Happy New Year everyone! I hope your celebrations were fun-filled and entertaining. I had a delicious meal, ate too much lemon cheesecake, topped it all off with way too many chips and then we set off a few fireworks, which I had wanted to capture, but fireworks are finicky beasts – especially when you’re trying to photograph them from relatively close range, as opposed to from, say, the other side of a field or harbour or the like.
In the end, I ended up with the below picture. Hardly a great start in the field of firework photography but… a start nevertheless. I’ll try to be a bit more prepared next time, although it didn’t help that it was snowing at the time and I had to hide under a porch roof to prevent my lens from getting covered in snow. Nevertheless, it was a memorable evening, and I’ve now determined that I must be the only person who actually loves the smell of smoke from fireworks, at least judging by the amount of spluttering going on around me at the time!
Something which was marginally more successfully than my fireworks photos was my construction of my first ever “snölykta”, or “snow lantern”. Roll a load of snowballs, arrange them in a circle and build them up to a point, like a little igloo. Place a tea-light in the middle and light it up and you’ll have yourself a lovely little glowing lantern on the floor. Build several around the yard for best effects. It was my first time making one and it wasn’t a perfect job, but candlelight hides a multitude of sins so by the time I lit the candle I was feeling pretty pleased with myself!
Before I start talking about the food I thought I’d let you all know that I’m going back to school – of sorts! From next Tuesday I’ll be undertaking SFI. It’s pretty much a full-time course, to bring my Swedish up to a good standard. I’m not sure how long it will take… basically I’m “done when I’m done” but a rough estimate from one of my teachers was that it could take three to five months – sometimes less, sometimes more. It’s quite exciting! It’s a long time since I’ve been to “school”, but I always loved languages in school (indeed, I learned five foreign languages in school to various degrees of accomplishment, though aside from French I’ve pretty much forgotten all of them now). My level of Swedish isn’t entirely terrible right now, so hopefully it won’t take too long. As my wife will also be studying at the same time (obviously not SFI), juggling schedules to ensure someone is home to look after William can be difficult so hopefully we’ll be able to find a good solution.
Suffice to say my already not-really-regular posting schedule will continue on its sporadic way for a while longer since I’ll only really be able to post on weekends but I’ll still be here!
On to the food:
I can safely say that these are the best falafel I’ve ever made, but then I’ve only ever made them twice and the first time I tried my beautifully crafted falafel disintegrated as soon as they hit the hot oil.
After reading A_Boleyn’s post here about her falafel adventures I immediately began craving one such sandwich myself – specifically one that they used to serve in a restaurant in the Marais district of Paris. Falafel restaurants in this area are not uncommon… serving up crisp, fluffy, fragrant falafel in a pita with shredded cabbage, onion, tomato and sauce – but I stumbled upon a place once which had a “secret weapon”.
Aubergine wouldn’t normally be classed as a secret weapon, but seriously – a few good slices of grilled aubergine nestling underneath the crisp falafel will kick your sandwich up a notch from “delicious” to “out of this world”. I forget the name of the place now – it was some years since I went there – but I remember it being just around the corner from another, probably aubergine-less, falafel place called “L’As du Falafel” which apparently is a favourite stop-off for Lenny Kravitz whenever he’s in Paris.
This time I decided to follow A_Boleyn’s advice of letting the mixture rest for an hour and I was rewarded with perfectly done falafel. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside – just the way they should be. I’m notoriously terrible at following recipes and I often tend to “go my own way”, but I used A_Boleyn’s original post as a guide for flavours (I hadn’t thought of adding cayenne pepper before – it adds a beautiful background warmth and the fragrant coriander and cumin come through beautifully). I hope you’ll enjoy this easy falafel recipe. Serve it with some good slices of grilled aubergine and of course some of these:
…and of course some of this:
- 700g canned, cooked Chickpeas, drained
- 1 Onion
- 1 large bunch of Flat-leaf Parsley
- 1 large handful of fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
- 1 Egg
- 3tbsps Plain Flour
- 4tsps ground Coriander
- 2tsps ground Cumin
- 2tsps Salt
- 2tsps freshly ground Black Pepper
- 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Start off by blitzing your chickpeas in a food processor until crumbly and no whole chickpeas remain. Remember not to process them for too long as otherwise you'll end up with a paste.
- Transfer the chickpeas to a bowl and then peel the onion and cut it into halves. Place into the food processor along with the parsley and fresh coriander (cilantro) and pulse again until completely blended up.
- Add the herbs into the chickpeas along with the flour, salt, pepper, ground coriander and cumin, and cayenne pepper and finally crack in the egg and mix everything together well.
- Allow the mixture to rest for about one hour and then place about 400ml of Canola or Sunflower oil into a pan and heat it up on the stove.
- While the oil is heating, start forming small patties from the mixture. Form balls first in your hand and press them together well, before flattening slightly. You should be able to make about 20 falafel in total.
- When the oil is nice and hot - about 160 degrees Celsius - fry the falafel in small batches, flipping them over after a couple of minutes. Once they are nicely browned all over remove and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the next batch.
- Serve in pita bread with shredded cabbage, onion, hummus and maybe feta cheese.
- ~400ml Canola/Sunflower oil for frying
- Serve with warmed pita breads, shredded cabbage, grilled aubergine slices, sliced onion and tomato, hummus, feta cheese, and tzatziki