Along the Grapevine


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Coconut Lime Jerusalem Artichoke Chips

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I made Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke) chips last year, and was so pleased with the result that I had to try it again this year, now that the tubers are ripe for digging up. They should be even sweeter after a little more frost, but if I wait too long, the ground will be too hard and many will go to waste. These vegetables are not usually eaten in large quantities, but a few little crispy chips are really very easy to eat, and unless you overdo it, you should not have any ill effects. Fried snacks should only be eaten in moderation anyway.

If you are not familiar with these, you might see them in some farmers’ markets and good grocery stores at this time of year. They are not really artichokes, but rather of the sunflower family, and have a distinctive artichoke flavour. They grow beautifully in a sunny area, produce year after year with absolutely no care whatsoever, and provide bright yellow flowers in the fall when most other flowers are shutting down. Roasted, boiled or fried, they make a delicious side dish, but I dry most of mine, which makes storing them easy. Once dried and ground into flour, they make a great thickener for sauces and can be added to lots of savoury baked recipes.

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I am bringing these chips flavoured with lime and coconut oil to Angie’s 37th Fiesta Friday, which I will be co-hosting with fellow-Canadian and co-host extraordinaire¬†Julianna of Foodie on Board. Feel free to visit Angie’s site, and see what the guests bring this week. If you are still looking for some original recipes for your Canadian Thanksgiving dinner this weekend, I am sure you will find something perfect for the occasion. ¬†Should you wish to bring a dish along to the party, first read the guidelines here.

To make the chips, just follow these steps:

1. Slice the Jerusalem artichokes very thinly, as you would for potato chips. If they are fresh, no need to peel, just give them a good scrub. If the skin has become brown and thicker, then it should be removed.

2. Place in a bowl and pour freshly squeezed lime juice over them so that each slice is covered, and add a little grated lime zest for extra flavour.

3. Place them on a baking tray and put in a barely warm oven until they are no longer soaking wet. They will still feel damp, but most of the juice will have evaporated.

4. Heat the coconut oil, and fry just a few at a time, until they are golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper.

5. Serve while still warm. If they are left at room temperature for a while, they will lose their crispness, in which case just reheat briefly in the oven on a tray until they crisp up again.

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The flavour of lime makes these Jerusalem artichoke chips extra delicious, although lemon could also be used. They don’t even really need salt.


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Crab Apple Chips

Two varieties of crab apples

Two varieties of crab apples

I found another variety of crab apples which were there for the taking when I was in Toronto last weekend. More like radishes in size, they are a little easier to work with for slicing. So, searching for another experiment, I have Valerie to thank for suggesting this one. It had occurred to me briefly, but I was intimidated by the thought of the mess it might make. Knowing someone out there was interested in the result, I was up for it.

The result was far better than I expected, and the mess – not so bad after all.

First, slice the fruit very fine. I used the slicing disc on my food processor.

I put them in a bowl, and sprinkled sugar liberally on them to coat. Almost immediately, a sugary syrup formed at the bottom of the bowl.

I tried two methods of drying: in the dehydrator overnight; in the oven for about six hours, depending how thickly they are placed, and just how much liquid sugar ends up in the mixture.

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Oven dried on the left, dehydrator dried on the right.

The oven ones worked better, in that it was much easier to remove the sticky fruit from parchment paper than from the plastic trays of the dehydrator. For unsweetened dry fruit, I will use the dehydrator, but not with the sugary ones.

Place the slices (and syrup) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I started the process at 225 F to let some of the liquid evaporate, then after about 15 minutes, turned it down to 175 F and left it about 6 hours. This will vary depending on how well you can spread it all out.

I did not let them get crisp at all – just dry enough to handle without any perceivable wetness, but still flexible (like a dried apricot or raisin). The ones in the dehydrator were a little dryer, in part because the syrup dripped down to the bottom tray. This accounts for the slight difference of colour.

Valerie, you were right. So much better than apple chips. They make a great snack on their own, Рgood in baking.  They would be an excellent substitute for dried apricots in something like a tagine dish, and of course with cereal or trail mix for those who like the sweetness.


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Grape Leaf Chips

Much like the popular kale chips, grape leaf chips are simply coated with oil, seasoned (salt and garlic flakes) and baked in a low oven (275 F) until crispy (about 12 minutes). They have a distinct lemony flavour, but are less substantial than the kale variety – for that reason I like them crumbled on salads, soups, rice, etc. or in a sandwich. Just note that if they sit in a salad or any other sauce, they do lose their crispiness and their flavour, so it is better to add them at the last minute.

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Falafel Chips

DSC_0157I came across falafel chips in Trader Joe’s when I visited San Francisco last year. Not knowing where to buy these here in Canada, I decided I had to come up with a recipe for them, and even considered starting a falafel chip enterprise. Recently, while still trying to work on my own recipe, I came across another brand of falafel chips in a general store in Sydenham, Ont., so my idea of commercialising my own was dashed. Nonetheless, I am pleased that someone else is doing it, even if they are imported. They are made by a company called ‘flamous’ (sic) and are sold as Falafel Chips.

Even if you can buy these, or the ones from Trader Joe’s, you might be interested in making them yourself. They are cheaper, fresher, and you can alter the recipe to your own taste and according to what is available. They are excellent on their own, or served with hummus, guacamole, or whatever you fancy.

The recipes I have come up with are not so much recipes as ‘a method’. As long as you have chick pea flour (besan) cumin and water, you can make these. You only need to make sure the dough is not too sticky but sticky enough to stick together. The method of rolling them out is suprisingly simple, as long as you remember to oil the parchment paper. Sometimes I add oil, sometimes not, it seems to make little difference. The more herbs and spices you add, the more complex the flavour, so feel free to come up with your own variations. The first recipe contains dried dandelion leaves, which give them those green speckles, and the second one contains tomato paste and some cornmeal.

FALAFEL CHIPS I
2 cups chick pea flour
2 Tbsp dried vegetables (greens or root vegetables, such as onions, carrots, turnips)
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, minced (or dried garlic)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp water

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add water until the mixture holds together, but is not sticky.
Lightly grease two sheets of parchment paper and put small dobs (about the size of a grape) of batter spaced about 2 inches apart.
Place the other piece of parchment over this, and roll out with a rolling pin, until the chips are thin enough that when touched with your finger, you can feel the hard surface below.There should be no squishy feeling of the dough.
Peel off the top layer of parchment, place the chips, still on their paper, on a cookie tin, and back in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 275 Fahrenheit.
The chips should be an even gold colour. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid to keep them crisp.

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FALAFEL CHIPS II
1 1/2 cups chick pea flour
2 Tbsp dried onion
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp coarse salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed, or equivalent dried garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp tomato paste or 2 Tbsp tomato puree
1/4 cup + water.
Follow the same procedure for the first recipe.