Oven-Baked Falafel

These oven-baked falafel are super tasty, and my official taster is looking forward to eating them again! Deep-fried falafel are delicious, I don’t enjoy cooking with boiling oil, and I think baking is healthier.

This photo was taken before the tahini sauce, hot sauce and pickled turnips went on – oops! Somebody was eager for the photos to be done so the eating could begin. I’ve also served these with some hummus and a cucumber, tomato and herb salad.

I found an aleb falafel, a falafel shaping device, for under $10 at a local Middle Eastern store. You can use a spoon or your hands to form them if you don’t have an aleb falafel.

falafel shaping device

This recipe is especially easy to make if you have a food processor, but you could also give it a try with a potato masher. It’s quite simple: all the ingredients go into the food processor bowl, you whiz it up, form the balls, and bake them. While they are baking you can prepare sauce and veggies.

These falafel freeze quite nicely!

What you need for the falafel:

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or equivalent home-cooked
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/ 2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup cilantro (I like to use the stems too)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil for brushing on top of falafel before baking

What you need for the tarator sauce:

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • salt to taste

What you do for the falafel:

  1. Heat the oven to 375F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Add the chickpeas, eggs, bread crumbs, onions, parsley, cilantro and garlic to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture becomes doughy.
  3. Add the baking powder, seasonings and olive oil and process again until all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Form falafels with an aleb falafel (I lightly oiled mine before use), or scoop with a tablespoon and form into flattened balls with your hands.
  5. Use a pastry brush to brush a little bit of olive oil on the tops of the falafel, to help them brown nicely. Browning = flavour!
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes, then check to see if it is done; mine needed more time. You will know when it is done if a knife inserted in the centre comes out pretty much clean.
  7. While the falafel are baking you can make the sauce.

What you do for the taratour sauce:

  1. Mix the garlic in with the tahini.
  2. Add a little bit of lemon juice and mix well. Add lemon juice and water a little at at time until the sauce is creamy but not too runny.
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!!

Sour Cherry – Chocolate Bread

sour cherry and chocolate bread sliced on a cutting board

My mom says, “This is the best bread I have ever had.” And my mom has had a lot of good bread, much of it made by her, so I consider that the strongest endorsement for this delicious chocolate sour cherry bread.

This isn’t a sweet bread, just a loaf of my usual no-knead (Jim Lahey recipe) bread, with the addition of sour cherries I picked in summer and froze, and some good quality dark chocolate. If you’re unfamiliar with no-knead bread, it’s a bread that is left to rise overnight. It is baked in a dutch oven, which helps to create a crunchy crust. So delicious! Just takes a bit of planning ahead – there’s very little hands-on time, but you need to move the dough a few hours before baking.

It was the most delicious the day it was baked, and while still a little warm. But it was also very nice the next day, toasted, with a little butter.

Feel free to add a bit more chocolate or cherries if you want!

What you need:

  • 2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rye flour (or use all ap flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 & 1/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 6 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60%, Bittersweet)
  • 1 cup pitted sour cherries (if using frozen cherries, do not thaw before adding)

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir just until it comes together. It will look a bit shaggy, but it’s fine.
  2. Cover the bowl with a lid, plate or plastic wrap and leave to sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. Eighteen-ish hours is preferable, especially if it’s a little cooler in your place. This time around I left mine even longer, and it was probably my best ever. After about 4 hours you can work in the chocolate and cherries. I experimented with adding then in the beginning, but somehow it doesn’t rise as well.
  3. About two hours before baking time, spread out a large piece of parchment paper and put a coating of olive oil over it. Use a spatula to coax the dough out of the bowl, and then use floured hands to gently form it into a loaf, and place it seam-side down onto the parchment paper. Invert the bowl over the dough and allow this to sit for about 2 hours.
  4. About 1/2 an hour before baking, turn the oven to 450°F/ 232°C. (If using a Romertopf/clay baker, make sure you have pre-soaked it, and then place it in the oven BEFORE turning the oven on.) If using a cast iron dutch oven, place it in the cold oven to heat along with the oven.
  5. When the oven is ready, gently place the dough, seam side down, into the lidded baker. This should be pretty easy to do, since you can just pick up the corners of the parchment paper and transfer the whole thing into the pot. If you want to, you can use a sharp knife to make a few slashes a few centimetres deep into the top of the bread.
  6. Place the lid on the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes. After that time, remove the lid and bake for 15-25 minutes. The crust should be dark, and the bread should sound hollow when you tap it.
  7. Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack for about an hour. When it is hot it will be too sticky inside to cut, but after an hour the bread will still be warm enough for the perfect tasting experience.
  8. Enjoy!

