakes. I feel like they are a product of the Great Depression, or some time in history that only relied upon the necessities. The recipe is simple, but the end product makes a resonating culinary statement. You have to be ready for these cupcakes because they do not joke around.