1. I soaked some chickpeas the other day, thinking I would cook them and make some kind of chana masala or the like. Late in the day I realized I'd forgotten and I didn't feel like cooking them at that point but I recalled a recipe for falafel my friend Cathy in Oregon had mentioned the other day. I love whirring things in the food processor so off I went. I'm not always the hugest fan of Mark Bittman recipes but I loved, loved, loved this. AND the baked ones were as good (well…ALMOST as good) as the fried ones I tried. I made little ones and took them to a party for appetizers with some tatziki. It was supposed to have tahini sauce too but mine had gone bad…oh well.

Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce
Mark Bittman
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 45 minutes, plus up to 24 hours to soak chickpeas

Falafel is easy: just soak raw chickpeas until they’re soft enough to grind in the food processor, combine with some spices, shape, and bake. The baking makes lighter falafel, but they’re just as crunchy as deep-fried. This makes a big batch, which is fine, since you can refrigerate the leftovers for several days, or freeze them for a couple of months. To reheat, wrap them in foil and bake at 350°F until they’re hot throughout, 15 to 30 minutes depending on whether they were frozen. Here are some serving suggestions: Make a sandwich with half a whole wheat pita, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, then drizzle with sauce. Or add lemon juice to the sauce and eat on top of a green salad, using the tahini for dressing.1¾ cups dried chickpeas

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Scant teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup tahini

1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches—the beans will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged. (If the soaking time is inconvenient for you, just leave them in the water until they’re ready; you should be able to break them apart between your fingers.)

2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Drain the chickpeas and transfer them to a food processor with the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, herb, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, baking soda, and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is minced but not pureed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides if necessary; add water tablespoon by tablespoon if necessary to allow the machine to do its work, but keep the mixture as dry as possible. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or cayenne as needed.

3. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roll the bean mixture into 20 balls, about 1½ inches each, then flatten them into thick patties. Put the falafel on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes on each side.

4. Meanwhile, whisk the tahini and remaining salt with ½ cup water in a small bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the falafel drizzled with the sauce.

I made these about half size I guess but they still needed almost as long to bake to get them crispy. I loved them and am thinking we might have to have a falafel fest at some upcoming house concert!

2. A salad of grilled zucchini and tomatoes with an anchovy vinaigrette. It was good but still a little too anchovy for me….I like the anchovy vinaigrette idea, just gotta find the right thing for it. 


3. On Labor Day we all hung out and read or computered or trained and Ernie smoked a pork butt until it was crispy on the outside and falling apart on the inside. That,  along with corn on the cob, my tomatoes and squash and a few cucumber slices made a perfect holiday feast.


4. Last night I came home really tired. Ernie had made pizza dough from our favorite recipe (thanks Amy L.) a couple of days ago so he and Owen pulled that out and made pizzas. I made Leo come downstairs from his lair and he let me hug on him while we talked as they made the pizza. I know that sometimes things just taste better when others make it for you but DAMN it was a good pizza. Ours had some sausage and pepperoni on it just because, some leftover grilled zucchini, some mildly hot fresh peppers, bottled sauce (our favorite Paul Newman's Sockarooni) and cheese. It was just outrageously good. Thanks to my guys.

5. O.k…now here's a question. We planted an Amur Maple a few years ago in the corner of our yard and we love it. We planted it in my mother's memory. It's been happy as a clam until this year when one big old branch is dying. It doesn't appear to be broken or damaged. What's up? Any ideas? Susan??? Anybody?


One thought on “Late Summer Cooking and A Question

  1. That smoked pork looks great.
    Though I’m not a tree & shrub expert, here’s my input: it could be several things (haha! what a cop out!). Seriously though—when we had that 5 inches of rain in July, that could’ve impacted the tree (was the die back happening before that, do you recall?), as the saturation of the soil would make less oxygen available for the tree roots, and/or root rot could be happening. It could be a fungus, a bacteria or a virus on the tree too (any of those would effect the leaves in a certain way).
    Are you sure there’s not any insect damage (no small holes on that stem that you see? no shmutz anywhere on the bark?)?
    I might just stop by to take a peek at it. Could be that removing that stem of the tree would be the thing to do.