Go Ahead honey It's Gluten Free! Sweet and Savory Canapes

>> Tuesday, March 24

chickpea crackers, peppered eggplant,
roasted red pepper tahini, and lemon,
with zatar, paprika and rosemary.

Part I: Savory Canapés

I was thrilled by this month's theme of Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free! which Naomi of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried came up with. It seemed so...easy. Yet, if you only knew what I went through to make these. Wait, let me just explain. What are in truth the easiest, simplest, and tastiest crackers in the world, and gluten free and vegan to boot, took me TWO DAYS to prepare just because I planned poorly. Yes, it was after meticulously creating my perfect first batch with the last half cup of chickpea flour that I spaced out for a few moments too long and got a pile of blackened shale in return for all my efforts. I know that the Indian shop at the train station has chickpea flour, but I have to go the other direction to work, so with one hour of free time I felt confident I could find some flour in Klein Basel on my way. Ha. Hahaha. That’s what fate was doing all yesterday, as I scoured about 15 shops for one lonely bag of chickpea flour and found none.

Thankfully, there are heroes in this world, and I happen to know one of them. Daniel stopped at one small shop, 2 blocks from his house, and came over later with a bag of chickpea flour, looking obnoxiously nonchalant. Oh yeah, the one shop he checked had it. Never mind the other 30 turkish and Indian shops in Basel that I checked…I fell asleep dreaming of chickpea cracker canapés, and the next morning we began round 2 of canapé creation from ground zero. I am very pleased to give you the result-an eastern spin on the classic French appetizer, happily allergen-free, beautiful, and tantalizing in every way.

I quote Daniel as he bit into the first: “It’s like tasting a play; each flavor has its own scene and you move through them like a story is unfolding. You start with the tangy lemon, then you get the spicy paprika, the earthy red pepper dip, and the soft eggplant taste, surrounded by the crunch of the chickpea crackers. Behind it all comes the roasted pepper again, soothing the whole experience.” The boy should be a poet, and these canapés should be muses. To give them due credit, we decided to name them after their regal appearance. Voila: Canapés Impériale

Canapés Impériale

1 batch of Gluten Free Chickpea Crackers from Susan at FatFree Vegan Kitchen
1 batch of Roasted Red Pepper Tahini (recipe below)
½ lemon
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbsp zatar
1 tbsp hot paprika
¼ eggplant
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Slice the eggplant into very thin slices lengthwise, lay on a plate, and salt generously on both sides. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and turn the pan to coat the bottom. Add the eggplant and dust with half the pepper. Cook until the bottom is well-browned, then turn and sprinkle the rest of the pepper. Cook over medium heat until tender, then set on a plate covered in paper towels to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the lemon half into 4 slices so that the lemon segments form little triangles. Carefully cut the segments out into a small bowl, preserving the triangular shape as you do so.

When the eggplants are cool, cut them into 1 inch squares and set one piece of eggplant on each cracker, with the corners of the eggplant in the middle of the sides of each cracker so you have a nice “pointy” thing going on.

Moisten your fingers and quickly form about ¼ tsp tahini whip into a ball and set it in the center of the eggplant. Sprinkle a pinch of zatar onto it, then place the lemon segment on top and dust with paprika. Finally, stick a single ‘leaf’ (what do you call individual little green parts on rosemary? Needles??) of rosemary into the tahini so that it arches up over the lemon. Repeat with all of them and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Tahini

1 red bell pepper
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbsp water
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) and set your baking rack in the highest slot.

Wash the pepper and bake it for about 10 minutes on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet. It should be pretty charred and black on one side. Turn it and let the other side get puffy, crisp, and dark.
Remove the pepper from the oven and fold the tinfoil over it. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then open it up, remove the seeds and skin (should basically fall off) and discard them.

If you have a food processor, toss all the ingredients in there at this point. If not (Hello, my name is Erin and I am a food prep masochist. I have nothing but a mortar and pestle and I question that choice often.), chop the pepper up and then grind it into a paste in a mortar and pestle. Stir it into the tahini, add the water, and salt to taste, mixing it all until you get a fluffy, thick paste. Should be workable and smooth, but not liquid, since you want it to keep its shape on the cracker.
Although, just add some more water and a little lemon and you have a perfect chip dip, FYI.

Part II: The Sweet Tooth Trembles…

I made some red bean paste last week because we had too many kidney beans lying around. It’s fantastic on rice cakes or bread, or with yogurt or porridge, but as a singularly unique item, it begs creativity, and I felt compelled to oblige when I thought about creating a sweet canapé for this edition of Go Ahead honey. Enter: The dessert sushi. This cookie is so tasty, satisfying, and, (really) healthy that it could be your next homemade Powerbar if you just tossed in some guarana and raisins. And the presentation is, needless to say, really really cool.

Red Bean Paste
2 cups dry kidney beans
4 tbsp maple syrup
A smidge of salt. About one grain. (optional)

Soak the kidney beans overnight, drain, rinse, and cook for about 1 ½ hours, or until very tender.
Let cool, then drain and mash through a large sieve into a bowl (be patient, this takes awhile). Save the skins if you want and toss them into some other baked good, because you can ☺
Stir in the maple syrup and salt, taste, and adjust as desired.
Store in an airtight container and stir every few days in the refrigerator to keep it longer.

Dessert Sushi: AKA Redbean-Tahini Cookies

1 batch red bean paste
1 batch tahini cookie dough
1 apple
2 tbsp simple cream frosting, thinned to drippable
1 tbsp poppyseeds
(the last three are my versions, you can vary as you see fit for fillings and toppings)

Using a well-floured board and rolling pin, roll out about ½ cup cookie dough to about ¼ inch thick. Aim for a square shape (like sushi nori, right?) and trim the edges with a knife to make them straight and square.

Coat the dough with red bean paste and along one edge, lay your fillings, parallel to the edge. Fold that edge in, tucking the fillings inside as you go, and roll the pastry until you have a long cylinder. With a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 1-inch sushi sections, then set on their bottoms on a baking sheet.

Bake 15-20 minutes at about 350 F, until just barely browned and firmed.
Let cool and top as desired!


Naomi Devlin March 25, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

Wow, these both look fantastic - I'm a big fan of tahini! I postponed the event until next month as not many people could make the deadline in March, but I will post a little reminder and feature your post - the round-up will be posted at the end of April now.

Thank you so much for taking the time and creating such lovely morsels.

x x x

Kim March 25, 2009 at 5:52 PM  

Ooh, this looks great! I'm allergic to sesame and kidney beans; do you think your dough would work substituted with cashew butter and azuki beans instead?

Erin March 25, 2009 at 6:07 PM  

Kim, first of all, Wow! I didn't even know an allergy to kidney beans existed, and here I thought I was becoming an allergy expert! Adzuki would work great, and cashew would be even butterier...oh mmm, that sounds like a great sub. let me know how it goes :)

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