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Dec 14, 2017
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Posts Tagged ‘falafel’

By the Book: Joumana Accad’s Falafel Loaf with Tarator Sauce

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

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Maybe it’s because I’m such a food grazer that I love a good meze. I salivate just imagining a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern bites like olives, yogurt-, vegetable- and legume-based dips with pita, salads such as fattoush or tabbouleh and finger foods like stuffed grape leaves and meat pies. Some years ago, I presented an assemblage of such fare to a Turkish dinner guest. He thanked me profusely, telling me how much it reminded him of home.

Although I have never visited Turkey or any Middle Eastern country, I do feel at home preparing and eating food from this part of the world. It’s food that I taught myself to make primarily via cookbooks, so it was fun to sift through Joumana Accad’s Taste of Beirut. Among the 150-plus recipes (and lots of color photos), are all the classics – from kibbe to kafta – along with a few contemporary innovations spun from traditional dishes. I chose to prepare an item from the latter camp: falafel loaf with tarator sauce.

Falafel is a mix of puréed chickpeas, eggs and seasonings usually rolled into balls and then deep-fried. Accad’s version called for baking the falafel mixture to make a vegetarian meatloaf of sorts, which piqued my health-inclined sensibilities.

 

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Lebanese cooking is not hard or involved. In this instance, you first make a garlic paste pounding the cloves with salt using a pestle and mortar. Next, open a couple cans of chickpeas (or cook your own to control the salt content), crack a few eggs, gather spices and purée in a food processor before transferring it to a loaf pan.

 

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While the loaf was baking, I made the tarator. It’s a tangy sauce that is akin to mayonnaise for the Lebanese. If you’ve never made this tahini, garlic and lemon juice sauce before, it’s one you’ll want to keep in your back pocket. It’s useful as a salad dressing or atop cooked vegetables.

 

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I baked the loaf 15 minutes longer (and covered with foil during this time) than the prescribed 35 minutes so it firmed. Once it was done, I let rest the pan a good 10 or 15 minutes before unmolding and slicing it. The falafel was moist and delicious, a light, healthy alternative to the fried variety. I may never board a plane to Lebanon, but I like to travel there often in my kitchen, and Accad is a fine travel guide.

 

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Falafel Loaf with Tarator Sauce
8 servings

2 15.5-oz. cans chickpeas
3 large eggs
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. paprika or Aleppo pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Italian parsley
1 cup cilantro
1 Tbsp. garlic paste (recipe follows)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup tarator sauce (recipe follows)

• Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
• Drain the chickpeas and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, baking powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and salt, and process until mixture is doughy. Add the parsley, cilantro, garlic paste and olive oil, and process until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.
• Transfer to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the loaf comes out dry. Serve at room temperature with the tarator sauce.

Garlic Paste
Makes 1 tablespoon

6 garlic cloves
1 tsp. salt

• Peel and cut the garlic cloves lengthwise; toss out the clove if it contains a green shoot, which indicates that it is old. To peel the clove easily, knock it decisively with the handle of a knife.
• Chop the garlic fine and place in the mortar with the salt. Pound away for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture is the consistency of a paste. Use in cooking right away or store in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in an airtight container. You can prepare several such small packages at one time.

Tarator Sauce
Makes 1 cup

1 tsp. garlic paste
½ cup tahini
¼ to ½ cup lemon juice, according to taste
¼ to 1/3 cup water

• Place the garlic in a bowl, add the tahini, and mix well. Add the lemon juice and water gradually, stirring until the sauce is the consistency of a creamy yogurt. Add more water slowly if needed. Taste and adjust the sauce as needed.

Variation: Add ½ cup chopped parsley to the tarator and mix well prior to serving. This herby tarator can be used to dress salads.

Reprinted with permission from Health Communications

What cookbook author takes you on a cultural adventure in your kitchen? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Taste of Beirut.

 

 

Meatless Monday: Hartford Coffee Company’s Baked Falafel

Monday, March 10th, 2014

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Hartford Coffee Company’s name might make you think this Tower Grove South neighborhood spot is just a coffee shop, but it also has a full food menu. Every weekday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., order any of Hartford’s food offerings, including breakfast items, baked goods, sandwiches, salads and vegetarian options. Craving Hartford’s baked falafel at 7 a.m.? No problem. Fresh baked falafel patties are served on soft pita with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and a cucumber-dill sauce. With your choice of a side, you’ve got a full meal – any time of day.

Meatless Monday: Ranoush’s Meza

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

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It’s not often vegetarians and meat-lovers can dine in harmony at one restaurant; someone always gets the dinky section of the menu. But at Ranoush, traditional Syrian meatless dishes get as much love as kababs and grilled meats. Entrees are available, but diners can easily make a meal by sharing three of the dozen or so hot and cold meza.

