Phthalates In Food- When Labelling Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

Over the summer months I’ve been reading rather than writing. I’m currently reading Nate Silver’s ‘The Signal And The Noise’, which is a fascinating look at the world of Big Data; not really the sort of thing I discuss here, but I would highly recommend it none the less. What might be more relevant to my readers however is a book which has made a huge impression on myself and my family; it has changed the way we look at many foods and has genuinely altered the way we source and cook ingredients. Continue reading

What Is Diastatic Malt Flour?

I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with new ingredients this week; not only have I recently discovered a wonderful local Irish wholemeal flour, but I received a surprise package from BakeryBits in the mail.
Continue reading

Chickpea Burgers With Sourdough Buns

To me nothing signifies summer so much as our little apple buds beginning to swell.
To me nothing signifies summer so much as our little apple buds beginning to swell.

Summer has finally arrived, late and half-hearted as it often tends to be in this corner of the world. Like any red-blooded male I rushed to the supermarket at the first glimpse of a clear sky yesterday and bought up most of their stock of charcoal, as well as enough meat to feed a small army, which was supposed to last us the whole weekend. In my enthusiasm to get grilling last night I somehow managed to cook all the sausages, chicken legs and homemade burgers at one sitting (standing?). What’s more, the rest of the family also seemed to get caught up in Barbecue Fever and, indulging their inner carnivores, managed to scoff more or less the entire mountain of meat.

Feeling a little the worse for wear after last night’s meat binge (which I admit may have been washed down by an ale or two), I figured we needed to have a vegetarian day, and these protein-rich chickpea burgers with their soft sourdough buns always go down a treat. They’re also really easy to prepare. I like to serve them with a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce, but they’d be equally good with some mayonnaise. Our raised vegetable beds are just beginning to produce some lovely salad leaves as well, which make for a beautiful light side dish.

For The Sourdough Buns (makes 6):

75g sourdough starter (here’s how to make it)

300g strong white bread flour

170g milk

10g soft butter

3g salt

8g honey

1 medium egg

Around 9 hours before you plan to eat, combine all your ingredients and knead thoroughly by hand or (preferably) with a mixer and dough hook until you have a very smooth, soft dough. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and stretch and fold it, forming it into a ball with a smooth surface. Place smooth side up in a clean lightly oiled bowl and cover. Allow to ferment for around 6 hours at room temperature.

Again, turn out onto a floured surface and divide and shape into 6 small balls of dough. Using the palm of your hand pat each of these down until they are no more than 1cm thick, then place in a greased baking dish and cover for their final proof. After around an hour, brush the tops of the buns with an egg white and place in a preheated oven at 190C (375F) for 20 minutes.

Remove from the baking dish and allow to cool on a wire rack for about an hour before serving.

Sourdough buns all set for the oven.

For The Chickpea Burgers:

80g breadcrumbs- sourdough of course!

480g chickpeas (cooked from dry or 2 drained tins)

1 small onion

2 egg yolks

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 heaped tsp cumin powder

1 level tsp paprika

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp harissa paste (more or less to taste)

Salt & pepper

1 plum tomato, deseeded and chopped

Preheat your oven to 220C (430F).

Using a blender, puree half the chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients except the tomato. Place the puree in a bowl and mix in the remainder of the chickpeas and the tomato, keeping them intact. Using your hands, form the mixture into 6 patties (squeeze them tight!), and place them on a well-oiled baking sheet.

Bake the burgers for 15 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes. Serve in your sliced cooled buns with the topping of your choice and enjoy the taste of summer.

Delicious healthy vegetarian burgers, served with fresh sourdough buns, potato salad, and homegrown greens.