This one is a bit of a habberdash… A rambling on of inspiration, process and results. You can skip to any of the below recipe ideas, all stemming from a healthy baked falafel from Frankie’s Feast posted last week (and skip the why, what and why, what and why… Like reading a book from the end)…
Or… You could go with my reasoning behind what I did and still end up with some taste ideas and more insight into my scattered but methodical thoughts; your choice (I will not judge, nor wish to be judged).
Ready to read on? Or skip to the end now…where you will find my entry to the Fiesta Friday Challenge #1.
Here go my ramblings:
A Simple, Happy Dinner of: Baked Falafel Wrap + Beef & Lamb Kebab Wrap, both filled with Hummus, Tzatziki Sauce and Cauliflower Tabouli:
I really like falafel but usually less to do with the actual falafel and more to do with it being something fried, set on a delicious envelope of soft, succulent flatbread with the hummus, onions, caramelized onions and added goo.
The falafel has always been a mystery to me (how to make) and is usually in the camp of fat fried, fast food (disguised as healthy). I have never made falafel, only felt the guilty pleasure of eating them when the junk food/chickpea crave kicks in (chickpeas are healthy, the craving is not).
Last week, I had the pleasure of reading “Baked Falafel with Cauliflower ‘Tabouli'” posted on Frankie’s Feast. I was so intrigued with her descriptions, both of the falafel and the tabouli (made of cauliflower), that I was prompted to immediately set out making both of them that night (which I typically don’t do). As it was, I had too many thoughts about what to make for dinner that evening and no actual cravings; until I read this.
So, off I went, to make a batch of chickpeas (you can make my basic recipe here, or use canned).
While the chickpeas were cooking, I walked Ginger and Buddy, good for all of us souls. When we returned, the chickpeas had finished pressure cooking, so I seasoned them and off we went to the market (for parsley, cilantro and turmeric). I also picked up ground (grass fed) beef and ground (grass fed) lamb, to make a variation with meat (yes, yet another kebab).
Now, as Frankie mentions, the falefal and tabouli both are simple, inexpensive and healthy. They are also vegan and gluten-free (not a high consideration for our table but worth mentioning for sure). So to combat all this healthy simplicity, I decided to throw in some meat, in the form of kebab. I was not sure how I might season the kebabs so I decided to think on that while I began making the falafels. First order of business is to throw the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and “whiz” them up. Stop. I had an idea. If I were to “whiz” up the seasonings, plus onion, garlic and lemon juice, I could extract a bit of that mix to add to the meat. So I did, 2 TB in fact.
I proceeded to make the falafels as directed, rolling them up into bright little balls (I upped the quantity of turmeric and herbs intensifying their color).Okay, so not perfectly round. Sorry, no pictures of them cooked.
They were meant to cook for 20 minutes with a spray of water to crisp up the edge but mine needed a bit longer and a small brush of olive oil to come out just right. Perhaps because I used freshly cooked chickpeas rather than canned (different texture?) or because I used extra lemon juice (more moisture?) or…(insert a number of scientific reasons here), or just because that’s what I did. No matter, The falafel was herbaceous and moist with just the right amount of tooth. Thanks Frankie, I will be making these again and again.
The cauliflower tabouli (Frankie’s brainchild), so healthy and creative, was a perfect partner to eat solo or tied up in a wrap. The falafel was, in itself, addictive, but the kebabs, (a combination of ground lamb + beef mixed with the extracted falafel seasoning, formed onto skewers and grilled), were addictive as well.
I told Tom (a chickpea skeptic), “I’m gonna give you one falafel and one kebab wrap”. He looked at me and said (deadpan), “Okay, but what are you gonna do with the rest of the kebabs?” Right next to Ginger and Buddy, he is my Muse too (occasionally). But I had a HUGE belly laugh on that one. Felt good.
Baked Falafel adapted from Frankie’s Feast
1 medium sweet onion
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 TB ground cumin
1 tsp ground “Chez Stacey Seasoning” (I roast coriander seeds, peppercorns and sea salt, then grind for my standard “seasoning”) or just use ground coriander plus grind in some pepper.
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup parsley, leaves and stalks, loosely packed
1 cup coriander, leaves and stalks, loosely packed
2 1/2 cups, cooked, drained chickpeas
Olive oil for brushing
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Add all of the ingredients except chickpeas and herbs to the food processor, process to combine. If you are making the kebabs, extract 2 TB of this mixture and set aside in a medium bowl.
Add the chickpeas and herbs to the processor and combine well. Adjust seasoning as needed. If you are making the kebabs, extract 3 oz. of this mixture and add to the bowl with reserved seasoning.
Roll the remaining mixture into small, spoon-size balls and place on a non-stick baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through; soft in the middle and sporting a crusty outer edge.
Lamb + Beef Kebab (this recipe counts on your making the falafels as well)
4 oz grass fed ground beef
6 oz grass fed ground lamb
2 TB reserved spice/onion mixture from “falafel mixture”
3 oz reserved falafel mixture from “falafel mixture”
A sprinkling of spelt flour
Olive oil for brushing
Combine all ingredients and in small handfuls, form oval rolls to thread through skewers for future grilling and sprinkle with spelt flour. Brush with a little olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill.
Cauliflower Tabouli (recipe from Frankie’s Feast + added bonus: pup friendly).
