falafel

January 3, 2016

falafel

I have been looking for a good falafel recipe for quite some time now but none have inspired me until I tripped upon Suzy’s on her blog The Mediterranean Dish. What set her recipe apart was its pure list of ingredients, no eggs and flour, and the plethora of herbs and spices.  I understand the origin of the falafel is uncertain and “controversial” (how intriguing!) but may go back to Pharaonic Egypt. A good falafel – and this is one – is so elemental, tasty, and nutritious, it’s no wonder they’ve stood the test of time no matter where they are from and when. Try them out in a warmed up pita, with a little tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, and lemon dill tahini sauce and you’ve got one pharaonic lunch.

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2 cups dried chickpeas

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed

¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed

½ cup fresh dill, stems removed

7-8 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt to taste

1 tbsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Coconut oil for frying*

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Place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a large bowl filled with water. Let the chickpeas soak for 18 hours. When ready, drain the chickpeas completely and pat them dry.

Place the fresh leaves of parsley, cilantro and dill in a large food processor. Pulse to finely chop the herbs. Now add the chickpeas, garlic and spices. Run the food processor 40 seconds at a time until all is well combined forming a smooth falafel mixture.

Transfer the falafel mixture into a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to fry (up to one whole night).**

Just before frying, add the baking powder and sesame seeds to the falafel mixture and stir with a spoon. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture and form into patties (1/4 inch in thickness each). It helps to have wet hands as you form the patties.

Fill a medium saucepan 3 inches up with oil. Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly. Carefully drop the falafel patties in the oil, let them fry for about 3-4 minutes or so until medium brown. Avoid crowding the falafel in the saucepan, fry them in batches if necessary.

Place the fried falafel patties in a colander or plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve falafel hot next to other small plates; or assemble the falafel patties in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumbers, and lemon dill tahini sauce.

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* Note that you can use different oils for frying but coconut oil has the highest smoke point and is the most stable for heating which is important. You can also skip deep frying altogether and bake these babies if you prefer at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

** At this stage you can also freeze the falafels for future use. To freeze, prepare the falafel mixture and divide into patties. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. When they harden, you can transfer the falafel patties into a freezer bag. They will keep well in the freezer for a month or so.

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sweet potato pecan crostini

We’re at the family cottage enjoying a much longed-for summer break. The summer is so fleeting and already we notice the chill in the breeze at night, the red squirrels madly storing pine cones, and a slight shift in the smell of the air, even though it’s only mid-August. I love cooking on holidays when there is more time, the pace is more relaxed, and there is more incentive to be creative with the limited stores of food in the fridge far away from the convenience of the city. Our lunch today was a simple green salad and these stupidly easy and tasty sweet potato pecan crostini with sautéed onion and thyme. What’s not to devour? They proved to be a fantastic mid-day meal, and the perfect set-up for an afternoon in the hammock with a good book.

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsps olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1/4 of a sweet onion, sliced

a few thyme sprigs

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

6 slices of good seedy sourdough bread (preferably from Blackbird Baking Co), toasted

1 tbsp of honey (or more maple syrup if you are not a honey eater)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cubed sweet potato with maple syrup, 1 tbsp of the olive oil and some sea salt and pepper to taste. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until soft and slightly browned, about 20- 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the other 1 tbsp olive oil to a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and thyme and sauté until softened, fragrant, and slightly crispy on the edges. Remove from heat and set aside. Toast the pecans in the oven or in a small skillet on the stove if they aren’t already toasted and set aside.

Once everything is ready, toast 6 slices of good bread. Place on a cutting board and add a healthy dose of sweet potato, squishing it down into the bread slightly with the back of a fork to make it a little more manageable to eat. Top with onions and pecans. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup depending on your preference. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

chickpea salad sandwich

June 22, 2014

chickpea salad sandwich

Thanks to The Simple Veganista for this smiple vegan chickpea salad sandwich. Brilliant idea and super tasty. On some toasted Blackbird Baking Co Seedy Sourdough, with mashed avocado and lettuce, it’s all anyone could want in a salad sandwich – as in old school tuna salad or chicken salad – but veganized. And it’s the perfect picnic fare on this first day of summer as we head into long lazy Saturdays at the beach or in the park.

15 oz cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup celery, chopped finely

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped finely

1/3 cup scallions, chopped finely

1/4 cup tahini

1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

sea salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, whether canned or home-cooked. Place in a medium-sized mixing bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If you need a little more liquid to soften up the tahini, you can always add a little warm water. Season to taste. Serve on toasted whole grain bread with whatever condiments and additions tickle your fancy.

Smokey tempeh sandwich

Bekah has been surfing fabulous food blogs and somehow tripped upon My New Roots. It’s a great food blog by a Torontonian living in Copenhagen and it has a beautiful blended feel of both the austerity and crispness of Scandinavia and the down-to-earth rootedness of Canada. That’s my take anyway. Sarah Britton, who created the blog, posted this scrumptious looking smokey tempeh sandwich with sun-dried tomato pesto, so Bekah and I whipped it up for lunch, Bekah did the photography honours (because she’s way better than me), and then we tucked into what is a very tasty sandwich. The bread makes a big difference – as does the quality of all the ingredients – so make sure, as Michael Pollan would say, to pay more and eat less. It’s worth it.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1/3 cup organic sun-dried tomatoes

2/3 cup hot water

½ cup pumpkin seeds

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil

salt to taste

1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with just-boiled water. Let soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the pumpkin seeds until they puff up and smell nutty. Be careful not to burn them! If you want a completely raw pesto, skip this step or soak the seeds overnight to activate them.

