Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mediterranean Mezze Platter

Falafel

Summer is upon us here in the Northern hemisphere and summer brings along barbeques, potlucks, and picnics. And with these lovely gatherings brings the need to have a great dish to bring that travels well, is relatively easy to make, and can be made in advance which is where my favorite 2 Mezze plates come in. Falafel and hummus are relatively easy to make, taste amazing, and if you have people with special diets they are Vegan and can be made Gluten Free!

Making falafel on the weekend is also something I love to do so I have easy to prepare lunches for the work week. You can add falafel to salads, make a falafel sandwich with your fresh made hummus and pita, or bring your whole mezze platter as a lunch.  Its a food that makes it so easy to bring a healthy and easy lunch to work everyday which is a win win in my book. So roll up your sleeves and make these fantastic dishes that you can share with everyone at your next gathering or for any time because falafel and hummus is the best!

mezze Patter

MEZZE PLATTER

Both of these recipes are adapted from the most wonderful of books Jerusalem A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and if you are on Food52 you can check out the Falafel and Hummus recipes there as well.

1 Recipe Falafel (see below)

1 Recipe Hummus (see below)

Any other sides that you please I like:

Tabbouleh

Pickled Onions

Quick Pickled Cucumbers

Pita

TO ASSEMBLE

If using cold falafel I like to cut them in half and heat them on an oiled pan.

Assemble your hummus, falafel, and other mezze dishes together

FALAFEL

I like a heavily spiced and flavored falafel which is why I use so much of the whole spices. I use fenugreek seeds in my mix because I like the flavor when they are toasted but if you don’t have access to it or don’t want to use it I would substitute some coriander and cumin.

1  1/4 cup dried Chickpeas

1/4 cup chopped Parsley Leaves

1/2 of a small Onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic chopped

2 tsp Whole Coriander Seeds

1 tsp Whole Fenugreek Seeds

3 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds

1 tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp dried Cilantro

3 tsp + 1/4 cup of Whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp of Citric Acid or 2 tsp Lemon Juice

Falafel

TO PREPARE

After combing through your chickpeas to make sure no rocks or broken chickpeas are included place your chickpeas In a medium sized bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover + an additional 3-4 inches and let your chickpeas soak for at least 8 hours to overnight. Do not try to substitute canned chickpeas for this as they have been cooked and will not have enough structure for making falafel.

After your chickpeas have soaked drain out the water and transfer to your food processor.

Into your food processor add in the chopped parsley, garlic, onion, and 3 tbsp of the whole wheat flour

Blitz your food processor until the mixture is ground into small pieces but is not pasty or mushy. Once the mix is a good pea-meal consistency (like a pie dough) transfer to another bowl

Measure out all your whole spices and toast them in a small pan.

Falafel

Once the spices are toasted let them cool and grind them up in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder

Add in your fresh ground spice mixture, chili powder, dried cilantro, remaining 1bsp of whole  wheat flour, salt to taste, and citric acid (you can use lemon juice instead  for the slight acid kick but it adds extra wetness so you might need to add another tsp of flour)

Mix everything together and let rest in the refrigerator for about an hour

Prepare your frying vessel (I use a deep cast iron pan) with oil about 4 inches deep and heat to until it is hot

While the oil is heating up prepare your falafel balls. Set up a shallow bowl with 1/4 cup of the whole wheat flour and shape your falafel mix into ball shapes about the size of a walnut. Once shaped roll the falafel in the flour, this step will make sure your falafel has a nice brown crust and will help it keep it’s shape

Once the oil is hot place few of your falafel in the pan leaving breathing room between them. I usually fry about 5 in my 12″ pan at one time. Cook them for about 4 minutes this time ensures a nice crisp outside and a well cooked inside

Set on a cooling rack and fry up the rest of your falafel, serve when warm or cold.

mezze Patter

BASIC HUMMUS

This is the recipe I go to every time I want to make hummus, now I do it by sight and experience but this is the base. You can also use dried chickpeas instead of can which is usually what I do but sometimes you just want instant gratification. See my first Kitchen Essential: Dried Chickpeas for directions on how to prepare dried chickpeas.

