Friday, February 08, 2013

Falafel + Waffle = Fa-wafel!

Falafel are tasty, protien-packed treats made of ground chick-peas and spices that can be a snack, an appetizer, or even (in sufficient quantity) a meal. They are common to in Middle-Eastern cuisines and are usually deep-fried. I've baked them before for a less-greasy option. Then, last night, I wondered this: what if I made falafel batter and cooked it in my waffle iron? Here is the answer: It works. It works really well! My friends, I give you the Fa-Wafel!

This recipe is (slightly) adapted from the falafel batter found on Bob's Red Mill's website (

Mix together these dry ingredients:

2 cup chickpea or garbanzo bean flour (sometimes labelled "besan" in Asian markets)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Parsley Flakes (optional)
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp Coriander, ground
1 tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 tsp Onion Powder

Then stir in:
4tsp Lemon Juice
1 1/4 cup HOT Water
2 Tb Olive Oil 

Let the batter stand for 10 minutes. Near the end of the waiting time, heat up your waffle iron to its hottest setting. When all is ready, liberally spray your waffle iron with cooking spray- olive oil flavor if you've got it! Measure out the recommended amount of batter for your waffle iron and cook for the same time you would usually cook a waffle- it should come out lightly golden and very fragrant!

This amount of batter made 4 6-inch round waffles in my "deep-grid" waffle iron. Your results will vary with the size of your iron!

Serve with your choice of dippers- tahini sauce, chutney... whatever seems good! Enjoy your tasty and protein-packed treat. And enjoy NOT cleaning up a messy frying pan and splatters of oil!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pizza Puffs

I got the idea for these pizza puffs from Cooking With My Kid, where a broccoli version was featured for Meatless Monday. I wasn't feeling the all-veggie vibe, so I made mine with turkey sausage, spinach, and a little bit of pepperoni for zing. I felt pretty virtuous- the whole wheat, spinach, and turkey sausage seem pretty healthy to me!
These yummy puffs seem pretty versatile- I think you could change the kind of cheese and swap out a wide range of fillings. Just keep the basic proportions the same- 3/4 C Cheese and 1 1/2 C total fillings. I think next I'll try breakfast-y ones with sausage, mushrooms, and cheddar.

3/4 C whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 C milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 C mozzarella cheese
3/4 C frozen chopped spinach, thawed under running water and squeezed mostly dry
1/2 C cooked Italian turkey sausage, diced
1/4 C pepperoni, diced

  1. Prepare your ingredients: shred the cheese, dice the sausage & pepperoni, and thaw and squeeze dry the spinach.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375, and grease a set of 24 mini-muffin tins.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, and Italian Seasoning.
  4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Beat in the milk.
  5. Whisk the milk mixture into the dry mixture.
  6. Stir in the cheese, spinach, sausage, and pepperoni.
  7. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes.
  8. Quickly stir the batter once more, then scoop evenly into the greased mini-muffin tins.
  9. Bake at 375 until slightly puffed and golden.
Serve warm, with pizza sauce for dipping. Leftovers keep well in the fridge, freeze well, and reheat nicely in the microwave or toaster oven.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How NOT to Make Chinese Pork Buns

This post is for those among my friends, like Mindy & Amanda, who have such faith in my cooking skills that they routinely declare, "anything you make is delicious!" I do in fact have kitchen failures, and sometimes they are pretty spectacularly bad.

I love me some Chinese barbecue pork buns, and I buy a package of frozen ones every time I get to visit the mega-Asian-mart grocery store near my friend V's house. But there's no local source, so recently I Googled up a few recipes. The recipes I'd found called for marinating the pork, then oven-roasting it, the shredding it and using it as the base for the bun filling. "Bah!" I thought. "I make pulled-pork barbecue in the slow cooker all the time. I'll just do that." So I started gathering the ingredients for the marinade and putting them in the slow-cooker crock. And right about this time my kitchen was invaded by several friends who had come over to play in the swimming pool and brought dinner with them. Suddenly the kitchen was crowded and full of commotion and all the utensils and measuring spoons were in short supply. Whatever- barbecue is forgiving. I would just eyeball amounts and get this thing thrown together.