These small plates, available at the Kirkwood and U. City locations, can easily sate a hungry appetite. Crisp, golf-ball sized falafel yields to a verdant, moist center of spiced ground chickpeas. Cheese fatayer – Halloumi cheese wrapped in pastry and fried – oozes when you first slice into this little pie. And use fresh pita to scoop up refreshing, cool baba ghanoush to cut through some of the heavy fried goodness. Oh, and be sure to ask for a side of Ranoush’s garlic mayonnaise to dip, well, everything. No sacrifices here.

 

 

The Scoop: Kaslik Restaurant serving up authentic eastern Mediterranean eats in Florissant

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Those looking for an authentic taste of the Middle East might consider heading to Florissant. Kaslik Restaurant opened its doors last Friday at 8141 N. Lindbergh Blvd., at the intersection of Manresa Lane. The restaurant is a project by chef-owner Wesam Hamed (pictured below).

Hamed’s menu features more than 20 cold and hot appetizers. Build-your-own mezes are available with such offerings as: hummus (served in the tradition of Hamed’s native Jerusalem with a garnish of olive oil, a spoonful of whole chickpeas and a sprinkle of sumac), labneh (thick Arabic yogurt drizzled with olive oil and garnished with mint), warek inab (rice-stuffed grape leaves), kabis (pickled vegetables), makdous (baby eggplant stuffed with walnuts and garlic), and foul moudames (a stew of fava beans, tomatoes, garlic and spices).

Among the 10 entrees, diners will find chicken, lamb, beef and shrimp dishes. The mixed grill plate of shish tawuk (chicken marinated in garlic, lemon juice and spices), beef kefta and shrimp is a nice way to sample multiple dishes, as is a veggie platter that holds a chef’s selection of five meze items. All entrees are served with a side salad and the majority come with Basmati rice. The lunch crowd will find a handful of easy grab-and-go items such as beef shawarma (pictured) or falafel wrapped in pita. Beverages include Arabic coffee, hot mint tea, fresh orange juice, carrot juice, lemon juice, as well as soft drinks.



The dining area is tiny – there are just five two-top tables – but the tight quarters make for easy conversation with Hamed and his friendly staff of two behind the counter. (If language is another sign of authenticity, note that English is not the predominant language spoken by the majority of Kaslik clientele.) The restaurant is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. A website (kaslikstl.com) and Facebook page are expected to launch by mid-February.

Meatless Mondays: Falafel Sandwich at Schlafly Tap Room

Monday, January 9th, 2012

010912_falafelWe know what you’re thinking – another vegetarian column, really? Just give us a minute. Meatless Mondays is a movement that’s building across the country, one built not around a hatred of meat or a stance against the way animals are treated but rather a love for vegetables – and the health benefits that come along with them. While the Meatless Monday concept hasn’t quite picked up in St. Louis yet, we’re here to show you just how easily it could. From meat-free recipes to make at home to dishes around town that let the veggies truly shine – welcome to Meatless Mondays, a new weekly online column.

The falafel sandwich at the Schlafly Tap Room is something to write about. It beats the falafel I’ve eaten throughout Israel (Tossing french fries into my pita doesn’t make it better in my book.), and it may even beat the falafel I ate in Le Marais in Paris. OK, maybe it doesn’t trump the mouthwatering Parisian version (I mean, I did go there two times in one day for crying out loud.), but the fact that I’m even comparing the two shows that the Tap Room’s version is seriously good eats. (Let’s solve this debate once and for all: Sauce Magazine, fly me to France and I’ll report back who wins?)

In my days of going to the Tap Room, I used to try a different dish each time. I was always satisfied with the results, but then I realized: A large part of the Tap Room being such a time-tested institution in St. Louis is that the dishes are institutions as well. Maybe it’s my growing up, being less fickle and knowing what I want, but I ditched the whole seize-the-day/try-something-new way of life and stuck with what’s good: the falafel, which is as much of a fixture on the menu as the burger is, in my book at least.

The falafel is prepared street-style – swaddled in foil, slathered with tatziki and given a little crunch with some fresh onions and tomatoes. On the side comes harissa – a thick traditional Tunisian chili sauce that’s a bit too spicy for me. Go ahead and get it even if you can’t handle the spice, as it’s likely someone you’re dining with will want to dunk his fries into it. In place of the harissa, I ask for the green peppercorn sauce on the side, which provides a perfect cold, peppery bite that combines well with my piping hot falafel. (The harissa will give you the same effect; just have your beer nearby to offer a little salvation.) Pair it with the vinegar slaw, and life is good.

After 20 years in the biz, the Schlafly Tap Room has it down – a laid-back atmosphere, friendly servers, time-tested food and real St. Louis beer. It’s a community that makes you feel at home – so at home, in fact, that co-founder Dan Kopman came by our table to see how our meal was the last time I stopped in. Next time you stop in, try the falafel with a Schlafly Kölsch, and enjoy some truly world-class eats. Best of all, you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to fly across the pond to eat it. Unless, that is, Sauce Magazine is paying for your trip, too!

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