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Chickpeas and Cheap Cookery

golden “chicken” patties


My plan is to set up a twice-a-week blogging schedule: A post early in the week about something I cook over the weekend, and a post later in the week about either a cooking experience or a food-related subject, such as things in the news or weird products I come across. (Rejoice: There is a SlapChop review in our future.) I meant to kick off that schedule last week with the chickpea patties, but am in catch-up mode. Better late than never.


I made the chickpea patties because, quite frankly, I was broke and needed something I could do cheaply with few new ingredients to buy. I’m in catch-up mode financially as well; we had to squeeze in an unexpected trip to Los Angeles in November and it was what is euphemistically known as “off-budget,” and then I had to do my holiday baking, which involved stocking up on butter and nuts and some other non-cheap ingredients. So I looked at my dwindling store of canned beans and thought, veggie burger, there’s got to be an easy one I haven’t made yet.


I was surprised to discover that there aren’t that many veggie burger recipes in my vegetarian cookbooks. Or maybe I was just having trouble finding them; not all indexes are created equal, and a cookbook may class a bean burger under “beans” but not “burgers” or “sandwiches.” I tried as many terms as seemed reasonable and ended up with three choices: a bean burger I’ve made many times, a lentil burger that lacked a certain appeal, and a chickpea patty that I think I made once about 10 years ago. The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook recipe called for few ingredients: canned chickpeas, some of the reserved liquid, oats, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil with which to cook it.


It’s a simple recipe. You drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid, puree the chickpeas in a food processor with just enough of the liquid to make a smooth paste, mix it up with some oats and minced garlic, season to taste, and cook in a lightly oiled pan for about 8-10 minutes per side.The patties were a little fragile, shedding chunks when I turned them, but held together well enough for a slightly sloppy dinner. It’s possible I needed to make the chickpea paste a little wetter, or add a bit less of the oats. But they tasted good, with a nutty chickpea flavor and aroma. I served them on basic hamburger buns with a bit of mustard, and if I’d had mayonnaise on hand it would probably have been a nice complement.


I had some russet potatoes on hand too, so I made oven fries to go with the chickpea patties. I scrubbed the potatoes and sliced them into fairly thick fries (skin still on, of course), tossed them with olive oil and some salt and pepper, and baked them in a 450-degree oven for a bit less than half an hour, turning them a couple of times for even browning. They were yummy, with a strong potato taste and no oily overtones. There were crispy edges and rich, smooth interiors. Nice.


I rounded out the dinner with some corn and a few of my homemade pickles, which were as close to a green vegetable as we were going to find in the house until payday. (I know. Shut up.) These were the hot-pepper pickles, which continue to pack a serious punch.

The Whole Soy Cookbook: Speedy Sloppy Joes

soy sloppy joes

SloppyJoeOnBuns3We’re in the dog days of August, and I’ve been falling behind on the cooking. There are a few reasons for this. It’s too hot to cook, for one thing. We’ve been making salad and pasta, or eating leftovers. And we had a few leftovers from Lidia’s Italy to take care of too. So it’s been a challenge to get it together for the blog.

SloppyJoeIngreds2I thought that soy sloppy joes might be pretty easy, though. The Whole Soy Cookbook has a lot of quick recipes, but many of them are similar to things I’ve done before. I’m not sure I’ve made sloppy joes since high school, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

This is a very easy recipe to prepare. The only chopping required is one onion. I heated PouringTomatoJuicesome oil in a skillet and sauteed the chopped onion with some soy ground-beef-style crumbles (3 12-ounce packets), letting them cook for about 5 minutes until the onions were soft and translucent. Then I added a cup of ketchup, 2 cups of tomato juice, 2 tablespoons of mustard, and some salt and pepper. I stirred the mixture together and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, BrowningOnionsSoySausagestirring fairly often.

Then I scooped the mixture onto toasted hamburger buns. I began with my husband’s plate, spooning soy beef mixture onto the bottom half of each sandwich.

