I have 2 very fond memories when I think about falafels. The first one was in Paris, when I was on my leap-of-faith trip alone, and someone had told me about this falafel joint that Lenny Krevitz goes to (and by God, if it's good enough for Lenny, it's good enough for the rest of us!). It was a falafel wrap, hot crispy green balls stuffed in soft peta, with some pickled veg, a slather of yoghurt and hot sauce... it was better than most dates I've ever had.
The second memory is in Jordan, a small falafel shop in Wadi Musa near Petra, and they sold hot, fresh-from-the-fryer falafels in brown paper bags, to be eaten as a snack as you walk around. They were extremely addictive, and I went to that shop twice under 12 hours.
I've tried making falafels a few times, but to no avail. But hey, 16th time is the charm, they say! This recipe will get you a for-sure crispy falafel that is soft on the inside, and wouldn't break into a zillion pieces when you fry/air-fry them, like you heart can sometimes be.
What You Need:
Dried chickpeas (not canned, not cooked, DRIED)
1 handful parsley
1 handful coriander
1 red onion, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 baking powder
What You Do:
1. First of all, let's talk about the chickpeas. The main cause of failure in my past falafel-making endeavors was due to getting the chickpeas wrong. You can't use cooked or can chickpeas because they have too much water, and will therefore cause your falafels to be soggy, and they will never have the crispy gritty exterior you're looking for when you cook them. So what you need are dried chickpeas and you soak them in cold water for about 6 hours, until they double up in size. This is the correct base for falafels.
2. Drain the chickpeas, and put them in you food processor. Put all the other ingredients into the processor, season with salt (if your machine is small, you can always do this in batches and mix them all together in a large bowl), and blitz. What you're looking for is for the chickpeas to get the texture the size of cooked cous cous (kinda grainy, and not very fine).
3. From this mix, form balls slightly smaller than golf balls. If the mix doesn't seem to stick together, blitz for a few more seconds.
4. For storage, you can keep these falafels in a single layer in your Tupperware, and they will keep in your freezer for months.
5. To cook, you can either shallow fry them in a flat, non-stick pan with a little oil, or air-fry them, 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
6. Eat them hot! Best as just a snack with your favorite condiment, or stuff into some pita bread with some coleslaw.
There's broccoli florets in the dish, and even 'unseen' broccoli in the pesto sauce. And what's even better, this pasta dish utilises almost all aspects of your broccoli, including the stalks (that you always end up throwing out). The anchovies and garlic incorporated will pull the pasta out of bland-town, with chili flakes giving the entire plate an extra kick.
Feel free to use any sort of pasta you please, although I find that using orecchiette (pasta shells) is most suitable here because they act as little 'cups' to hold your thick pesto and caramelised cherry tomatoes (if you're using any).
This recipe serves 2 or 1 very hungry person (me. Always me.)
What You Need:
2 handfuls of broccoli florets
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved (optional, but I think it adds amazing contrast to the dish)
For the pesto:
1 floret broccoli, plus the broccoli stalk, trimmed and sliced
3 anchovies in olive oil, plus 1 tsp of its oil
1 tbsp. capers, drained
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
A sprinkle of dried chili flakes (OR, however hot you want it to be)
What You Do:
1. First, boil your pasta of choice in a pot of salted boiling water according to packet instructions (ProTip: That water should be as salty as the ocean).
2. In your food processor, blitz all the ingredients to make the pesto until you get a paste.
3. In a large flat pan, heat a glug of olive oil, and add the pesto and sautee on low heat. After 3 minutes, add the cherry tomatoes (if using), cooking until they are softened.
4. Add a few spoonfulls of pasta water into the pan, stirring to make a silky sauce with dots of those softened cherry tomatoes.
5. At the last 1 minute of your pasta boiling, chuck in the broccoli florets to blanch them a little.
6. Drain pasta and broccoli (reserve some of the water), and toss them into your sauce. Add a splash of pasta water if it needs it. and grate over some parmesan. You're looking for a silky sauce, draping your pasta nicely.
7. Transfer everything onto a plate, and finish with some grated parmesan, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.
8. This pasta also goes great with cuts of meat, or a nice carrot salad.
I am your champion of making food for just one or two people. Just because you're not feeding a family of four (or six) does not mean you eat any less fabulously. And when it comes to making cookies, why oh why do all the recipes make a dozen cookies? If you're eating alone, 12 cookies are NOT a good idea. If you keep them for later days, you know they won't be as fresh, and so you end up eating all 12, and that's how you morph into a beach ball...
I tried a few runs in making these single-serve cookies. And by single-serve, I mean this recipe will make exactly two medium sized cookies. Perfect for one of those nights when you are craving for a warm, freshly baked cookie that takes only minutes to whip up. Oh, and another good news; you can also make these cookies in an air fryer instead of an oven.
You also don't need a mixer. A whisk will do.
What You Need:
50 g UNSALTED butter, room temperature
15 g caster sugar (that's about 2 tbsp)
10 g brown sugar (use your relative guesstimation), or gula melaka instead for a nice twist
50 g self raising flour (that's about 1/3 cup, + 1 tbsp)
10 g 100% dark cocoa powder
1/3 tsp sodium bicarbonate
20 g dark chocolate chips (I use Toll House)
Some sea salt
What You Do:
1. If you are using an oven, preheat oven at 170 degrees.
2. Using a whisk, cream the butter, caster sugar and brown sugar/gula melaka until you get a well-mixed, pale brown consistency. If you don't cream it well, you'll get that weird sugary texture in the cookie that I hate.
3. Mix flour, cocoa powder and bicarb soda in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture. Mix everything with a spatula. DO NOT OVER MIX. You're just getting them all incorporated.
4. Add the chocolate chips. Mix, and make 2 balls out of the dough, flattening them into a shape of a cookie. You can bake both now, or save the other one for later. Just wrap it in clingfilm, and it will last in the fridge for 2 weeks.
5. Line your baking tin, or air fryer, with baking paper. Place cookie, and sprinkle some sea salt on top. You can use any kind, but the best would be Maldon sea salt.
6. Bake in oven for 15 mins, or in air fryer at 180 degrees, 15 mins.
7. It will appear a little too soft at first, but let it cool a little for the edges to set.
8. Try to not eat too quickly because it will burn your tongue (based on my experience).