Christmas Baking Highlights

This post is all about some of my favourite holiday baking treats over the 10+ years of TrustInKim, so bakers have it all in one place. There are more recipes to come this year too!

Gingerbread People with red candy hearts.

Rum Balls! Another of my mom’s amazing recipes.

My mom’s fudge recipe, super easy, loved by all.

Sour Cream Cutout Cookies, perfect for decorating.

Jam-filled Cookies, which we called “ammonia cookies.”

This Chocolate Rum cake is not for the faint of heart.

Stollen with brandy-soaked dried fruit, almonds and marzipan.

Coconut Mango Cookies

And a few Savouries:

Bubbat Mennonite raisin and Farmer Sausage bread

Lemony Hummus

You can make your own hummus! It’s so easy, delicious, and saves you money! Whether you use canned chickpeas or cook them from dried, it’s easy to make a great hummus. When I make hummus at home, I appreciate knowing exactly what goes into it, and adding more or less of whichever flavours I choose – and for me it’s all about the lemon right now!

This recipe is a variation of the hummus recipe I make often, but in this one I’ve added lemon zest along with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Plus a bit of cumin and hot sauce to perfect it.

You can use canned chickpeas, or prepare your own from dried chickpeas. I highly recommend removing the skins from the chickpeas to make a really creamy hummus. If you use split dried chickpeas, they are already skinless, so you will not need to remove the skins, but the flavour is a little different than the regular chickpea. Of course, you can always keep the skins on, but your hummus will not be as smooth. If you’ve got the time it’s worth a try, and removing the skins can be somewhat meditative.

One of my favourite meals that includes hummus is hummus kawarma, a Lebanese dish with lamb. Of course hummus also great with fresh pita, or as a veggie dip. I also love to toast day-old pita brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt to make crackers, and then dip them in hummus.

What you need:

  • 1 & ¼ cups dried chickpeas (or one 540mL can)
  • 1/3 cup tahini 
  • 4  or more tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • cumin, to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)
  • hot sauce (optional) to taste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  Salt to taste
  • 5 or more tablespoons ice-cold water 

What you do:

  1. Cook the chickpeas ahead of time, so they are cold when you use them to make the hummus. If you are using canned chickpeas I highly recommend removing the skins. This is a bit of work, but here’s what I do: I drain them, then put them in a large bowl with water. Then I rub some of them between my hands, and a lot of the skins come off that way. Then I go through them and pull off most of the remaining skins.
  2. Place your drained chickpeas in a food processor or blender. Process them until you have a thick paste. Add the tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin, a little hot sauce, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; blend this. With the machine still running, drizzle in some of the ice water and let it mix for several minutes. You will get a very creamy paste. Taste to see if you want to add any more lemon juice or any of the seasonings. Add more water if you think it needs it to be smoother; I like to add a bit more water than I think I will need, as hummus tends to thicken up a bit when refrigerated.
  3. Cover and refrigerate if you are not using it right away, but remove from the fridge at least half an hour before you want to eat it. A little drizzle of good quality olive oil is a nice way to top it off when serving.

Enjoy!

