June 11, 2013

Falafel with the Fixings

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I was first introduced to falafel, as I imagine many girls from suburban Long Island are, in college. One of my girlfriends lived in the East Village in a cozy little studio (way cooler than the dorm rooms and shared bathrooms I endured until I was 20) where she also happened to live around the corner from one of the best falafel shops.

The little vegetarian balls of goodness were perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, and soft, fluffy and a little spicy on the inside. Five dollars got you a pita heaving with falafel, salad, tahini and chili sauce to go. The perfect dinner prior to a night out with the girls.

I’ve made a few attempts at my own non-fried version. I’ve tried baking them, using both cooked canned chickpeas and dried but soaked chickpeas; and sauteing them using different binding agents and methods.

This has been my favorite attempt yet.

While these don’t quite hit the mark on crunch-factor (but let’s be real, that’s a hard thing to achieve without a deep fry) but the taste is perfect – zesty, fresh, and a little spicy.

Add a warm pita, good tahini spread and some hot sauce and I’m transported back to my younger days of frolicking around lower Manhattan with my favorite ladies.

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Falafel with Fixings

recipe adapted from Just a Taste

Falafel:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped green onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • ½ cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ cup spelt flour
  • Olive oil

For the tahini sauce:

  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2-4 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane or crushed
  • salt & pepper

For Serving:

  • Pita bread
  • Chopped tomato, cucumber and red onion salad
  • Tahini Sauce (above)
  • Hot sauce (I prefer Franks Red Hot Sauce on such occasions)

Directions:

Place green onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse just until they are finely chopped. Remove the mixture and set aside.

Add chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, salt, chili flakes, and cumin to the food processor and pulse until they are roughly chopped but not pureed.

Return the onion mixture to the food processor, along with the baking powder and just enough flour so that when you pulse the processor, the mixture begins to form a small ball and is not sticky. (You can add more flour if the mixture is too wet.)

Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate it for 1 hour.

While the falafel mixture is chilling, prepare the tahini sauce by whisking together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and water. Add more water if necessary, you want a slightly runny/spreadable sauce. Season it with salt and pepper and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Once the falafel mixture has chilled, use a spoon to form the mixture into balls, about 2-3 tablespoons each. (You can also add additional flour at this point, if the mixture is too wet to scoop.)

Heat a large pan over medium heat with a generous glug of oil to well-coat the pan. Allow the pan to fully heat up (about 3 or 4 minutes) then add the falafel one by one, browning them on the first side for 3 minutes, then flipping them once and browning the other side until the mixture is cooked throughout.

Transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined cooling wrack and immediately season them with salt. Repeat this process until you have cooked all of the falafel.

Place 2 or 3 falafel inside a halved, warmed pita with tahini sauce and chopped salad. (And hot sauce, if desired.)

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June 6, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

fall colors

My brain is focused on travel at the moment. I’m constantly thinking about our trip back to the states in a few weeks and in September and our honeymoon next year. So many good things to think about, plan and pack for!

Here’s what I’m loving on this week:

  • Rainy Sundays that pretty much force you to stay inside and in sweatpants all day.
  • Postcards from friends.
  • Seeing surfers walk to the beach in wetsuits and ugg boots in the mornings. Oh, Australia!
  • Getting our Save the Dates in the mail.
  • These city prints from Etsy and these colorful maps from a shop called I Like Maps on Etsy. I do like maps. I would wallpaper our home with antique maps if I could.
  • Fall colors on the trees.
  • Piadina – like an Italian quesadilla or a really thin crust pizza folded in half. Gorgonzola with speck or spicy salami with provolone.
  • Sydney harbor views and cloudy pub afternoons.
  • Fridays and a whole long weekend ahead.
  • Arrested Development is back!
  • Spirulina drinks in the morning. The energy boost you get from this stuff is amazing. Tastes awful, but it makes you feel so damn good.
  • Finding THE go-to chocolate cake recipe.
  • Wedding planning with Fabes over a glass of wine.
  • Burrata cheese. I want to make this salad ASAP. It will have to be with sun-dried tomatoes at the moment.
  • New sweaters (and on sale, girl!)

 

 

 

June 2, 2013

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

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A perfect grilled cheese sandwich is one of my happiest foods. It’s probably one of the first things I learned how to cook, and one of the first things I learned how to cook well.

Grilled cheese is all about nostalgia, comfort, and turning the already amazing components of bread and cheese into a crunchy, toasted, melted, gooey and buttery sandwich.

Today I bring you a breakfast version of one of my most beloved meals. It’s a breakfast version because there’s an egg involved and I ate it for breakfast, but it’s the type of grilled cheese that’s acceptable at any time of the day.

Serve it up on a Sunday morning/early afternoon (girl, you deserve a sleep in!) with a big cup of coffee, some fruit salad and the paper. You won’t regret it.

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May 30, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

croissant

I’ve made some good food lately that I’ve been waiting to share with you/haven’t got around to sharing with you yet. Right now, once a week is all I can manage for a full recipe post, but I promise some good ones in the near future.

To make it up to you, I’m trying something new to keep me writing in this space on the (more than once a week) regular.

In addition to my recipe posts, I’ll be sharing my “Things I Love Thursday” list.

Inspired by Gala, I’ve been writing gratitude lists regularly over the past year. They’re usually small things that occur to me over the course of a day that I’m thankful for. (I try to think of them in groups of threes, it’s weird.)