“That’s only half,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

AddingSauceIngreds“We always had it on the top of the bun, too,” he said.

“Really?” I looked at his plate. In my family we had sloppy joes as sandwiches. And they inevitably fell apart, hence the name. Why not serve them open-faced? I spread the filling across both halves of the bun and dished up some corn on the side.

MixtureCookedThe sloppy joes were good; the soy ground beef had a good texture, and the sauce was tomatoey and satisfying. It would have been better with a fresh tomato sauce instead of the combination of ketchup and tomato juice, but it was all right as it was.

Verdict: Success. Easy and simple.

Health-For-Victory Club Meal Planning Guide: Defeating the Nazis With Deviled Eggs

deviled eggs; bacon-cheese sandwich filling

Health-For-Victory Club Meal Planning Guide is a 1943 pamphlet from the Home Economics Institute of Westinghouse in Mansfield, Ohio. So it brings together wartime scarcity and rationing with the precepts of early-20th-century home economics, which means a lot of things with white sauce.

In all fairness, the majority of the recipes are reasonably wholesome, and cover a wide variety of dishes. The quick bread section includes blueberry nut bread, French toast, corn bread and griddle cakes. Cakes and cookies include gingerbread, oatmeal cookies and lemon molasses cupcakes. There are rarebits, chicken fricassee, cherry dumplings, peach shortcake, and chicken and noodles, as well as the intriguingly named “macaroni hoe.” (It appears to be a robust mac and cheese souffle with an egg base, flavored with green pepper and pimiento.) There’s also a section on dehydrating and brining food to preserve your garden’s output, and tips on making the most of your ration points. And there’s a lot of very sound nutritional advice (such as saving the cooking water from vegetables to use in soups, or relying on beans and nuts for your protein when meat is scarce).

I don’t know if I’m just unusually sensitive to summer heat (this is very possible) or if cultural standards have changed, but the June 1943 book seems to have a lot of heavy, hot and starchy foods for the season. Fruits are stewed; hot cereals are offered; macaroni stars in a lot of non-salad dishes. I didn’t realize this when I was scheduling the various cookbooks, so had to dig a bit to find something suitable for the August heat. But I came up with two recipes that worked well for a cold supper on a warm night: deviled eggs, and bacon-and-cream-cheese sandwich filling.

The sandwich filling was pretty easy. I cooked yet more bacon (at this rate I need to buy stock in Ajax Dishwashing Liquid) and chopped up enough for 1/4 cup; I mixed this with 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus a bit of horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and milk, then chilled it until it was time to spread it on toasted bread. It tasted good. (Is that surprising when the major flavor element is bacon?) The recipe produced enough for three moderate sandwiches or possibly two generous ones, but we went with moderate.

The deviled eggs were a bit more work. I followed the booklet’s instructions for hard-cooking the eggs: put the eggs in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer 5-8 minutes, then drain off the hot water and rinse well with cold to stop the cooking. At this point the smart thing to do would have been to immediately peel the eggs under cold running water, but I was cooking them a day ahead and so put them into the fridge in the shells. This meant that despite the fairly generous air pocket at the end of some of them (a sign that the eggs were not perfectly fresh, though they were still quite good), the shells did not come off too easily when I did peel them. I didn’t utterly mutilate them, though.

Once the eggs are peeled, they should be cut in half lengthwise, and the yolks pressed through a sieve into a bowl. I used a finer sieve than I think was intended, so it took a bit of time and didn’t do much good for the sieve, but it did make for a nice fluffy filling and no big chunks of yolk. Mix the sieved yolks with some cream, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and beat the mixture until fluffy. Or, in my case, until you get impatient to get on with it. Scoop the yolk mixture back into the egg halves. You could use a pastry bag to make it pretty, but I didn’t bother. Garnish with paprika or chives.