Potato and Black Bean Tacos

I have to say, I was against the idea of a potato taco in the beginning – kind of like I was against the idea of a potato pizza – but in both instances I was proven wrong. The creamy potato and black bean filling in these tacos, paired with this fire-roasted salsa, makes them a pretty awesome treat!

It’s pretty simple really, just cook some potatoes (I used a purple one because I had fresh ones from the garden), open a can of black beans (or make your own from dried beans). Smash them together with some spices, add a little cheese, throw it into a frying pan in a tortilla, and you’re done.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to feed two people, and the process:

  • 1 medium sized potato
  • cumin
  • chili powder (I used Ancho)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 2 tablespoons milk or non-dairy alternative
  • 1/2 can black beans (or less)
  • canola oil or butter for cooking
  • soft tortillas
  • cheddar or cheese of choice
  • yogurt or sour cream (optional side sauce)
  • your favourite salsa (this one!!!)

What you do:

  1. Boil the potato until soft, then drain and sprinkle in a little cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add the milk or substitute and give it a few squishes with a potato masher.
  2. Add the beans to the potatoes and give it all a few more squishes, until it is pretty much combined. Taste and add more seasonings if it needs it.
  3. Grate the cheese.
  4. Now you can heat a large frying pan and add a drizzle of oil or a bit of butter, just enough to coat the pan so the tortilla doesn’t stick.
  5. Place a tortilla in the pan, lifting half of it up so you can fit another tortilla in the other half, both of them open.
  6. Spoon some potato/bean mixture into each tortilla half and spread it out so it reaches the sides.
  7. Add some cheese, then fold the top down.
  8. Cook on the first side until it has lightly browned, then turn it over and do the same thing on the other side.
  9. Serve with your favourite salsa, and a side of yogurt or sour cream.
  10. Enjoy!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Plate with three blueberry muffins

Imagine you walk into a kitchen and you catch a waft of lemon, butter and blueberries emanating from the oven – heaven, right? That’s what these are.

It’s pretty rare that I post almost the same recipe within a few months, but these are so good that I had to make them again, with a very slight change – even more lemon!

They are really light and fluffy, packed with blueberries, a nice hit of lemon, and a crunchy cap.

The last time I made these, I made a few minor changes to this recipe. I used the zest of a whole lemon instead of half, and I added the baking powder and baking soda a bit later in the process to avoid over-mixing it. For the Turbinado sugar topping I used a bit less than the suggested 3 tablespoons, and it still had a nice crunchy top. This time around I used some lemon juice in the batter to amp up that flavour, and to balance the sweetness of the muffin. I also rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar to release more of the oils, bringing out the flavour.

I also made a mistake with these! I used half a cup of butter instead of 5 tablespoons – oops. But the flavour was awesome!

If you are using frozen blueberries you should leave them in the freezer until you are ready to add them.

The trick to successful muffins is not over-mixing the batter, which will cause you to have a dense muffin. Another trick – bake them as soon as the batter is in the muffin tins so they don’t lose any of their leavening.

Makes 9-11 muffins. They are the very best the day they come out of the oven, but warmed up with a bit of butter in the next few days they were quite good too.

What you need:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from a whole lemon (finely grated, only the yellow outer peel)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt minus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen 
  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar

What you do:

  1. Prepare your muffin tins by lining 9 of them with paper liners, and then spray the liners with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl, and work the zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the oils.
  3. Melt the butter, then whisk it into the sugar and zest. Whisk in the yogurt and egg until smooth.
  4. Add one cup of the flour to the sugar mixture and stir it in until there are still some clumps. Now combine the remaining half cup of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Very lightly fold this mixture into the batter, until it it is mostly mixed, with a few lumps.
  5. Fold in the berries until they are just combined. You should now have a very thick batter, especially if you just added frozen berries.
  6. Divide the batter between the 9 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of Turbinado sugar. 
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test them by inserting a toothpick in the middle; if there is any batter sticking to the toothpick let them bake a few minutes longer. If you hit a blueberry, you might want to poke the toothpick into another spot to see if they are done.
  8. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Barley Soup

Perfect for a Fall day, this soup is warming and hearty, but not heavy. Served with a beautiful baguette from Beyond Bread, this made a delicious dinner for two with plenty of leftovers.

