Corona Cooking: Lentil Pancakes

Let’s be creative….

I spoke with a friend yesterday who told me she was using the forced time at home to bake bread because it helped to keep her sane. I imagine many of us can identify – not necessarily with baking homemade bread, but with needing ways to keep our sanity during the COVID-19 circumstances.

In our house, we currently have five folks living life virtually – online classes, work meetings, church activities, music lessons, writing groups  – all vying for time on our WiFi connection and requiring us to find privates spaces throughout the house where we will not bother one another.

Add to that I am cooking our meals with the staples I have on hand because we are abiding by our state governor’s “stay at home” advisory because we have a family of “at-risk” folks for whom getting the corona virus would not be good. Since I always keep a well stocked pantry, finding items to make is not the problem. The difficulty is being creative so we are not eating the same foods all the time.

A couple of days ago, I wanted to use up the leftover lentils I had in the fridge from a lentil curry I had made for dinner one night. I was “feeling like” pancakes for some reason, so I googled lentil pancakes to see if that was an actual thing. It turned out it is, but that the options weren’t quite what I wanted.  Either I could make pancakes which were simply crushed lentils and spices or I could make a basic pancake recipe which just had about 1/2 cup of lentils added.

So, I had to go to work to create something of my own – a pancake which was chock-full of lentils but was still a pancake so my youngest wouldn’t turn his nose up to the idea. The result was surprisingly good. I made up a curry sauce of tofu sour cream, curry powder and soy milk which three of the family members dolloped onto the pancakes, while the other two chose to eat the pancakes with maple syrup. The recipe follows for anyone who also might have leftover cooked lentils in need of revamping, and  as a bonus for folks who need it –  these are grain free, too.

Lentil Pancakes

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked lentils

1 cup dairy free milk (oat, flax, soy, etc….)

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup chopped green onions

1 cup liquid egg whites (can also just use whole eggs, which would be about 4)

2 cups garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour

2 tsp baking powder

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Puree cooked lentils in a food processor until only slightly lumpy. You can puree them completely smooth, if desired, but I prefer a little texture.
  2. Add to the pureed lentils, your choice of dairy free milk, the cumin, garlic, onion, and cumin powders, salt and pepper, and green onions, and mix well.
  3. Add the liquid egg whites and mix well.
  4. Add the flour and mix until all the flour is completely mixed in.
  5. Add the baking powder and stir until completely dissolved.
  6. To cook the pancakes with a griddle, heat to 350 degrees. On the stove top, heat a skillet over medium heat. If you are not using nonstick pans, you’ll need to grease your pan in between batches with your preferred method.
  7. Use a 1/4 cup to scoop batter onto the griddle or skillet. The batter will spread. When the edges begin to look a bit dry and little air pockets surface in the middle, flip the pancake. Usually, this won’t take longer than a minute. The pancake will begin to rise. Allow it to cook until you no longer see hot air escaping and the sides are cooked through. This usually takes about a minute.
  8. When you remove the pancakes, you can put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the oven on your lowest heat to keep them warm or move them to a cooling rack to cool if you are cooking them to be eaten at another time.

 

 

 

 

Cooking Inspiration: Korean Scallion (Green Onion) Pancakes

“You want to eat pancakes, not Buddha.”

According to my parents, when my brother and I were little, we would mix up the Korean words for Buddha and pancakes. To be fair to us, the words are extremely close — buchini (boo-chin-nee) versus buchimi (boo-chim-mee) — and for Korean celebrations such as a 100 days birthday or New Year’s, the tradition is to make pancakes, some of which you place before a statue of Buddha with the hopes of bringing good luck. and the rest of which you eat.

As a grown-up in the United States, I don’t make pancakes for Buddha, but my daughters and I really enjoy eating Korean Scallion (green onion) pancakes. They’re usually made with mung beans which is similar to a yellow split pea, and sometimes people actually use yellow split peas instead. Fortunately for me, I can find mung beans at my local grocery store and don’t even need to go to an Asian store to find some.

As I thought about this new year — 2016 — I remembered a conversation I had with a friend who was in turn remembering meals his wife had made him during their first year of marriage. His comment was that over the years, their meal plan had become a rut, and he missed the different experimental dishes she made that first year.