I glanced at the screen of my laptop, balanced over on the other side of the kitchen out of the splatter zone, and noticed that all the ingredients seemed to be in 1- and 2-Tablespoon increments. Hoisin sauce went in. Oyster sauce? Didn't have any, so I added extra hoisin. No rice wine, either, so I used a splash of white wine. Then I opened the honey, and found it had solidified in the jar. No room or time to mess with melting it- I tossed in some brown sugar instead. Some ginger, some garlic... now that 5-spice powder I just bought, where did it go? I tossed in a generous capful, stirred it up, and plopped in the sliced-up pork. I clapped the lid on the slow-cooker, turned it to "low" and headed out to join my guests in the pool.

By bedtime, it was smelling rather licorice-y and not much at all like the Chinese barbecue pork buns I've known and loved. I shrugged off my misgivings and went to bed. The next morning, my first waking thought was, "What is that awful smell??!!" Alas, it was coming from the kitchen. Alas, it was my pork. Alas, it was dreadful.

It turns out that all the ingredients went in 1-2 Tablespoon increments EXCEPT the 5-spice powder. I was only supposed to use 1/4 tsp of that. So I'd put in 12 times too much. And apparently there is a reason all the recipes said to oven-roast the pork, not slow-cook it. The anise (licorice-y) flavor of the 5-spice powder was intensified by the long moist cooking while other balancing flavors died away. Plus I had made ill-advised substitutions for several key ingredients. The result was irredeemable. I had to throw the whole potful of pork away and simmer some cinnamon on the stove for an hour to cover the stink. This may be my most inedible concoction ever, right up there with the bitter eggplant parmesan of 2008.

I will try again. I am determined to provide myself an uniterrupted supply of pork buns. But next time I'll use the actual ingredients and measurements in the recipe. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime Strawberry Sorbet (Pops)

Ah, Summer! Here in Maryland that means hiking, swimming, kayaking, chasing fireflies... and day after day of hot, sticky, humid weather that leaves you panting and sweat-soaked after just walking outside to get the mail. The antidote? Strawberry Sorbet Pops. You can make this recipe in your ice-cream maker and get actual sorbet, but I forgot to put the cold part of my machine in the freezer, so my girlfriends and I made pops instead. I think I like the pops better. What's that you say? You don't have retro-fabulous Tupperware Popsicle molds? Keep your eyes peeled at yard sales and thrift stores- they show up often. In the meantime just mold your pops in Dixie Cups with popsicle sticks or straws. Put a little foil over the top and poke your stick through, to hold it up until the sorbet freezes.

1 lb fresh strawberries
3/4 C Sugar (yes, you really need that much. trust me!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1tsp real vanilla extract

Rinse the strawberries, remove the stems, and slice them up into a big bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla and allow to sit for at least an hour, no more than two, until the berries get all juicy and mushy. The fancy cooking word for this is "macerate," which is very fun to say. Then dump the whole mess into your blender or food processor and puree it. Pour the puree into popsicle molds and freeze. Or, churn it into sorbet according to your ice-cream maker's instructions (don't forget to freeze the cold part of your machine the night before, like I did). These pops are delicious, sweet & creamy-textured, perfect for Summer. Enjoy!

(This recipe is slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop of Strawberry Sorbet on Mainly we took out the kirsch and added vanilla, increased the lemon juice, and made pops instead of churned sorbet.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ginger Apricot Softies

This recipe started out as scones, but after I modified it to fit my friend V's food sensitivities, what we got was a batch of big, soft cookies. They were delicious.