1 Can Chickpeas

Juice of 1 Medium Lemon

1 Tbsp Tahini

1/4 Cold Water

About 3 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt to taste

TO PREPARE

Into your food processor combine your chickpeas, juice of one lemon, tahini, most of your cold water (reserve about 3tbsp to add while processing), and salt.

Turn your food processor on high and start adding your olive oil in a steady stream into the mix until it starts to come together and smooth out (about 3 tbsp).

Continue processing on high and add in the rest of the water if needed to make sure the hummus is nice and smooth.

Run the food processor for an additional minute on high to make sure it is very very smooth.

Once your hummus is nice and smooth taste for salt levels and pour out into your serving vessel and serve.

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Playlist for July

4thofjuly2013_25Oregon Coast, July 2013

Yeah yeah I know July is almost over but this month I feel needed a playlist at the end of the month to capture my feelings for it rather than the beginning. It has been a month of new perspective and renewed energy for cooking and going out so to honor that here is my playlist for the last few days of July.

July 2013 on Spotify

1. The Killing Moon; Echo and the Bunny Men

2. You’re the One I Love – feat. Fionna Apple; Sara Watkins

3. A Forest; The Cure

4. Mala Vida; Gogol Bordello

5. Wipe Out; Toy Dolls

6. United States of Whatever; Liam Lynch

7. Sexy Boy; Air

8. Wait for the Summer; Yeasayer

9. Little Faith; The National

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Blue Cheese Frozen Yogurt with Grilled Pear and Honey

Blue Cheese Ice Cream
Please tell me what is better than a cheese platter turned into a dessert? I can’t think of much that can beat it. For a long time I have been thinking about making a Blue Cheese and something ice cream but I put it on the back burner for whatever reason. A few weeks back I was flipping through the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook and saw the Chèvre Frozen Yogurt (pg 217) recipe and which re-inspired me to make a blue cheese frozen treat.  Since I was quite busy when the idea came back to me I figured I would make it for the Bastille Day Picnic I was trying to plan with some friends , as I talked about here, but alas schedule conflicts came up and that fell through.

So this past weekend I thought it would be the perfect time to finally make it as I had been collecting all the components over the past week and there was the massive heat wave there is not much else I wanted to cook. When it is 90 + degrees and humid the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the stove (you can tell in my photos that my frozen yogurt was getting a little bit melty) . So Ice Cream (well frozen yogurt but whatever) it was.

This Frozen yogurt is nice and tangy which makes the pear and honey a nice accompaniment to the tangyness and would be great served as a first course cheese course replacement but is also great as a desert course ( or heck as a meal on its own… not saying that’s how I ate it or anything).

Blue Cheese Ice Cream

BLUE CHEESE FROZEN YOGURT W/ GRILLED PEAR AND HONEY

Makes 4- 2 scoop servings or 8 – 1 scoop servings

1 recipe Blue Cheese Frozen Yogurt (See Below)

1 Pear Sliced into 1/4″ Pieces

About 1 Tbsp per serving of your favorite Raw Honey

Coconut Oil to Grease the grill

Grill pan or Grill

Large Spoon

TO ASSEMBLE

Pre-heat your grill pan or grill until it is very hot.

Grease the grill with your coconut oil

Place your pear slices onto the grill and grill until nice grill marks start to form then flip until the other side has developed the same marks.

Place the pear slices onto your plate in a fan type pattern

Scoop out your ice cream (1 or 2 depending on how large you want the desert to be) on to the pear slices or if you want to be fancy you can make a Quenelle (that fancy shape you get at a fancy place).

Drizzle with honey and serve

Blue Cheese Ice Cream

BLUE CHEESE FROZEN YOGURT

Makes 1 Pint

This recipe was adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar and like my Rhubarb Sorbet it uses corn syrup (or glucose) to help stabilize it and keep the liquid from crystallizing to much and helps create a good mouth feel. The Gelatin used helps do the same thing and keeps the frozen yogurt from freezing to hard or melting too quickly.

