Category Archives: Week 1

Lunch: Falafel and a Pita Redo

We decided our focaccia-like pita bread was entirely unsatisfactory, and so we enlisted the help of an experienced bread maker and her own recipe (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/recipe-pita-bread-take-2/) to rectify ourselves. With our new pita, we whipped up another batch of our already successful humus, and attempted the unexplored falafel (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/recipe-falafel/).

Our Reaction:

We’ll start with the more positive experience–the pita bread. Thanks to our expert assistance, the pita was thin, but still moist, light, and fluffy. It wasn’t quite as round as the store bought stuff, but what can we say, our perfectionist tendencies weren’t at a high that day. Still, the pita got a big thumbs up from all who tried it, and it was fairly simple to make. A perfect addition to our hummus (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/recipe-hummus/) or any other spread.

             pita hummus

The falafel did not run so smoothly. It seems as though falafel is more of a trial and error kind of process. Whether the oil temperature or ground chickpea consistency, making a falafel takes a certain amount of experience which we don’t quite have yet. Everything started out well and good: we combined all the ingredients, and formed the dough like mixture into the classic sphere-like shape. We heated up the oil, preparing to fry, and dropped in the raw falafel. That was were things started to fall apart, literally. For some reason, as the falafel began to cook, it shed the cooked layer revealing a raw inside. That cooked layer soon disintegrated, leaving us with a course bread-crumb texture. We fished out the tiny bits of falafel with a slotted spoon and drained them. They looked pretty strange, but still tasted just like a real falafel. That’s when genius stroke a friend who was helping us–falafel pizza. We layered pita bread, freshly made humus, and lastly the falafel bits. We cut it up into slices and dug in. It tasted just like a falafel sandwich, it just looked a bit unconventional.

The Process:

falafel 1

falafel 2

falafel 3

falafel 4

falafel 5

falafel 6

falafel 7

All in all, a fairly successful day.

Dinner: A Middle Eastern Feast

Our first complete meal, two days in the making, was a hit! We started off with a mixed green salad, then moved on to a Lebanese chicken (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/recipe-lebanese-chicken/), Greek meatballs (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/recipe-meatballs/), roasted vegetables over couscous, and rice pilaf. Finally, the night concluded with baklava (https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/recipe-walnut-and-pistachio-baklava/).

Our Reaction:

The chicken took the longest to prepare. We started it on Thursday, cutting the meat and making the marinade, so that it could seep up the flavor overnight. The spices smelled delicious all combined together, but we didn’t really know how it would turn out until it came out of the oven over 24 hours after we started. Luckily, it was a success. The marinade tasted just as good as it had smelled the previous day. Although we skinned the chicken, and the recipe called for no real added fat, the meat was still moist and tender.

chicken

The Greek meatballs were also scrumptious. We were a bit worried about the intense cinnamon flavor combined with the multitude of other seasonings, but they created a wonderful aroma and taste which both of our families thoroughly enjoyed. The meatballs tasted great, but they weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as we had hoped. About half of them stayed in tact, retaining their ball-like shape, while the other broke up a bit, turning more into a meat sauce. That meat sauce was great leftovers especially over pasta.

meatballs 1          meatballs 2       meatballs 3         meatballs 4
While we planned to make roasted vegetables, we never actually managed to find a recipe, so when we finally stood ready to make them, we realized we had no idea how. Frantically, we telephoned for help, and quickly scribbled the instructions to a family recipe. We sliced zucchini and eggplant thinly, tossed them with olive oil, oregano and herbs de Provance, and laid them flat on a baking sheet to cook. Despite our last minute decision to use the family recipe, as always it produced wonderful results. The zucchini was perfectly sized, extremely flavorful, and the right texture. Although the eggplant was just as perfectly flavored and textured, we had some difficulties because we believe that we may have accidentally sliced it in the wrong direction. Luckily for us, our families did not seem to notice and enjoyed it all the same, commenting especially on our presentation: we had carefully laid all of the vegetables around a large pile of couscous on a large platter.

veggies 1       veggies 1     veggies 3

Also prepared on Thursday, we got a taste of the baklava ahead of time. It was the perfect combination of sweet and sticky, with plenty of nuttiness. We gave ourselves plenty of time to prepare it, as the recipe seemed quite labor intensive, but it turns out that baklava is quite easy to prepare. We threw the filling mixture into a food processor and let it wiz– quite simple! The syrup extremely easy, it practically cooked itself. There was only one exception–separating the filo dough. With it’s delicate nature the pieces frequently stuck together, ripping as we tried to peel them apart.

baklava 1   baklava 2

Our Salad:

salad

The Aftermath:

devoured

 

Snack: Hummus and Pita Bread

For our first cooking endeavor, we attempted to make homemade hummus and pita bread. We thought we would start off with something small, and easy–a transition into our month of cooking.

Our Reaction:

https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/recipe-hummus/

The hummus came out well. It was a smooth consistency, and had all of the necessary flavors. We stuck with the basic garlic, and lemon, but perhaps we will will branch out into more adventurous combinations (like pesto or roasted red pepper in the future). Our friends and family sampled the hummus and had no complaints. It was on par, or better than their favorite store bought hummus.

hummus

https://sarahandrachel13.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/recipe-pita-bread/

The pita bread was a whole different story. We didn’t have quite as much time as we should have, so we stuck to a quick pita recipe. Pita, like any other flat bread or pizza crust contains very simple ingredients–flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, etc. It seemed simple enough. Unfortunately, the recipe was a little bit too large for our mixer, so we had to haphazardly separate it into two parts. Perhaps that what lead to the disaster we soon ran into. After combining all the ingredients, we were supposed to be able to separate the dough into a few sections to  roll it out into the classic pita shape… but it didn’t roll. The dough was super sticky and we did our best just to spread it out as thinly as possibly onto our Silpats. I guess we couldn’t get it thin enough though because our pita turned out to be about a half inch thick. It still tasted good according to our trusty reviewers and ourselves, but it looks more like a foccaccia  than a pita bread.

pita 2 pita 1