Yesterday we took Otis to his vet for a booster of the Bordetella vaccine; he’s overdue and we’re going to be taking him to the “pet resort” soon, so it needs to be up-to-date. The determined vet tech managed to get Otis still on the scale long enough to read his weight. At 74 pounds, he was up 10 from his last visit in April. Wow! Even with my daily morning runs or brisk walks with him that vary from three to over four miles and Pete’s every evening walk of almost 2 miles, our dog is overweight! I feel like such a bad pet parent!
The suggested remedy is to cut his dog food by a third and replace his Trader Joe’s peanut butter dog biscuits with baby carrots and apple slices. Done! The funny thing is, in retrospect, I think Otis knew he needed to drop a few pounds and was trying to tell us he didn’t need so much food. His twice a day kibble ration has always been gobbled up immediately ever since we adopted him over a year and a half ago. But for the last few weeks, he’s only eaten a portion of his food right away, and eaten the rest gradually over the rest of the day (probably just because it was there). Lesson learned—listen to your dog!
This recipe came to me after paging through a local grocery store’s seasonal magazine and seeing a cornmeal crusted bean cake. I had also recently seen a recipe for something that called for porcini powder. Porcini what? I looked online and found I could order 4 oz. of porcini powder for $14.95 (plus who knows how much more for shipping), but a check of the ingredients showed that it was simply ground dried porcini mushrooms. I had dried porcinis in the freezer, so I defrosted them and ground ‘em up in my old coffee bean grinder turned spice grinder. A whole lot quicker and cheaper than ordering from Amazon! To use as a crust seemed like a great way to add the unique smoky-musky flavor of porcini mushrooms!
You can use your cheese of choice in these tasty cakes. I scrounged the deli drawer of our fridge and used up a small chunk of gruyere and a bit of smoked cheddar and rounded it out with parmesan to make one cup. I really can’t think of a cheese that wouldn’t work. If, unlike me, you fancy blue cheese, I think it would harmonize wonderfully with the porcini flavor. Pretty much any cheese goes! Enjoy!
Porcini Crusted Red & Black Bean Cakes with Lime Yogurt and Sriracha Aioli
Inspired by a recipe in At Home with Kowalski’s
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder (preferably homemade; recipes abound online—you’ll never go back to store-bought!)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Cheese of choice, grated to make 1 cup
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup porcini powder (dried porcini mushrooms ground to a powder in spice grinder)
¼ cup yellow corn meal
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Grapeseed oil, for frying
Lime Yogurt (see below)
Sriracha Aioli (see below)
Chopped romaine lettuce
Put a heaping scant cup of the beans in a food processor, along with the egg, and process until fairly smooth. Add the rest of the beans, the garlic, chili powder, and salt. Pulse a few times until mixed, but large chunks of bean remain. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in the cheese, onion, and green pepper, mixing together well. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.
While the mixture is in the fridge, mix up the Lime Yogurt and Sriracha Aioli:
Lime Yogurt: Mix ½ cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon of lime zest and 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, ½ teaspoon agave (or other sweetener), and salt & pepper to taste.
Sriracha Aioli: Mix ¼ cup mayonnaise (I used Earth Balance Mindful Mayo—egg, dairy, preservative, and soy-free and, most importantly, delicious!) with a couple squirts of Sriracha, plus ½ clove minced garlic if your Sriracha isn’t garlicky enough.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (to keep cakes warm while cooking the rest).
Mix porcini powder, cornmeal, and cayenne in a shallow bowl.
Form bean mixture into 12 patties about ½ inch thick (it works great if you have a 2 oz. stainless steel scoop). After you form each patty, set in the bowl of porcini mixture and press slightly, then flip and press the other side slightly to get it well coated. Place coated patties on parchment paper.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil. When oil starts to shimmer, place 4 to 6 bean cakes in the pan (depending on the size of your pan—4 was best in mine), giving each cake plenty of room. Cook until brown and crispy on edges (about 3-4 minutes); flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Keep cooked cakes warm in oven while you cook the rest.
Serve warm on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce and top with Lime Yogurt and Sriracha Aioli. Makes 12 cakes. Serves six as an appetizer and three to four as a meal.
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