Ah, what an enjoyable mommy dinner we had in June! We were a full house; every seat at my 12-person table was taken for a Southern-inspired meal. Our Kentucky girl Shari started us off with a round of mint juleps; thanks to Jacki (who revealed her hidden talent of being able to make any gadget go), there was plenty of finely crushed ice. OMG. What a difference the crushed ice makes in this drink vs ice cubes!
The main event of my Southern meal is always my fried chicken. It’s somewhat messy to make, but very easy. I don’t brine, I don’t do the three step dredge, yet everyone loves when I make it. My pal Penny delayed taking her son to camp so she could attend. I will blog on this later this summer, as I’m sureI’ll be making it for my guys again before the end of summer.
This morning I mentioned to Kurt that I wanted to deep fry something else since the fryer was out, ready for action. He suggested falafel. That made me happy! The first and best falafel I had came from a food truck on Penn’s campus over 30 years ago. I had never had it til then, and being rather food adventurous, I ordered it.
I was immediately addicted to what was wrapped in the shiny foil package: soft pita stuffed with crunchy patties of mashed chickpeas redolent of warm Middle Eastern spices, the heat tempered by a cool cucumber yogurt sauce that I later learned was called tzatziki.
I found a recipe online to use as a base; you can find it here. I kept close to the ingredient list, omitting only the baking powder, but changed the methods; I am, after all, a rather lazy cook and hate taking out lots of gadgets just for a family supper. Next time I make these, I most likely will NOT have my deep fryer on hand; I would then cook these in my cast iron skillet with a 1/2 inch or so of oil in the pan.
Falafel (adapted from Allrecipes)
- 1 15-oz can of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 c red onion
- 2 garlic cloves (mine were large), pressed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 egg
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 c bread crumbs (I used homemade, but if store-bought, I’d go with panko)
- your favorite cucumber yogurt sauce (one included in the Allrecipes link, above)
- chopped lettuce and tomatoes
- pita bread
In a small bowl, beat the egg and olive oil together, then set aside.
Place drained chickpeas in a bowl. Using a potato masher, smash the peas until you have a chunky paste.
Press the garlic into the peas.
Add the onion, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt and lemon juice. Mix well.
Stir in the egg/oil mixture, mixing well to incorporate the liquid into the mash. The mixture will be very sticky at this p0int. Slowly add the bread crumbs, using more or less than 1 cup until the mixture holds together when you make a small patty. The surface of the patty should be tacky, but not sticky.
Divide the mix into four and make 3-4 patties from each quarter. Place the patties on a plate.
Refrigerate the patties and turn your deep fryer on to heat (this usually takes about 25 minutes, just enough time to firm up the falafel patties). Remember, you can also fry these in a skillet with about 1/2 inch of oil– cast iron is best!
When oil is ready, fry the patties 4-5 at a time for 3-4 minutes or until brown. Remove to drain on a rack set over newspaper, then transfer to a plate.
Serve with pita, chopped lettuce and tomato, and the cucumber yogurt sauce.
A meal in a pocket! Crunch, creamy, warm and cool– what’s not to love?