Recipe: Grilled Falafel

a plate full of grilled Falafel
a plate full of grilled Falafel

Ingredients;

250g of dried chickpeas (Soaked overnight in water)
1 red onion cut into chunks
3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 slice of bread
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Large handful of fresh coriander
Large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
1 chilli, diced
Zest of a lemon
Salt and pepper

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I’d never tasted Falafel before I made this recipe but lots of people had told me I should and thanks to a recipe being e-mailed to me by (Friend of Not Junk Food) Will Knott I decided to give them a try.

One of the things I noticed about that recipe was that these are deep fried, so I did some more research and and found that almost all recipes were for deep frying, so straight away I’m thinking with these ingredients it seems a shame to turn them into junk food by deep frying. I experimented with the recipe and tried Shallow frying, yummy but very messy on the pan, so some more experimenting was done and I settled on grilling as the best way to cook these.

They are really simple to make, just rinse the chickpeas and add them and all the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) to your food processor and blend them to a very smooth paste. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next take a baking tray and grease it using some butter or olive oil, you don’t need much just enough to stop the falafel from sticking and turn your grill on to heat up.

Now take some of the paste and form it into small burger like shapes and lay them out on the baking tray.

Once your grill is up to temperature pop the lot underneath for about 8-10 minutes on each side, or until they start to brown and the outside starts to get crispy.

At this point they can be eaten or alternatively stored (in an airtight container in the fridge or frozen) for use later, just pop them into the oven at 180C for 10 – 15 minutes to reheat them.

These are best served in a warmed Pitta bread with some salad leaves, onion relish and Tahini. If you can’t find Tahini try using garlic mayonnaise or Hummus instead /as well.

Great hand held food and I’m looking forward to trying these on the Barbecue as an alternative to burgers once BBQ season starts :)

The Food Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but over the last few years, more and more foodie TV programs have been going on about our western diet and how it has got to change. The first ‘personality’ that I noticed doing this was Jamie Oliver, I’m not saying he’s the first to say it, I’m saying he’s the first that I heard it from.

Our western diet is causing massive problems for almost all nations in what we call the ‘western world’. I’m not just talking about the cost to many individual’s health, I mean from the cost of healthcare, to the cost in lost productivity, to the cost in packaging and transportation and to the cost to the environment, these all have real financial implications for everyone living in the ‘western world’ regardless of whether you have a modern western diet or a more traditional one, you’re still going to end up paying for it through taxes.

One of the most informative pieces I’ve seen on this subject is Jamie Oliver’s “Eat to Save Your Life” and thanks to Donal over at The Good Mood Food Blog letting me know about 4OD, I was able to watch it again recently. Unfortunately I can’t embed the program here so if you want to give it a look follow this link, it’s not a short piece but it may open your eyes to the value of a good diet, it certainly helped me to think more about what I eat.

So why won’t this food revolution be televised? It can’t, these changes need to take place in the kitchen, it’s up to us to make the decision to cook for ourselves, it’s up to us to take the healthy option, it’s up to us to find out what fuel our body really needs, not what we want to fuel it with.

And the healthy option does not mean giving up the food we love, it means being aware of what’s in these dishes and working with that so that we can maintain a balanced and healthy diet.

Recipe: Apple Cake

Apple Cake
Apple Cake

Ingredients;

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 extra-large egg, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated apples
1/2 cup raisins

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Preheat your oven to 170 C.

Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt & all spice) in a large bowl.

In a measuring jug, mix together your vegetable oil, beaten egg and vanilla, then mix into the dry ingredients, until everything has been incorporated. Finally stir in your apples and raisins and mix through well.

Pour into a 9-inch cake tin and bake for 30-35 mins, until a toothpick inserted and wiggled around comes out clean.

Allow to cool fully before cutting.

You can also use this mix to make cupcakes / muffins, reduce the cooking time by approx 5 mins. I also like to soak my raisins in whisky overnight for extra flavour.

Kitchen Essentials – Bowls and Jugs

So Bowls and Jugs, they’re maybe not as essential as ingredients and pots and pans but as you start to cook more and more, you will begin to find that for some recipes (particularly baking) they are a big help at the least and in some cases essential (measuring jug).

We have a selection of mixing bowls and measuring jugs but I would recommend 4 mixing bowls and 1 measuring jug as a minimum.

A selection of Bowls and a Measuring Jug
Our essential bowls and jugs

The first of the bowls is a very large plastic mixing bowl that Elly picked up in “Homestore and More” for less than a tenner and I use that for making pizza bases, bread and salads. As it’s plastic it’s great for dough, if some sticks just rub it and it rolls up and falls back into the bowl to be mixed back in.

We also have a set of 3 Pyrex bowls that stack neatly inside of each other in the press and these get used for mixing everything and anything. They can go in the dishwasher so we don’t have to worry about cleaning them and because they’re different sizes it means we don’t have to use a huge bowl unless we need to.

As for a measuring jug these are so useful I honestly could not cook without one. Ours is, again, a Pyrex half litre measure but it also has imperial and cup measurements on it as well.

Pyrex bowls and jugs are great because they are heat resistant so you can pour boiling water in without fear of the glass shattering, which is a major added bonus :)

Recipe: Speedy Mashed Spuds

Some Cheesy Mashed Spuds
Elly's favourite Mashed Spuds, Cheesy

Ingredients;

200g peeled potatoes per person
A knob of butter
A splash of milk or cream
Salt

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This method for making mash is based on my Dad’s method. After my Mum got ill and subsequently passed away in 2007, he had to learn a lot about cooking in a fairly short period of time as Mum had always cooked for him.

Being a man that loves his spuds he quickly learnt that the smaller you chop the potatoes the faster they cook (to a point) and not wanting to wait for long when he got in from work in the evening he experimented until he came up with the optimal size.

He would usually peel and chop the potatoes into roughly 1 inch cubes before going to work in the morning or over his lunch hour and leave them in a saucepan covered with water until he arrived home in the evening. I usually let mine sit for half an hour to an hour, before draining the water and covering them again with cold water, and adding a large pinch of salt.

Get the saucepan onto the cooker at the highest heat. Put the lid on the pan and when the water starts to boil bring the heat down so that the water is at a good simmer.

After about 5 minutes test the potatoes with a skewer or tooth pick. Do this by pushing it into a few different potato cubes, the skewer should slide through relatively easily with the same resistance all the way, if this is the case they’re done, if you find it goes in part way and then needs more force, they will need some more time. But always test a few as some can take little longer than others.

Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the heat and drain the water off. Take some kitchen roll and cover the drained drained potatoes with 2-3 sheets of this and leave them to stand for 4-5 minutes. This helps to remove some of the moisture from the potatoes making for better mash.

Finally, remove the kitchen paper, add a knob of butter, a splash of milk or cream and mash the potatoes until smooth, this is not an exact science so you may need to add a little more milk or cream to get them smooth. Taste them and season with salt as required and your ready to serve.

I have been known to add fresh chopped chives or spring onions (when I have them) at the mashing stage (Elly likes to add grated cheddar) for extra flavour.