Falafel

Alright, the cat’s out of the bag in my most recent composite recipe series. Along with Israeli salad and pita bread, I made falafel! Props go to my sister Brynna for guessing correctly via text message. :)

When I saw this recipe in the Jerusalem cookbook, it immediately caught my eye. Who doesn’t love falafel? As I read over the recipe instructions, I was even more excited to see that the authors specifically called for the mixture to be ground using a meat grinder. Being the proud (recent) owner of one of these contraptions, I jumped at the opportunity to use it again, this time for something other than hamburger.

Making homemade falafel also fulfilled a couple of my ongoing 2014 food resolutions: make things from scratch, scratchier; and expand my cultural culinary horizons. It also sort of helped me keep working toward my goal of only purchasing humanely raised meat by adding another great vegetarian recipe to the repertoire. I call that a win-win-win.

Note: This is the final part of my recent composite recipe series. If you want to be crazy like me and go all-out, serve this falafel with homemade pita bread, Israeli salad, and tzatziki. The various components of this recipe can be made a day or two ahead. Or you can pull a Krista and make them all in one evening… and eat dinner at 8:00 at night. Up to you!

Falafel

Falafel

  • 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. flour
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
  • sunflower or canola oil for frying

The night before you plan to eat the falafel, place dried chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 2 1/2 cups water. Cover bowl and set aside to let soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas and place back in the medium bowl. Gently toss with onion, garlic, and parsley. Run the mixture through a meat grinder using the finest grinding plate possible. After the first grind, run the mixture through a second time. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor and pulse the mixture until it’s finely chopped.)

Combine ground chickpea mixture with cayenne, cumin, coriander, cardamom, baking powder, kosher salt, water, and flour. Mix well, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour. (You can refrigerate it for longer if you don’t plan on eating falafel for breakfast.)

Remove falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small patties or balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You might need to wet your hands for this step if the mixture is sticky. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

While shaping the patties, heat oil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven with high sides. The oil should be at least an inch deep, preferably two. Heat the oil to 350° F.

Fry the falafel in the hot oil in batches, until dark golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a plate with paper towels. Serve immediately, preferably in fresh pita with tzatziki and Israeli salad.

Source: Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

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Homemade Pita Bread

So I realized a little while ago that I had alluded to making pita before on this blog, but I hadn’t actually posted the recipe. Ay dios mio! I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats just waiting for a pita bread recipe. So here you go!

Pita is actually an incredibly easy thing to make, and homemade pita is leaps and bounds better than the dried out store-bought stuff. I used to dutifully take whole wheat pita pocket sandwiches stuffed with tuna salad for lunch, but now I actually look forward to eating it. Because it’s supposed to be delicious!

Note: This recipe is part two of my latest composite recipe series. See part one, Israeli salad, here. There’s one more post coming. Can you guess what the final recipe will be?

Homemade pita bread

Homemade Pita Bread

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs. honey or sugar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir together flours, salt, yeast, and honey. Stir in olive oil and a cup of warm water until a ball of dough forms. Add more water if necessary. Knead on low speed for 6 minutes. (Alternatively, you can stir all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand for 10 minutes.)

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. (I usually heat my oven to its lowest temperature and then turn it off and use it as a warm place to let my dough rise.)

Punch down dough and divide into eight equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° F with a pizza stone set on the bottom rack.

Roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a round shape about 1/4-inch thick. Working with two to three pieces at a time, place rolled-out dough onto the heated pizza stone and bake for 4-6 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Remove from pizza stone and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve immediately.

Source: The Fresh Loaf.

Israeli Salad

Alright friends, it’s time for my latest composite recipe post. Today I’m writing about Israeli salad, that lovely mix of tomatoes and cucumbers that accompanies many dishes in Jerusalem. (And believe it or not, this salad also starred alongside some dishes in the cafeteria of my Norwegian-Lutheran alma mater. That’s a big hint there, Oles.)

As this long winter has drawn to a close, I’ve found myself craving the colorful produce of summer. Remember those days? When I was actually growing fresh dill, mint, and jalapeños on my tiny city balcony? Kirby misses the catnip, for sure, and I miss everything else. Alas, winter tomatoes are not the same as summer tomatoes, so I swapped out some nice looking cherry tomatoes from the grocery store in this dish. Extra points to whoever can guess what I served with this Israeli salad on a recent sunny-and-getting-sunnier March evening!

Israeli salad

 Israeli Salad

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In large bowl, stir together cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.

In small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Pesto Barley Salad

I know, I know, the suspense has been killing you. What did I make with those oven-dried tomatoes? I had a fair number of good guesses, but no one got it right on the head. My sweet little sister even suggested, “Whatever you’re making, I don’t want it. Tomatoes are icky.” Thanks for the support. ;)

We did enjoy these tomatoes on a margarita pizza two nights ago, but my real purpose for making them was to use them in lunches this week. If I’m really on top of things, I try to make a big salad during the weekend that I can bring for lunch all week long. This week it was pesto barley salad.