½ head of cauliflower
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
A handful of cherry tomatoes, finely diced
Juice of 1-2 small lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the cauliflower and parsley in the rinsed bowl of the food processor and blend until it’s somewhere between the size of rice and cous cous. Mix in the lemon juice and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Easy Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup loosely packed, fresh dill, chopped
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB grated Parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients together.
Falafel Wraps & Lamb + Beef Kebab Wraps
Grill 2 naan rounds per person to just heat through and brown slightly.
Spread with a layer of humus (I will post my hummus recipe soon, or use a good quality store-bought version), a thin layer of cauliflower tabouli. Then, for each person, add one skewer meat to one naan and two or three of the falafels to one naan. Drizzle with easy tszitiki sauce. Each plate gets one of each kind. Yum yum!
So here we go… The Fiesta Friday Challenge #1:
I was so going to give up! Why would I try, with so many more creative cooks that are working so well with yeast? I am not an expert in yeast. In fact, other than the incredible “no knead bread” from Jim Lahey, I don’t really even use yeast. I eat bread (plenty of it), and drink beer (less of that; leave that to Pete). Yet, I did tell Angie I would enter something and actually, getting comfortable using yeast, was quite the point.
I am not one to go back on my word. So, as I thought about dropping out (Friday, a mere days from the deadline), I decided to make cake using yeast. I had bought a packet (x3) of dry yeast, for just this occasion. It was the end of the challenge come Sunday. I was worn out from work and sat in my lounge chair at home, contemplating my choices. I could take a nap (yes, yes); I could just vacate my thoughts. I could clean my house, or at least clean my closet. I could make a great dinner (except I had a great dinner already prepped). I could work on a post,…or work on my entry for the challenge. I kept channeling Tom’s words, “this is not your strength”. True, true, so true. I don’t bake, I don’t brew. Yeast tends toward a chemistry, methodical bake-thing. I am not a chemist, no. Chemistry is tricky, yes. I should not opt in.
I do like pancakes, and am now… curious. What happens if I just make them with yeast? I have ricotta; to add lemon curd would be good. When I went into production though, the ricotta was sour. I did have some cooked chickpeas, perhaps I could do something with them? Maybe not.
I aimlessly began to stir together three healthy flours and one specialty flour. From there, I was led to move into the fridge and unleash the chickpeas. I was still unsure where it would lead.
I needed to go to the market to buy more dinner supplies, so I quickly made my decisions and you are now left with my results. I am happy with how they turned out. Surprised, actually. I was ready to rid of this experiment, to my neighbor, Piotr. Still should I suppose. We are now full. Knock, knock…
Chickpea, herb and yeast experiment to equal: (12) falafel and feta Madeleines appetizers & (1) Herbed Chickpea Yeast Cake.
This is good for the multi-tasker or decision-making impaired because it results in a combination of eats. Incidentally, I have something to offer Fiesta Friday #17 as well as an entry for the Fiesta Friday challenge #1.
1/3 cup each, spelt flour, chickpea flour, whole wheat pastry flour
2 TB mesquite flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 packet dry yeast (I used red star)
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TB shredded fresh coconut (I happened to have one in my fridge, you might be able to use dried coconut with equal results?)
1 can cooked, rinsed and drained chickpeas (I decided to save my freshly cooked chickpeas for a salad in case this was a disaster)
1/2 cup each, loosely packed, spring onion greens, cilantro, Italian parsley
1/2 cup loosely packed, mixture of fresh basil and oregano
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/2 tsp each, kosher salt, turmeric, cumin
Additional garnishes & enhancements for the cake and Madeleines
Several ounces good quality, French Feta cheese
1 medium sized tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup par-boiled English peas (without their pod)
Mix the flours, 1/2 tsp salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Mix in the buttermilk, olive oil and coconut. Cover this mix with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Set aside in a warm, dark place for 2 hours.
After two hours, it will have changed from very liquidly to somewhat glutenized. In other words, a little thickened and sticky. It will not look like bread dough, though it might have if I waited 10 more hours but I was quite inpatient and experimental.
Add the “falafel”/”mix-in” ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and process until well blended.
Now, you have a few choices: You can make all Madeleines or all cake. My instructions below though, are for making both; twelve Madeleines and one cake.
To make Falafel and Feta Madeleine appetizers:
Rub oil in the cups of a Madeleine pan with olive oil and dust with spelt flower. Fill each of the twelve cups with batter. Roll some of the herb/chickpea mix into twelve tiny balls and insert one ball in the center of each cup.
Next to each herb ball, place a tiny chunk of French feta cheese.
Cook in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until done. The mini falafel will be hard, the cheese melted and the dough golden. A toothpick should come away clean.
Combine the remaining chickpea herb mix with the “dough”. Pour into a shallow 8″ Dutch oven or cast iron skillet (rubbed with olive oil and dusted with spelt flour). Bake for (approximately) 40 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Tooth pick will come away clean when done.
Let cool in the pan. Carefully run a butter knife around the edge and flip over onto a plate. Put another plate over and invert the cake so it is right-side-up.
Transfer to a baking tin. Crumble feta over the top of the cake. Top with a layer of the sliced tomatoes then sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
Tom tested and (actually) Tom approved (Tom is a non-chickpea advocate and skeptic healthy eater).