celebration!, eat this outside, gluten-free, one pot wonder, vegetarian

Baked Pistachio, Kale and Herb Falafels – Healthy Fast Food!

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The common or garden variety falafel – chickpea or fava bean patties, deep fried – isn’t exactly the healthiest of vegetarian fast food options; nor is it particularly convenient for the home cook craving a stuffed pitta snack. The great David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl over at Green Kitchen Stories have perfected the ideal – and healthy – falafel: baked rather than fried, filled with green herbs and fresh kale, and delicious served in a cabbage leaf parcel with our very own Green Pea and Mint Hummus.

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They’re super fun to make – kids would love to help out with the getting-your-hands-stuck-in messiness of rounding the patties into balls – and they’re quick and use basic store cupboard goodies. You don’t have to add the kale, but it works really well (and increases that important green vegetable intake): if you have half a pack sitting in the fridge, throw it in!

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Ingredients

for the Falafel:
25g/8 sprigs fresh mint
25g/8 sprigs fresh parsley
100g kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
150g pistachio nuts
1 can chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
½ onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground cumin (a bit less if not adding kale)
1 tbsp flour (ideally gluten-free, e.g. buckwheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder

for the Tomato & Chilli Dressing:
3 tomatoes, chopped into small dice
1 tsp chili flakes (or more if you prefer)
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

to serve:
a pointed cabbage, thick stem removed from the leaves
pitta breads, toasted just before serving
natural or greek yoghurt
pinch of za’atar
hummus (why not try our Green Pea and Mint version!)

Method

Preheat your oven to 190°C and get out your equipment: you’ll need a food processors (or less ideally, but workable, a hand blender) for this.

Begin by blitzing the herbs, they should release some of their own water content and blend down easily. Then add the pistachio nuts, and blend again until well combined. Now add the rinsed chickpeas, the kale and the rest of the ingredients and blend again. If it’s getting too thick, add a little more olive oil and/or 1 tbsp of water. You will likely need to scrape down the sides of your processor and help it out with a stir every now and then. Make sure you have got a consistent mix of this ingredients but keep it rough and rustic: it’s nice to have some chunks of nuts and chickpea in there!

Wet your hands a little and work the paste into small balls, about the size of table tennis balls (or a little smaller) .and lay out on a baking sheet (either lined with baking parchment or oiled). Bake them for 15 minutes (at 190°C), turning every 5 minutes to get an even golden colour (be careful, they brown most on the bottom side against the baking tray!).

While the little beauties are in the oven, mix the dressing ingredients together and either serve straight away or keep for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Serve the falafels on cabbage leaves or pittas (or both!) with the tomato dressing, our green pea and mint hummus, a drizzle of yoghurt and a pinch of za’atar – delicious, healthy, fast food!

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eat this outside, one pot wonder, side dishes, vegetarian

Minty Green Pea Hummus / Houmous!

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Nothing helps extend the (vanishing) summer by a few extra days than a hearty helping of this bright hummus – minty fresh and with the warming roundness of green peas, but still underwritten by the solid chickpea flavour we’re so used to. Heavy handed with the lemon juice and olive oil, and topped with cayenne pepper, and you’ve got a stunning alternative to the usual dip – stunning in taste and stunning in appearance.

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It works great as with our (complimentary) green Baked Pistachio, Kale And Herb Falafels – smeared into the pitta or cabbage leaf before you add the falafel and other toppings! It’s also a great spread for breakfast toasts topped with a poached egg and roasted tomatoes.

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Ingredients

400g frozen green peas, thawed
1 can (380g) chickpeas, draine
Olive oil
Zest and juice of a large lemon
2 cloves garlic
8-10 mint leaves
small handful of parsley
2 tbsp tahini (optional – adds a nice nutty flavour)

Method

Put all the ingredients – the green peas and chickpeas, a good glug of olive oil,  the zest and juice of one lemon, the garlic cloves and the parsely and mint leaves - into a food processor. Blitz to a thick paste, but leaving a little bit of texture in the hummus. If you like a very smooth consistency, gently add a drizzle of ice cold water while nearing the end of blitzing – this will help the mixture get that creamy smoothness.

