Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

or……what Annie found at the farmer’s market this week. Minus the lemons, duh. Those came from the grocery store.

Smashed Potatoes with summer produce

What I really wanted to make this week was this dish, minus the potatoes and add squash blossoms. But nobody at the farmer’s market had squash blossoms, and the German butterball potatoes just looked too good to pass up. I ended up loving my choice because it was hearty and easy and cheap and I didn’t have to stand over the burner sauteeing squash blossoms. I’m not ruling out those big orange flowers for future posts, though.

The folks at the market also had some nice purslane. I’ve been foraging my own wild purslane, and it’s delicious. But the farm-grown greens are even better. Sweeter and lemony and meatier. I usually eat purslane sauteed with a little garlic and onion, but the farm-grown stuff is good raw. Also, sauteed purslane looses its color in like five seconds after it hits the pan and I like my food bright. I’ll still eat the foraged kind because it’s free and plentiful, but for this recipe, I used the farmed shoots.

smashed potatoes with summer produce

I was super excited for the okra because I haven’t had any this summer. I just love how the little seeds pop in your mouth when you bite in.  This is kind of like fried okra, only not fried. I used aquafaba to get the breading to stick to the okra. Just be sure to shake off excess moisture, or the breading will get soggy even after baking. Yuck.

The guy at the potato stand had three different kinds of midsummer tubers, and I had the hardest time choosing. Finally I decided on the German butterballs because the dude said they got the best golden crust when roasting. In truth, they were a little mealier than I like, but not by much. Little viking potatoes or red bliss or whatever small potato you can find will work just fine.

Smashed Potatoes with Summer Produce

Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

This recipe calls for coconut oil, but you can certainly substitute olive oil if you wish. For an extra golden crisp, drizzle a little bit more oil over the lemon coating.

Ingredients

  • 18-20 German Butterball potatoes
  • 8 oz multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 12 oz of fresh okra
  • 1 cup of purslane leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil, plus a little more
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp microplane-grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Okra breading
  • 2 1/2 cups of corn Chex or generic equivalent
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • aquafaba from 1 can of chickpeas

Instructions

  1. Scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water (uncovered) over high heat until the yield to a fork -- about 15-20 min.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, the coconut oil, the lemon zest, the garlic, the salt and the pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cut the stem and the tip off the okra and slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters.
  5. Place the corn cereal in a blender and pulverize. Combine with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 and grease 2 pans with coconut oil
  7. Once the potatoes are done boiling, allow them to cool. Quarter the larger ones (so you get more "smashed" surface area) and then place them on one of the pans. Smash flat with a cup.
  8. Carefully pour the lemon mix over top of the potatoes.
  9. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes, until nice and golden. Sprinkle with more salt the second they come out of the oven.
  10. While the potatoes are roasting, dip the prepared okra in the aquafaba, shake off excess, and roll in breading. Place them on the second pan. Put them in the oven 10 minutes after you've started the potatoes, but remove them at the same time. (okra bakes for 15 minutes)
  11. Combine the orka and potatoes in a big serving dish. Toss in the tomatoes and purslane leaves.
  12. Serve right away, with lots of love.
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lemony smashed potatoes with summer produce easy cheap vegan

Amazing Vegan Chickpea Fritters

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In the summer, I often find myself happily overwhelmed by all the fresh-from-the-dirt produce. Sometimes I eat so much green, juicy stuff that I fail to consume anything else.

Which at the end of the day, leaves me peckish and making bad choices. I spiral down into the chip bag, or the chocolate chip bag, or deep into the freezer for something frozen and fatty.

Clearly there needs to be a middle ground, and that’s where these come in. These have a lot of summer flavor, but are so very hearty. They were inspired by one of Jason’s favorite sandwiches, the pan bagnat. Of course, at the end of my experimenting, it only had a few of the elements of that sandwich left. But damn, these were so freaking tasty– listen to this.  Fresh basil. SUMMER TOMATOES. purple onions, creamy avocado. Just the best kinds stuff.

