Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's for dinner? MMMM...falafel and gyros

Funny, growing up I hated falafel.  Couldn't stand it.  And yet, for some odd reason, when I came across a recipe for it a number of years ago, I was drawn to try it.  And I love it!  I don't get around to making it nearly often enough, what with making pita bread for it, but I tackled it this week.  I made a huge batch of pita bread the other day, so we had gyros the first night, then pita wedges with hummus for lunch the next, and falafel last night.

from Family Fun magazine, February 2007

1 c. dried chickpeas
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. fresh curly parsley, stems removed, tightly packed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. corriander
1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Vegetable oil for frying

6-ounce container of plain yogurt (*to make it DF, I use So Delicious plain coconut yogurt)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh curly parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Rinse the chickpeas, then soak them in a medium-size bowl in several inches of water overnight in the refrigerator. (we've found the patties won't hold together as well if you use canned chickpeas.)

To make the sauce, whisk together the yogurt and water in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Makes 1 cup.

Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend, scraping the sides if necessary, until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute total.

Heat an inch of oil in a large, heavy frying pan to 375 degrees (a spoonful of the mixture should sizzle as soon as it's immersed). Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the falafel mixture and gently place it in the heated oil. Place 4 or 5 more spoonfuls in the pan. Fry the patties until they're thoroughly brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them to brown the other side.

Drain the patties on a plate covered with a paper towel and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve with yogurt dipping sauce. Makes 16 to 20 patties.

Lamb Gyros
 from's recipe

1 lb. lean ground lamb
1 large tomato, cut in half, then thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 whole pita breads, cut in half, warmed

Seasonings for Lamb:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsps. dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:
1 8-oz. carton plain low-fat yogurt (to make DF, I used So Delicious plain coconut yogurt)
1/3 cup seeded, chopped cucumber
2 Tbsps. finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. granulated sugar

mix ingredients in a medium bowl

Prepare Cucumber Yogurt Sauce; cover and refrigerate.

In large bowl, combine lamb seasoning ingredients; mix 2 minutes or until very well-blended. Shape into two oval 1/2 inch thick patties. Place patties on rack in broiler pan so meat is 3-4 inches from heat. Broil 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear, turning once.Carve patties into thin slices. Place equal amounts of lamb, tomato and onion in each pita half; serve with cucumber Yogurt Sauce.
Makes 4 servings (2 filled pita halves and 1/4 cup sauce)

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    A birthday!

    Last week was my son's 9th birthday, so I've been busy baking.  I made a big batch of snickerdoodle cookies for him to bring to class on his birthday.  Then we had his party this weekend.  His choice venue for his party is our local climbing wall.  This year his grandparents, an aunt and two friends joined us but, due to the location, I decided to forgo the cake & ice cream until we got home.  Since we were there during mid-day, I brought an assortment of snacks, including a batch of oreo cookies, which the kids inhaled.

    Once home we enjoyed cake & ice cream which were also a hit. The cake turned out denser than I had planned - more like a pound cake, which may have been due to doubling the recipe.  The taste was still delicious and I can't wait to make it again for strawberry shortcake once strawberries are in season again. 

    This is a yellow cake with a vanilla "buttercream" frosting, sprinkled with crushed oreos and decorated with a soccer set I'd gotten years ago.

    Quick Gold Cake
    adapted by Raechel Medina from an original recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

    2 c. Featherlight flour mix
    1/4 c. tapioca starch
    3 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1 1/4 c. sugar
    1 tsp. xanthan gum
    1/2 c. canola oil
    1 c. hemp milk or water
    2 eggs
    2 tsp. vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans.  Mix the flour, starch, baking powder, salt, sugar and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Stir in the oil and milk/water, and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes.  Pour into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks.
    *I doubled this recipe to make the above sheet cake and baked it in a deep 9x13-inch cake pan for about 70 minutes.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    A new year!

    So, I'm a little behind.  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are settling into a happy, healthy new year.  I know I am.
    This year I'm finally going to stick with my resolution to get healthier, which has started by taking a 20 minute bike ride every day.  I was able to pick up an old exercise bike off of our local "freecycle"-type site a couple of months ago, so am finally putting it to use.  So far, so good - I've only skipped one day this month and that was because I was crazy busy getting ready for a dinner get together I hosted the other night.  I just can't wait until spring comes, so I can start hiking and riding my real bike.
    The dinner party I hosted on Wednesday was a lot of fun. A friend who moved away a few years ago was in town, so we wanted to have a get together so folks could visit with her.  I offered to host and then realized I didn't have a clue what to make.  I needed something that wouldn't be too time intensive, would fit a wide variety of tastes and food issues and could be kept warm for a few hours as folks came and went.  Hmmm.  I finally settled on making two pots of soup - ablondigas (meatball) and hearty potato & mushroom.  I also made rolls, loaves of bread, no-bake cookies and a rhubarb torte.  A friend brought a big pot of calico beans and a batch of cornbread muffins.  Yum!  Delicious food and great company - a great combination.
    I'll have to catch up later with adding pictures and more recipes, but here's the Hearty Potato and Mushroom Soup.  I found this recipe on Poor Girl Eats Well and it quickly became one of my favorites.

    Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup
    2 c finely chopped carrots, celery and yellow onions, divided
    1 8 oz. package white mushrooms
    1 medium Russet potato, diced into ½” cubes
    2 medium red potatoes, diced into ½” cubes (you may also use 4 red potatoes or 2 medium Russets if that’s all you have)
    1 14 oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
    1 c milk (*I use cashew or hemp milk or just up the amount of broth to make it dairy-free  ~rm)
    1 T olive oil
    2 garlic, minced
    ½ t salt
    ½ t ground black pepper
    ¼ t thyme
    ¼ t tarragon
    1 T olive oil
    Salt & pepper to taste (for the finished product)
    ½ c fresh spinach, chopped (for garnish)

    Divide the package of mushrooms in half. Finely chop one half of the mushrooms and slice the other half into 1/4“ thick pieces. Set the mushrooms slices aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add one cup of chopped veggies and the chopped mushrooms, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the broth and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add the cup of milk and puree in a blender until smooth (you may also use a hand blender if that’s all you have, like me). Set aside. Remember to use caution when pureeing hot liquids.

    In a large pot heat the olive oil and the garlic over medium high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper and herbs, and cook until the potatoes just begin to brown. Reduce heat and add the remaining cup of chopped veggies. Cook for 3 minutes and add the thick mushroom broth. Simmer over medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to soften.

    Spoon generous amounts of the soup into large bowls. Add some chopped spinach and plenty of freshly ground black pepper on top, serve with thick slices of warm, crusty bread if you like, and enjoy!