Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bean Griddle Cakes

This Christmas I received many remarkable presents and I'm thankful for them all, but among my favorites was Mark Bittman's cookbook 'How To Cook Everything' (Thank you, Axon). It lives up to its name. I think of it as the Joy of Cooking for the Gen X, Y and whatever comes after us generations - with olive oil replacing vegetable oil and easy DIY recipes for mayonnaise, coconut milk and ketchup. The layout is clear and logical with a basic like 'Beef Stew' accompanied by a box with ten variations on the recipe to fancy it up. It's particularly guy friendly, somehow, with Cooking 101 style diagrams and instructions. That's handy since, in this house, the guy does most of the cooking these days and he's just not the Julia Child type. But my favorite, favorite thing about the cookbook is that Mr. Bittman dedicates a fat, 50 page chapter, just to beans. It's like he knew, knew there would be a recession and that we'd all be newlyweds (or at least Kristen is) and we'd all be living on beans. I used to think that living on beans was a terribly desperate and depressing prospect. But when hard times came a knockin' and forced our hand, I realized beans are like the chicken of the vegetarian world - when overcooked they're dry and bland beyond tolerance, but in capable hands they're infinitely versatile and absolutely delicious. Beans (and lentils) are wonderful, they really are, if you know what to do with them. And lately this is what we do with beans.

Bean Griddle Cakes (Cooked Straight from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

2 Cups cooked beans (I've used Adzuki but anything would work) (We buy bulk dry beans from Whole Foods - beans in a can just don't compare in taste or cost)
1 C whole milk plus more if needed
1 Egg
2 Tb melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 C all purpose flour (I use bread flour 'cause that's all I have)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beans in a large bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Mix in everything else (you want pancake batter consistency so adjust milk or flour accordingly) and (When adding salt keep in mind whether or not the beans were cooked with salt).

Heat oil in a skillet, ladle in pools of batter and fry till browned on each side.

Optional addition ideas: Shredded cheese, mushrooms, herbs, onions, garlic, corn, chiles, curry, chopped nuts, fresh or crystallized ginger, or really anything!

We usually make this with cheese, onions, garlic and mushrooms added to the basic batter, and serve this with greek yogurt and fresh chunky salsa on top. Oh man, delish.

Other sauce ideas: Tomato sauce, basil soy sauce, miso dipping sauce, tomato and fruit salsa...

(This also works well for big groups, make the batter a day or so ahead and just fry it up real quick)


K. A. Mohr said...

Holy Cow.

I cannot wait to try this.

You have no idea how much I love beans.

k.elizabeth w. said...

yes! I will try this. Hooray for poor man's food.

Susan-M- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan-M- said...

Very easy recipe. Like savory pancakes with mashed beans. I used a can of fava beans, which had good flavor but the tough skins got in the way a bit. It's interesting how there's no leavening, but the texture feels leavened, or at least not tough. Thanks for sharing; I'm always up for good bean recipes. I appreciate all the topping ideas as well. I tried it with avocados, shredded cheese, and salsa.

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