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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hodgepodge

Today I made a weird hodgepodge of foods, but they are all special in their very own ways :)

First, I have been dying to  make sweet rosemary cornbread ever since I saw the recipe on Pinterest.  I love cornbread, and I have made a few but have never been thrilled with the results.  I also love rosemary.  I know that my mom hates it, but I love it enough to make it worth it.  We had our first frost last night, and knowing that was coming, last weekend we got rid of all our potted plants that had been on the porch.  I pulled out all my rosemary and some of the oregano that really took over my herb pot, so I had just enough of my own rosemary for this recipe.  I grew that stuff from seeds!  Anyway, it was really easy to throw together - except for the fact that I did not have whole milk or half-and-half.  I used our regulat 1% milk, and whipping cream.  The issue was that the cream was shoved in the back of the fridge, and frozen solid.  I microwaved it a little and ended up pouring out the most repulsive looking ice cream-y thick mush... ugh.  It only got worse when I added the eggs to that!  I was worried that somehow it would really mess up the recipe, but all was well.  The recipe makes two loaves, which is good because Kenz and I really liked it!  It's sweet - in fact, there is just as much sugar as corn meal.  The rosemary gives it a wonderful fresh flavor, and the consistency is good, which can be iffy with cornbread.  In fact, Kenzie told me this is one of her favorite things that I've made.  Mom says she likes the cornbread but not the rosemary, but since they go hand-in-hand, I am not quite sure how that works!  We're down to half of our first loaf left, and I can only imagine how great it will be thick-sliced and toasted with a little bit of butter tomorrow!

Then I started planning tomorrow's food, since it's my Mama's birthday!  Kenz is taking some of the work on, so I am mostly in charge of the dessert and the salad.  She wants a recreation of Olive Garden's salad dressing, which I wanted to make today to let the flavors mix overnight.  I have a book of copycat recipes that has the dressing recipe, but since it has raw egg yolks, Mom and I were a little freaked out.  I found another one online that used mayonnaise in it, which  frankly upset me more than raw eggs, but Mom wanted  that one, and so that one got whipped up.  Rachael claims it's "the wrong color," but Mom said it tasted right.  We will know more tomorrow after we actually eat the salad!  And by we, I do not mean myself because I loathe mayo.  But still.  It was really easy to make, so hopefully it's good because it would not be too hard to keep it on hand.  My only problem was not having romano cheese, but I doubled the Parmesan.  The recipe says to blend it all in a blender, but being lazy, I just whisked it.  I know that means there are now shavings of cheese in the dressing, but I figure, they always grate cheese over the salad anyway, so what's the difference?  There was nothing else that needed to be blended. More on this tomorrow.

It was dinner time by that point.  I have been craving a repeat recipe from early in the summer: baked falafel.  I loved these delicious little chickpea patties when I made them back in June.  They are bursting with flavor, really easy and healthy, and quick.  I also made tzatziki sauce to go with them.  I panicked at the store when I saw that they didn't have any pita bread, but I brought multi-grain sandwich pockets and they were actually perfect for the job.  Like last time, I filled the pockets with lettuce, tzatziki, and two falafel patties.  Mom didn't get to try these last time, but I kept promising her that she was going to love them, and luckily I didn't steer her wrong!  She said it was delicious.  I loved them just as much as always.  Rach said she'd like it better with more vegetables (in which case, she should go make her own sandwich!).  Alex said nothing, which is probably not a great sign.  To be honest though, I don't even care: this is one of my favorite things that I make, and so falafel has not seen this kitchen for the last time!

Recipes:
sweet rosemary cornbread
Olive Garden Salad Dressing

baked falafel with tzatziki sauce
adapted from Eat Real

ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups chickpeas
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for brushing
lettuce and whole wheat pita pockets for serving
tzatziki sauce (see below)

Directions:

1) Place garlic, cilantro, parsley, chickpeas, and bread crumbs in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop and blend ingredients.
2) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon lemon juice over chickpea mixture and pulse a few more times. Sprinkle baking powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper over mixture and pulse until the chickpea mixture reaches a workable paste-like consistency. Add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if it seems very dry.
3) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven is getting hot, line a baking pan with foil and brush with olive oil. Using a large tablespoon, scoop balls of dough into your palms and form them into patties.
4) Arrange falafel patties on oiled baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crispy. Turn once midway through baking.
5) Remove from oven and let falafel cool on pan for a minute or two before removing to plates or pitas with a spatula.
6) Serve in a whole-grain pita with leaf lettuce and plenty of tzatziki!

tzatziki sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, or 1/3 tablespoon dried (I didn't have fresh and dried was fine)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 kirby cucumber, peeled and finely diced (or any small cucumber)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl; stir to incorporate. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Taste after chilling and adjust seasonings if necessary

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