The deviled eggs tasted good. I wouldn’t say great, but then I’m not really an aficionado, so it’s an uncommon deviled egg indeed that will have me singing its praises. I was perfectly happy with them. I served up the sandwiches and eggs with a sizable green salad, on principle.

Verdict: Success. The recipes were not complicated, and the instructions were clear and accurate. The results tasted good. The bacon-cream-cheese filling certainly does a good job of stretching the serving of bacon; even a generously spread sandwich uses less than half the bacon you’d put on a single BLT. And the hard-boiled egg instructions were right on target, producing nicely yellow yolks (two were slightly tinged with green — I think those eggs were older — but not enough to affect the color of the filling). I don’t feel especially called to make either again, but I don’t specifically object to doing so.

500 Tasty Sandwich Recipes: Have Some Sandwich With Your Mayonnaise

chicken and bacon salad, salmon and cucumber, beef

500 Tasty Sandwich Recipes is one of a series of 1940s booklets offering hundreds of recipes for a particular item: salads, sandwiches, and dairy-based dishes have made it into my collection. While writing Recipes of the Damned entries I found hilarious possibilities: molded salads arranged to look like flowerpots, peanut-butter rarebit (yes, really), and perhaps best of all the “treasure sandwich chest,” which requires you to hollow out a loaf of bread and fill it with assembled sandwiches. With hundreds of recipes per booklet, I thought I’d never run out of possibilities.

So you can imagine my surprise when I did a recipe count during the cataloging of my collection, and found that none of these books actually has as many recipes as advertised. Sandwiches? Only 351, and that’s counting every possible filling variation plus all the recipes for breads. Salads? A mere 447, well under the booklet’s promise of 500. Dairy recipes? Just 259, not the 300 promised by that title, though the closest to its promise of the three.

Truth in advertising aside, I decided that sandwiches would be great for supper on a warm summer evening. I thought that variety might be pleasing, and also that while I might well pick one dud I could surely not pick three, and so I settled on chicken and bacon salad, salmon and cucumber, and beef.

Preparation of the chicken and bacon salad is fairly simple: one cup of chopped cooked chicken, half a cup of diced bacon, half a cup of diced tomatoes and half a cup of mayonnaise. And if you think that sounds like a lot of mayonnaise, well, you’re right. I had determined to follow the instructions for all these untried recipes, but I had misgivings when I measured out the mayonnaise. I went ahead, and found myself with a rather creamy mixture. It tasted good, which I think is partly because the bacon and the tomatoes were very high quality, but if I were to make this again I would use a lot less mayonnaise.

I mixed up the salmon and cucumber salad next, and was far more skeptical about the mayonnaise this time. Overdoing the mayo seems especially wrong when you’re dealing with salmon, whose flavor deserves to be accentuated, not smothered. I mixed up cooked salmon and chopped cucumber and far less mayonnaise than recommended, for a still very spreadable, even mayonnaise-rich, filling. I can’t imagine how goopy it would have been with the full amount.

Finally I turned to the beef filling, which was blissfully free of mayonnaise. Cold roast beef is combined with salt, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and melted butter. I am not sure what the author meant by “chili sauce” in 1949; I seriously doubt she meant the kind that you get at Asian markets, in the plastic bottle with the strutting rooster, glittering with pepper seeds, but that’s what I had on hand and that’s what I used, and it turned out to be really tasty. Peppy, zingy, but not so strong as to overpower the beef or Worcestershire sauce.

I spread the sandwich fillings on toast and added lettuce to the chicken and salmon, and served them up with potato salad. I did not go the extra step of cutting off the crusts; I may be nuts but even I have my limits. The sandwiches were all delicious, even with an excess of mayonnaise.

Verdict: Success. I’d make them again, with adaptations, and they did make for a nice cool supper on a warm, humid night.

And that brings us nearly to the end of July’s book list; only Jell-O remains. (Cue dramatic music.) More details on that tomorrow.