You start out with smashing up some chickpeas with a fork.

a-1k

Do not use a blender, okay? The coarse chickpeas give these so much texture.  Then add in some onions and avocado and bright basil.

And of course you need some summer tomatoes.

a-1l

You mix them up together with the basil and onions and avocado and some lemon zest. As a binder, you use aquafaba and oats…it works just like an egg would. It holds everything together and when it hits the pan it creates a golden crispy crust on each fritter. Perfect.

These taste awesome on their own with a little lemon juice and salt, or with (gasp) ketchup, or in a taco, or over a salad, or whatever the heck strikes your fancy.

 

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Amazing Vegan Chickpea Fritters

Yield: 18-22 fritters

i made a patty mold out of an pop can, to allow the patties to form nicer circles. I used tin snips to cut the can (a cross section of the can), but a careful hand can also manage with plain scissors.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas (keep the aquafaba!)
  • 1 avocado, finely diced
  • 2 cups basil (not packed)
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes (about 20 grape tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced purple onion
  • 2/3 cup aquafaba
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, ground to flour
  • 1 tsp micropane-grated garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • just a little lemon juice
  • about 3 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Drizzle the avocado with just a tad of lemon juice
  2. Smash up the chickpeas with a fork.
  3. Shred up the basil with scissors.
  4. Combine the chickpeas, the basil, the onion, the tomato, and the avocado. Be careful not to smash the avocado. This is important because they create wonderful creamy pockets.
  5. Combine the aquafaba, the oat flour, the garlic, the flax meal, the lemon zest, and the salt. Let it rest a bit to allow the oats to soak up the liquid some.
  6. Carefully stir the aquafaba mix into the chickpea mix. Make sure to distribute the aquabafa mix evenly, as this is what will bind the patties together.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 3/4 tbsp coconut oil. Allow oil to warm.
  8. Scoop 2 tbsp worth of mix into pan and smash lightly to form a patty. Repeat and repeat.
  9. Allow patties to cook for 4 minutes on each side, then remove to paper towel to drain.
  10. Continue until mix is gone, working in batches of about 5 -6 (5-6 patties at a time in the pan, replenishing oil as needed. I only used 3 tbsp of oil for the whole recipe)
  11. Serve hot with a little more lemon juice and salt. Also makes great tacos.
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Vegan Mexican Caldo

aka Caldo De Chickpeas

caldo12_8

I’m sorry I’ve been so flaky with posting. Life is crazy, yes, but everyone’s lives are always crazy. I’m no different.

It’s not the lack of time, but rather the lack of good words.  I had a huge slip in the past week or so, and I felt worse that I’ve felt in a long time. Mad. Exhausted. I didn’t run, I couldn’t walk down the grocery store aisle, even.

Not for lack of physical ability.

I’d been feeling fine, and for no reason at all I didn’t feel fine anymore.  Well, there was a reason, but I think that was merely a straw and not the true bulk of …. of…. of whatever.  Still, I was angry at the straw. The straw hadn’t meant to harm, but had harmed nonetheless.

This is probably too much for a blog post about soup. I have been feeling a little better this week and am focusing on getting back into a healthy routine. Or at least a routine.

Sorry.

Ahem, onto the soup.

I wanted something classic and comforting, but healthy and light.  Any abuela worth her salt (con limón) knows that Caldo de Pollo is textbook Mexican comfort food. Although every home chef has their own variation, the basic elements are chicken in bone stock, rice, a bit of pepper. And a mirepoix of sorts with huge chuncks of carrots instead of finely diced ones. If it has little pea-sized carrot bits, it’s not caldo. You can, however, have an awesome Caldo without the Pollo.

dancing-carrots

I have finally joined the mass obsession with chickpeas. I get it now. I need to start soaking them instead of buying them in cans because our recycling is getting ridiculous. We don’t have curbside pickup, which means we usually get a pretty big pile before one of us draws the short straw to drive it in.

Kidding. I always make Jason do it.

