Falafel are great… or can be if they’re made right! The thing is you need to put bags of flavour in there. You need serious amounts of garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt. And then of course there’s the spices. For me it has to be heavy on the cumin, probably my favourite spice and a little paprika and ginger help give an extra zing to the proceedings. A good handful of fresh herbs give the finishing touch.
Falafel are surprisingly easy to make. The main ingredient, chickpeas, are incredibly cheap too!
I like to have Falafel just as they are accompanied by a nice salad, maybe some Tabbouleh and lashings of Tzatziki… Oops, I’m beginning to sound like a vegetarian!
Once cooked they can also be warmed in a sauce, a nice rich tomato sauce works well. They’re almost like a vegetarian version of a meatballs.
So here’s a recipe you can follow to make your own. It uses dried chickpeas which have to be soaked overnight. I’m sure if you wanted you could cheat and use tinned, if you do you’ll want about double the amount of dried.
‘Ome Made Falafel
You will need:
- 500g dried chickpeas
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
Soak the chickpeas overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas then grind to a course pulp in a food processor.
Mix in all the other ingredients using your hands to really work the mixture together.
Form into 4cm balls and place on greaseproof paper on a tray in a single layer.
To cook the Falafel are best deep fried or shallow fried and then finished off in an oven.If deep frying the oil wants to be around 160°C so that they will cook through without the outside getting too well done Take the Falafel out of the oil when they are firmed up and just starting to colour. The Falafel can be par cooked like this and then cooled and refrigerated or frozen. The Falafel can then just be popped into an oven to finish cooking.
Alternatively the Falafel can just be deep or shallow fried.
Every now and then when we ask the kids what they want for tea they answer with something that strikes fear into me!
Gnocchi is one of them!
They love potato gnocchi and indeed so do I, however, making gnocchi for six hungry people, it’s one of the more… shall we say… time consuming dishes!
However sometimes you just have to and for all the time it takes and mess it causes the end result is always worth it.
Of course you can always cheat and get your gnocchi ready made from the supermarket!
I have to say that I’m not keen on gnocchi when it’s boiled and served in a sauce… it just doesn’t do it for me. However we do love it when it’s gently poached and then fried in butter so it’s nicely caramelised and slightly crispy. It makes an Epic! (Kids description!) side dish when served like this.
I had bought some nice Tuna steaks that had been on special offer and as we don’t have Tuna very often I thought they deserved something a bit special. It was decided that we have them with gnocchi and some chick peas tossed in a nice lemon, butter sauce flavoured with just a touch of cumin.
When I make gnocchi I have to say I normally just wing it! I add flour, egg and a touch of baking powder to some mash potato (usually leftovers!) and hope for the best!
However here is a recipe for those that don’t want to take the risk!
6 large potatoes peeled and cut into four
1 medium egg
3 handfuls plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
Place the potatoes in a pan and just cover with salted water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.
Drain the potatoes well and put back in the pan, leave for a couple of minutes for the potatoes to dry out a little then mash or put through a potato ricer.
In a large bowl whisk the egg and add the seasoning and a splash of water. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix together until you have a soft dough. If it’s too wet add a little more flour, if it’s too dry add a splash more water.
Divide the dough into four. Take one piece of dough and on a floured board roll into a long sausage shape. Use a blunt knife to cut the dough making little pillow shapes. place the dough pieces on a floured tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Once all the dough has been used up, place the tray with the cut dough on it in the fridge for ten minutes or so to firm up.
To cook the gnocchi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully drop the gnocchi in and bring back to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes or until the gnocchi floats on the surface of the water.
Once cooked the gnocchi can be drained and either tossed in a sauce or coated in a little oil to either serve later (just drop into boiling water to warm up or heat in a sauce) or be fried. To fry the gnocchi melt some butter in a frying pan and when sizzling drop in the gnocchi, keep turning until the gnocchi are nicely coloured and golden.
