Best Falafel

Falafel is a labour of love. It always takes longer to make than I anticipate, but is wholly worth it once it is done. This recipe is adapted from the Guardian’s ‘how to make the perfect…’ series, and whilst I’m not entirely sure it’s perfect, it’s pretty damn good. This recipe uses a mix of chick peas and fava beans, but if you’re struggling to find fava beans (or dried broad beans, to go by their other name), I don’t see why you can’t just use all chick peas. I can’t say I understand enough about the intricacies of falafel making to understand why one is preferable over the other.

I spent much time searching around various shops to find fava beans, to no avail, so (as previously recommended) I went to Hodmedod’s and found them there. Hurrah!

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Unfortunately a mishap occurred with this batch – possibly not blended for long enough, or the beans weren’t dry enough, but they were a nightmare to shape into balls, and after they immediately fell apart in the pan once I started frying them, I gave up, smushed them all down and made a different sort of falafel, one that looks like a giant bowl of brown sugar. This was achieved by pouring all of the mixture with a few tablespoons of sunflower oil and baking at 200C for about 20-25 mins (turning the mixture occasionally). It’s better in this form if you want to make wraps, because unlike when they’re round, it doesn’t all collapse so easily. So, accidental discovery, would recommend. But you can also follow the correct traditional method below.

img_4666tOne final recipe note: I have to split the ingredients in half and make in two batches because my blender doesn’t fit all of it in at once – at least not for it to effectively blend. If you too have a not-huge-blender, you may want to consider this.

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Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burgers

Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burgers

Gratitude for this meal idea goes to Laura, who I am sharing my quest for better cooking for one with.

After a previous bad experience making vegetarian burgers that contained kidney beans, I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of these burgers. The gross burgers I made a year or so ago were dry and unpleasant, and so I was like “will this be more of the same?” NO. No it won’t. These burgers are excellent, cheap and straightforward to make. From Laura’s suggestions I made some additions to the original recipe, such as increasing spice and eating with halloumi. I also added some garlic, because if there’s one thing that Nigel Slater has taught me, it is that anything is greatly improved by the addition of garlic.

I think if you leave the mixture in the fridge for a bit you could probably put these on the barbecue. This I am keen to try because one of the few things I am not sold on for being fully vegetarian is not being able to have proper barbecues. I mean, there’s nothing like a beef burger or a sausage that tastes of delicious charcoally grill, right? So I’m hoping that these burgers might make a good substitute (or I will just continue with my occasional lapses back into eating meat).

frying burgers

I also probably need to invest in a new grater. And a garlic crusher. I spent far too long trying to grate the carrot because we don’t have a box grater, which makes grating more than a small amount of something really inconvenient. Then when I was grating the garlic I managed to also grate my thumb. Genius.  It is useful to have effective kitchen tools.

Oh, and if you were wondering what my soundtrack to making these burgers was, it was this little guy chewing his cardboard tunnel: tiny rabbit

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Spinach and Cheese Muffins

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So I’ll be leaving Canada soon :(, and to go with my sadness about leaving my friends behind, here’s a whiney post about how increasingly disappointed I am with the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Up until this year I’d mainly used it for cupcake recipes which for the most part turned out well and were tasty, etc – but now I’m starting to sample more of the other things the book has to offer, I’m starting to realise how disappointing, some of the recipes are. These spinach and cheese muffins were a disappointment, no two ways about it. I really like the idea of savoury muffins which is why I decided to make them, but they’re kind of tasteless, even with all the cheese – the only thing giving them flavour is the red onion. I know spinach doesn’t taste of much, but even so. The quantity of spinach is ridiculous, there’s so much that it’s almost impossible to make it disappear into the muffin mix. If I wanted to eat them again (which I don’t) I would start with half the amount, so 65g, and then add more as seemed necessary.

The recipe is below, maybe someone else will be able to make some better versions than I did. I’m kind of disheartened with this book, and I might swap out some of the recipes I have left to make from it on my list for other, better things.

Also they went mouldy within a few days. NOT COOL GUYS. Seriously.

Next week: I’ll be back in England and making Semolina Cake with Honey and Pistachio!

 

Spinach and Cheese Muffins (from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf)

Makes 12

30g butter
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
360g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
250g cheddar cheese, grated
220ml whole milk
1 egg
130g baby spinach leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then fry the onion until cooked. Set aside.
2. Put the flour, baking powder, cayenne and cheese in a large bowl. In another bowl mix the milk and egg together, then slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat with an electric whisk until well mixed. Stir in the onion until evenly dispersed.
3. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3rds full and bake for 30-35mins, or until deep golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.