Often, that’s exactly what happens to families. Busy schedules, finicky children’s palates, frugal living, and lack of inspiration can all lead to meals being the same week after week, and when a friend emailed me yesterday asking about something to serve which was different, I thought about Korean Scallion Pancakes. What I like about them is that they’re fairly easy to make, are made with protein (beans), that you can make them with vegetables, and they’re tasty.

What’s important to know is that the mung beans need to soften, so you do need to give them time to sit in water. A couple of hours is normally fine. I often soak them in the morning and just let them sit until when I need them in the evening. You simply put enough water to cover the beans and then add water as needed.

The other thing to know is that you don’t want to skimp on the green onions. A mung bean batter is simply there to hold all the wonderful, tasty green onions, and if you choose to add them, other vegetables. I usually make mine with green onions and thinly sliced sweet white onion. Sometimes, I also add thinly sliced carrots and red pepper. My mom makes hers with Korean kimchee, which is basically hot, fermented cabbage or spinach or any other type of vegetable she’s chosen to make kimchee out of.

Another consideration is that you do need to bind the beans to keep them from being too grainy. Recipes online will often call for you to mix the mung beans with some rice and soak the two together. I’ve found it’s easier to just mix in rice flour after the beans soak. At the stores, you can find white rice flour, brown rice flour, and sweet rice flour. My mom prefers the sweet rice flour, and that’s how I’ve always made them over the years.

A final thought is that there are two ways to make the pancakes when you cook them. After you’ve pureed the mung beans and added the rice flour and seasonings, you have to choose how you want to make the pancakes. My mom’s preferred method is to ladle some of the mung bean batter onto the pan, artistically arrange the green onions, onions and vegetables onto the batter, and then add a little bit more of the mung bean batter on top of the vegetables. This is very pretty, but takes time. Because I’m often in a hurry, wanting to make a lot and get them onto the table for dinner, I choose to mix all the green onions, onions, and vegetables directly into the mung bean batter and then ladle the batter and cook the pancakes. The pancakes aren’t as beautiful but they’re still tasty, and this way fits my more time-pressured schedule.

So, if you’re looking for something new and different to try in this new year, I have a recipe below. No quantities, because it all depends on how much you want to make, but if you purchase an 8 ounce bag of mung beans and let them soak, you’ll make enough pancakes for a family of four.

Happy New Year!

Korean Scallion Mung Bean Pancakes

Ingredients:

Yellow Split Mung beans

Water

Salt

Black pepper

Sesame oil

fresh ground ginger (optional)

Fish powder (optional)

Sweet rice flour

Green onions (chopped into longer pieces, about 2 inches — you want a lot!)

Sweet white onions (chopped into thin, long pieces, about 2 inches)

Vegetables (optional: very thinly sliced – carrots, peppers, etc…)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Cover mung beans with water and let it sit for several hours during the day or overnight. Check the beans occasionally, and add water as needed. You want the beans to become soft enough to puree. You’ll see that the beans are absorbing the water and swelling and becoming softer.
  2. Use a food processor or blender to puree the mung beans with some sweet rice flour to make a smooth, slightly thick batter. You don’t want the batter to be too think but neither do you want it to be too thick. You can add more water as needed to think the batter or more rice flour to thicken it.
  3. Season the batter with salt and pepper, a small amount of sesame oil, and ginger and/or fish powder (if you choose). The flavor for the pancakes comes from the green onions and the mung beans themselves, so you don’t want to add a lot of the seasonings.
  4. Slice lots of green onions and mix into the batter with slices of sweet white onions and other vegetables if you choose.
  5. Over medium high heat, in a pan seasoned with sesame oil, pour batter into round pancake shapes. Cook on one side until browned and crispy, and then turn over and cook the second side. Serve with soy sauce.

Menu Suggestion: Oatmeal Pancakes

website oatmeal pancakes

“What do you mean it’s blue and black?”

There’s an experiment making it’s rounds on the internet these days which is a picture of a striped dress, partially in shadow and partially in light. The question asked is “What color is the dress?” What’s interesting is that a percentage of folks will say the dress is white and gold striped, while another percentage will say it is blue and black striped.

According to the explanation given, the two different answers represent how people’s brains process information. If your brain sees the dress only, regardless of the shadow or light around it, you will see the dress as blue and black (which it actually is). If your brain looks at the picture as a whole, incorporating the shadows and light around it, then you will see the dress as white and gold.