We had our gnocchi this time with a nice seared tuna steak and a simple sauce consisting of a little onion and garlic sautéed in butter with chicken stock, a splash of white wine, zest and juice of a lemon, cooked chick peas, ground cumin and finished with yet more butter!
A simple salad of chunky tomato, cucumber and onion drizzled with a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar and seasoning is all that was needed for a superb tasting, Mediterranean style dish.
I was winding an old friend up a couple weeks ago who happens to be a Vegan, he also bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Sparrow, especially when he gets the full costume on…come on, stop swooning ladies!
Anyway to make it up to him I promised I would put a post on the Blog that featured a Vegan recipe. So Steve… ahem, sorry, Captain Jack ‘A-Hoy mi seafarin’ shipmate. Shiver mi timbres an get ya cooking pot at the ready!”
Ok it might not be Salmagundi (every pirates favourite) but it is Vegan and it’s packed full of protein which sometimes can be lacking in a Vegan diet
‘Ome Made Houmous (Hummus to our friends over the pond…) with Pitta Bread & Turkish Salad
Houmous is dead easy to make and so much better than shop bought. My recipe makes a lot! It’s easy to halve or quarter the recipe though. Or you could freeze the extra. It will keep in the fridge for up to ten days providing its in a sealed container.
For the Houmous you will need:
500g dried chick peas soaked overnight (you can use canned)
1 jar Tahini (300g)
About 10 cloves of garlic (or more or less depending on your taste) chopped
Zest & juice of of two lemons
About 200ml olive oil or sunflower will work fine too
Plenty of slat and freshly ground black pepper
Drain and rinse your chickpeas. Place in a deep saucepan and cover well with water. bring to the boil and boil for ten minutes. Remove any scum that floats on the surface.
After your chickpeas have boiled for ten minutes, turn down to a simmer and cook for another 45 minutes or until tender.
Once cooked, drain and let the water evaporate from them while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Once your chickpeas have cooled a little mix all the ingredients, except the paprika, in a large bowl and put through a blender or food processor or if your a true pirate you can use a masher or the back of a fork, it will just end up a little more course. If the mixture is a little dry and thick you can add a little more oil or some cooled down boiled water.
Once your Houmous is ready put into a serving bowl and sprinkle with a little paprika.
For the Pitta Breads you will need:
350g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoons oil (olive or sunflower)
250 ml warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix the sugar yeast and water together in a jug. After 10 – 15 minutes it should have a nice foamy head.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour your water/yeast in. mix together to form a soft dough. take out the bowl and give a knead for a good 5 minutes using a little more flour if the dough is still sticky.
Put back in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth or cling film. Leave for an hour to rise.
Put your oven on the hottest setting it will go on
Once ready knock back the dough and knead again until smooth. Divide the dough into eight balls and then roll each out into an oval about 1/4” thick. Place on a greased baking sheet and leave to prove for 10 minutes.
Cook the pittas in the pre-heated oven for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes each side. When ready wrap the Pittas in a clean tea towel to keep warm.
To make the Turkish Salad
Finely shred 1/2 a white cabbage. Grate one or two carrots. Slice one medium sized onion.
Mix the cabbage, carrot and onion in a bowl. Sprinkle approximately two teaspoons of salt and the same of sugar over the salad and mix again.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon or a tablespoon of bottled over the salad and a couple dashes of white wine vinegar. Give the salad a good grind of black pepper and a pinch of ground cumin., mix again and the salad is ready to serve. It will keep for a good five days in the fridge.
To serve split your warmed Pitta breads and spread liberally with the houmous. Pack in as much salad as you can. You know have a Vegetarian/Vegan equivalent of a Kebab! You can of course sprinkle some Chilli Sauce (in our case, ‘Ome Made) over and it does benefit from some yoghurt and mint (but then that wouldn’t be vegan).
So there you have it. ‘Ome Mades first ever Vegan recipe.
“Aaaaar enjoy mi scurvey kerr!”