Fa la la la la…fel

No, this post isn’t about Christmas or winter. Though it was snowing Friday morning, April 1st. Get yourself in check, Mother Nature!

Anyway, the first time I had falafel was while working in my dad’s office at Rutgers University the summer before my senior year of college. My dad, the purveyor of hidden deliciousness, brought me to a little restaurant across from the Middlesex County Courthouse; G&P Lebanese Pastry & Fast Foods. I immediately fell in love, and have been meaning to try my own for awhile.

Thankfully, the recipe I wound up using didn’t require me to deep-fry the falafel. As we all know, I haven’t yet mastered the whole hot oil and frying thing just yet. I’m still trying though – I wont’ give up! Aside from the fact that hot oil isn’t my friend in the kitchen, this baked version also means they’re at least slightly healthier. The recipe comes from The Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook, which is seriously right up my alley. All of the recipes are quick, easy, and best of all, cheap. The falafels were no different, though I did have some trouble locating the tahini, but I didn’t give up and eventually found it in ShopRite (we really need to find a better grocery store).

I think these bad boys would be great on a bed of lettuce, as a Middle Eastern burger, or just how we had them – in a pita with lettuce, hummus, feta, and hot sauce. Yum!

Falafel via Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook
– makes about 8 patties –

1/2 medium red potato (I wound up throwing in a whole small red potato)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 (15 1/2 oz.) can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp paprika (I did a full tsp)
1 Tbsp parsley (I omitted)

Optional ingredients:
Whole wheat pita
Feta cheese
shredded lettuce, tomato, and onion
Tsiziki sauce
Hot sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut the potato into 1-inch chunks. Place the potatoes in a pot of water (enough to fully cover potatoes), and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
3. While the potato cooks,  heat the oil in a small skillet and slowly sauté onion until soft, about 8-10 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, mash the beans, potato, and lemon juice. Add the onion, garlic, tahini, paprika, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. The mixture will have a consistency similar to cookie dough.
5.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with vegetable oil/spray. Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet, forming 3-inch pancakes. Place in the oven and bake for 15-minutes.

It’s all Greek to me!

A few years ago, my sister took a trip to Greece. She was obsessed with the food, and my parents, as culinary and taste adventurists, were overjoyed at her expanded palate (more so than what was done by the palate expander she had in Middle School for a few years). Though we often enjoyed grape leaves (dolmas), hummus, pita, tabouleh and baba ghanouj, they were seldom.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but on top of being willing to try anything and loving almost all food (except couscous and ginger), my dad is a great cook. So, he came up with a “Greek Chicken” recipe, that’s very similar to what you would find in a gyro or on a kabob. It’s seriously delicious, and can go with so much – in a pita, atop a salad, with some seasoned rice… the possibilities are endless! So, I figured I’d share the amazing recipe, one because I’m a big fan of my dad and want everyone else to be too, and also because later this week I’ll be posting about the amazing quiche I made with the left-over chicken!

So next time you’re in the mood for a little Mediterranean flare but don’t have the bucks to hop on a plane, grab some Greek eats instead! And just to note, the recipe is very general, so it all depends on how many people you’re planning to feed, etc.

The Irishman’s Greek Chicken

Equal parts olive oil and lemon juice.
Equal amounts (or so) of granulated garlic and dry dill
Dry mustard (say about half of the amount used of the garlic and dill)
Green peppers (optional)
Sea salt to taste
Thinly sliced chicken breasts

Optional Ingredients:
Greek yogurt or Tzatziki sauce
Pita bread
Cucumber and/or Tomato
Shredded lettuce

1. Mix up the ingredients in a large enough container to hold chicken cutlets – taste and adjust if needed
2. Place thin chicken cutlets into container with tight cover – shake up the contents.
3. Let chicken marinate for at least a couple of hours in refrigerator.
4. Lightly oil skillet and start frying up the cutlets, with marinade.
5. Let chicken cool – slice/cut it up. (or you can slice up/cut up chicken before marinating and cooking. Either way is fine).
6. Cook peppers (and any other vegetables you may want to use) in marinade sauce. 7. Add cooked chicken back in with peppers at the end. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
8. Serve with/in (heated) pita, and with Greek yogurt or Tzatziki, feta, shredded lettuce and/or sliced tomato/cucumber.