What foods are you really missing in this pandemic? I miss Cartem’s donuts, of course. I miss the truffle fries at Lift or at Joey’s, which I usually share with my BFF and a side of gossip. I miss trying out new-to-me places.
One of my favourite vegan treats in the city are the Chickpea Fries from Chickpea. I actually think they are probably doing takeout so I could get some if I wanted, but I’m hardly leaving my neighbourhood these days. I’m pretty much restricting myself to what I can walk to (and Costco). Thankfully, my neighbourhood has lots of small places where I can stock up on produce and other perishables.
The Chickpea Fries from Chickpea
Besan or chickpea flour, has been a pantry staple for me for many years now. It’s high in protein, and has both sweet and savoury applications (as anyone of South Indian or Persian descent can attest). It’s also gluten free. In vegan cooking, it makes great, creamy sauces without butter or milk. So, yeah, it’s something that’s always in my cupboard.
I’ve made polenta fries before (I loved them so much I put them in my first cookbook), but I’d never even considered doing something similar with chickpea flour until I tried the chickpea fries from Chickpea. I was immediately hooked! Soft and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside… these are so good.
Of course, it was the kind of treat I could only have at a restaurant, since I don’t deep fry at home, but! Then I got the Breville Smart Oven Air with an air fryer setting, and now all my chickpea fry dreams are coming true, and yours can too!
The concept here is the same as polenta, you just sub out besan for cornmeal.
2 cups water
1 cup besan or chickpea flour (sifted)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
Prepare a 7″ square pan by brushing it with vegetable oil.
In a small-medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the cumin and stir. Now slowly stream in the chickpea flour, using a whisk and whisking all the time.
Once all the flour is added, reduce the heat and continue to cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Pour the hot mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth the top as best you can.
Place in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight to set.
Remove from the fridge when set, and turn out onto a cutting board. Cut into “fries.”
Preheat your airfryer to 400, and arrange the fries on the fryer basket. Spritz with oil the parts that don’t have any oil on them.
Fry for 10 minutes, then shake/flip and cook for 5 minutes more.
Remove from fryer, season while hot and serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction or pomegranate molasses. I serve mine with vegan aioli for dipping.
I’ve been writing this blog for so long, I don’t actually know how long it’s been, but I’m guessing it’s a decade or so.
Certainly my participation has waxed and waned. There have been times when I generated 5 blog posts per week (and it nearly killed me), and there have been plenty of times where I took a break and generated nothing at all!
After doing this for so long, sometimes I feel really stretched for content ideas. Not that, in the world of food, there is ever any lack of subject matter. There’s always another recipe to make.
The inspiration for this recipe came from salt. I know! It sounds weird… but I got a bag of flavoured salt for Christmas from my friend Vicki and immediately my mind started working out what I could do with it. If it was savoury salt, I would have just thrown it into pasta or whatever, but it’s a salted caramel salt from Vancouver Island, and I knew it needed to go into a dessert.
I also had a few bits and bobs of things around, but not really enough for a full recipe of one thing, so I combined a few things and voila! Delicious success.
This is a no-bake bar, perfect for when you’re feeling a bit lazy. It’s also easy to do a vegan or gluten free version of this recipe (or even a vegan gluten free version!).
It’s a riff on a recipe that has been on of my favourites and that I’ve been making for years, just juzzed up a bit. They kinda taste like a Resses Peanut Butter Cup, but with a crunchier texture. Enjoy.
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
1/2 cup butter (vegan butter alternate)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (alternate: vegan gluten free graham crackers, I use Kinnikinnick S’moreables Gluten Free Graham Crackers)
1/2 cup corn flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate (dark vegan chocolate or non vegan chocolate chips)
milk (non dairy vegan alternative)
In a small pot over medium heat, place the butter, and melt it. Then add in the peanut butter and the sugar and stir everything well until it’s all melted together.
In a large bowl, place your graham cracker crumbs and corn flakes.
Remove the butter/peanut butter/sugar mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the entire contents over the graham crackers and corn flakes. Stir well to combine.
Press the mixture into an 8″x8″ pan, then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to set.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, add a little milk, a few tablespoons at a time, until it gets to a pourable consistency. (this is the tricky part–I can’t give you real measurements here, you have to kinda wing it). Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter base and sprinkle the whole thing with a pinch or two of finishing salt. Place in the fridge to set.
Cut into 12-16 squares.
This bar tastes great frozen. Store in the freezer and pull one out 5 minutes before eating.