How are you doing today bloggies? I’m just in from a fab Wednesday morning spin class. Numbers were very low last week with people being away on holiday but I was very happy to see some of my usual participants back! Try Something New Tuesday #17 was an excellent one yesterday, and I have heaps to tell you about! Here goes:
1. A new Recipe of the Week: Now I realize that this isn’t exactly a seasonal recipe, but I needed a use for this:
I don’t understand why herbs are sold in such large quantities. To use all of this rosemary before it goes bad would require one to be cooking for an army, and honestly, who does that? Using the Hamlyn All-Colour Healthy Cookbook for additional inspiration, I blended up a Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup. I don’t care that butternut squash is technically a winter squash. It’s a year-round staple for moi.
2. and 3. A new toy and a new type of flour. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that my gorgeous sandwich press had me practically shaking with excitement. When I learned that my roomie possessed a waffle maker but kept it at her other home, I demanded that she bring it back after the weekend because it was an ideal activity for a Tuesday.
Now I should warn that I am a newbie when it comes to waffle making, and have never used one of these contraptions before. My intention was to make waffles using soy flour, which is a high-protein flour made from soybeans. The type I used was the defatted variety, which means that the oils from the soybeans have been removed. This type is also higher in protein concentration than the regular kind. Using a few different recipes from various magazines, I came up with a batter that I thought would be quite successful, but I won’t even bother telling you what it was because this was where the Try Something New Tuesday plan went a little awry. Details aren’t really necessary, but to make a long story short, there were two attempts, and the scene looked a little like this:
It was a very large mess, and the photo above doesn’t even come close to telling the whole tale. The batter kept overflowing out of the sides of the iron, even when I only added a little bit. I also realized that even though this is a non-stick waffle maker, it required a little more cooking spray than I used in trial 1. Trial 2 was also highly unsuccessful. At this point, it was getting to be a little too long after my workout and my stomach was not impressed. I opted for a simple breakfast of berries, yogurt, and a green monster, which could not be messed up, and decided to postpone Trial 3 to this morning.
I am not a quitter, and this setback was no exception. I was having waffles. Since there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my multiple recipes for protein pancakes, I made a few tweaks in order to incorporate the soy flour, and came up with Apple Cinnamon Protein Waffles. Now these were absolutely delicious.
The topping (and the filling between the 2) was a delightful mix of yogurt, vanilla, applesauce and cinnamon. However, I still have a problem. I got 3 waffles out of this recipe, and being weary of the over-spill risk, the first waffle was very thin. I added a bit more batter to make the 2nd and 3rd ones, but again, got the overflow. Is this supposed to happen when you make waffles?? Any waffle connoisseurs out there that would like to provide some guidance? Please do!!
A quick note about soy flour… I learned from this very informative source that soy flour should only really be substituted in partial quantities for baked goods, and it browns faster than regular types of flour. It is gluten free, which probably explains why my waffles didn’t rise up as much as the waffles I created in my head appeared.
4. A new fruit: Donut Peaches.
These were purchased simply because I thought they were cute.
Donut peaches, which are also known as Saturn peaches, have white flesh and a very small pit that comes away from the flesh very easily. They are less acidic than your usual peach, but still very sweet. (Apparently they are supposed to have a slight almond flavour to them, but I didn’t really notice it.)
After the trauma from my epic fail of a breakfast, this trial was very low-risk.
I sliced up one of the peaches and added it to a salad of baby spinach, baked chicken, a few red onions, and walnut pieces. The dressing was uber-simple: Peach yogurt mixed with lemon juice. Done and done. It took about 5 mins to prepare and was oh-so-good!
5. A new vegetable: You’re gonna love this one….
I’ll start off by saying that normally when I plan Try Something New Tuesdays, I usually have some sort of idea in mind, and a recipe in my head before heading out to the grocery store(s) to hunt down the new ingredients. This week was an exception, but the second I saw the creatures above at Loblaw Superstore, I knew exactly what my new veggie was going to be. The other shoppers probably thought I had something wrong upstairs because for the longest time, I stood there with a huge grin on my face. It was a little frustrating that there was no sign to tell me what these beasts were, so I flagged down the next employee I saw and asked. These my friends, are Indian karela, also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd. There is an Asian version as well, but it doesn’t look nearly as cool or as reptile-y (which is what the pointy bits remind me of). Well, a cross between a reptile and a rat, due to the long tail thing.
