Monday, February 10, 2014

Falafel, Pita and a Salad

Lately, we have been making a lot of simple salads and putting them on top of homemade pita bread (store bought pita doesn't even come close).  We top the salad with falafel and tzatziki.  It is delicious!

The falafel recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi.  We have his book, Plenty, which does not have a falafel recipe, but I figured he must have one.  He does.  And we made it.  It is amazing!  

The falafel.  It looks so perfect and delicious.

The pita, falafel, tzatziki salad

for the pita bread:

1 Tablespoon honey 
2 teaspoon active dry yeast 
1534 oz. (312 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed 
212 oz. (12 cup) whole-wheat flour 
112 teaspoon kosher salt 
112 cups lukewarm water, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil; more for the bowl

In a small bowl, mix the honey with 12 cup lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit until the yeast has started to foam, 2 to 3 minutes.

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  On low speed, mix in the olive oil until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup lukewarm water and mix until fully incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes more. Raise the speed to medium and knead the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball that is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, 4 to 5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add more all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon at a time. Raise the speed to medium high and continue to knead for 5 minutes. 

Oil a medium bowl, transfer the dough to the bowl, and roll to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to remove any air bubbles.  Roll the dough into a log and divide it evenly into 10 pieces.  Form each piece into a ball (at this point you can freeze what you aren't ready to use.  Just wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  When you are ready to use the dough bring it to room temperature and continue with the directions) and then roll into disks about 14 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter.  Lightly oil two rimmed baking sheets.  Put the disks on the baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until just doubled in thickness, 30 to 45 minutes.  Prepare a medium-high gas grill fire, leaving one burner off, or prepare a charcoal fire with a hot zone and cool zone by pushing the coals to one side of the grill. Brush a cast-iron griddle or skillet lightly with olive oil and put it on the grill over the cool zone. (This can also be done on your stove top) When very hot, cook the pitas in batches on the griddle until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until lightly golden on the bottom and the pitas are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack.  If stuffing, cut the pitas in half and carefully separate the layers with a fork.

Makes 10 pitas.  Recipe by Mary Karlin, "Grilled Pita Bread", Fine Cooking, Issue 105

for the falafel:

114 cups dried chickpeas
12 medium onion, finely chopped (12 cup in total)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
14 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 teaspoon ground cumin
12 teaspoon ground coriander
12 teaspoon ground cardamom
12 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoon water
112 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
About 3 cups sunflower (or vegetable) oil, for frying
12 teaspoon sesame seeds, for coating
Salt to taste

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. Pulse the mix in batches, pulsing each for 30 to 40 seconds, until it is finely chopped and holds itself together. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, 34 teaspoon salt, flour and water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 234 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350°F.

With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or a ball the size of a small walnut.

Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well browned and cooked through. It is important they really dry out the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once.

Serves 4: Makes about 20 balls
Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

for the tzatziki:

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded grated or finely chopped
2 cups plain, whole-milk, greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
18 cup dried dill, more if desired - just add it in slowly
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine the cucumber, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and dill.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be made a few hours ahead - just cover and refrigerate. 

Adapted from Bobby Flay's, Boy Gets Grill, Cucumber-Yogurt Salad and Toasted Walnuts

for the salads:

pita bread
romaine, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
onions, chopped
cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
tzatziki sauce
feta, if desired

Start with a pita bread.  Pile on romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and garlic.  Add falafel (about 4/person), the tzatziki and feta.  Drizzle with some good olive oil.  

Enjoy and if you are actually able to pick it up, as my husband says, "don't break the grip"!  

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