Cooking Experiments

I tried a couple of new recipes over the last couple of days. Like, actually cooked ’em, which is a pretty big step for me. Much like I’ve become more of a book collector than a book reader, I’m also more of a recipe, um, enthusiast, than I am a cooker of new recipes. And the thing is, it’s not that I don’t like trying new foods, or new versions of familiar dishes or whatever. It’s just that trying to cook unfamiliar recipes stresses me out. And more often than not, I’m not that impressed with the result. But as part of my new effort to get back on (and more importantly, stay on) track, I decided to try some new things with the understanding that it would likely take multiple attempts to get them right. Which has turned out to be the case.

I’ve got to get with the program and remember to take photos. I didn’t, so y’all are just going to have to take my word that I actually made these things. Doh!

Anyway, the two new things I’ve tried are a lentil flatbread and a sugar-free sweet chilli sauce. In both cases, the first attempts were complete failures. The lentil flatbread is simple. You soak the lentils in water for a few hours, throw them in a blender, then cook them like pancakes. I screwed it up by rinsing the lentils before I soaked them, which changed the amount of water they absorbed, so I ended up with a too-thin mixture (my son called it “lentil milk”) that I didn’t even bother trying to cook.

The second and third attempts have been better, although I haven’t completely got the cooking part down. Essentially, I’m trying to figure out how to make two different styles–a smaller, thicker one that can work as a substitute for a piece of bread, and a larger, thinner one that works as a wrap. So far the tricky part for me has been figuring out how and when to flip the larger ones so that they don’t tear. My best result so far is a 50% success rate, although some of the “failures” are still perfectly edible. And one of my successes was used to make a dee-licious wrap for my lunch, so that was a big win.

The recipe is quite simple.

  1. Soak 1 cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water for 3 hours.
  2. Pour mixture into blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into a hot nonstick pan, gently tilting pan to spread it around to the desired size.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2 minutes before removing to a plate.

Edit: Okay, I made more and remembered to take a few pictures. First I put the lentils in water to soak for a few hours, then whizzed it up in a blender, cooked them for about 2 1/2 minutes on one side, and 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on the other. I got a half a dozen flatbreads out of that cup of lentils, including the last extra-large one that I used to make a delicious chicken & salad wrap.

And the second new dish was the sweet chilli sauce. This is not something I tend to eat a lot of, but I saw a YouTube video for salmon cakes, and I thought it might be smart to replace the sweet chilli sauce topping with a lower-calorie version, and there was (of course) a YouTube video for that, too.

That recipe isn’t quite as simple as the lentil bread, but it’s not too complicated.

  1. Mix together 1 teaspoon each of chilli paste, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon each of fish sauce and white vinegar.
  3. In a separate small bowl, mix 3 teaspoons of arrowroot (tapioca flour) with 3 teaspoons of water.
  4. In a small saucepan, add a half cup of granulated sweetener to 1 cup of water, bring to a simmer.
  5. Add chilli mixture to the saucepan and stir.
  6. Add arrowroot mixture and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Turn off heat, cover with a tea towel and allow to cool for an hour.
  8. Transfer to a clear storage container and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

So sure, I think both of these can be handy additions to my diet. If I can get those flatbreads worked out, I can see myself using them a lot. I’m not quite as sure about the sweet chilli sauce, but I might change my mind after I actually, you know, eat some of it. The sweet part is that both are 0 points, and while I don’t think the chilli sauce is offering a lot of nutritional value, the lentil breads are full of protein and just, like, the epitome of healthy food.

Anyway, I’m going to publish this post now, but I’m going to try to remember to come back to it and add in some links to the YouTube videos and also some pictures of what I’m cooking.

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