One of my new cooking goals is to branch out a bit with grains. As Gabe was helping me put away groceries this week, he stared at the pile of barley, farro, quinoa, and couscous amassing on the counter and said, “So apparently we live 3000 years ago.”

Not quite. But it’s definitely fun and challenging to introduce new old foods into our diet. And considering I’ve only ever had barley in soup (and beer, of course), this recipe was a great first step.

Pesto barley salad

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Pesto Barley Salad

Cook barley according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Stir in pesto. Slice mozzarella into bite-size pieces and add to bowl with barley. Stir in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Oven-Dried Grape Tomatoes

Alright, it’s time for another composite recipe challenge! As our temperatures suddenly plummeted from high-90s to low-60s this week, I was reminded of the fleeting nature of summer and its bountiful, sun-sweetened produce.

Oven-Dried Grape Tomatoes

While August may not last forever, there are ways to capture a bit of summer magic and keep it for a little while longer. Slow roasting is an easy way to concentrate the flavor of even mediocre winter tomatoes. And when you start with killer summer fruit? Oh baby, it’s a sweet flavor bomb. At least that’s what Gabe told me as he repeatedly snatched handfuls cooling on the jelly-roll pan.

So what did I do with these chewy, juicy tomatoes? Any guesses? Come back soon to find out!

Oven-Dried Grape Tomatoes

P.S. Here’s a bonus hint: another ingredient in the upcoming composite recipe is fresh basil pesto! Now what are you thinking?

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Oven-Dried Grape Tomatoes

  • 80-90 grape tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for the jars
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt

Preheat oven to its lowest temperature setting (usually 150-170° F). In a glass measuring cup, stir together olive oil, garlic, and oregano. Slice tomatoes lengthwise and place on a foil-lined jelly roll pan, cut side up. Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 6-8 hours, or until tomatoes reach your desired level of dryness. Let cool completely, then place in glass jars. Cover with additional olive oil and screw on lids. The tomatoes will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month.

Source: Very slightly adapted from Cook Your Dream

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Alrighty, friends, here’s the final answer for my first composite recipe challenge!

The grand prize (of all bragging rights) goes to Erin for correctly guessing that I was making potato salad. She actually made her guess within minutes of the homemade mayo post. Either she’s a super genius, or I need to get more creative. Or both. :)

So yes, I’m channeling warm weather with a old picnic standby, which was much-needed this week as the snow continued to fall. Nothing lifts my spirits more than sunny egg yolks and bright, tangy dill. Now please excuse me while I go search for spring.

Potato Salad

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 Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

  • 3 lbs. red potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 Tbs. dried dill
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red or white onion
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 Tbs. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until slightly tender when pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes and place the colander over the empty pot off the heat. Cover with a clean dish towel and let the potatoes steam for another 20 minutes, until they are tender but still hold their shape.

Whisk together mayo, milk, mustard, dill, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces. Toss with celery, onion, and egg. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and gently stir until well-combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors mingle. Serve cold.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 215 calories, 21.5 g fat, 1.7 g carbs, 0.3 g fiber, 2.3 g protein.

Baked Hard-Cooked Eggs

Composite recipe part two! Earlier this week I made mayonnaise from scratch. The final recipe guesses included tuna salad, potato salad, egg salad, and deviled eggs. This recipe may or may not rule out some of those guesses. Discuss.

I learned this technique a few months ago and think it’s pretty cool. Baking eggs in the oven may take a bit longer, but it’s also easier to do a huge batch, requires no supervision, and results in a nice, creamy yolk. Plunging the eggs in ice water after baking also makes the shell slip off with ease. (Resulting in fewer choice words in this household.)

You may get some little brown spots where the egg releases moisture while baking, but those disappear in the ice bath. Sometimes a spot will form where the egg touched the metal pan, but you can remove it with a knife or just shrug and ignore it. Perhaps using a silicone muffin tin would alleviate this problem, but that’s something for another day. In my opinion, the ease of this method, the resulting texture, and the fool-proof avoidance of gray-green yolks all outweigh a little brown spot or two.

So now we have homemade mayo and hard-cooked eggs. Thoughts on the final recipe?

Baked Hard-Cooked Eggs | Lingonberry Jam Baked Hard-Cooked Eggs | Lingonberry Jam

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Baked Hard-Cooked Eggs

  • large eggs, raw
  • ice water

Preheat oven to 325° F. Place eggs in a muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully transfer to a bowl of ice water. Leave in ice water for 15 minutes, or until cool. Peel immediately and/or refrigerate for later use.

Source: The Burlap Bag.