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Archive for the ‘Foodie Friday’ Category

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Aug
30
2013

Foodie Friday: Falafel

Happy Friday Peeps!

Now bear with me today approving comments (and come on – leave me some feedback!) and it might be tomorrow evening before I approve them. Jerry, Ben and I are off to the big city for doctor appointments.

Today’s recipe is for Falafel.  I love love love falafel. And it is so easy to make gluten free.  I want to remind you of my favorite falafel recipe.  I posted this recipe a long time ago – three years ago I think.  Before I had to give up gluten. So to make gluten free just sub the flour for your favorite all purpose gluten free flour mix.  Some times changing a recipe to gluten free changes the texture and even the taste but happily not in this recipe.

Honestly, I used to love the boxed mix.  Homemade is always better but if you are short on time, and aren’t restricted from gluten, the boxed is a pretty good substitute for “the real thing”.   My favorite boxed brand is Casbah.  I think I have even seen gluten free mix but am not sure. If you have the time to make falafel completely from scratch this is the recipe you want. If you are not familiar with falafel, it is a fried ball of chickpeas, dating back to Biblical times, likely originating somewhere on the Indian subcontinent but now popular all over India, North Africa and the Middle East. The Egyptian version  exclusively uses fava beans but I can’t vouch for that recipe as I have never eaten a fava bean falafel. What makes falafel different from many other bean dishes is the beans are not cooked prior to use. Instead they are soaked then ground with other ingredients and deep fried.

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oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, salt, cayenne, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of a ping pong ball, or use a small cookie scoop found here.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a skillet or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serving suggestions:
~ Fill a  pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled relish. Drizzle with tahini sauce. Or any combination of such condiments.  I am not a big fan of tahini but here is a quick recipe for you.
Tahini  Sauce
* 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
* 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
~Serve as a finger food with a Tzatziki.
Tzaiki is a yogurt cucumber dip that you really need to make the day before and chill overnight.
*Plain low-fat yogurt
*juice of 1/2 lemon
* Medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
* 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
* 1 tsp. dried parsley
Finely dice or grate the entire cucumber. In a bowl, combine 8 oz. of plain yogurt and add the diced cucumber to it. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill overnight.
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So there you have it! Yummy, yummy falafel!  Homemade is always better but if you are short on time, the boxed is a pretty good substitute for “the real thing”.   My favorite boxed brand is Casbah.  If you have the time to make falafel completely from scratch this is the recipe you want. If you are not familiar with falafel, it is a fried ball of chickpeas, dating back to Biblical times, likely originating somewhere on the Indian subcontinent but now popular all over India, North Africa and the Middle East. The Egyptian version  exclusively uses fava beans but I can’t vouch for that recipe as I have never eaten a fava bean. What makes falafel different from many other bean dishes is the beans are not cooked prior to use. Instead they are soaked then ground with other ingredients and deep fried.
My Favorite Falafel


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas or one can chickpeas drained, if you are pressed for time
  • 1/2 large onion, diced chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro or both
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (not necessary but adds a little heat)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (possibly my favorite spice in the whole wide world :) )
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4-6 tablespoons flour (all purpose or gluten free blend)
  • oil for frying
Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, salt, cayenne, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of a ping pong ball, or use a small cookie scoop found here.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a skillet or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serving suggestions:
~ Fill a  pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled relish. Drizzle with tahini sauce. Or any combination of such condiments.  I am not a big fan of tahini but here is a quick recipe for you.
Tahini  Sauce
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
~Serve as a finger food with a Tzatziki.
Tzaiki is a yogurt cucumber dip that you really need to make the day before and chill overnight.
  • Plain low-fat yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
Finely dice or grate the entire cucumber. In a bowl, combine 8 oz. of plain yogurt and add the diced cucumber to it. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill overnight.
So there you have it! Yummy, yummy falafel!
Love and peace to you all!
Namaste!
Nov
12
2010

Foodie Friday – COOKIES!

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth.  My week was turned upside down when my sweetie came home a day (and two hours – but whose counting? ;) ) early from Tunisia.  He called Tuesday afternoon and said his flight home had been moved to Wednesday night  at 9:30.  Well Wednesday was a crazy busy day.  Busy enough that Ben and I didn’t make it to the Human Society.  But we did get an ortho appt, chemistry class, groceries, some outside work and a good bit of the inside work done.  I had just walked in from chemistry class when the phone rang and it was Jerry saying he thought he could catch the 6:45 out of Atlanta and he’d call right back.  I jumped in the shower and told the kids they would have to “root hog” for supper and waited to hear from him.  Yep…I was out the door by 5:45.  I pulled up to the airport and two minutes later he walked out!  Talk about timing!  So yesterday we just mostly hung out and watch TV, napped and ate a not heart healthy supper.  Like my friend whose husband works the same kinda schedule mine does “The first day they are home, they eat what they want.  It’s the law.” Ü