When making this Frozen Yogurt make sure to pick out a cheese you really like the flavor of because this is an intensely flavored ice cream so you want to use a quality good tasting product.

2 Gelatin Sheets (or 1 Tsp of powdered Gelatin)

55g (1/4 cup) Milk

60g (1/4 cup) Blue Cheese

55g (1/4 cup) Buttermilk

50g (2 tbsp) Greek Yogurt

35g (2 tbsp) Corn Syrup (or 100g of Glucose)

50g (1/4 cup) Sugar

2g (1/2 tsp) Kosher Salt

0.5g (1/8 tsp) Citric Acid

Blender

Fine Mesh Strainer

Mixing Bowl

Scale to measure ingredients

TO PREPARE

Bloom your sheet Gelatin by soaking it in a small bowl of cold water for about 2 minutes. It should get soft but not so soft that it is falling apart. Squeeze out the extra water and place in your mixing bowl. You can read up more about gelatin at Modernistpantry.com and purchase the gelatin sheets there as well.

Lightly heat some of the milk and whisk in the gelatin sheet until it is dissolved.

Add to Gelatin/ milk mixture to blender along with the remaining milk, Buttermilk, Blue Cheese, Yogurt, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Salt, and Citric Acid.

Puree the mixture until smooth.

Pour the frozen yogurt mix through a fine mix strainer into your mixing bowl.

Set up your Ice Cream Machine according to your manufacturers instructions and freeze according to your machine’s directions

Once spun I like to let my ice cream set for about an hour or two before serving so it can set up a bit more. You can serve though straight out of the machine or store for about 2 weeks.

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My Kitchen Essentials: Dried Chickpeas/ Garbanzo Beans

Dried Chickpeas

ITEM: Dried Chickpeas/ Garbanzo Beans

WHERE TO FIND: Most Grocery Stores in the Grain and Legume Section

ABOUT: Chickpeas are an ancient legume that have been eaten for thousands of years. They make up a important part of Middle Eastern and Indian Cuisine where they are used in many forms. From whole cooked Chickpeas to flour they create a strong and healthy backbone of a balanced vegetarian diet. They are a very versatile food that is incredibly healthy, packed with protein and a variety of anti-oxidants and other healthy goodness (check out a full profile here)

WHY I KEEP IT AROUND: I keep them around mostly to make hummus. I love homemade hummus as it is so much better than store bought and a lot cheaper too a bag costs about $3 something and makes about 5 or so batches of hummus (I use a modified version of the recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, which also has a great falafel recipe). Chickpeas are also an integral part of making Falafel which are like one of my favorite things ever (nothing like stopping for a $3 falafel sandwich at my favorite place in Brooklyn after a night out). Falafel are not only amazing the day of they are also great to add to salads during the work week to add some depth and excitement to your lunch. They really are not too hard to make either. Once you have some cooked chickpeas they great tossed with a little bit of Olive Oil and spices and added to a lettuce based salad, a grain based salad, or on top of scrambled eggs like I had the other day in the Moroccan Scramble from Five Leaves here in Brooklyn. Chickpeas are endlessly useful and store for a long time. While you can get them precooked and canned I prefer not as I feel they are a bit tinny in taste.

HOW TO PREPARE: Soak in water until they double in size (I usually leave them overnight). Pour out into a pot and cover with about 3″ of water bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. It takes around 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours for the chickpeas to cook until they are soft. (If the water boils off when cooking add more as needed).  Once the Chickpeas are soft drain and use in your desired preparation.

