An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Sliced Falafel with Yogurt Herb Sauce

This post is the perfect opportunity to expand on an aspect on my life that has changed in the last three months. I moved from the nutrition research arena, to the internet recipe publication arena. I have taken a new job as a  content producer and recipe editor...basically exactly what I want to be doing. I am combining my skills of designing and analyzing diets from nutrition research with the recipe writing aspect from my blog.

About a month ago, I was assigned to edit and publish falafel recipes. As I was doing the research part, I came across this lovely blog called Taste of Beirut. She was blogging about falafel baked in a loaf pan and sliced like meatloaf. I was immediately intrigued. What a less messy and lighter way to prepare falafel. Everything is pureed together and baked. No hot oil getting on your skin, no deep-fried falafel, and no worry of crumbling. And to top it all off, she made a superb-looking tahini dressing to go with it.

My friend H coincidentally was having a Mediterranean-inspired birthday party that same week and asked us to all bring a dish. This was a perfect opportunity, because I could make the entire recipe with the plan of sharing with a large group. I know all the cooking magazines always say to never cook a dish you have never made for a party, but I see it as an opportunity to try new recipes. If if flops, it flops. But luckily I didn't have to worry about that. It was an absolute success.

I didn't have any tahini at home, and the local grocery store was selling it for $12.99 a jar. Yikes. So I decided to make a Greek yogurt sauce instead, using a few tablespoons of herbs from the falafel and lemon juice. It works out famously. This is going to be a regular rotating item for dinner parties and potlucks. It is super portable, reheats well, and can be served in so many different ways.

Sliced Falafel with Yogurt Herb Sauce
Adapted from Taste of Beirut Blog
Makes one 9-inch spring form pan

This method of making falafel is less messy and uses a lot less oil than deep-frying. The original recipe uses a bread loaf pan, which I was sure I had. But upon scouring the cabinets did not find. So a spring form pan was the substitute and it worked out quite well. Either way, you will be very happy with the resulting sliced falafel.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for sauce)
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for sauce)
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon water
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a spring form pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides of the pan with olive oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Saute onion in the hot oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place garbanzo beans, eggs, baking powder, cumin, salt, and onions in a food processor. Process until smooth and pasty. Add fresh parsley, cilantro, and 5 cloves minced garlic into garbanzo paste. Pulse until combined. Slowly pour 1/4 cup olive oil through the feeding tube while the food processor is still on, until fully incorporated.

Pour garbanzo mixture into prepared spring form pan. Place on a baking sheet in case of dripping. Bake in the preheated oven until falafel is lightly browned on the sides and set in the middle, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in spring form pan for about 15 minutes.

Whisk Greek yogurt, water, lemon juice, reserved parsley and cilantro, and 1 clove garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove the spring portion of spring form pan and slice falafel into desired thickness. Serve yogurt sauce on the side for drizzling.


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

It is the third Wednesday of the month, which means Recipe Swap time. Christianna from Burwell General Store chooses a recipe for our swap group to look over and individually interpret a new version. This month is Tomato Pudding from Hotel Dilworth:

I had never heard of tomato pudding before this assignment and was very tempted to make a tomato pudding just to see what it was like. The fact that it was a sweetened tomato puree baked on top of diced bread was quite intriguing. So I wanted to keep with the theme of a tomato puree of sorts on top of bread. My freezer has been housing a bag of sliced Italian bread leftover from girls' cabin weekend from months ago. Every time I open the freezer, I have get a reminder they need to be used. Most of the time I think I will just toast and puree them into bread crumbs. But not anymore. They would literally be the base of the recipe.

I wanted to keep with the tomato puree idea as well. I reached into the back corner of my brain for this one. I just couldn't think of anything creative for a few days. And then for some reason I was pairing roasted tomatoes with a roasted red pepper. It is still pretty chilly here in Seattle, so a roasted vegetable puree sounded quite nice for dinner.

What better to go with roasted red pepper and tomatoes that basil and Parmesan. All of these lovely ingredients pureed together for a red pesto-like spread, atop a roasted eggplant slice and Italian bread. What else besides wine and chocolate could anyone ask for?

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce
Yields 1 cup

Below is the recipe for the roasted red pepper and tomato sauce that is the star of the canapes pictured. I have also included the other components of the canape so you assemble them too. The sauce can also be used on pasta, crackers, as a sandwich spread, or simply eaten with a spoon like I did.

2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium red pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients for canapes:

Italian bread, sliced
Eggplant, sliced into thin rounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss tomatoes, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Layer tomatoes, cut-side up, and the whole red pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in oven for 10 minutes.

Rotate red pepper. Roast for 10 more minutes. Remove pan from oven and transfer tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor.

Turn on oven's broiler. Replace parchment if it has burned. Return red pepper to baking sheet and place in oven. Roast for an additional 10 minutes, checking on it often. It should begin to char and turn black.

Remove charred red pepper from oven and place in a plastic bag and seal. Allow red pepper to rest for a few minutes.

Carefully open bag and allow steam to escape. Remove red pepper and peel thin outer charred skin from pepper. Remove stem and seeds. Slice into four large pieces and transfer to the food processor with tomatoes. Allow to cool.