Interestingly enough, my husband and middle child, who lean toward more big picture, conceptually-minded thinking, see the dress as white and gold, while my oldest and youngest and I, who are extremely detailed-oriented thinkers, see the dress as blue and black. And of course, both sides think the other is nuts for seeing as they do!

I was reminded of this experiment when my son asked yet again for chocolate chip pancakes. Whereas I view food as fuel for my growing son which needs to be healthy and thought out, my son sees food only as an opportunity for gluttonous pleasure. On this particular occasion he and my middle child both had friends sleeping over, and my son thought it would be a valid argument in favor of chocolate chip pancakes – “But mama, don’t you want to serve our guests something they’d like to eat?”

I personally thought the kids wouldn’t care what I served them, but I decided in the interest of the dress experiment, that maybe I should work out a compromise with my son. Yes, to chocolate chip pancakes in deference to his view of food, but also yes to the pancakes being healthy to stay true to my food views. The result was a gluten, dairy, egg free oatmeal pancakes with both blueberries and mini chocolate chips.

Below is the recipe for folks interested in trying them out. You can make them without the chocolate chips and only blueberries; you can omit the blueberries and make them only chocolate chip; you can omit both. Your choice.

Gluten, Dairy, Egg Free Oatmeal Pancakes

(Makes a lot; may want to half the recipe for a small family)

Ingredients:

4 cups “milk” of choice (soy, flax, rice, cow, etc….)

4 tbsp lemon juice

2 cups gluten free quick oats

2 tbsp ground golden flaxseed

6 tbsp water

2 cups favorite Gluten Free flour blend (I used a garbanzo and fava bean blend for the protein and fiber)

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup gluten free oat flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup Enjoy Life allergen free mini chocolate chips (can use regular mini chips if you aren’t allergic to them)

1/3 cup melted “butter” of choice (vegan, soy-free, or cow)

1/4 cup Agave

1 tbsp safflower oil

12 oz frozen wild mini blueberries

Cooking Instructions:

1. Mix the milk with the lemon juice. Add the quick oats, blending well, and let sit.

2. Mix the flaxseed with the water, and let sit.

3. Combine the gluten free flour blend, the sorghum flour, the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips.  Set aside.

4. Mix the melted butter, agave and oil. Combine this with the milk/oat mixture and flaxseed mixture, and add the blueberries.

5. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry until everything is well blended. Let sit while the griddle or pan heats.

6. Heat a pancake griddle to 350 degrees or a pan over medium heat. Grease with favorite method (oil, spray, butter).

7. Ladle pancake batter by 1/4 cups and let cook until the pancakes begins to bubble and get dry around the edges (usually just a minute or two). Flip and cook on the other side another minute or two.

8. Serve and enjoy! (I found them to be sweet enough without anything, but the kids still poured maple syrup on top!)

Menu Suggestion: Sorghum Pancakes with Peach Compote

website sorghum pancakes

 Again?

A couple of months ago, I noticed a special deal on a gluten free flour blend, six 3 lb bags for essentially about $1 each. I decided it was too good a deal to pass up because I bake so much for the workshops I teach, and I put in for two orders of the flour, thinking that 12 bags would hold me for a long while.

When the ordered arrived, it was in two separate boxes.  One contained six bags of the gluten free flour blend I had ordered, but the second batch was six bags of straight sorghum flour. I called up the company, and they apologized and said they’d send out the correct order of flour immediately.

I asked about sending back the incorrect flour and was told that because of certain restrictions, they aren’t allowed to receive food back. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with six bags of straight sorghum flour, but I figured I’d find a use.

When the new box came in, I eagerly opened it, only to discover that they’d sent me another six bags of sorghum flour!

When I called the company again, they determined that something must be wrong with their ordering system and that they would not be able to sell anymore flour under the special deal until they figured out the problem. They refunded my money for the second order of six bags, but once again told me that I had to keep the incorrect flour.

So, in the end I only received six bags of the flour blend at the special price, and I now had twelve bags of sorghum flour which I had neither ordered nor needed.

This morning, I decided I would begin to make use of some of that flour, and I worked out a recipe for sorghum pancakes which not only came out delicious but which the children have asked that I make again with different variations.

Sorghum Pancakes

(This makes a lot of pancakes so cut the recipe in half if you’re not cooking for a large family or want a lot of leftovers.)

