OK, the above is a pretty badly color-corrected and giantly smashed falafel (with zhoug, garlic yogurt and beet-pickled red onions with mint), but for testing purposes our teeth were still able to chomp on it very successfully.
We always loves us a good falafel, and lately it seems like the little guys are showing up more and more often around our pad. Thing is, they're not so so cheap if someone else makes them for you, so we decided to give it another go ourselves.
Like any superpopular and time-honored traditional dish, there are scads of regional evolutions and passionate opinions about how to do it "right": favas or chickpeas; cooked or uncooked; what kinds/ratios of herbs, ect ect ect.
We tried it once a long time ago, and then we used uncooked chickpeas, soaked instead of cooked, as is the general tradition. Something must've not gone quite right with the whole soaking process, I remember an inedible, undercooked result that might have even gone unserved: Mara doesn't remember it.
So in the interest of ending up with something that could jump in our bellies tonight, I went with chickpeas that I had cooked from scratch yesterday (unsalted). This recipe was quite specific about barely grinding the beans, I guess so that we wouldn't end up with a gummy, overstarched mess (thanks to Zora for asking about this in the Comments).
And...more data is required. I don't think these are exactly gummy, I've enjoyed falafel like these before...but the test batch was a bit..."moist" inside, not sure if it was my cooking technique or the recipe, we'll see tomorrow when I do a real batch of real-sized balletjes. In any event, the seasoning proportions below are almost perfectly perfect.
UPDATE: I have eaten so much falafel in the past few days that I must smell like a cliché. You know, that addled old Greek or Italian (or some other onion-and-garlic-eating cuisine) chef who tries to make perverted advances on a young female protagonist working as a waitress or hostess in a crappy diner in one of those 80s kind of pre-hipster-irony I-can-make-it-in-the-big-city-if-I-try novels of which I cannot think of a single example. But you know what I mean...she's ending her shift, I'm drunk in the kitchen, screaming at the dishwashers, wearing a blood-and-grease-stained wife-beater with "my breath reeking of stale onions, garlic and cooking wine", when she tries to squeeze by me to get to the walk-in I ect ect ect.
The falafel: it's not like most falafel I know, so I assume it's the uncooked vs. cooked thing. These falafel are totally delicious, and they hold their form well enough to be flipped, but you could never, for example, throw one at someone and have them catch it and pop it in their mouth (this was the first example that popped into my head, which gives you some idea of my home environment). The last falafel I had like these were at Falafel Dan down by the Tuschinski, which I think is out of business now, probably because no one could play catch with their falafel balls.
2 cups roughly chopped white onion
6 garlic cloves
2 cups cooked, unsalted chickpeas, drained
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
slightly less than 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seed, whole
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup chickpea flour or all-purpose flour
The instructions are important, and forthcoming.
I also made another nice new fish salad, as unappetizing as that sounds...but you know we dig on some mfkn fish salad up in this bitch. Tonight's was noteworthy in that it was my first time cooking successfully with Moroccan preserved lemon, I really liked it.
north african fish salad with potatoes and preserved lemon.
600g firm white fish, original suggests monkfish, I used earth-destroying panga
200g cubed, cooked potato, I kind of poached mine in olive oil and used 2 tbsp of that oil as the 2 tbsp listed below
juice of a lemon
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp EV olive oil
2 tbsp capers
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 or possibly up to 1/2 of a preserved lemon, flesh scooped out, rind (not zest, whole rind) diced small or minced
We're reaming out the apartment. We've been reaming out the apartment for weeks now, it's fantastic. The reaming (last time I'll use it, promise) is now extending to the digital realm, as I go through piles and piles of CD-Rs looking for...well, nothing specific, just stuff we've inadvertently lost contact with over the last 12 years or so.
Like most of the photos from when we lived in Siena in 2000-2001, for example. This one above is taken from the city walls, a view that we had never seen until we were about to leave, when Mara spent some time in the hospital on the outskirts of town.
Mostly our happiest view was this, taken from our amazing 2nd apartment's balcony:
I just learned something, and I thought I might pass it along to y'all. Three months ago, I went out for a night with "the boys". One thing led to another, and I ended up "losing" my bike.
More precisely: this was an unplanned night out with the boys; we ran into each other at a show, and, yeah, I didn't realize that the boys would then end up staying out til 4am, so before we went a-carousing, I casually parked my bike somewhere not especially safe: leaned against a wall near the Melkweg, locked, but not locked to anything.
This not-locked-to-anything business is pretty much a no-no already, but the real kiss of death for your bike is to leave it in this unsafe state all night. Which is what happened, b/c by 4am the boys had drifted a bit from our original location, and I had forgotten that my bike was in this not-so-safe place, and I ended up walking home without it, thinking I'd get it the next day.
Well, I probably don't need to tell you that the next day when Mara asked me if I rode home last night my eyes got very big and I realized that my bike was almost certainly gone forever. I mopily looked at the ground for a while, then pulled my hangover and myself together and we trudged painfully back to the Melkweg to confirm that yes my bike was gone forever. On the wall where it had been was a sign that said "Bikes parked here will be removed", which I hadn't been able to see the night before because ha ha it was obscured by the i'm not kidding 30 or 40 other bikes parked there.
Fast forward a couple of months, we're talking to Hilly the Poes about my bike and its disappearance, and she said it sounds like the city took it, you should check the Fietsdepot. I of course said what's the Fietsdepot, and she told me it's this amazing place, far far away, where the city takes your bike if you park it somewhere super stupid and they have to remove it. They keep it for three months and then they cut it in half and ship it to Africa (or something), seriously.
