I had decided to buy Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. However I am still not really into online book shopping. I wanted to touch a book, flick through the pages, look at the pictures (or lack of) and browse the contents before I buy. Despite being impressed with some recipes I have seen on the blogosphere I just didn't like the feel of the book. Instead I came away with Vegan Yum Yum and Veggie Burgers Every Which Way. Two glossy cookbooks full of photos and tempting recipes. (More details at My Cookbooks)
I tell this story of buying new cookbooks partly because I passed four bookshops that have recently closed on the way to Dymocks bookshop. It is odd to realise the city no longer offers the shelves of books I used to browse at Readers Feast, Borders, Angus and Robertson and McGills. Nay, it is disturbing. There is no greater pleasure than sitting in a comfy chair or even on the floor with a stack of cookbooks to browse. I wonder how it will change the books that we buy if we can only buy books sight unseen online. I love the internet, but one of its benefits is that it increases our options. I want a life offline too.
Cookbook Challenge a few weeks back was Baked. As I love baking, this was hard to narrow down. Cakes? Muffins? Slices? Biscuits? Gratins? Bread? I decided to use my new Veggie Burgers cookbook. I chose the pretzel buns which intrigued me. I have always wanted to make pretzels. They were perfect dark brown orbs with a little cross and sprinkle of rock salt in the photo in the book. You can see mine weren't anything like that. Mine demanded a slotted egg flip (see above photo) at so many stages of the process.
My pretzel buns came out of the oven and refused to come off the silicone mat/baking paper. Some very aggressive action with my egg flip was required. They were the oddest shapes and some had soft bits where I think they had got too soggy. Soggy pretzel buns do bad things to your stomach. But all was not lost. Most of them were as pretzels should be. Not skinny but they were chewy on the outside, rather salty and soft inside. They were interestingly different from other yeasted baking I have done. I want to make them again because they are so intriguing. I am sure I could do better next time.
But I didn't stop at the burger buns. No. I made bean burgers to go inside them and some roasted corn salad to have on the side. I chose both recipes for their simplicity. A wise decision given that the pretzel buns were even more challenging then I expected. (And just in case you think I had all day to do this, I made it after taking Sylvia to play with her neighbour, swimming lessons, getting a quote on the car and shopping at the supermarket!)
I was delighted to discover the salad was roasted. I suspected it might have been a case of mind over matter. The next Cookbook Challenge after Baked was Roast. (For those who are confused, baking uses no oil and can involve an increase in volume, whereas roasting involves oil and often involves some shinkage.) It seemed just so convenient, if a tad cheeky, to tick off two challenges in one meal. But I was convinced that it was to be fried. Sigh! It might have helped if the pretzel buns hadn't addled my brain so much that I didn't notice that the salad was actually called Roasted Corn Salad.
baked beans rather than tomato sauce. Heaven in a bun! I am looking forward to trying more of the interesting burgers from the book.
To see what else my Cookbook Challenge colleauges made for Baked and Roast go here. I am also submitting these pretzel buns to Yeastspotting.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: PPN Tofu-Ricotta, Zucchini and Pumpkin Lasagne
This time two years ago: Chocolate cookies and pizza
This time three years ago: PPN: Soy bombs with two tomato sauces
Roasted Corn Salad
Adapted from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
Serves 4 as a side dish
1-2 tbsp olive oil
kernels of 3 cobs of corn
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
juice of 1/4 lime
Toss corn, onion and green chilli with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes at about 200 C. They should be shrunken and maybe a little charred (but not necessarily). Toss with lime juice. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Easy Bean Burger
Slightly adapted from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
400g tin of beans, rinsed and drained (I used borlotti but you could also use chickpeas, kidney beans or cannelini beans)
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped (about half a bunch)
1/4 finely grated parmesan
2 tsp seeded mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs (or a bit more - I used 1 cup)
1-2 tbsp olive oi
Mash beans in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in eggs, parsley, parmesan, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice to make a nice gloopy mixture. Add in the breadcrumbs and leave for a few minutes so they absorb the liquid. If the mixture is still too moist add some more breadcrumbs so it comes together into a ball easily.
Divide into four and shape into flat patties (about 10cm in diameters). Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed non stick frypan and fry for 6-10 minutes on either side until well browned. Bake in oven at 200 C for 12-15 minutes. Serve hot or warm. (Also delicious cold for lunch the next day.) I reheated mine under a hot grill (or broiler) the next day.
From Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
2 tsp dried yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
3 - 4 cups flour
1 tsp plus 1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
rock salt or salt flakes to sprinkle
On the Stereo:
The Count Meets the Duke - Duke Ellington and Count Basie