Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pumpkin & Chickpea Fritters

This recipe came about due to my love of chickpeas and my recent pumpkin obsession.  These little fritters are so simple to make.  They are a perfect meatless main, make a fabulous sandwich and you can even make mini versions for a first course or appetizer. 
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Panko breadcrumbs

Mash chickpeas with pastry blender or fork.  Stir in pumpkin, egg, flour, 2 Tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs, queso, green onion, cilantro, garlic, cumin and salt.  Shape into 4 large or 8 small patties. Coat lightly with panko.  In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter with oil.  Cook fritters about 10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.

If desired, serve with creamy cilantro sauce:
Combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yougurt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 garlic clove, pressed and 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder.

Feast of the Great Pumpkiin

With Halloween and Thanksgiving in the air, I found myself obsessed with Pumpkin.  Pumpkin recipes were everywhere: pancakes, cookies, pies, chili, sauces...the selection was endless and I had to try them all!

As I felt that I needed a goal for the pumpkin exploratory, I decided to host "The Feast of the Great Pumpkin".  Every dish, from start to finish would contain pumpkin in some form.  As I embarked on my research,  I must say, the hardest part was culling the menu down to a manageable amount of food and making sure there was something even the least adventurous diner would find appealing.
The feast began with pumpkin hummus, pumpkin seed guacamole, pumpkin tartlets and of course, the key to every great gathering, martini's...in this case, pumpkin spice martini's.   

Now for the true test, could pumpkin carry off the main even?  Rich and hearty pumpkin chili, the ultimate comfort food - pumpkin mac and cheese, my favorite - pumpkin chickpea fritters and salad with pumpkin seed and pomegranate vinaigrette seemed to be crowd pleasers.
And as there is ALWAYS room for dessert there were pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin jello shots...yes jello shots.

Thus a new tradition is born.  Don't tell Linus, but as he awaits the arrival of the Great Pumpkin every year, in our pumpkin patch, we will be feasting on that Great Pumpkin!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegetarian in the Wide, Wide World of Food

While this is not a vegetarian blog, you will see that it's a recurring theme, so I thought it's best to talk about it right up front.  I, along with my 19 year old daughter Hannah, have been a lacto-ovo pescatarian for the past 3 1/2 years.  Some of you might be wondering what exactly a lacto-ovo pescatarian is.  Well, we eat eggs, dairy, some fish (most of which we catch at the Jersey shore); we don't eat chicken, beef, poutry, veal or lamb.  I am still trying to decide where frog legs fit in...

I didn't intend to become a lacto-ovo pescatarian (for simplicity sake, I will refer to us as vegetarians from now on!).  I never thought I could live without meat...in truth, I love meat!  But when Lent of 2008 approached,  Hannah decided she would give up meat. One of Hannah's best friends became vegan at a fairly young age, which prompted Hannah to want to give it a try; I had just finished reading Skinny Bitch and Fast Food Nation which really got me thinking.  I decided to join Hannah for several reasons, but mostly because if I was going to cook for one non-meat eater, I may as well cook for 2.   By they way, that left the 3 male carnivores, my husband, Michael and 2 sons, Alex and Ben. (oh and Julie-dog, but she will pretty much go either way.)

So I embarked upon a new culinary adventure.  I found that cooking vegetarian was a little more work, but it really opened my eyes.  The focus shifted to the sides rather than what I always considered the main event -- the animal protein. 

Well, Easter came and went and Hannah and I found, we didn't miss meat nearly as much as we thought we would, so here we are, nearly 4 years later and still meat-free.  For me, as a food professional, it has truly opened my eyes and given me a new perspective.  I am exploring a whole world of food that I previously, well ignored.  And, living as a vegetarian is truly different than thinking you know what a vegetarian wants to eat.

I have tried to do a few things with my meals over the years.  One is find an easy and uncomplicated way to satisfy everyone who comes to the table.  Two is to find vegetarian alternatives to some of our favorite meaty meals.

With my family of 5,  2 vegetarians and 3 meat eaters, I needed to find a way to make everyone happy.  I have done a lot of experimenting over the past years and over time those recipes and meals will ultimately appear here.