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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chickpea Fries with Mock Pomegranate Salsa

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
This is one of my new favorite hors d'oeuvres and it's so darn easy! I first tried it at Graze by Jennifer James in Nob Hill in Albuquerque. She serves it with a trio of salsas, but it can also go with plain old ketchup. You can prepare it ahead of time and fry them as needed. The salsa is a little clever cheat I came up with when I could not get pomegranate seeds, but it works.

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chick pea flour
oil for deep frying
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup anisette
2 cups any generic tomato-based salsa
1 pinch fennel pollen

Procedure
Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment and lightly spray with non stick coating. Put the water, salt, pepper and olive oil in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the chick pea flour and stir till the mixture is smooth. With a spatula, spread mixture into a smooth, even layer on the sheet pan. Cover with parchment and smooth a little more — this makes it easier! Then refrigerate for 30 minutes. When cool, cut into any shape you would like. I like thin matchsticks. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a frying pan to 375 degrees. Fry a few at a time and serve warm with salsa. Sometimes if I want them to get a bit more of a crust, I lightly coat them in seasoned flour before frying.

To make the salsa, combine the cranberries, pomegranate balsamic vinegar, and anisette in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then shut off flame and let sit for 15 minutes. Put that mixture into food processor and pulse a few times. Then add salsa and mix a bit more. If you have this great crazy ingredient called "Fennel Pollen," add a pinch at the end — if not, forget about it.