What happens is: you call the Fietsdepot and tell them what day your bike disappeared, and where from, and what make/model/color it was, and they tell you if they think they have it (what are their data entry standards???). Pause to appreciate the ridiculous awesomeness of that: they have probably 10,000 bikes there at any given time.
If they do have your bike, you have to go get it (they also deliver, but you have to plan pretty far ahead for this), and it's five miles from Amsterdam in the middle of nowhere. Really, you have to take a bus thirty minutes to the middle of nowhere and then walk ten minutes further into nowhere.
And then: you get to bike back to civilization.
Now in the summer this would make for a totally nice bike ride. But what if, ahem, you'd waited until the last possible minute to go get your bike....say, it's gotten to where tomorrow they're going to cut your bike in half and send it to Africa, and it just so happens that the forecast for today, the day you have to go get it, is "29°F and snowy"?
Well, I guess you'd probably end up with pictures like these.
As you know, our food photography could be better around here, so I'm looking forward to reading this from David Lebovitz's site.
Went with HBF to Mata Hari in the red light yesterday on a suggestion from Amsterdam Foodie, and it almost immediately got added to the list of "Good Shit to Do" in that hood: open all day; grand-but-cosy bar area; plush, homey seating; and not-the-same-menu-as-every-other-cafe. Plus they have good board games.
The grub itself was not mind-blowing but god we stopped expecting that years ago, didn't we? What we had was totally solid. Below is the plate where our ravioli with squash, Parmesan and scallions used to be. Yes, this is after we ate it: I don't think I've ever seen a cleaner plate returned to the kitchen.
It was the kind of perfectly frigid day outside that probably bumped up our enjoyment of Mata Hari a bit just because we weren't outside anymore, but I'm pretty sure I'll be back when it's more tolerable out as well.
Yes, that is snow outside. And a beer delivery truck loading crates and crates of beer into my house. And I have a sandwich in my hand that is, compositionally speaking, extremely unexceptional for these parts, but which many sandwich-eating people in other places would probably find worthy of comment: warm, toasted roggebrood (no real translation that makes sense, but it's a northern Dutch version of German-style pumpernickel: slow-cooked, very coarse-grained via whole crushed rye kernels, sweetened with beet sugar, and no caraway or other spices), with katenspek (cooked, smoked, thinly sliced pork belly), and Dutch coarse-grain mustard that until pretty recently was actually ground in a windmill.
Still no writing happening, but yes cooking. Tonight:
quesadilla with roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale, roquefort, smoked paprika (below). Quesadilla with seared steak, smoked camembert, scallion, cilantro (not pictured). "Salad" of shrimp and haricot verts with bacon, almonds, parmesan, basil vinaigrette (above), served with a piece of warm cornbread. Yes.
No it's not a salisbury steak; it's my wondrous birthday dessert, presented and consumed belatedly due to my being an illin' MF. Recipe nicked from Nigel Slater, but modified significantly. This recipe makes a lot. +++ sticky toffee pudding v1. the cake
150g/5oz date paste
250ml/9fl oz hot water
60g/2¼ oz butter, softened
60g/2¼ oz brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 tsp baking soda
150g/5oz self-raising flour
2 healthy tbsp date syrup
the toffee sauce
400g/14oz brown sugar
vanilla pod, split
250ml/9fl oz double cream
125ml date syrup
Preheat the oven to 180C/370F/Gas 4.
Mix the date paste and the water together in a bowl and boil until date paste is soft - process in food processor.
In a clean bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Still stirring the butter mixture, gradually add the eggs, making sure they are well mixed in.
Still stirring, gradually add the flour and baking soda, then add the date mixture plus date syrup.
Pour the mixture into a 20cm/8in square cake tin. Place into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a thick bottomed pan over a medium heat.
Add the brown sugar, vanilla pod and cream and stir well. Simmer for five minutes. add date syrup.
To serve, spoon out a portion of the pudding onto a plate and pour over the hot toffee sauce.
"Milde griepepidemie in Nederland" is the headline of this article, which means "mild flu epidemic in The Netherlands", which is what happened to the previously footloose and fancy-free members of Team Ameland beginning on 1 January. Assi was the first to go, and then it was all Agatha Christie from there: me next, then the Hilly yesterday...we were lucky to get out of there when we did.
So, they're calling it a "mild" flu, and I guess compared to some deadly shit yeah it probably is. Nonetheless, very few body parts seem to be functioning correctly and nothing seems to make a brother feel any better except sleeping and moaning, so that's where I'll be until further notice.
New Year's Eve, Part One: early morning trip into town to pick up local oysters and try to beat the dazed-looking crowds of zombie shoppers to the Jumbo; subsequent repeated attempts to escape the tiny fucking inescapable maze of one-way streets in "downtown" Nes; a sizable nap.
Part Two: champagne and superlatively fresh Ameland oysters shucked by the superlatively fresh girls of Team Estrogen (above); these are so good and so affordable that they will probably show up again soon (the oysters were pretty good too!!!). Probably the best dish of the week so far: rosemary-roasted figs, shallots and chestnuts with roquefort polenta, plus Hilly's mom's asparagus with tarragon breadcrumbs. All completely worth repeating.
Cut to: a stumble to the beach in a torrential drizzle and near-total darkness to see the bonfire that bulldozers and other heavy equipment had been building all day. A stumble home for lavender and Earl Grey crème brûlée; watching a ridiculous amount of fireworks set off by our neighbors; and a dance performance from Noops that was so funny I was unable to operate my camera. Then we sat transfixed by a profoundly, tragically unfunny comedy for far too long and eventually went to sleepies.
This is an occasionally NSFW, mostly gluten-free kitchen notebook that also occasionally threatens to turn into something else and fails, thus remaining its same old cryptic and superficial self. These posts begin to fail to explain (start at the bottom).