This soup is incredibly simple and cheap, with ample servings of iron and protein. I generous lemon squeeze and a chopped up jalapeno give it a bright peppy edge. Despite its Mexican influences, this isn’t a bad soup to eat with chopsticks aside your spoon. They make the spinach easier to pick up.

But if you lost your chopsticks down the garbage disposal, or accidentally threw it out with the leftovers or whatever, a fork is fine too. We’re humans. We adapt, right?

Vegan Mexican Caldo

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 main servings, or 4 side servings

Vegan Mexican Caldo

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 oz of carrots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can drained chickpeas
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt to taste
  • a few cilantro sprigs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 jalapeno

Instructions

  1. Chop up the carrots into chunks. Not little chunks.
  2. Place the carrots, the onion, the bay leaf, the garlic clove, and about 1/2 cup of the broth in a medium saucepan. Cover, cook over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until carrots soften. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Slice the jalapeno and add it to the soup along with the chickpeas and the rest of the broth
  4. Allow the soup to re-heat, about 5-7 minutes
  5. Add the lemon juice, turn off the heat, and add the spinach. The spinach will wilt quickly.
  6. Garnish with cilantro, serve with love and tortillas.
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Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Pop-Tarts

tiny DIY Pop-Tarts with only a handful of ingredients

Jason is a guy who loves breakfast junk food. Chocolate chip pancakes, gallons of syrup, full fat chocolate milk, waffles with a layer of chunky peanut butter 1-inch thick; an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It doesn’t bother me because he doesn’t eat like this on a regular basis. We’re all allowed our food vices.

Even if it did bother me, he’s the stubbornest husband in the world, so I could nag my head off and it wouldn’t make a lick of a difference.

Last week, he mentioned something about Pop-Tarts. I tucked it in the back of my mental food Filofax, but then I decided that it needed to be pushed up to the front. I didn’t want to make anything complicated, and these are simple as can be. They are actually rather low mess, which fit well with my goal of “oh-please-let-the-kitchen-be-clean-for-longer-than-30-minutes.” I didn’t have to leave the house for ingredients, as they were already tucked in various corners of my kitchen*. And lastly, it was Valentines Day and food is full-blown love gesture in my world.

He ate more than half of them within 20 minutes or so. That made me incredibly freaking happy. I love feeding my guy.

DIY Gluten Free Vegan Blueberry Poptarts

Frozen blueberries are one of my favorite ingredients.  I can’t say that I’m hypercreative with them — I cycle between smoothies and jam, smoothies and jam.  There’s no shame in this apparent redundancy — there are dozens of blueberry smoothie recipes and a plethora of ways to use jam.

I’ve been making frozen fruit and date jam for awhile now, and I like it because tastes better than store jam, and is simpler then pectin jam. You just throw dates and fruit in a saucepan and when it gets jut right, blend it up and you’re done.  It’s easier when you have an immersion blender, which I currently don’t. Mine burned out several months back I have yet to replace it. I gotta get on that because it’s winter and I’m backlogged on my creamy comforting soups.

Also, another thing about this jam — it’s less messy than other jams. That sounds very weird and suspicious and y’all aren’t believing me on this, but don’t know how else to describe it. See how the jelly is peeking out a little from the side of the crust? Well, when you bite into it, it doesn’t squirt out or anything (at room temp. no promises on hot jam). Maybe Hot Jam! should be me new exclamation. Hot Jam, it’s cold out! Hot Jam, you look cute those boots! Hot Jam, Annie’s a real nerd, isn’t she? 

vegan gluten free pop-tarts diy pop-tarts

Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Poptarts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 11-12 mini pop tarts

Serving Size: 1 pop tart

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 1 cup of rolled oats, ground to flour
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 pitted dates, softened in hot water
  • pinch of salt
  • Jelly
  • 2 cups frozen Maine blueberries
  • 5 pitted dates
  • sprinkles
  • coarse flake sea salt
  • zest from one lemon

