Falafel from scratch

Oh no, don't turn away! It's not as complicated as it sounds.

Falafel always fascinated me and whenever I found the opportunity I always ordered them. Sometimes I was very happy with my choice whilst others I was confronted with a soppy, oil soaked, flavourless patty.  But not this time.

I was reading an article on Food 52 which explained how easy it was to make Falafel at home from scratch, so with all the list ingredients ready at hand, I tried it out this weekend.

I am at the stage where lots of weekend cooking and preparation saves me precious time during the week, so this recipe was prepared and cooked on Sunday in preparation for the week ahead. Surprisingly though, when we all had a taste of the first patty to make it out of the pan, my carnivorous family where all willing to ditch the roast in favour of these delicious "burgers".

No need to worry, the animal did not die in vain; the roast was devoured minutes later!

So here what you need to buy to make falafel

2 cup of dried chickpeas (which is just under 500g)
1 small onion
A handful of fresh mint
A bunch of fresh flat-leaved parsley
2 cloves of garlic
A generous pinch of salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ras el hanut (this is a North-African spice mixture)
2 lemons, juiced

And here is what you need to do:

The night before you plan on preparing these little flavoursome parcels, soak the chickpeas in a large bowl.  Make sure there is enough water in the bowl as they will absorb quite a lot.

The next day, whenever that suits you, place all the above ingredients, except the chickpeas into a blender and blitz for a few seconds.

Now drain the chickpeas and add them to the blender. Blend until all turns into one nice big spicy smooth paste. Make sure that it is really smooth as there is nothing else to bind the patties together except the consistency of the paste itself.

Using your hands, turn the paste into patties. The size depends on how you want to serve them. If you are making burgers then portion them into burger-sized patties but if you will be serving them in pitta pockets then I suggest you make them smaller. This way you'll be able to fit a few in and get the lovely flavours with every bite.  

As an indication, these quantities make around 18 burger-size patties. If you think that's too much I suggest that you still go with these amounts and just freeze any leftover falafel; they will be a true life saver when you're too hungry or tired to cook!

Nanna Connie's Truffles

Spring is in the air and Easter is around the corner. These are the sort of days when you want to be out and about and definitely not tied up in the kitchen.

This week, even though the weather was warmer outside, my slow cooker made an appearance on the kitchen cupboard.

But this article is not about food, it's about something sweet to help you clear up the cupboards before the Easter eggs and and chocolate bunnies take over.  This recipe is ideal to de-clutter your shelves.

Even though the blog is "Baking in Belgium" these Truffles are the truffles in the old sense of the word and not the Belgian chocolate versions!

Quite easy to make, these truffles could be a weekend project with your little ones.

Start off by melting some butter in a sauce pan. I would use around 30g to 50g depending on the amount of cake / biscuits you have but do not exceed the 50g.

Once the butter has melted, stir in the any pastries you may have,  It is important that these are crumbled very well, alternatively you can use a blender to chop them finely.

When I say pastries, I mean yesterday's pain chocolate or pieces of Panettone, biscuits, chocolates or chocolate bars.

Make sure that they are all crushed or mashed up very well so that there are no large chunks that can be identified.

Once you have stirred them in, add enough milk or tinned milk to make sure they are well soaked.  Don't worry about adding too much milk, that will only mean you will need to cook the mixture for longer. 

Now, time to season! I like adding a few oats to my mixture to make them 'healthier'  You can add a dash or two of Rum if you have an adult audience. 

If you will be serving these to children I suggest some vanilla essence and perhaps some grated orange zest.

Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of cocoa and stir continuously.

Taste the mixture. 

At this point you could also add some candied fruit or some nuts.

Keep on stirring over a low heat until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of your pot. Your stirring will become harder as the mixture 'dries' further.

When you decide that you have cooked it long enough, remove from the heat and let it cool for about 10 mins.

Then, using a teaspoon , roll the mixture into small balls and place them in a prepared plate filled with coconut. Roll the ball in the dessicated coconut until the truffle is well coated.

Keep on repeating this until all the mixture is rolled.

Place the coconut balls in the fridge for about 30 minutes then take them out and give them a final roll in your hands to fix their shape.

Once complete, store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, even though mine never last that long!
If you want to make them look a little fancy, place each truffle in a small paper case.