You can make this as a vegan soup, or use chicken or beef broth. The soup consists of some veggies, both dried and fresh mushrooms, a splash of sherry, tomato paste, and broth. A good quality broth is important here, so homemade or a better quality like Pacific would make a tasty soup.

The recipe comes from the Yvette van Boven’s ‘Home Made Winter’ cookbook. Her recipe calls for spelt, but gives the option of barley, which I used because that was what I had in my cupboard. I added a few extra carrots, less oil, and a dab of butter at the end. I used chicken broth because I had it on hand, but look forward to trying it with mushroom broth. I changed the order of when to add the salt and pepper, adding it at the end so it doesn’t get over-salted, and so the salt doesn’t make the veggies mushy. As well, adding pepper too soon can make it the soup taste bitter. My scale is broken right now, so I guessed that 25 grams of dried mushrooms is about 1/2 cup, and that tasted great. For the fresh mushrooms I used a combination of Button and Cremini, the white and brown ones you find easily in the grocery store. If you substitute for more interesting mushrooms, please let me know in the comments below what you used and how you enjoyed it!

What you need:

  • 25 grams dried mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 500 grams (about 1 lb) fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) barley or spelt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • a splash or two of dry sherry
  • 1 litre (4 cups) mushroom, vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon butter (optional)

What you do:

  1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour hot or boiling water over them, just enough to cover. Let that sit for about 20 minutes while you get started with chopping.
  2. Once the onions, carrots and celery have been chopped, heat the olive oil on medium heat, in a large pot. Sauté the vegetables until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, then add the fresh mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until they begin to release their juices, about 10 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat and stir in the barley or spelt, allowing it to absorb the mushroom juices.
  5. Add the mushroom soaking water and the tomato paste, cooking until you smell a sweet aroma, and then add the splash of sherry.
  6. Add the broth and the soaked mushrooms (I chopped mine first), then bring it to a simmer. Leave it simmering on low heat until the barley/spelt is cooked to an al dente texture. I checked mine after 30 minutes and it was almost done.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and add a dab of butter if you wish.
  8. Serve with some gorgeous bread and enjoy!

Orange Olive Oil Cake

For my 500th blog post I give you this simple Orange Olive Oil Cake. So easy to make, but a big flavour bomb! I have barely turned my oven on all summer, but this one called out to me, and I had to try it. And . . . rave reviews! If cake at breakfast is your thing, then this is the one for you, but it’s good anytime. It’s so easy – combine the liquids, add to the dry, bake. Eat. Yum. (You will need some kind of device to zest the orange – a microplaner, part of your grater, or an official zester; I prefer the microplaner.)

This cake is super moist, and super flavourful thanks to all the lemon zest. And the olive oil seems to pair really well with the citrus.

My oven is a gong show, and I never know when it’s going to heat up or cool down, so I do my best to guess (one of the reasons I haven’t been baking much lately). For me this was done almost 15 minutes before the suggested bake time because my oven was so hot – and it still turned out great! So if you are a newer baker, or have a really unpredictable oven like mine, this recipe seems to be a no-fail one.

I ate and gave away a lot of this cake, and then I froze a portion. It’s so nice to have something in the freezer that you can pull out when you need it!

I found the recipe on this website (thank you), based on a recipe that originates with Jim Lahey. I use his amazing pizza dough recipe, and my bread recipe also comes from him.