Ingredients:

5 cups sorghum flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon*

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups “milk” (I used flax this time, but might try soy next time)

4 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp Agave

2 eggs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil**

Cooking Instructions:

1. Whisk together the sorghum flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

2. Mix the milk with the lemon juice and let it sit for five minutes.

3. Whisk together the agave, eggs, and melted coconut oil. Add the milk.

4. Mix the dry ingredients until the wet quickly until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Let the batter sit for at least ten minutes. It will bubble and thicken.

5. On a heated pancake griddle (350 degrees) or pan over medium high heat on the stove, pour 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake. Let the pancake cook for a couple of minutes until the edges become dry and bubbles form. Flip and cook for another minute until the second side is done.

6. As the pancakes are cooking, make peach compote: Slice eight peaches into six lengthwise slices each and put into a large shallow pan on the stovetop. Mix 1/4 cup agave with 1 tsp cinnamon and pour over the peaches. Cook the peaches for about five to ten minutes over medium low heat until the peaches are soft and the liquid as thickened.

7. Serve the pancakes with the peach compote*** on top.

* If you are planning on serving the pancakes by themselves, they need a bit more flavor, so you should add something besides the cinnamon, like 2 tsp of vanilla or orange peel. If you don’t have sodium issues, you might want to increase the salt to 1 tsp.

** If you don’t want to or can’t use coconut oil, melted vegan butter or safflower oil are good substitutes.

*** You don’t have to use peaches. You could try these pancakes with a blueberry or apple compote, too.

 

 

 

 

“Whole” hearted: Substituting for White Flour

website whole hearted

No one volunteers to have a chest x-ray, an EKG, a stress test AND an echocardiogram, all at the same time!

I certainly hadn’t.  As a young woman in her thirties (at the time), chest pains were the last thing I expected to be experiencing.  Yet, I was – intermittent pain over a period of a few months.  They weren’t regular or consistent enough for me to give much heed to them at first.  After a while, however, I realized that, though they were few and far between, the pains occurred whenever I became stressed or angry.  Still, however, I rationalized the pains away.

Then came that fateful day when I became angry during a spat with my oldest teen-aged daughter.  (Can anyone relate?)  Not only was my blood boiling figuratively, but it was literally wildly pumping through my veins and into my heart chamber, so much so that the pains in my chest became unbearable, and hence the x-ray, EKG, stress test, and echocardiogram.

I’m happy to report that, no, I didn’t have a heart attack, but I did learn that I have a minor congenital heart defect which over time can cause some issues.  The prognosis was that I would be fine, but the advice I was given was to slow down, stress less, and think more about my heart.

So, I did what I usually do in these situations:  First I prayed.  Then I read.  As I read, I learned that I was already doing what I needed in the way of food – mostly eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and fish with everything else in moderation.   What I was surprised to discover was all the new research about gluten and the many people who have issues with wheat and other such products.

What flour and gluten does

Folks don’t normally give flour and gluten much thought, but in reality flour and gluten are an important, dynamic part of our baking and cooking.  In baked goods, flour – and essentially the gluten in flour – is what actually provides the “framework” for the cake, cookie, or bread.  It absorbs the moisture and provides the protein strands necessary to give our baked goods a proper structure and a proper consistency.  So, when you replace gluten flours with gluten free ones, your baked good loses its ability to properly regulate its moisture content and its rising capacity, which is why many gluten free breads are denser and heavier than wheat breads.

You can substitute whole grains for white

For most people, flour and gluten is not actually an issue.  What is at stake is eating the right type of flour, which essentially means ditching the white, all-purpose flour and switching to a100% whole grain flour which has the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals lacking in its white, all purpose counterpart.  Many people are hesitant to make the switch, though, because they think their food won’t taste as good.

The trick to remember is this:  For baked goods, always lightly spoon your flour into your dry measuring cup and level it off without packing the flour down.  If you do this, you can substitute your whole grain flour in a one to one ratio without fearing for the density of your favorite dessert.  For your cooking, simply use less of the whole grain flour for that roux you’re making or those potato pancakes you’re forming.  A rule of thumb is to measure out one cup of whole wheat flour and then take out one tablespoon. This will be closer to what you’d use with white flour. Because the whole grain flour is slightly denser, you can use less to get the same consistency.  And for those of you who still are reluctant to attempt a change, you can compromise with the white whole wheat flours which have begun to flood the market.  It’s a white wheat instead of the red wheat and is closer in consistency to the white , all purpose flour, while still retaining many of the same benefits of the red, hard wheat.

