Friday, July 15, 2005

When Life Gives You Lemons (or takes away the cream cheese)

I usually make a few new recipes each week, along with a few tried-and-true ones. This week, I had picked out two recipes that I'd been wanting to try for a few weeks now, a Leek Tart and a Minnesota Wild Rice Soup. I'm fond of quiches and I love making soups, so I was looking forward to both of these.

I was going to make the Leek Tart on Tuesday evening. I had read the recipe again the day before, so I knew what was involved, and I knew how much time to budget. I sat Fat Baby in front of cartoons and gave him a supply of goldfish, I rolled up my sleeves, got out the recipe and started pulling all the ingredients I would need. But then I couldn't find the cream cheese. I was sure I had enough though, because I remembered there being one in the refrigerator to begin with (which I used for Monday's Peanut Butter Pie), and another one that I picked up at the store on Monday. Frustrated, running low on time, but to the utter delight of Fat Baby, I emptied the entire fridge in my quest. Alas, there was no cream cheese to be found. I vaguely recalled making Cream Cheese Brownies recently, in an attempt to mollify The Carnivore, and I swallowed my curses while I reloaded the fridge, to the utter dismay of Fat Baby.

At the last minute, and out of options I might add, I dug around in the pantry until I came across a box of Fantastic Foods Falafel mix that I had picked up on a lark from the supermarket months ago. Eureka!

I'd never made falafels, but I've long been a fan, though I haven't had a falafel pita in years now. Out of a box, it was easy as pie. Soak the mix in cold water, wait a few minutes, form small balls, and fry them in a 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. I served them in whole-wheat pita pockets lined with fresh cucumbers, and drizzled them with tahini dressing that I whipped up from the recipe printed right on the side of the box (a lucky break since I still had sesame tahini left over from the hummus attempt).

  • 1 cup sesame tahini (not the easiest thing to find - on our third or fourth attempt, we found it at Earth Fare, a specialty grocery store similar to, though smaller than, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used kosher salt - is there a Mid-Eastern version of kosher salt? - I've never met a Jewish Muslim, but I suppose its possible...)
  1. Mix and serve.

It ended up being a great dinner; a nice change from the usual soups and pastas that I fix. The Carnivore was delighted. Fat Baby ate part of a tahini-dipped falafel ball, but then kept handing the falafel back to me for another dipping of sauce until I figured out that he just wanted to be fed spoonfuls of the dressing and to just skip over the falafel & pita bread part.

Next step: figure out how to make falafels without using a mix. No matter how organic or healthful a mix claims to be, I simply can't reconcile the amount of preservatives that are contained in any packaged food.

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