So, when we last left off with this culinary space odyssey, Rachael Ray’s Swedish Meatballs were pretty good. They also contained full-fat sour cream, which is why for the two other recipes I cooked, I went right to the healthier section of The Astronaut’s Cookbook.
NASA, it seems has done some research on vegetarian diets for long space flights and there are about 20 of these recipes in the book. A number looked interesting but in the end I went with Kidney Bean Burgers (I had actually been looking for a veggie burger recipe) and Tofu Brownies.
The burgers were really good! The recipe makes six burgers — jwa and I each ate one for dinner and I froze the other four. I was a little afraid that the bean burgers would squish out of the bun (as bean burgers are prone to do) but they seemed to hold their shape. Well played, Future Space Kidney Bean Burger. I would definitely make them again. Quite tasty.
The tofu brownies were…interesting. And I say that as an open-minded person who once made tofu chocolate mousse that was terrific. But, let’s start with the burgers, shall we?
Kidney Bean Burgers
Adapted froma recipe in The Astronaut’s Cookbook
2 16-oz cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried, rubbed sage
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp, fresh, chopped cilantro leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
Garnishes: cheese, toasted buns, red onion slices, lettuce leaves and tomato slices
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash together. You can also use a food processor. That’s what I did.
Heat a non-stick pan and add the olive oil. Cook the bean patties on each side until golden and a bit crunchy looking. Melt cheese on top if you want to (of course I did, although the cookbook made no mention of cheese). Assemble your burger and eat.
Okay, yeah, so the brownies. They were intensely chocolate-flavored. That was good. But the texture was a little too moist and cake-y for me. I prefer my brownies chewy and crinkly — these were not those brownies. I mean, they weren’t horrible. If you were having a major brownie craving, you could do worse. And, if you were floating in space and really wanted a brownie, these would probably do the trick just fine.
The tofu appears to be a substitute for the eggs. I couldn’t find an actual mention of it in this chapter, my guess is that dairy is not a good option for long space flights? Tofu, soy milk and rice milk seem to be viable space substitutions for those wonderful Earth-based ingredients. But, here on Earth, let’s use the butter and eggs in our brownies, okay? Note: I would never make it in space if I couldn’t bring cheese with me.
Recipe from The Astronaut’s Cookbook
1/3 cup unbleached, AP flour
2/3 cup water
1/2 lb tofu
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups unbleached, AP flour
1 scant tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk 1/3 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water in a cool saucepan until there are no lumps.
Whip the tofu and remaining water in a blender until smooth. (The original recipe had you put all the water in the saucepan, but unless you have a super-duper $500 blender, you will need a little liquid in there to get it going). Add blended tofu and water to saucepan and cook over low heat until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Add sugar, salt and vanilla to cooled tofu mixture. Stir to combine.
In a second bowl combine oil and cocoa.
Add the cocoa/oil and remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and baking powder to tofu mixture. Stir until lumps are gone.
Bake in an oiled and floured 9″ X 13″ pan for 25 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
So, again this was The Astronaut’s Cookbook: Tales, Recipes, and More and that’s about it. Swedish Meatballs and Kidney Bean Burgers each get a definite thumbs up and the Tofu Brownies get a thumbs up if you were actually in space and had no eggs or butter for your brownies.