What you need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest of 2 navel oranges (I used very large oranges)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 cup whole or homogenized milk
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 155 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt or 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

What you do:

  1. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by cutting a round piece of parchment paper to place in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, then mix it together.
  3. In another bowl combine the sugar, zest (I use a microplaner to do this), eggs, orange juice, milk and olive oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, scraping the bottom and sides to make sure all the flour is incorporated; it might seem a bit weird, but it’s okay to have some lumps.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, at which time the top should be browned and a cake tester should come out mostly clean. (Note – I put the cake pan on a baking sheet because I thought it might spill over – it didn’t though! Whew.)
  6. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and then turn the cake onto a cooling rack.
  7. Enjoy!

Blackberry Jam

Last night I finished making a batch of blackberry jam, with berries picked from a secret spot. It’s actually one of those places where you wonder if you’re going to trip over a body . . . but . . . free blackberries!

This recipe is made without added pectin, just the berries, sugar and lemon juice.

I don’t really eat a lot of jam, but I had a request to make this and ended up really enjoying it on an English Muffin this morning. I put a bit of Greek yogurt on as well, but cream cheese or crème fraîche would be wonderful with it too.

It takes a bit of work to get the seeds out of the jam, but I think it is a worthwhile job so you don’t bite down on the hard seeds. I found it easier to get the seeds out when the berries had cooked down a bit.

After removing the seeds, the rest of the process is quite simple. You will need some jars, and if you plan to store the jam in a cupboard you will need the proper lids etc. For freezer jam you can use any kind of jar. I used a thermometer to check the temperature, but you can use this guide to help figure out when it is done if you don’t have thermometer.

What you need:

  • 6 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups sugar (some recipes call for more, but I like it this way)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

What you do:

  1. In a large pot, heat the clean blackberries on medium heat until they start falling apart.
  2. Push the berries through a strainer, food mill or chinois. If you use a strainer, as I did, it takes a bit of time and energy to push all the pulp through with the back of a spoon.
  3. Boil water in a large pot, then put your jars in there to sterilize. Turn off the heat and remove the jars with tongs. Place the lids in the pot of hot water. I always use new lids when canning to make sure that they seal properly.
  4. Place the strained berry pulp, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring continually. Bring the mixture to 105C/220F, then remove them from the heat.
  5. Fill the jars to 1cm below the top. I used a canning funnel to fill the jars so I had no spills – yay! Use a clean cloth to clean any drips from the rims of the jars.
  6. Use tongs to remove the lids from the hot water and place them on top of the jars. Screw the lids on, and then leave the jars sitting where they are until they have sealed. Over the next hour or so you should hear the tell-tale pinging sound that indicates that the jars have sealed. If the jars have sealed properly the lid should be slightly concave, and will not bend when you push down on it; any jars that haven’t sealed properly can be stored in the fridge or freezer. The other jars can be kept in a cool cupboard for a few years.

Foraged Sumac Tea

Sumac is one of my very favourite spices because it adds a nice bit of lemony flavour. I use it mainly in Middle Eastern dishes, for example this salad, or just sprinkled on top of some yogurt cheese or roasted cauliflower.

Only recently did I discover that we have sumac growing right here in Vancouver! And only a block away from my place I was able to find a tree to forage from. Sumac also grows in other parts of Canada and the United States, not to be confused with poison sumac (you really can’t mix these two up when you look at the pictures.)

Here are some links that can give you a bit more information. This one is from Ontario, and here is one from Vancouver about the “latest restaurant trend in spices,” (that’s 2015).

Now is the time to harvest, and maybe for the next few weeks as well.

This is one of the easiest recipes I will ever post. Harvest, boil water, pour the water over the sumac buds and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You can certainly sweeten it with honey or another sweetener, but I found it was tart but not too sour to drink without sweetener. It is really refreshing when served ice cold, and would probably make a nice base for a cocktail.

I’d love to hear about things you’ve done with foraged sumac – I’ve heard of making syrup, and drying the sumac, but I’ve not tried these. Please let me know if you have!