Although I was super excited to purchase the karela (it was only 55 cents, so I figured if I didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be a huge waste of moola) but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a recipe for it! After Googling its uses, I learned that it is often used as a side dish along with onions, stuffed with tomatos, or fried, sort of like chips. Since my stomach starts to hurt at the sheer thought of deep fried foods, that wasn’t going to be an option. I went into this with a bit of fear because every recipe I read mentioned that karela is very bitter. Just like with very spicy curries, you know that when even an Indian person gives you a warning, things are going to be extreme. No exception here. This was bitter.
So, what did I do with it? Well, after consulting several recipes, and this very helpful video, I decided to go with a stir-fried option with onions and Indian spices. Most recipes I found called for very odd spices I’ve never heard of like besan, amchur (which is mango powder), and hing (also known as asafetida… not like that made it any more recognizable to me.) The video didn’t involve anything too obscure, so I went with a blend of garam masala, curry powder, and turmeric. Apparently soaking the karela in salted water for a while helps to remove some of the bitterness, so after removing the hard seeds and some of the pith inside…
I chopped it into thin slices (again, as per Mr. Indian’s instructional video) and soaked them for an hour.
While they soaked, I prepared my main dish, which was a Chicken Curry with Cauliflower and Okra (sorry, no fancy name). I discovered okra when I lived in Bahrain and used it in stir fries a lot. It originates in Africa, but is used in a lot of Middle Eastern stews with meat and other vegetables. I think this is because it has a bit of a stickiness to it once each pod is sliced open, which would help to thicken a stew.
They have little seeds inside them but they don’t have to be removed – they’re actually quite soft once the okra is cooked. In the curry, I simply chopped off the tops and sliced them into small bits.
Back to the karela…. after one hour, I drained it and stir fried it with minced garlic, the spice blend, and some diced onion until the onion was almost translucent and the karela was a little bit soft. Unlike my curry which was smelling divine, the smell of this little mix had me very concerned… I was not liking it. In attempt to improve the taste a little, I added a few diced tomatos (leftover from the curry) and a little stevia. There was no way this was touching my beauty of a curry, so it stayed in a separate bowl.
I wish I could say that I liked karela as much as I like okra, but that was not the case. I ate a few bites, then realized that the only part I wanted was the onion and tomato mixture. That was the end of that one.
However…. all was not lost…
6. A little vino!!! Back in June, I talked about how I was wanting to get into wine drinking – not for any particular reason, just because I felt like it might be a fun thing to do. Oh, and wine supposedly has several health benefits which I’m sure you’ve heard about, which is an additional perk. My dad is quite a wine man and I’m pretty sure it breaks his heart that his daughter, until now, couldn’t stand the stuff. Well bloggies, I’m pleased to report that I liked it!! Based on some of your suggestions, I started with white and opted for The Naked Grape’s Chardonnay. The woman at the wine shop told me that it had fruity aromas (think apples and pears), which sounded quite lovely.
I don’t know much about wine, but I do know that white wine goes with chicken, so I figured it would pair nicely with my curry. I also learned that The Naked Grape makes unoaked wine, and hadn’t a clue what that meant until I looked it up, but more on that in a second.
‘Twas delightful. Dad, be proud.
In addition to trying all of these new things, I also learned many new things, including…
- Do NOT overfill a waffle iron.
- Waffle irons are probably best cleaned just after they cool off, not 12 hours later. Like dishes that “just need to soak for a while”, an entire day is a little unnecessary.
- Sometimes fingernails make the best cleaning tools.
- Karela is probably best cooked by Indian people who know how to do it properly. Theirs probably tastes much better than mine did.
- The Naked Grape makes some very tasty wine.
- The term ‘unoaked’ refers to the way the wine is made. According to Epicurious, (which is like my Oxford Dictionary for all things food), wine makers in the 1980s and 90s were crazy about making Chardonnays by fermenting them in big oak barrels. Now, fruity Chardonnays (including those from The Naked Grape) are made using big stainless steel tanks.
Phew. That is all. It was very much a love-hate sort of day! Time for me to sign off though because I have quite a lot happening today, including:
- Shopping for my sistah’s birthday prezzie
- Hot yoga
- …and a very exciting event happening tonight which I will tell you about tomorrow!
Questions for today:
- Are you a waffle making pro? Do you have any tips for a rookie like myself? Cleaning tips in particular?
- Do you have any ideas for my ‘new thing’ trials next Tuesday?
Have a great day!