Friday, July 6, 2018

Beet Chickpea Cakes with Tzatziki (and a quick well update)

So I've landed on many a blog when searching for recipes where the post is a large smattering of colorful photos of all the ingredients and steps and then at the very bottom you find the actual recipe. As a very amateur blogger, I've never done such a post and it seems about time. I've never felt particularly inclined to do so before now - but when I found myself making this dish multiple times again this season, I thought maybe it was one worth sharing! I am possibly going outside the normal "blog protocol" for this kind of thing though and flipping the order. I'm going to start with the "real" recipe right up front, as it has always annoyed me to have to scroll all the way to the bottom, or even more if it is pieced up throughout the post. I actually did follow this mostly to a T the first time we made it back in 2015. It was amazing! And since I've tweaked it some, stopped measuring, and have cut out some steps and guess what: still awesome! So here's what they say to do. And you can read on if you want to know what I do! This recipe comes from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin.
Beet Chickpea Cakes with Tzatziki

Makes 12 cakes/serves 4 (hmmm, doubtful!)

2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing cakes and tray
3 1/4 C cooked chickpeas, or 2 15-ounce can's drained and rinsed well
2 medium red onions, finally diced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
2 medium red beets (12 ounces), grated on largest hold of a box grater (4 C)
2 T balsamic vinegar
3/4 C chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment papers, lightly brush with olive oil, and set aside.

Place chickpeas in a bowl and crush with a potato masher; set aside. (Don't mash the chickpeas completely. The mixture should be somewhat chunky.)

Warm olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and saute for 5 minutes or until browning. Add garlic and salt, and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in grated beets, and continue cooking for another 6-8 minutes or until beets are cooked. Add balsamic vinegar and remove from heat. Add to mashed chickpeas along with chopped dill, and mix well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use an oiled 1/3-cup measure to shape mixture into cakes. Place on prepared tray, and brush top and sides of each cakes with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate tray, and continue baking fora nother 15 minutes or until brown on the bottom. Remove from oven: allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, slide a thin spatula under each cake and flip onto plate so bottom side is up. Top with tzatziki, or serve it on the side.


Make 2 cups

1 large (8-ounce) Middle Eastern cucumber (or a regular cucumber, peeled and seeded)
1 1/2 C whole-milk Greek yogurt or Labneh
1/4 C chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper

Grate cucumber on the largest holes of a box grater, place in a strainer, and squeeze out juice with your hands. Drink or discard juice, and add cucumber to a medium bowl along with yogurt, dill, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a pinch of black pepper. Stir to combine, season to taste, and serve drizzled with olive oil. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
So there you have it! The official recipe! Give it a try, you won't be disappointed. If you want to know the MANY alterations I've tried that have also worked great, and see some not so fancy pictures, read on!

