Saturday, April 28, 2012

Witt and the Infamous Pastry Crust ~ Falafels

Gypsy Slow Down

There is nothing like a tangy, savory falafel. I can't wait to share this recipe with you. But first, I am so lucky to have a rose garden on the property where we live. And free reign to pick the roses. I want to be unique and choose something exotic, but I can't help it. Roses are my favorite flower. What's yours?

Gypsy Slow Down

 You know how I mentioned that I get home later than Witt does and so he has taken on a few dinners a week? Well, he got out of the gate with a bang; Eggplant Parmesan. Tacos. Good stuff. But now he has started to understand how it feels when you get home and are tired, have dealt with work all day and would really just like to go outside and work on your birdhouses. (This is in Witt's case. I don't know how to make birdhouses).

The other night Witt skipped his night to cook because there was a birdhouse in production. So the next night he decided he would make quiche which is pretty simple and straight forward. For the quiche he asked me if he should make a crust. I told him not to worry about it, since pastry can be complicated and frankly, irritating (there is nothing that makes me want to stab myself more than cutting butter into flour with two knives. Really? Who though of that? It's like trying to eat asparagus with a spoon).

He said he wanted to try it anyway so I sent him a fairly easy recipe by Emral Lagasse where you use the food processor. 

Gypsy Slow Down

That evening I called him about 4pm, after he'd gotten off work, to see if he'd gotten my email with the recipe and to see if he had any questions. "Oh, I'm at Lowes," he informed me, "Getting more wood for my bird houses."

Ok, fine. He'll get home and still have time to make it since I have to go running after I get off at 5:30. On the way to my run I called to check in and he sighed, that sigh I recognize, the one I use when I'm surrounded by flour and sugar at 10pm.

"Just trying to get this crust stuff done," he said, sounding defeated. I decided that wasn't too bad of a sign. After my run I came inside the house to find Witt standing in the kitchen, fiddling with a pie plate, a glazed look in his eye.

I asked him how long the broccoli had before it was ready and he said he hadn't roasted it yet. The eggs were still in the fridge. The cheese was not grated. I realized, sympathetically, that the pastry had taken him the entire time. I inwardly sighed, then started to get the quiche going.

Gypsy Slow Down

I got out the broccoli and the eggs and then looked in the fridge for the pastry crust. It looked good. I got some wax paper down on the bar and grabbed a glass to roll it out. As I was rolling the first particularly heavy mound, suddenly, the glass slipped from under my hand.

 It careened into the ceramic utinsal holder beside it, exploding into pieces and falling with what seemed like thuds onto the dough, sprinkling it with jagged edges. I dared not look up. When I finally did Witt was staring at me. I waited.

Then he shrugged. "It's not worth it," he said. "Don't try to pick the glass out. Just throw it away." And just like that, grace all over me from my poor husband. I apologized profusely. He did manage to throw in his favorite word, impetuous, and asked why I didn't get out the rolling pin. I don't know, impetuous I guess!

Gypsy Slow Down

It's nice to be married to the gracious one. I can't say I am always that forgiving. To make up for it though, I may just have to make a few dinners to freeze over the weekend that he can heat up on his night to cook. Surprisingly, falafels are a great thing to make and freeze.

They aren't time consuming and you can freeze the balls before you fry them. Thaw them in the fridge, throw them in some oil to fry and then on a pita with some tzatziki sauce, olives and peppers for a delicious and quick weeknight meal.

And hummus, of course. Here is the recipe I used. I haven't made this Tahini sauce but I'm adding it because it looks really good. I also didn't use dried chickpeas, just canned ones so I changed that from the recipe.

Gypsy Slow Down

Tyler Florence Falafels

  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, leaves coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 warm pita bread, store bought or homemade recipe follows
  • Tahini Sauce, recipe follows
  • Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped cucumbers

Gypsy Slow Down

Put the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse to coarsely grind, not until smooth but with no whole chickpeas remaining either. Add the baking powder, onion, garlic, spices, and herbs; process until the mixture is pureed; scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate while heating the oil, this should take about 15 minutes.
Pour 3-inches of the oil in a deep fryer or deep heavy pot and heat to 375 degrees F.
Roll the falafel mixture into ping-pong size balls. (Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop.) Carefully slip a few at a time into the hot oil, making sure they don't stick to the bottom. Fry until the chickpea fritters are a crusty dark brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 5 minutes per batch. Remove the falafels with a slotted spoon and drain on a platter lined with paper towels.
Open the pita bread halves to make pockets (don't split all the way) and put 4 fried falafels into each. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and layer with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Serve immediately.

Tahini Sauce:
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or water
1 lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Pinch salt
Pinch paprika

Combine all the ingredients in a blender, process on high speed to make a smooth and creamy sauce. Adjust seasoning, to taste, and serve with falafels or as a salad dressing.

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