Independent Confirmation of My Yummy Bean Cakes

I've already written in the diet section of this blog about how much I enjoy my vegan fried bean cakes. I think they are both healthy and delicious. But neither T nor W have been interested in eating them (although M gobbles them up), so I wasn't sure if they were actually delicious, or just to my particular taste. Earlier this week, I got my answer.

Our regular sitter came over in the late afternoon so I could get relax and get ready for a nice dinner out with T to celebrate our anniversary (FYI, big props to Hamilton's for a delicious vegan dinner). Since she arrived at 4pm, she would be eating dinner with the boys, and I really didn't have much in the house, but I gave her a few suggestions for easy things she could fix, and offered up my leftover bean cakes. I figured she would just make a tuna sandwich or something.

But when I walked in the door later that evening, the first thing she said was, "those bean cakes are SO GOOD!" She admitted to not thinking she would like them, but nibbled one cold, and when she liked it, she went ahead and heated a few up. She liked everything about them, from the strong flavors to the texture (creamy inside, crispy outside). She was particularly enthusiastic since she admitted to being so surprised, she really was expecting something bland and lackluster.

Encouraged by that affirmation, when it was time for me to whip up a new batch today, I decided to try making some southwest-style. I used equal parts black beans and pinto beans and then added salsa flavors-- tomato paste, onion, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeƱo. Once the paste was made, I used corn meal instead of bread crumbs to bind the patties. These are my best version so far. So good, I would serve them to non-vegan guests-- I'll dress them up into hors d'oeurves by topping them with dollops of salsa or guacamole. I might add cilantro to the paste the next time I make them.

When I run out of these (which will be soon since I scarfed down quite a few today) I might try my hand at creating an Indian-style bean cake, flavored with curry. After that, perhaps Asian-style since I just got some new spicy ginger seasoning. Or since I have a little sourdough left from my loaf today, maybe I'll make the leftover end into breadcrumbs (versus my usual habit of making croutons from day old bread) and brainstorm a San-Franciso-style bean cake.

The only problem is one of marketing-- neither "bean patty" nor "bean cake" really communicates to people how good these little bites are. So I am open to suggestions. "Vegan protein bites" is similarly too hippie-sounding. These do not taste like your typical vegan food. Way more flavor.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I've come to the conclusion that vegans probably don't make their food any blander than most people, but the problem is that most people are not very good cooks. It's just that when you start with meat and other animal products, they have more intrinsic flavor than many plants, so it's slightly less noticeable when they use poor cooking techniques. But by using the proper amount of flavorful ingredients, seasonings, and techniques, it's not hard to come up with some good stuff without using animal products. It is my guess that the majority of vegans avoid animal products for moral reasons, and so would be too put off to attend cooking school, since they'd be required to cook all kinds of animal stuff to get through the course. Hence the proliferation of bad vegan recipes available online, since they are just muddling through. Although I think they are teaching more vegan techniques in the cooking schools now that as the population is aging more and more people have various dietary restrictions. Even in my own short course we spent one day learning some low-salt techniques (that was the big restriction if you were catering an event for old people 10 years ago).

I've gotta give props to the chef at Hamilton's, I had three courses, all vegan, all delicious. I did choose the restaurant because I read somewhere that the new chef had an interest in vegetarian food, so I'm not surprised, but it was good enough I'm not likely to take my chances elsewhere too much, I might just go there again and again until my experiment is over.