Thursday, March 11, 2010

Falafel frustrations...(pg.188)

Wednesday, March 10th (afternoon)…

I got back from work today around noon and decided to change into my sweats, work from home and, eventually, start to move in on that falafel sandwich. I won’t bore you with the details of my job or wardrobe, though…a foodie blog doesn’t quite have space for that sort of thing.

Right now my chickpeas for the patties are simmering; actually, they have been for the past two and a half hours…and that’s after soaking for over twenty-four hours! Hint: although it’s definitely cheaper to buy a bag of raw/dried legumes, it’s worth it to simply buy cans. According to the Joy of Cooking, chickpeas are the worst. They take forever to prep! Soaking, simmering…I’m saving about $15 but wasting about 5 hours.

The recipe (pg. 188) calls for a tahini sauce to drizzle over the final product. Tahini? Sesame paste? It was a staple in my southern pantry but it certainly hasn’t found a place in my sealift room here in Pang. Instead, I decided to throw together some hummus. There is a recipe for that in the Joy of Cooking (pg. 74) but, again, tahini is required. A quick substitution my friend in Ottawa uses is olive oil and peanut butter. So there you go. It tastes ok, but what happened next was where I made my first mistake. I decided to throw in a tablespoon of sesame seeds to alter the flavor a bit; all I succeeded in doing was change the texture. Now it feels like the chickpeas haven’t been thoroughly pureed. Fortunately, garlic and lemon juice generally cures all ills. My peanut butter hummus is now waiting to be spread on a nice falafel patty.

Wednesday, March 10…much later…

What a labour intensive process!! OMG! The end product was tasty, but I had to make a few alterations to please my pallete completely. First off, NEVER try to prep your own chickpeas. After they simmered for four hours, I had to shuck each one. A huge pain-in-the-ass. Don’t do it. Cans. Do the cans.

As for the spices…I added cayenne pepper and used Italian seasoning instead of just parsley. My problem with the whole process (other than the fact that my blender is, actually, crap) was the final frying step. The recipe says to put about half an inch of oil in a frying pan and heat. Now, the falafel I have seen in the past usually hold their shape…tiny little patties. These ones ended up squishing in the hot oil. I’m not really sure what to add to make them hold. Ideas?

Anyway, since there’s no pita available in Pang, I rolled everything up in a spinach tortilla, topped it with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, creamy cucumber dressing, and the aforementioned hummus.
The verdict? A pain in the ass! They tasted very good with the added spices (cayenne pepper etc.), but I don't really know if it would be worth the time to make again; you can get some pretty good frozen ones. Well, I suppose that's only true in the south...they're not readily available up here near the Arctic Circle. If you already have all the spices, they're not that expensive, but don't expect to just throw them together!

Hmm...on further consideration, perhaps these would be ok. I get the feeling that the batter-type stuff would freeze well; you could make a big batch and only thaw and fry what you needed.

Yup, perhaps they'd be worth it if you doubled the batch and fried them only when you need a quick meal. However, it's definitely a weekend project. With all the fixings, this makes a pretty good - and filling - meal.

Congrats to you guys at the Joy of Cooking for starting to include some more 'international-type' food. It's nice to know that a book that's been around for 75 years is still keeping up with the times.

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