If you need to omit gluten altogether

For folks who do need to refrain from eating gluten, though, you can still have your just desserts, as well.  It used to be that you needed to buy an umpteen number of different flours and starches, as well as xanthan gum, to make up your own flour mix in a specific ratio.  Today, however, we are blessed with an abundance of companies just dying to take our money in exchange for saving us time and reducing our stress.  You can get some of these gluten free flour blends at the grocery store… Hannafords, Shaws, Market Basket, Stop and Shop, Price Chopper, Wegmans…. At the grocery stores, Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, and Pillsbury blends are the ones you’re more likely to find. You can also go online. Some brands you’ll find online are Authentic Foods, Cup4Cup, Better Batter, Jules, Namastes…. For folks looking for a one to one substitute, there aren’t too many options when it comes to baking. For other types of cooking, you can substitute any high protein/high fiber flour because the flour is usually just for coating or thickening. For baking, sorghum flour can be used in a one to one ration in some baked goods but sorghum flour absorbs more liquid so be sure to increase your liquids by 1/4 cup or so. Some folks like to use spelt flour, but spelt is only a substitute for folks who can’t eat wheat. For folks who have gluten issues, spelt has gluten. If you do use spelt, it tends to usually need just a bit less liquid than regular wheat.

How to use the gluten free mixes

The benefits of the flour blends are that everything is mixed in the proper ratio for you already, and you can easily substitute them into your favorite recipes.  Read the information on the packaging carefully because some are one to one replacements and others are not. Always remember to whisk the flour in a bowl after measuring, though, before you add the other ingredients.  This helps to lessen the density of the flour by breaking it up and incorporating some air into the flour.

If you want to make your own gluten free mix

Every day, however, there are new flour mixes coming on the market, so folks should experiment and see what you prefer.  If you decide you do want to make your own mix, however, there are sites such as http://www.allergicliving.com/gfblend where you can find some great “recipes” for flour blends. As a general rule to make a gluten free flour blend requires mixing a couple of types of gluten free flours with a couple of types of starches to get the same consistency of wheat flours. Some combinations I make are below.

All Purpose Recipe (Makes 4 1/2 cups):

1 1/4 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour

1 1/4 cup millet flour or gluten free oat flour

1 cup sweet rice flour or potato flour

1 cup tapioca starch or potato starch

2 tsp xanthan gum

Pie Crust Recipe (Makes 3 cups):

1 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour

3/4 cup garbanzo bean or fava bean or chickpea flour

3/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch or arrowroot starch

1/2 cup 1/2 cup tapioca starch

High Fiber and Protein Recipe (Makes 3 cups):

1 cup brown rice or sorghum flour

1/2 cup gluten free oat flour

1/2 cup millet flour

2/3 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch

1/3 cup potato starch or cornstarch

 

 

Paula’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups “milk” (use what you prefer; I like to use flax milk or oat or soy milk)

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp melted Earth Balance “butter” (or whatever type you prefer)

2 tsp oil (use a plant-based oil you prefer; I like safflower or avocado oil)

2 cups your favorite whole grain Gluten Free Flour Blend*

1 cup ground flaxseed

2 tsp gluten free baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pureed cooked pumpkin

2 tbsp Agave

1 egg or 1/4 cup egg whites or 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water

Cooking Instructions:

1.  Preheat your griddle or pancake pan on the stove,  preparing either as necessary.

2.  Mix the lemon juice into the soy milk and let it sit for at least five minutes.

3.  Mix the melted “butter” with the oil, and set aside.

4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt.  Set aside.

5.  Mix the pumpkin with the Agave and egg or egg whites or flaxseed mixture.  Add the milk and lemon mixture, along with the cooled “butter” mixture.

6.  Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the wet, blending just until the dry ingredients are moist.  Let the batter sit for a few minutes.  (I like a thick batter for pancakes, but if it is too thick for you, add some more milk, one tbsp at a time until it’s the consistency you’d rather it was.)

7.  When your griddle or pan is ready, drop 1/4 cup-fulls of batter onto the griddle and cook until the edges are getting a bit dry and little bubbles pop in the center of the pancake batter.  Flip and let the pancakes finish cooking for a minute or two on the second side.

* If you don’t need to be gluten free, you can always make these with 100% whole wheat flour instead.  They’re good either way!  If you use whole wheat flour, though, omit the flaxseed unless you like really, really thick pancakes.