Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yucca Cakes with Wat and Chutney

A nutritious and positively delicious vegan recipe with all the requirements of complimentary proteins filled. An African root cake, wild mushroom-bean stew and a carrot-chili condiment. This is also a celiac safe recipe.

Yucca is also known as Cassava. The white interior of a yucca is firmer then a potato and has a high starch content.Fresh yucca has thick, dark brown skin that resembles a tree's bark. Fresh yucca is available year round. Look for firm blemish free tubers. Store whole yucca as you would potatoes, in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. Peeled yucca covered with water and refrigerated or wrapped tightly and frozen for several months. Yucca can easily be substituted for potatoes in soups and stews and it contains a high amount of vitamin C and carbohydrates. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and contains approximately 120 calories per 1 cup serving.

Flageolet beans used in the stew portion of this recipe are small, pale green beans which are actually immature kidney beans. They are a heirloom bean commonly used in French country cuisine and they have a delicate flavour and wonderfully creamy texture.

The following recipe will yield 6 servings.

Yucca Cakes
2 pounds peeled and shredded yucca root
3 tbsp. minced chives
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
3 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca flour
1 tbsp. canola oil

Combine the ingredients in a bowl to form stiff dough. You may need to use a food processor for 1/3 of the mixture then recombine the whole mixture.
Form the mixture into the desired cake size (3 inch wide by 3/4 inch thick) and shallow fry with canola oil for 1-2 minutes until crisp and golden in colour.
Drain well and season before serving.

Flageolet and Wild Mushroom Wat
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp. hulled cardoman seeds
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cloves
2 tsp. olive oil
2 red onions cut fine dice
2 garlic cloves minced
1 carrot peeled fine dice
1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled & minced
1/2 tsp. spearmint tea
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 cups assorted wild mushrooms *
1 cup vegetable stock
3 cups cooked Flageolet or Lima beans **

Toast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, fenugreek, cardoman, nutmeg & cloves. Because some spices are ground add them last to the toasting process. When they are aromatic, grind them in a spice mill.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and garlic. Sauté till they begin to caramelize about 10 minutes. Add carrots, ginger, tea, pepper flakes and ground spices. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes till carrots start to soften.
Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until they release their moisture. If they do not release their moisture add the vegetable stock. Remember you are looking for a stew like fluid ratio!
Add the flageolets and simmer till heated throughout. Check and correct seasoning as required. Serve immediately or stored covered in the refrigerator and reheat as required.

*Wild mushrooms refer to the many varieties of fungi that grow wild and are not cultivated. Common varieties include: Morels, Shiitake, chanterelles and wood-ear. Many of these are now available dried. Simply reconstitute them in warm water. SAVE the water they soak in, known as the liquor, this is positively amazing when used for making things like risottos instead of stock.

**Cooking dried Flageolet Beans: First sort and rinse the dried beans. Spread the beans in a single layer on a platter or tray. Pick out and discard any discolored and misshapen beans and impurities such as small stones and fibers. Transfer the beans to a colander or sieve. Rinse well under cold running water.To soak and rehydrate dried flageolet beans: Place the cleaned beans in a bowl of fresh cold water to cover and soak for 3-8 hours at room temperature; drain well. Or, place beans in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and soak for 1 1/2 hours; drain well.

Carrot-Chil Chutney
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 Habanero or 2 tsp. hot sauce
2 tbsp. champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup carrot juice/beverage
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seed and sauté till seeds start to pop, then add the remaining ingredients.
Cook over high heat stirring often until the carrots are soft and the liquid is reduced to syrup. Cool.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week and reheat as required.

My suggestion for plating this dish, place a good spoonful of the Wat in the center of the plate. The Yucca cake on top of this. Use the chutney as a plate garnish around the Wat and a little drizzled over the cake. For a final garnish, use a crisp lotus chip and some red diakon sprouts.

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