REFERENCES:
Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison: “The Legume Family: Chickpeas” pg 376

The Worlds Healthiest Foods: Garbanzo Beans

Jerusalem: A Cookbook: Falafel pg 98, Basic Hummus pg 114

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Early Summer Eating: July 12, 2013

Summer Foods

Chicken Biscuit at Smorgasburg Brooklyn, NY from Bee Hive Oven

&

Iced Coffee at Smorgasburg Brooklyn, NY from Grady’s Cold Brew

Summer FoodsCafe La Maude, Philadelphia, PA

N-Liberties Open Face Sandwich

Summer FoodsKaren Parker Soul Food, Philadelphia, PA

Chicken & Waffles and Collard Greens

Summer FoodsShake Shack, Philadelphia, PA

Rittenhouse Concretes

Summer FoodsShake Shack, Terminal 4 JFK Airport, New York, NY

Shack Burger, Fly me to the Shack Concrete, Shackmeister Ale

Summer Foods

Tin Shed, Portland, Oregon

Good Dog with a Buttermilk Biscuit

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A Bastille Day for the Memories

Eiffel Tower
Last year for Bastille Day I was lucky enough to be in Paris for a reunion of a bunch of my friends that live abroad. Bastille Day was the occasion in which our trip was planned around and the center piece of the trip was a picnic at Champ de Mars, which is the park at the base of the Eiffel tower, where they have a big firework display to mark the occasion. Bastille Day (the 14th of July) was a delightful day of wandering about Paris, soaking in the sights, and catching up with my lovely friends most of which I had not seen in over 2 years. We enjoyed catching some rays at The Jardin de Tuileries, eating at brassieres, and chatting about the going ons of the past years. As the day wore on it was time to collect the rest of the group in order to prep for our picnic. We were a bit worried that it was going to rain for the big event since the weather could not make up it’s mind between sunshine and down pours (which luckily only happened as we ate). Thankfully for our plans the sky decided to clear up for us just as we were on the way to go shopping. Once we collected the rest of our group all 15 of us headed off to the local grocery store to split up and buy supplies. We ended up with a large array of meats, cheese, bread, and plenty of other snacks, of course what we got was not the best Paris has to offer but for the prices and the fact it was all from a supermarket it was quite great. We of course also picked up some wine, you know only 13 bottles worth and a few other drinks, since we knew this was going to be a risky move because we had heard that during the festivities that alcohol is not allowed in the park we decided to not risk getting a mini Heineken keg (that was the dutch boys idea in the first place). We knew it would be a risk but we figured we might as well try because what is a holiday picnic with out wine, at the very least we could always locate ourselves somewhere a bit further away from the action.
Eiffel Tower

When we reached the park, as expected, there were Police checking everyone’s bags as they entered the main area, we figured that we should move on to somewhere where it was okay to have our wine but as we were coordinating where we go someone in the group found an entry point where no one was checking bags. Magically we were able to sneak into the park all the wine which was quite an amazingly hilarious thing. Of course through the whole time we had to be on guard and hide what we were drinking since the police were patrolling the park for this particular reason but that made it extra fun and memorable. Thankfully fate was endlessly on our side on this day and we were never found out even though there were a few close calls.
Eiffel Tower
After a few hours of eating, drinking, and chatting dusk turned into night and the fireworks began. I have to say that the fireworks were some of the best I have seen and I have been to some impressive displays, though part of it could have been the fact the majestic Eiffel Tower was a part of the view. The Eiffel tower was even dressed up for the day with a disco ball hanging from it’s peak and lights that were a part of the show. To accompany the fireworks there of course was a speakers around the park playing euro pop/ electronic music. It was a truly epic day and evening in every respect and sealed my forever love for Paris.
Eiffel Tower
This particular Bastille Day will forever live in my memories and I feel that I should commemorate it by celebrating my own way back home this year. So I am hoping that everything works out and that I am able to plan a Picnic/ Barbeque at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. As I was out of town for 4th of July (Travel Post about the Oregon Coast coming soon) and was unable to contribute to our picnic I want to go all out for Bastille day but we will see what happens but for now I am planning to make a few different tapas for snacking and a Blue Cheese Frozen Yougurt number for dessert. So stay tuned in for that.
Eiffel Tower

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4th of July Travels: Portland Oregon

Picture Postcard View of Mount Hood over Portland

For this long Forth of July weekend i took a trip out to one of my favorite places Portland Oregon. I went to school in Portland and since then Portland had become one of my favorite cities, Maybe its because of how well I know the city or maybe it is just because it is an awesome-ly quirky city. For whatever reason it has been almost a year and a half since I have been back which is crazy to me. I mean I have been back to Europe twice in that time and Portland is cheaper to visit although the flight is not necessarily shorter.

