Monday, 23 May 2011

How to fatten up your parents (Part II)

For Sunday lunch I went middle-eastern in theme, feeling really inspired by a great cookery book I got for xmas last year: "Stuffed Vine Leaves Saved My Life" by Nadia Sawalha, the quirky masterchef winner.
Luckily, I'd been sensible enough to make a couple of things the day before, so I didn't have much work to do this morning.

First, I made the tabbouleh, which took the longest out of everything to make. It involved skinning, deseeding and finely chopping a few tomatoes, skinning plus cubing the cucumber and salting the peices (to firm them up). The bulgar wheat is easy, just shove it in a bowl with some salt and hot water for half an hour, then drain and squeeze it dry in a teatowel. Then chopping and chopping and chopping of a handful of mint and the largest amount of parsley ever. Mixed together with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. It stored in the fridge overnight perfectly.

Personally I think this is a nice salad, but it needed more sweet tomatoes to offset the slight bitterness of the raw herbs.

I made the houmous / hummus this morning, which is a matter of five minutes work with a food processor. A can of chickpeas, a huge clove of smashed garlic, a squeezed lemon, salt, a few tablespoons of tahini and some olive oil, whizzed up until fairly creamy. Taste and taste again, if it seems bland a bit more lemon juice and salt is usually what mine needs.

The felafel mix was next and again is really easy with a food processor. A couple of tins of chickpeas, a couple of teaspoons each of cumin and ground coriander plus one each of allspice, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and bicarb, a handful each of parsley and coriander, a few spoonfuls of flour, plus the usual salt and pepper. I added a little water until the mixture would easily form into balls and then stashed the lot in the fridge.

About half an hour before I wanted to serve up, I rolled the mixture into balls with a light coating of flour. I don't have a deep fat fryer so I just heated up some oil in a baking tray in the oven, dropped them in when it was hot enough to sizzle and then turned them over half way through. In the photo you can still see the flour on the outside of a couple of them but seriously you can't taste it, especially when squished into a pitta bread. They cooked perfectly in half an hour at about 200 degrees.

Finally, a simple cold salad of grated carrots tossed with briefly fried black onion seeds, salt and lemon juice. I also served up a plate of dolmades which I bought ready-made (I will give making them a go at some point!) and a small bowl of black olives. A few wholemeal pitta breads, toasted until warm, provided the perfect transport vehicle for a heady mix of felafels, tahini, houmous and carrots.

We could barely waddle to the sofa afterwards, although we did manage to force down a few medjool dates between us for pudding. Mmmmmm, that's what Sundays are all about.

Nadia Sawalha's tv programme "Eating in the sun"

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