It is absolutely lovely to be home again. The remaining few inches of snow on the ground melted away over the weekend. Sure, spring is late arriving, but the hummingbirds are here in force. I think it’s time for me to find some decals to slap on our windows for the next month or two. While I love hummingbirds, I really would prefer to not ever have to rescue another one again (that is to say, I hope they don’t crash into our windows). I’m staying put for a little while because we’re fast approaching Colorado’s season of mind-blowing splendor. And while we’re talking about Colorado summer, the Food and Light Photography Workshop is about 2/3 full now. So if you were planning to register, I suggest doing so soon. We have an amazing crew of attendees (some of whom were my fellow Daring Bakers) and everyone is VERY psyched for late June in Boulder – a truly glorious time of year to be here.
kaweah got a bath, a brushing, and then a walkie
moon and venus setting
I’ll be honest with you all. Before this trip, I thought I was losing it. You know it – my food blogging mojo. I couldn’t think of any new recipes I wanted to try. I felt completely uninspired. I always promised myself that when the blog became a burden, became something I didn’t enjoy, then I would stop (food) blogging. When I caught my flight to California, I wasn’t sure what the fate of use real butter would be. It did not occur to me that my shooting trip would jump start my enthusiasm for cooking – but that’s exactly what it did. Part of it was getting sick of dining out or eating cold camp food (we didn’t bring a stove) for two weeks. It makes one long for home-cooked meals if that’s what you are used to. The other part was seeing the beautiful fresh produce that California boasts and thinking of ways to serve them to friends on our deck this summer. Yes, I’m a winter girl, but I love all of the seasons and summer is definitely something to get excited about. I suppose sometimes it is good to just step back and take a moment to think.
i get a kick out of these signs
When I made tzatziki last year, some of the comments asked if I had made the falafel in the final photograph and if I had a recipe. No, I didn’t have a recipe. I bought it at the store. That had been bothering me for the past several months. Why didn’t I make falafel at home? It’s so easy! Well, I really have to be a in mood to deep fry because it makes a mess and I just hate dealing with the oil afterward.
parsley, lemon, spices, chick peas, garlic, onion
chopped and ready for the grind
I looked up several recipes and settled on Mr. Bittman’s from the New York Times. This looked so straightforward. Easy ingredients, blend it all together, roll, and fry. Right?! Right!?
into the food processor
shaping balls of falafel
Not quite. I tried to make it without the flour because that seems to be the authentic way. I let the mixture dry in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, rolled a ball and gently lowered it into the hot oil. Sizzle, spatter, pop, fizz, bubble! I couldn’t actually see what was going on in the pot because of the vapor envelope around the falafel (i.e. the roiling oil). I placed the mesh skimmer in the pot to lift the falafel out and saw what looked like a very sad pea-sized remnant of what was originally a golf-ball sized falafel. The hell?! I read several recipes and determined that I should add a little flour which would reportedly keep the falafel balls from falling apart during the frying process.
fried to a deep golden brown
Bingo. That did the trick. After adding the flour, the falafel came out perfectly. If you make a lot, it’s easy enough to let them cool to room temperature after frying and then bag them up and pop them into the freezer. To serve, just defrost and reheat in an oven until the outsides are crisped.
Edit: My good friend, Tony Tahhan told me that I should use dried beans. Because you don’t actually have to cook them, just soak them, they work just fine and don’t boil apart when you fry them. Thanks Tony!!
love my falafel with some tzatziki
after this recipe by Mark Bittman
3-4 cans garbanzo beans, drained (or 1 3/4 cups dried chick peas, soaked for 24 hours)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 green onions or 1 small onion
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cumin
cayenne to taste
1 cup parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsps flour (omit if using dried chick peas)
oil for frying (something neutral like canola oil)
Combine the beans, garlic, onions, spices, parsley, seasonings, and lemon juice in a food processor and grind it to hell. One cookbook recipe recommends letting the dough sit in the refrigerator to help dry it out. I tried this and had my falafel balls disintegrate upon frying. If this happens to you, you can cheat and stir in flour. Roll the dough into golf ball-size balls. Heat a few inches of oil to 350°F and gently drop a few falafel balls in. Let fry until brown, about 5 minutes. Serve hot. Makes about 4 dozen.