April 19, 2011
Bobby Flay was up against NYC’s Queen of Falafel, Einat Admony, owner of Taim Falafel and Smoothie bar in trendy Greenwich Village. Einat has won New York Magazine’s “Best Falafel” award and had once worked for Mr. Flay at his Bolo restaurant in NYC. Bobby did his research and found it was best to soak the chick peas overnight – don’t cook them. Grind the beans with the spices, form and fry. Sounded easy. Bobby and his test staff found that grinding the beans in a meat grinder resulted in a fluffier texture than a food processor. I followed this lead and broke out my attachment for meat grinding. He added serrano chiles, mint, garlic, cumin, cilantro, and coriander to his mix. He cheated with a little baking podwer to help “fluff them up. Bobby used the double fry (once at 325F then again at 350) method he uses for his french fries, to make them extra crunchy. He then added a few dipping sauces including a yogurt and piquillo pepper dip with smoked paprika.
Einat gladly accepted her former boss’s challenge, and made her falafel with mint, cumin, coriander, onion, garlic and parsley. She used an instrument to shape her falafel, claiming they are lighter that way. She also only fried her falafel one time at 350F.
At home, I followed the soaking overnight, meat grinding, ice cream scoop method of shaping my falafel. Bobby’s I fried twice, as noted, Einat’s once. Both mixtures were moist, easy to form, and fried beautifully brown. But on to the tasting.
Bobby’s falafel were dense, with a nice taste of mint and slight heat from the serranos. Crisp outside and tender inside, they were delicious with the smoky yogurt piquillo sauce. Einat’s were also very tender, with a nice clean flavor from the parsley, having a more traditional flavor in general. Both were tasted by themselves, then in a pita pocket with cucumber and tomato. Both were delicious, but in different ways. The judges in NYC rated each falafel on texture, presentation and authenticity. John Starks of NY Knicks fame, and Darryl Schembeck, Executive Chef of the United Nations in NY, were torn. The final vote was split, but Bobby knew it was his side dishes that won, not his falafel…so he gave the title to Einat. Here at our home, we would have to give texture and authenticity to Einat as well, though I really did like the minty heat of Bobby’s. Either way – I am having falafel for lunch. To see these recipes and try them for yourself, got to http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/falafel-recipe/index.html. Are you ready for a throwdown?
April 13, 2011
Winter Is a time for hot soup, crusty bread and blankets to help keep us warm. The blanket is easy….pick your favorite one. Baguette or boule…the bread is pretty easy too. The soup, that gets a little trickier. There are vegetable soups, bean soups, bisques, chowders and stews. Which to make? What’s the difference?
We will start with consistency……consomme to stew, soups increase in thickness and heartiness based on ingredients. Thickening can come from a roux (flour and fat) a bean, legume or potato in the soup itself or by pureeing the soup. Here are the basics of soup, from thinnest to thickest:
1. Consommé is basically flavored broth, often served as a starter course in fancy restaurants. Beef is the most common flavor.
2. Broth based soups – think chicken noodle, egg drop, and onion soup. These are soups that have a thin broth, vegetables and small pieces of meet added for texture, but lots of juice.
3. Bisque and chowdas – Bisque is a thick, creamy soup made from puréed seafood (lobster) or vegetables and Chowders are typically cream or milk based, and often contain potatoes (clam, corn).
4. Pureed soups -think butternut squash, carrot, tomato or other root vegetable soups. Ingredients are cooked in broth, then pureed to smooth consistency and thicker texture.
5. Beans/legumes – think black bean, split pea and lentil soups. These soups are thickened by the ingredients breaking down and softening in the cooking process. Healthier than the cream soups, but very filling and great “for dinner” soups.
6. Stew is a very hearty version of a soup with broth that has been cooked down, in an effort to braise and tenderize the meat used in the stew itself. Stew can be eaten with a fork, but best with a spoon.
7. Unique or other – Cheese soups can be thick or thin. Fruit soups are great in the summer and can be served as dessert. Gazpacho is almost salsa, but would fall in the “cold stew” catagory…..but not really. Thick, chunky and some juice.
Whatever your preference, soup is a great addition to any meal or as a meal itself and is seasonal, easy, and delicious. What is your favorite?