I had a few cookies to make for a friend and made extras for the fam.  Their favorite: Cream Wafers.  Well, as you know, I have been having H-E double hockey sticks with my tummy and have decided it’s gluten.  I know, I know.  NOT something else.  Yep.  I have an appointment with my allergist next Friday for some tests but from trial and error I am fairly certain it’s the culprit.  So after making these cookies I got to thinking, why not just try a 1/2 batch gluten free substituting rice flour for the all purpose flour?  So I did.  Honestly, not too shabby for my first attempt  at gluten free cookies from scratch.  I have tried some packaged things and was none to pleased. In fact decided doing without was much better.  I am ordering xanthan gum today to see if I can improve on this recipe. The texture of the cookie was a little grainy and much more delicate than the original which is already delicate enough.  I will keep you posted. But all in all a fine substitution until I can perfect the formula.  I will be trying other recipes. But for now…a fine, FINE substitute.  And NO tummy trouble after eating a couple – so goal accomplished! Rachel liked them too.  They are just gluten free but do have dairy, just so you know.  I very well might attempt a gluten free/dairy free version soon.  I know people that are looking for gluten free, many times need dairy free as well.

All I really changed was the flour content from all purpose to white rice flour and used pure cane sugar for the cookie coating before baking.  I used filling I had left from the regular batch to fill them.

glutenfreecreamwafers1

Okay now for all you I promised my Sugar Cookie Recipe to, I have two versions.  One is a little softer cookie from the addition of the brown sugar.  If you need a very sturdy crisp cookie use the first recipe.  If you like your cookies a little softer, the second should suit you.

NotQuiteJuneCleaver’s Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Whisk these three things together in a separate bowl.  Beat until light and fluffy:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar

One at a time add:

  • 2 large eggs

Beating well after each.  Then thoroughly mix in:

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

With your  mixer running on slow, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined well.  Don’t over beat cookie dough…makes ‘em tough.

Divide your dough into 3rds or 4ths and wrap each in waxed paper, put them in a freezer bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  This dough can be frozen for later use.  Just thaw in the frig the day before you need it.

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured pasty cloth roll your dough 1/8 inch thick.  Cut it out as desired with floured cutters.   Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  If you want to add sprinkles or colored sugar, now is the time.  Otherwise bake them plain for decorating with icing.  Bake 8-10 minutes depending on the shape of your cookies.  Pointy cookies like stars will be too brown on the edges if you over bake so watch your time.  Slide your parchment off onto a flat surface to let them cool or remove  them to a wire rack. When they are completely cooled you can decorate them as you wish.  This makes about 3-4 dozen depending on the size cutters you use.

Susan’s Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional ~ cut the vanilla bean in half then slit one half lengthwise and scrape the insides out with the blade of your knife, add this scraping to the dough before adding the flour)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time and then the flavorings (including the vanilla bean if you choose to use it). On low speed or by hand, mix in the flour combination. Divide the dough into thirds, wrapping each third in a piece of waxed paper. Place dough in freezer bag and refrigerate 2 hours or over night. This dough can be frozend for up to 3 months.

Preheat oven to 375.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and place 2 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Decorating:

Royal Icing
I use Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing with one acception…I add 1 TBSP light Karo syrup. Makes it shiny and very smooth and she has some great tips for decorating cookies as you probably already know. So check out her website for technique.

We keep a wide variety of cookie decorations…sugars, pearls, dragees, jimmies…you name it we have it! A couple of great place to purchase these things is Fancy Flours and Country Kitchen. You can get a crazy wide variety of cookie cutters at Cookie Cutters Online.

Now have fun!

Xmas Cookies5cookiesforSam

Valentine1

Oct
22
2010

Well, hello Friday. Where did you come from?

I have felt this way several days this week.  And didn’t have much to say that didn’t sound like complaining so I spared you.  I just recently watched an interview with a woman named Dominique Brown.  She was editor at Home and Garden and when them magazine shut down, her whole life changed.  And at first not for the better.   The she started moving.  Physically, geographically and at a slower pace.  She writes a blog called Slow Love Life and has a book called Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness.  I read the title of her blog several times before I realized she didn’t mean her love life was slow, but in fact meant her life was full of slow love moments.  That when she slowed down, even if it was abruptly and unexpectedly, she began to see life differently.  To see her world differently.  To see THE world differently.  She began to experience “slow love” moments that not only sustained her in this extraordinarily difficult hand she had been dealt, but actually was preferable to what her life had been.