Place garlic, basil, lemon juice, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in the food processor bowl. Puree the whole mixture until smooth. Keep food processor running and slowly pour 1 tablespoon olive oil through the feeding tube until fully incorporated. You may need to scrape sides of bowl and puree again to get a completely smooth sauce.

Toast thin slices of Italian bread. Saute eggplant slices in olive oil, salt, and pepper until lightly browned.

Assemble canapes by placing an eggplant slice on an Italian bread toast. Spoon tomato and red pepper puree on top of eggplant. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil for a few minutes if desired.


Artichoke Cocktails

There was a time in my life when Campari and soda was the drink of choice. I am one of the lunatics that loves a nice bitter drink, such as extremely black coffee, Campari, matcha green tea, you name it. It is so interesting to observe the types of flavors people gravitate toward.

When I worked in nutrition research, I would do 24-hour recalls, where I would ask people what they ate the day prior, and then analyze the nutrients. There was always the category of people who tended toward sweet. They would have a sweetened latte or coffee in the morning with a sweet cereal. And then snack on candy or granola bars or fruit throughout the day. They were the ones who drank a lot of fruit juice or soda.

Then there were the people who tended toward savory and tangy. They would eat a savory breakfast like white rice with kimchi or vegetables. They would normally not snack, and eat meat and vegetables for lunch and dinner. They usually drank tea, or coffee, or water throughout the day.

I was always intrigued by this, which made me reflect on my own preferences. I realized that I tend more toward the savory foods, and bitter drinks, aside from red wine. Although, my wine flavor of choice is a heavy red with an extremely dry finish, which is not very easy to come across.

As a person continually on the search for new dimensions, I was quite pleased to learn of a liqueur that is bitter and is made from artichoke hearts. Artichoke hearts and cauliflower have some sort of mystical power over me. I always have some form of artichoke hearts in stock, whether it is canned, marinated, and/or frozen. So to find out a liqueur made from the lovely vegetable, I raised my hand and bought two tickets. Sold! It actually doesn't taste like artichokes at all, but the essence is there.

For awhile, I was on a mission to find it at every bar or Italian restaurant I set foot in. I am a girl who loves a challenge. There was a light sprinkling of places. But then I finally realized it is most likely sold at the liquor store. Long story short, it now has a place on my liquor shelf next to the Campari and Ouzo.

Artichoke Cocktails
2 small cocktails

This recipe makes two 4-ounce drinks. They are intended for a pre-meal drink and go quite nicely with a small bowl of olives.

1 1/2 fluid ounces Cynar (bitter Italian liqueur made from artichokes)
1 fluid ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
6 mint leaves, minced
4 to 6 fluid ounces sparkling water

Prepare two small cocktail glasses with ice. Pour 3/4 fluid ounce Cynar, 1/2 fluid ounce lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon honey, 3 minced mint leaves into each glass. Top with sparkling water. Stir and consume.


Zucchini and Goat Cheese Rolls

As spring slowly approaches, the overwhelming need to clean and clear out rolls in. I never understood the concept of spring cleaning until about two years ago, with this year being the strongest of all. Last year I discovered 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui' and have read it at least twice.

This year it is more of a habit. What an interesting concept when suddenly you see a layer of dust on the floorboard behind a door. A sixth sense for dust magically develops once the flowers and trees start to bloom. I embrace these bizarre urges...especially because they don't present themselves very often. I find myself scrambling in the morning before work to scrub that 'new' stain on the stove top, or dust underneath the dresser, or recycle the entire apartment building's collection of junk mail underneath the mailboxes.

With that said, I also have the urge to have more house guests. So M of ATM and her little guy, W, came over last Saturday for a little happy hour. It was a perfect opportunity to use a stack of zucchini, and a bag of tri-colored quinoa. I cooked up the idea of rolled zucchini while reviewing some recipes at work last week. And a quinoa salad with artichoke hearts and black olives was a vehicle for three lemons hoping to be zested and juiced. M had the same thought. She brought over tapenade, goat cheese, and some lovely crackers. We of course hydrated ourselves with red wine. Spring is in the air!

Zucchini and Goat Cheese Rolls
Yields 2 to 4 servings

Use a mandoline to slice your zucchini into very thin pieces if you have one. It is one of the greatest kitchen inventions. If you don't have one, then carefully slice your zucchini as thinly as possible. Feel free to use any variety of cheese and herbs for your flavoring. These just happened to be on my mind.

2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons goat cheese, or more if needed
Dried dill to taste
Dried thyme to taste
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Arrange thinly sliced zucchini on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake in oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and flip; bake until zucchini are tender and can be easily rolled, about 5 more minutes.

Remove pan from oven and spoon small amounts of goat cheese onto each zucchini slice. Spread as evenly as possible with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a generous amount of dill and thyme onto the goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully roll each zucchini slice and secure with toothpicks if you have them. I only had a few. But they should be fine as long as you put the open end on the bottom. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is softened and zucchini are lightly browned, 6 to 10 minutes.