I am sure at this point most people have either seen the show Portlandia or at least heard of it and every time i bring up Portland the first question is always “Is it really like Portlandia?” and to that my answer is yes and no. Of course the show is blown out of proportion and makes fun of places like Williamsburg Brooklyn, Austin TX, and other such hipster enclaves in the skits but it certain ways Portland is that silly.

NWDavis Everett 4.22.08

Portland is a glorious city where almost anything goes. If you have a weird interest that you think no one else on the planet is into I bet you that there is a group of people in Portland who are avidly into whatever it is. And the thing is Portland has kind of always been this way, before ‘Hipster’ was a real term people cared about craft beers, local food, and homeopathic medicine. Portland is its own little world of awesome tucked away in the gloriously beautiful Paciftic Northwest and every time I come back I wonder to my self why did I leave?

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Summer Treats: Rhubarb Sorbet

RuharbSorbet_4While  browsing through my reader the other day I came across a recipe for Rhubarb Lime Vanilla Bean Sorbet from Susan Eats London and it immediately sounded interesting. What drew me first to the post was the short bit of information about using stabilizers to ensure your homemade ice cream and sorbet has a nicer texture which is something that I have been having a problem with. Going back through my books now though I realize that is why gelatin sheets and glucose are used in the Milk Bar recipes (which I have a grand idea I am going to make in the near future that uses one of those as the base). Also I have always wanted to try making something with Rhubarb since my experience with it has been slim and I did not want to make a pie. So when I was checking out a newer grocery store in the city (Union Market @Houston & Essex/ Ave A for any New Yorkers) and saw some great looking rhubarb which I had to get to make sorbet since the idea had been floating around in my mind.

When I got home to make the sorbet base I decided to wing the flavoring with what I had on hand and not go out an buy a vanilla bean for this. Since I had rose water I added a bit of that in, as well as vanilla extract, and lime juice. Due to the rose water the final product has some nice floral notes but I wish that it had a bit more acid in it. If I am to make this again I would add more lime juice or take another page out the Milk Bar Cookbook and add a bit of citric acid for the acid note.  In this recipe you can substitute the Corn Syrup with Pure Glucose if you have that on hand though you might need a bit less, taste and see, or any other inverse sugar syrup (i.e Golden Syrup) but regardless of what you choose do make sure to use one of the above this is what helps keep the sorbet from getting too crystallized and icy which often happens with homemade sorbet and ice cream.

So get out your ice cream maker and whip this up right in time for these crazy heat waves that seem to be going on all across the country!

RuharbSorbet_7

RHUBARB SORBET

Makes 1 Quart

1 lb Rhubarb Diced

1 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

1/2 Tsp Rose Water

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 Tsp Salt

1/2 Tsp Lime Juice

1 Tbsp Corn Syrup

1 Large Stock Pot with a lid

Food  Processor

Mesh Sieve

Large bowl

Ice Cream Maker

RuharbSorbet_5

The Procedure

In the large pot bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil add the Rhubarb and cover with the lid and turn down the heat to medium low

Let cook for about 10-15 min or until the Rhubarb is soft.

Take the mix from the heat and pour it into your food processor. Run the processor until the mix is smooth (alternatively you can use a hand immersion blender if you have one).

Pour the mix out into your bowl and run through your sieve if you want your mix extra smooth, I skiped this step because I was okay with the mix as it was.

Add in the Rose water, Vanilla, Lime Juice and Corn Syrup and mix until everything is combined.

Move the mix to the refrigerator and leave until it is cool all the way through.

Once the mix is cool (I left mine overnight) set up your ice cream maker and pour in the sorbet mixture.

Run your machine per your manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the sorbet comes together transfer into your storage container and let it set in the freezer.

Serve once the sorbet reaches the desired consistency!

RuharbSorbet_8

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