The way I found Dominique and her book was a bit peculiar.  I have an odd way of finding and reading the day’s news. While I have my gmail open,   I open yahoo to check one of my email accounts and the front page is news feeds.  At the same time, I open facebook and weather.com.  One of the news lines was about a woman born and raised in Texas, traveled the world, married several times and in her later years worked with the mentally ill and homeless in NYC.  The story, in the regional section of the New York Times was very interesting and was also a death announcement.  The world lost a truly giving person in Mrs. Sturz, age 93.  As I started to close that page, I noticed a blurb to the right of that ~ “Why can’t middle-aged women have long hair?”  Why indeed?  I could so relate. If it is something you contemplate, read the article for yourself.  Even if you aren’t thinking about your hair, it is a very good read.

My hair is getting rather long.  And rather unruly.  No, very unruly. My hair is naturally curly.  And for a middle aged woman, I still have quite a lot of volume.  Though the amount of hair on my bathroom rugs right now might lead you shake your head in disbelief…or have a bout of mild nausea.  Yes, I am going to sweep and mop today.  Get off my back about it! OOOPPS! Talking to myself again.  But see I STILL don’t have a washer.  So I haven’t pulled up the rugs which normally get washed 2-3 times a week.  It looks like it might be Tuesday (and Wednesday won’t surprise me) before my new washer arrives.  I am being very patient since I could have had a washer off the floor but noooo, I wanted what I wanted and it wasn’t in stock.  But when it finally arrives, it will be great.  And will get a work out!

But back to my hair.  I am girl of extremes.  Is this news?  Not likely to anyone who knows me.  Like this morning ~ I was extremely hungry.  Even though I am supposed to be on a “program” (I hate the word diet), I had vanilla ice cream with a banana and a peach cut up into it. Granted it was in a mug not a bowl and so therefore was a much smaller portion than I could have eaten AND there was much more fruit than ice cream.  I know, yogurt would have been a much healthier choice but that Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream screamed at me almost the moment my feet hit the floor.  I just don’t want to let myself get on a binge.  There’s that extreme behavior again.  The really smart thing would be not to have the ice cream in the house.  Really smart thing.  But I don’t live here alone and other people want what they want too.  Wait!  We were talking about my hair.  Or I was talking about my hair.  Curly.  Unruly.  Graying.  But you know.  I like it longer.  I could kick myself for cutting it the last time I did.  Which ended up like this:

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Don’t get me wrong.  Good haircut.  Very manageable.  But I was not happy with it the moment I did it.  Partially because I know Jerry likes my hair longer.  Because, well other than my dad I have never known a man who doesn’t like long hair on a woman.  And even though he says “It’s your hair.  Wear it like you want.  I can’t tell you how to wear your hair.” , I know better.  And even though I might “look” better with shorter hair, even shorn, when he, without thinking about it, starts playing with my hair, pulling at the curls, running his fingers through it…or trying to until I wince…curly hair has it’s problems you know, we both like it better long :) But is this really a good look on a 50 something woman?

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And no my hair isn’t long – but it is for me.  Most of the time it ends up in a do like one of these:

doos

Yeah, neither of them are very age appropriate either.  BUT after reading the article by Dominique Brown, to heck with it.  It’s my hair, I will wear it like I want!  Yes, I wear overalls nearly every day.  Yes, still.  Yes, after 35 years.  Have I ever told you about the first pair of overalls I ever had and how they were my excuse for asking Jerry to my house the first time?  I will save that for another time…closer to International Overalls Day. Yes! There is such a thing!  And YES, I help start it!  I will tell you all about it VERY soon!  Fun to be had!  BTW, I had my engagement picture made in overalls!  Not kidding.  I suppose, as extreme as my behavior is at times, I am quite the creature of habit as well.

Dang, I am chasing rabbits this morning!  That’s Southern for getting side tracked, in case you aren’t from around here ;)   I really wanted to say – read the article, I am even going to read the book.  Looks very interesting and insightful. I could always use a little more insight.

And I know, I know, it’s Foodie Friday!  Here’s your recipe.  Enjoy!


VERY Berry Pie

Simple ingredients, simple directions, AMAZING pie!

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Pastry for a 9” double crust pie

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

juice and grated zest from 1/2 medium lemon

5 cups fresh berries, rinsed well (blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries)

1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces

In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, lemon juice and grated rind, and berries. Roll out half of the pastry; line an 9-inch pie pan and trim edges. Pour berry mixture into pie crust and dot with small pieces of butter. Roll out remaining pastry to about 1/8 inch thick. Make lattice or simply cover pie; trim, turn edge under and crimp. Cut a few vents in top of crust to allow steam to escape . Bake at 425° for 40 minutes,   or until crust is nicely browned. For best slicing results, let the pie cool before slicing.

veryberry1

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