It’s a practice in positivity and enjoyment of the little things that make life great. It makes me feel good and fosters happiness even on a regular old Tuesday.

I thought it would be nice to share some of these things, as they are very often (too often) related to food. But really it’s just about identifying and appreciating the beautiful moments in regular life.

Here’s what I loved about this past week:

*      Croissant missions. Always and forever.

*      April Bloomfield’s porridge oats – the secret is half rolled oats, half steel-cut. Creamy and toothsome and awesome on the cooler mornings we’ve been having.

*      Planning for New York and New Orleans in 4 weeks!

*      The National’s new album, a documentary and an inside look at the band.

*      Weird foggy mornings at the beach.

*      Matt Moran’s fish pie made by Fabes.

*      The fireside table at our local Asian tapas place (doesn’t everyone have one of those?) and their amazing miso soup. The miso’s made in-house and they toss in mushrooms and a scallop or two. Pretty much the best antidote to winter.

*      Heated blankets and nightly chocolate fixes.

*      Modcloth dresses and affordable delivery to Australia.

*      Finding tweaks to everyday things I like to cook to make them better: a little cinnamon in the chili and a lot of dill in the chunky vegetable soup.

May 27, 2013

Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

b-sprouts pomegranate 

My brussels sprouts default is a toss up between some roasting action or pan-frying. Either way, they’re cooked until golden, almost charred in places and caramelized.But sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple.Raw brussels sprouts have a really nice delicate flavor and a great yielding crunch, when sliced thin.

Ideally you’d use a mandolin for this thin-slicing, but if you’re like me and don’t have one because you’re afraid that: a.) superfluous kitchen tools will one day swallow your kitchen, or, b.) you might seriously hurt yourself on one; you can just use an old fashioned knife and give it your best shot at “thin.”

I mixed the thinly sliced b-sprouts with some cooked and cooled barley for a nice chew factor, along with toasted pecans for an almost-caramel-ly nutty crunch and pomegranate seeds for color, pop, and tartness.

To round it all out I drizzled a simple maple Dijon vinaigrette over the thing and called it lunch.

vv4
May 18, 2013

Buckwheat Crepes with Brie and Mushrooms

buckwheat crepes
When faced with a good brunch menu, every restaurant-goer agonizes over the sweet or savory meal conundrum….Right? Is this just me?

During the week I’m on autopilot with breakfast. It’s always some variation of yogurt, fruit and oats. Oatmeal with fruit, yogurt with fruit, yogurt with oats and fruit.

But when the weekend rolls around, I like breakfast to be an event. A leisurely late breakfast where I pay people bring be strong coffee and warm food is at the top of my “treat yo’self” list.

Since I usually lean toward the fruity and sweet during the week, Saturday morning I wake up thinking of buttered bread, oozy egg yolks and melted cheese.

But sometimes that unexpected french toast with fruit compote, pecans and maple puts a snag in my ordering plans and changes everything I thought I knew I wanted from my brunch.

Maybe my dining partner will agree to share a “breakfast dessert”? That’s not a crazy idea, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be on the same page.

(Full disclosure: Fabes is always up for a breakfast dessert. Which is why we’re getting married.)

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May 11, 2013

3-Seed Fennel Slaw

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Truth time: I used to love me some KFC.

These days I don’t find myself at fast food restaurants that much…or at all. But as a pre-teen and teenager I was all about an extra-crispy meal with potato wedges and a biscuit. Ohhh the biscuits.

Between the heavily seasoned crunchy chicken and biscuit/potato double-carb-punch, the whole situation was near perfect for my 15-year-old palate. The one and only problem was that nasty little styrofoam container filled with mayo-laden, tasteless coleslaw. I just couldn’t get into it. I liked vegetables and salad (albeit less than fried chicken), but this was not that.

So I went along in life thinking of myself as an anti-slaw kind of lady; until one day it occurred to me that slaw could be made into something I could enjoy. I’m a total texture and crunch fan, so I knew we could make this work.

We could keep the cabbage and carrots aspect and add some fennel for gourmet flair, but we’d have to ditch that mayo business. In its place, we can use a Greek yogurt and vinegar-based dressing along with lots of seeds for tang and spice. (This method also works for eliminating mayo from tuna and egg salads.)

I’m bonkers for the fennel’s aniseed flavor and crunch and for the taste and texture of toasted sesame, fennel and cumin seeds. I like the lightness of the dressing and how it allows the spices and vegetables to shine through.

This is how we shall do slaw from this day forward in my house.

Bring on the (non-Kentucky) fried chicken. (Or veggie burgers.)

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April 28, 2013

Mushroom Lentil Burgers

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Can we talk about the importance of a good burger? When the mood strikes, it’s impossible to shake, right?

My favorite burgers involve a whole heap of stuff. I like condiments and lots of little accessories on all the things I eat, but especially on burgers.

I love caramelized onion, melted cheddar, bbq sauce, tomato, and lettuce for crunch. But lets be real, with all of that stuff, sometimes it doesn’t really matter whether the burger underneath it all is beef or chicken or legume – especially if the meat version isn’t up to scratch, I’ll take a veggie burger in a heartbeat.

Despite my love of a perfect beef burger and obsession with toppings, I think a good-quality veggie burger can be just as badass as a meat one, albeit in a slightly more hippie kind of way.

The key to an excellent vegetarian-friendly burger begins with packing lots of flavor into the pattie.  (See also various add-ons above.)

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