Serve with a few extra shredded mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

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celebration!, eat this outside, rare treats, vegetarian

Zucchini blossoms or courgette flowers stuffed with smug stuff

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I pretty much wait all year for these. There’s something neat about eating fresh flowers; and the explosion of the sunshine yellow mixed with the delicate texture of the paper-thin petals is great. And then yes, what doesn’t taste good stuffed with ricotta, fried in light batter and covered in thick Italian tomato sauce – not much. But they’re still neat and the flavours are just fabulous.

These are my parents’ zucchini flowers and they are hardy plants, apart from getting the essential good rain pour, which they adore, they are incredibly easy to grow and give you the courgettes for fritters and summer ratatouille, and they give you these crazy tasty flowers.

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Now you do have to get a bit intimate, a bit fresh with these plants. You have to take a look to see whether they’re female or male. And gender-bias aside you want the male ones. You really do, otherwise you’ll be giving up your crop of the main event, the courgette. So if they have a little vegetable, a mini courgette attached to them, leave them be, or if you have an abundance and need the plants to cool it, bring in the females too.

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We did a lot of research to see what we should stuff them with and this is definitely our preferred option. Similar flavours to a gnudi: all that ricotta, a little nutmeg, fresh lemon peel etc. And this time of year with all the tomatoes plump and happy, the sauce is a sweet yet acidic accompaniment to all that soft cheese.

Fiddly to make: a little. Easy: definitely, and not time consuming. Plus the ricotta spread is so good you’ll want it on toast too (see below).

Thanks to the main two recipes we combined from Bon Appetit and Gourmet.

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Ingredients

The tomato sauce

1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ pound plum tomatoes, finely chopped
½ cup water
½ teaspoon sugar

The ricotta filling

1 cup ricotta
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
Sea salt salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Nutmeg

For the flowers

Vegetable oil (for frying)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounce chilled pellegrino/club soda
Zucchini blossoms (stamens removed; about 2 dozen)

Method

The first thing to do is get the tomato sauce going:

Pick as many female courgette flowers as you can find, ideally the fully open, freshest looking flowers. Though the older, slightly wilted ones will taste good too (they’re just harder to stuff). You then need to remove the furry stamen.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl, and taste and adjust how you like the seasoning and flavours. Its easier to make too much and then you get leftover toasts. Scoop about 1 tbsp of filling into each flower. I got very irritated doing this, but it is worth it.

Then in a large pot, heat about ¾” oil over medium heat until its spitting. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in the club soda/fizzy water until almost smooth (leave any small lumps but be careful not to overwhisk). Dip one stuffed blossom at a time into the , rolling it in it so its completely covered, then shake off the excess and  gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan. Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until you get that perfect golden brown, 2-3 minutes total. Have a plate covered with paper towels in readiness to place on so that the oil can drain off so they can get nice and crispy.

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Mint Julep
cocktails

the end of summer mint julep + jack’s simple syrup

I have a gramatical issue with the title of this post. I wanted to show that the simple syrup was made by me, so I called it jack’s simple syrup - as in, the simple syrup belonging to jack. The problem is that it also can be read as the jack [is] simple syrup - a rather damning summary of me. Anyone know a way around this duble entenre please let me know – soon – I feel vulnerable.

Firstly, the minty simple syrup: make this in a large batch and keep it in the fridge for a month or so.

Simple Syrup Ingredients & Method
makes 1 cup

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed tightly

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat. Smash the mint leaves and sugar together, using a wooden spoon. After a couple of minutes the sugar should have dissolved. Take of the heat and leave for 30 minutes, then strain and store in the fridge.

Mint Julep Ingredients & Method
makes 1 litre

½ cups mint simple syrup (above)
1 litre bourbon
20 sprigs fresh mint
4 cups cracked ice
soda water

Use a 1½ or 2 litre jug. Combine the simply syrup, the bourbon and 3 or 4 sprigs of mint. Stir. Half fill glasses with cracked ice, pour the mixture over the ice, garnish with a sprig of mint sprig and (optionally) add a dash of soda water.

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