A large part of our plans for Gastrobug, in addition to educating the (Western) world on the health and environmental benefits of eating tasty insects and how one may grow and harvest his or her own tasty insects, is recipe creation. We both really love to cook, and we want to provide a good starting point for people who are easing themselves into entomophagy (as, indeed, we are). It's much easier to begin your life as an entomophage with a handful of delicious, comforting recipes for foods you're already familiar with, I should think, than it is to have a bag of deliciously earthy-nutty smelling powder on your kitchen counter that you're kind of afraid to look at too closely in case you recognize a small cricket leg, and no idea what to do with it.
And besides, we really, really like to cook. And to eat. And to eat the things we cook. Recipe creation provides an excellent opportunity to do both.
Also to get super cute shots of Toddlerbear helping mommy cook. Of course. Super cute, right?
Some of it has been fairly easy. We've found that in darker, denser baked goods (especially those with a lot of cocoa or spice), you can throw in surprisingly large amounts of cricket meal (the main insect we're working with right now) without noticable change to taste or texture. You can, in our experience, get away with it with brownies (recipe coming soon), gingerbread (ditto) and carrot cake (also ditto). And probably loads of other things we haven't tried yet.
Similarly, things that don't have to hold a particular shape will take quite a lot of cricket. The bread recipe we posted recently (which may be found here) had a definite change in taste (though not for the worse) and a slight change in texture, but we weren't seriously concerned about the bread literally not holding together. At worst, it would have been too earthy, too dense, or maybe even a bit misshapen, but we had complete confidence that it would still produce a functional loaf of bread.
Delicate, fine, shape-holding foods? Not so much.
Our recipe experiment for this week was fresh cricket pasta. Brian got me a manual pasta-making press for my birthday last year, because he is indeed a god among husbands, and there has been an awful lot of pasta in our house in the ensuing months. I think I've gotten pretty good at it, but it's a lot more finnicky than 99% of the food we make in our kitchen and the dough isn't as forgiving as one might hope.
And so, with a deep breath and an expectation that this might go badly indeed, I randomly chose to use 1/2 cup cricket meal to 3 cups of flour in our first try at the recipe. Which, it turns out, is a bit much.
In fairness, it was tasty. It was a tremendous pain in the ass to work with the dough, which didn't stick together anywhere near as well as I was hoping and had a tendency to shred while rolling, but it was definitely edible. Brian thought it tasted like some sort of lobster pasta amalgam, where I thought it tasted like a slightly nutty, slightly grittier whole wheat pasta. Toddlerbear, being a toddler, refused to try it. That was, I suspect, chiefly because he's a toddler and any tasting of anything that looks slightly unfamiliar is an anathema.
We're keeping the recipe, which I'm calling Super Cricket Pasta, because some days one might desire a slightly nutty, slightly gritty, much higher in protein lobster-tasting pasta, but the experimenting for the perfect, most delicious fresh cricket pasta continues.