The night before I soaked a bunch of dried chickpeas. Soaking helps reduce phytic acid and makes them more digestible (esp. if you also skim off the foam that comes to the top when cooking).
The day of, I started out harvesting things. I started with the beets, so I could clean them up and then make an egg saute for breakfast with fresh beet greens, onions and garlic!
I give our dill the photo credit here but enjoyed a quick solo walk up the hill to our neighbor's glorious dill patch for lots of fresh dill!
It was not a scheduled "harvest day" for our cucumbers but it was not hard to find plenty for this recipe. Got enough the day before for about 21 quarts of pickles! They are doing great!
I cleaned up the beets and peeled them, grated them and put them in the fridge, as I knew this was going to be an all day effort interspersed with lots of other things!
I got some of our sad rotting garlic bulbs down from the garage drying racks to salvage what was good. I should not be quite so despondent about them. I actually am able to get a lot of good out of most of the bulbs, but I can tell they won't stand the test of time so we are plowing through the ones with no roots as fast as we can enjoy then, which is pretty fast, especially since it's "pesto season."
Terah saw me with the camera out so of course wanted a turn. I gave her the job of resident photographer. Here's proof that I was really doing what is pictured here! She takes some pretty funny pictures.
I used potato onions as that is what we have harvested of our bulb onions of the year to date - and I like them better than the green perennial onions for something like this, but those could also work. We also have shallots but they are amazing paired with tomatoes so we are saving them for that purpose (like the tomato, shallot, salt, pepper, cream soup I made for lunch yesterday - YUM!!!).
The first part of the day was just a bunch of ingredient prepping - peeling garlic and onions and leaving in water for a number of hours until I could get back to them. Then before Terah's nap I turned on the chick peas and let them simmer good and long. You want them soft and I save some of the cooking liquid in case I need to loosen up the patties a bit more or the chickpeas while mashing.
Closer to serve time, I got the cucumber yogurt sauce going. I had chopped the garlic long ago, as I understand something is released that is good for us when the juices mingle for awhile. So why not! I decided to leave some of the cucumber skins on this time and it worked fine - maybe not quite as much liquid was squeezed out but I was just as happy with the end result and it was prettier.
While I worked on the sauce, I started the saute - with ham lard of course! This can easily be done with any preferred fat - though I recommend one that doesn't denature at high heats.
Look at that gorgeous dill! Some day we will have amazing dill; it's getting better every year!
I'm horrible at selfies, but by this point in the day I was in need of a cucumber juice refresher, so here I am enjoying my few sips. In the background there are a lot of dishes piling up.
By this time, our niece had joined us and all the girls were providing prime entertainment for me while I finished up dinner (the large boxes that had delivered our toilet paper and dish soap were being transformed into various modes of transportation). It also meant I was solo in the kitchen. I started mashing the chickpeas by hand and realized Kali had done that part for me all the other times this year.
I bailed and did some with the immersion blender which worked great and saved me some minutes on dinner prep, as the minutes were counting at this point.
Saute was done so I added the fresh dill and the balsamic vinegar and for the first time tried some of my friend's awesome oxymel! A quick shout out for Red Root Company! This particular oxymel won "Best New Food" in 2018 at the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo. It is delicious on sauteed greens and now I will also add in beet chickpea patties!
And here they are! I do not use olive oil at all. We don't grow olives or make olive oil. I greased the pan with lard and did not put any additional oil on them. They were not lacking in flavor! I also use a 1/2 C measure if I'm feeling antsy by this point to get them in the oven. I was...
I never measure anything anymore so this was probably somewhere in the triple - quadruple batch range in terms of quantity. I did two pans for the oven and then froze some of the mixture for the first time to see how it holds up being frozen and then thawed.
Now the oven was doing the rest of the work and the sauce was ready, with flavors percolating!
I added a few eggs to the remaining mixture and fried up a few as patties. Interestingly Terah has not been thrilled with the patties to date (none of the rest of us can understand what is wrong with her taste buds in this regard), but she seemed to like these better!
And now it is time to enjoy! But in all fairness, I will need to admit that our niece, who loves to eat at Tangly Woods, did not eat much of these. She was not a fan. The blueberry smoothie on the other hand, that went down just fine (several helpings of it) and she also really liked the little slivers of cucumber seed insides that were leftover from the sauce. I couldn't help but laugh towards the end of the meal when she piped up that she needed/wanted (can't remember which but at 1 yr 9 months it's more or less the same) some chocolate mousse. Hmm, I guess that has become a pretty popular and common offering. It just so happened I was plum out of it, which suited her fine as there were so many things to be enjoyed (only later did I remember that I had it in popsicle form but by then it was close enough to bedtime that I thought her mommy might appreciate if I didn't mess with sleep cycles by introducing caffeine).
We sat down to savor the fruits of our labors - joined by our neighbor who provided us with all the dill. It was lovely, except for the nagging worry in the back of Jason's and my mind - had our well just gone kaput? Just before dinner our water had 100% stopped working. Not good! But we (mostly) enjoyed our dinner and then started troubleshooting that issue.
So here I was at the end of a fun and very full day in the kitchen with dishes from dinner,  cheesemaking, snacks and kids needing drinks and no water!!! Oh, and I was already pretty tired at that point - and feeling stressed about our upcoming vacation and the long to do list and AirBnB guests set to arrive Saturday and no water. So I sat and read some stories with the kids and, once Ivy headed home, I then found some reserve of energy within myself to wash the dishes with cold cistern water before calling it a day!
P.s. I didn't quite get this blog post done in time to leave you all in suspense about our well. Or to put up a more reflective piece on water and our dependence on it and also how easy it is to take it for granted. And I can't conjure up anymore the worry about needing to drill a new well if ours had collapsed or fund a new pump and wonder why the one we installed years back went out on us so soon. Jason made phone calls today and got the recommended well folks out here ON THE DAY OF OUR CALL! They came, looked at it, sent some folks back to troubleshoot some more, and they fixed it! We are so grateful - our well is ok, the pump is ok, the controller was not! We have yet to receive the bill, but we are most likely looking at hundreds rather than thousands AND we also learned that we need to add to our "home maintenance check-list" to re-pressurize our tank occasionally. Nope, that wasn't in the "house manual" (the one we never got!). Not sure how you are supposed to know these kinds of things but now we do!

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