Drain the tomatoes through a strainer over another bowl to catch the water – you need to save the liquid for the pesto as it contains many nutrients and tons of flavour.

In a food processor, pulse peeled garlic to mince. Add all other ingredients, except salt and sweetener, and blend on high until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt or sweetener if desired. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the fridge for up to one week. Enjoy on sandwiches, with eggs, on pasta, or as a dressing on grain salads and fresh veggies.

Smoky Tempeh

1 package tempeh 7oz. / 200g

1 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp smoked hot paprika or ground chipotle

Slice the tempeh into slabs or long strips, depending on the shape of your block of tempeh.

In an oven-proof dish whisk together all other ingredients. Place the tempeh in a single layer covering the bottom of the dish, then flip each piece so that it is coated with the marinade on both sides.

Place in a 375°F / 190°C oven for 20-30 minutes until the tempeh has absorbed the marinade. Remove from oven and let cool until you are ready to make your sandwiches.

Sandwich

2 slices wholegrain sourdough bread

a few slices of smoky tempeh 0r tofu

a generous slather of sun-dried tomato pesto

¼ – ½ ripe avocado

plenty of salad greens (spinach, butter lettuce, arugula etc.)

cracked black pepper

Toast bread if desired.

Slater one half of the bread with sun-dried tomato pesto. Place sliced avocado on top of the pesto, followed by tempeh and greens. Serve immediately and enjoy, or wrap up for a picnic later in the day.

falafel burgers

May 13, 2012

This recipe is from a dusty old cookbook by Didi Emmons given to me by a friend. It’s a great veggie burger packed with carrots, cumin, garlic, parsley, tahini, and of course, the tell-tale chickpea. It’s great served with tahini sauce, any toppings of your choosing, on a toasted sesame bun. A little greek salad on the side, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous spring dinner out on the back patio. Don’t make the burgers too big or they will remain too soft in the middle – still delicious but soft. Pack them tight, keep them small, and grill away. They are one of the better veggie burgers around.

2 tbsps olive oil

1 1/2 cups minced onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 cup finely chopped carrot

1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 tbsps tahini

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/3 cup chickpea or white flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and carrot, and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or food processor. Set the skillet aside.

Add the cooked chickpeas and mash together with a potato masher, or chop them in a food processor until they are broken down. Add the tahini and the parsley. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the chickpea mixture and mix again, until just combined but not too processed (you still want the mixture to be chunky).

Form the chickpea “dough” into patties. Heat the skillet over medium high heat again. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the patties and cook flipping the patties when needed. Turn down the heat if necessary. Patties should be a deep golden brown on both sides.

sweet potato fritters

August 7, 2011

I don’t think I’ve met a sweet potato that I didn’t like and these ones are no exception. The recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty in which he suggests you serve them with a little yogurt sauce on the side. Could do. I’m sure it would be delicious in a non-vegan kind of way. But they were just as good with a crisp green salad and a little twist of lemon juice. The perfect summer lunch.

2.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 5 medium sized sweet potatoes)

2 tsp soy sauce

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

3 tbsp spring onion, chopped

½ tsp fresh chilli, finely chopped (or more, to taste)

oil for frying

Steam the sweet potato until soft, then drain in a colander for an hour. Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients until smooth and set aside. In a mixing bowl, work all the fritter ingredients by hand – it should be sticky, so if it’s a little runny, add some flour. Do not over-mix.

To cook the fritters, heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan on medium heat and cook the fritters in dollops of about 3 tablespoons of the batter. Use the back of the spoon to flatter them out a bit. Fry for about 6 minutes each side. You want them to go really brown – don’t worry if they burn a little, it will just add to the flavour. Sit cooked fritters on paper towel to soak up excess oil. You can keep them warm in the oven while you finish the other fritters.

garlic bread

June 15, 2011

I came home from work yesterday and found my eldest, Joshua, in the kitchen with his black apron on making super yummy garlic bread out of pizza dough. Good on ya Joshua! Wow – I must have done something right. Try it out. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s vegan. It’s pretty. It’s a great way to transition from the hub-bub of work to the hub-bub of making dinner. A quiet calm with a glass of pinot grigio before diving into the cacaphony of the evening. Or what a great Saturday afternoon snack al fresco.

basic pizza dough

1 1/2 pounds strong white bread flour

1 1/2 cups find ground semolina flour

1 level tbsp fine sea salt

1/4 oz active dry yeast

1 tbsp organic cane sugar

2 cups lukewarm water

garlic topping

olive oil

minced garlic

parsley

Pile the flour and salt onto a clean surface and make a 7-inch well in the centre. Add you yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork, and leave for a few minutes,, then pour into the well. Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like stodgy porridge – continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat into a ball. Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.

Flour the top of your dough, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.

Meanwhile, combine minced garlic and olive oil. Chop fresh parsley. When the dough has risen, grab a chunk of dough about the size of a large fist. Roll it out. Place on a pizza stone. Brush with garlic oil and chopped parsely. Cut slits into the dough for a nice aesthetic look and bake at 500 degress for about 8 – 10 minutes.