1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/3 C soy milk
1/4 C sugar
1 C flour
2 Tbsp almond meal (can substitute corn meal)
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
4 Tbsp melted dairy-free margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C dried apricots, cut into small bits

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil. In a small bowl, stir the lemon juice into the soy milk and set aside to thicken. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, almond meal, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Add the melted margarine to the thickened soy milk mixture and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a large spoon, being careful to scrape the sides and bottom and incorporate everything well. Gently stir in the apricot bits. Scoop the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet to form 12 biscuits and flatten slightly. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the bottom edges are golden brown. Share with friends to prevent eating all 12 by yourself in one sitting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Make-ahead baked mashed potatoes

This recipe comes from my Aunt Nancy. You can make it with instant mashed potatoes, or make 'em from scratch. Honestly, it tastes creamy, rich, and delicious either way. Just mulitply the recipe to reach the number of servings you need. This is EXCELLENT for big meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas, when you can do the messy peeling and the steamy boiling, draining and mashing days ahead, rather than dealing with it all at the last minute when kitchen space is at a premium.

non-stick cooking spray, plain or butter flavored
6 servings of mashed potatoes, prepared without butter.
4 oz cream cheese
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tbsp butter, cut into small bits.

Optional additions:
Cheddar or parmesan cheese (mixed in and/or sprinkled on top)
1/2 tsp garlic powder or flakes
1/2 tsp onion powder or flakes
1/2 tsp butter flavoring, or 1 tsp Butter Buds or similar
crumbled bacon (to sprinkle on top)

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray (1 qt size for a single 6-serving batch). Prepare mashed potatoes by your preferred method, but omit any butter in the recipe. Allow the potatoes to cool somewhat- they should be hot enough to soften the cheese, but not hot enough to cook the egg. Blend in the remaining ingredients, except butter. I often mash the potatoes in my stand mixer when making a large batch, then simply continue adding ingredients. Transfer potato mixture to baking dish, dot with butter, and top with cheese or bacon if desired. Allow to cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F, uncover dish, and bake 30 minutes. Potatoes should rise slightly in the dish and develop a nice crust on top, but will be fluffy and delicious inside.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home-Made Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

These are OMG delicious! Make these when friends are over, or else you'll eat them all and get a tummyache.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
3/4 cup warm milk)
2-1/2 Tbsp softened butter
1 egg
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2-3/4 C all-purpose flour
3 C vegetable or canola oil, or enough for deep-frying

In the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook), combine all of the dry ingredients, except the yeast. In a large glass measuring or small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk and egg and stir to combine. Pour this liquid mixture into the flour, add the butter, and turn on the mixer to medium-low. When the dough is well-combined and kneaded smooth, check it for consistency: it should feel like a very soft bread dough, but not too sticky to handle. Knead in more flour if required, in small increments.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and clean off the dough hook, returning extra dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Not sure? Poke the dough with your finger. If the dent remains, instead of springing back, it's ready.
Dump the dough out onto a HEAVILY floured surface, and roll or pat it out to about 1/2 inch thick. Heavily flour your hands and/or rolling pin. Use a cookie or biscuit cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter to cut out your donuts, and a bottle cap about 1 1/4 inches to cut out the holes. Save the holes and other scraps- they'll be just as tasty!
Spread your your cut donuts several inches apart on a cookie sheet and let them rise again in a warm place, about 30-40 min, until puffed up to twice their size. .
Near the end of the rising time, heat your frying oil to about 350 degrees- this is easiest if you have an electric deep-fryer or skillet with a thermostat. Otherwise, use a steep-sided frying pan over medium heat and watch it carefully. Drop a scrap piece of dough in to test: it should instantly bubble rapidly, but not burn.
Fry each doughnut, donut hole, and scrap for about 30 seconds per side, or until light golden brown -- the color is key. Put only a few in the oil at once, and flip carefully with long tongs or a heat-proof flat slotted spoon.
Cool 5 minutes on paper towels.

3 tablespoons softened butter
1 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/6 cup hot water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine the butter with the powdered sugar and blend with an electric mixer.
Add the vanilla and hot water, and mix until smooth.
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir, then microwave another 15 seconds and stir again until completely melted.
Add the chocolate to the plain glaze mixture. Blend until smooth.
When the donuts have cooled, dip each top surface into the glaze and then flip over and cool on a plate until the glaze firms up, about 15 minutes.