Instructions

  1. Before you begin, set the blueberries out to defrost for about 1/2 hour.
  2. Crust
  3. Blend together the dates, the peanut butter, and the oat flour. It should ball up in your blender or food processor. I love this part because the sticky stuff gets on the ball and not the blender cup, making for easy cleanup. Yay!
  4. Roll the crust out to 1/8 inch thick, then cut rectangles that are 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inches. should end up with 22-24 rectangles. If they get hard or crusty to roll at the end of the batch, roll the dough in your hands for a bit to warm up the pb oils.
  5. Jelly
  6. Place the defrosted blueberries and the five dates in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, covered for 6 minutes and uncovered for 5 minutes. Imitiatley remove from heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  7. Blend the blueberries to an even consistency.
  8. To assemble
  9. Place 1/2 to 3/4 of a tsp of jelly on a crust rectangle and cover gingerly with another rectangle. Don't pinch the ends together with a fork-- there's not enough room-- just press together gently with your fingers.
  10. Sprinkle lemon zest and a little bit of salt over top. If you want, use little cookie cutters to make the top more festive
  11. Serve with love

Notes

I used my omnigrid sewing square to make the rectangles just right. i think i use it more in the kitchen than i ever did when I sewed a lot. if you have one buried in your craft stuff, relocate it to the kitchen and store it with the cutting boards. you'll find yourself using it over and over! that said, if you don't have an omnigrid, a regular ruler will also do the job here.

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Gluten Free Vegan Poptarts

crust adapted from the first mess

 

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

I’ve loved ricotta from a very young age. Only I didn’t know it was ricotta, I just called it “that white pie that Nana makes at Easter.” She put little bits of canned cherries in there, and it was my favorite part of the Easter meal. Other than the rolls, obvs.

Other ways I love eating ricotta

  • In a bowl with fruit and nuts and honey
  • in pancakes
  • in ice cream
  • cookies

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

This is a bit of a combination of pancakes and pie, but it’s easier than either of them.  There’s no need to guard the griddle or flip this pancake. Flipping regular pancakes is requires care and attention, but flipping ricotta pancakes is a delicate art. An art that I have perhaps not studied enough.

Ricotta pie can be simple, but it can also be complicated — recipes ranging anywhere from 4 eggs to 12 eggs, heaps of sugar, cream, liquors. I never glanced at Nana’s recipe, so I can’t tell you how fussy it was, but I can tell you that it never tasted overwrought. It tasted simple and comforting.

And then there’s always the pie crust to contend with, enemy of even the most veteran baker.

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

This humble cake has five simple ingredients. The fruit topping is purely optional — you can omit it and drizzle on some honey instead, or just eat it plain. I chose raspberry because I have been on a major raspberry drive lately. I just want raspberries in everything and on everything, especially when they are bright and tart.

Fresh out of the oven, the texture of this cake is soft and cake-like, egginess noteable but not overpowering.

If you leave it to mellow, the next day you will find it sweeter, with the vanilla more present, and carrying a definite custard texture.

Wonderful either way.

You can mix this cake in less than five minutes, but it takes about 40 to bake. This is a gift. Get up, make the cake, and spend the cooking time cuddling in bed. hello sunshine.

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Baked Honey Ricotta Pancake

Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cook Time: 42 minutes

Yield: 1 6 1/2" cake (serves 2-4)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup light ricotta*
  • 11/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp honey, plus 1 tbsp for drizzling on top
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • optional topping
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • nuts
  • honey

Instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 375
  2. lightly grease a small casserole or pie pan (6 1/2 inch).
  3. Combine eggs, vanilla, ricotta, and honey. Beat on medium for about a minute or so, until well combined.
  4. Stir in the oats.
  5. Pour into the pan and drizzle additional honey on top
  6. Bake 38-42 minutes, until golden. It will still look a little wobbly when you take it out of the oven.
  7. Allow to cool slightly
  8. for the optional topping
  9. defrost the rasberries and mash them with a little honey. Spoon over top of the cake and sprinkle with nuts. serve with love

Notes

*light ricotta and part-skim ricotta are not the same thing.

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Easy Baked Ricotta Honey Pancake