Falafel Recipe

Twin Fritters: Falafel in Israel, Acarajé in Brazil

As a Jewish girl born and raised in Brazil, I can’t help but compare, cherish—and cook Falafel, one of the most iconic foods of Israel, to Acarajés, one of the most iconic foods of Brazil. They are first-degree cousins! Better yet, they are twins. Twin Fritters! Well, non-identical of course. One lives in Israel, one lives in Brazil.

Twin Fritters Falafel and Acaraje
A young Baiana frying Acarajés in there sweets of Bahia, Brazil.

 

Falafel is made with raw chickpeas; Acarajé is made with raw black-eyed beans.

They are both soaked in water for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator but never cooked. The beans will cook when they fry but not before then. In fact, if you cook the beans or use cooked canned beans—for both, the batter will simply melt away in the oil and you end up with a disaster. But don’t worry, once the beans are soaked and pureed in the food processor, they fry beautifully, and they hold quite well.

Twin Fritters

For both Falafel and Acarajé, the beans are pureed with raw onions.

In Brazil, we season the Acarajé with salt, pepper, cayenne, and a bit of paprika.

In Israel, we season the falafel with salt, jalapeno, cumin, and coriander—and fresh herbs, very important—giving that bright green color and fresh taste to the batter. Sesame seeds and garlic also go in the falafel mixture.

When seasoning, I encourage you to try lots of combinations and know that these little twin fitters can stand up to lots of hot seasoning.

In Israel, falafels are rolled and shaped into a walnut-size ball and stuffed in pita bread along with hummus, Israeli chopped salad, and Tzatziki sauce made with yogurt and/or sour cream and dill.

Acarajé looks like a big meatball and there is no bread around it. The acarajé is a vessel for the stuffing. When fried, the baianas split them in half with a serrated knife and ask what kind of filling you would like. The options are chopped salad, very similar to the Israeli chopped salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, although in Brazil you’ll see bell-pepper as well;

Vatapá (a mixture of fish, shrimp, peanuts, cashews, bread, coconut, and palm oil)

Vatapa Twin Fritters
Vatapá

 

or Caruru (made with okra, dried shrimps, coconut, cashews, and peanuts).

Caruru
Caruru

 

Falafel is fried in canola or vegetable oil. Acarajé is fried in palm oil (iconic foods), yielding that reddish-orange vibrant color on the fritter.

Acarajes
Acarajés frying in palm oil.

 

You can find the recipe for Acarajé in my cookbook The Brazilian Kitchen (e-mail me if you’d like more info).

To the Twin Fritters, Lechaim (in Hebrew) and Saúde (in Portuguese)!

 

This recipe for Falafel is adapted from Adeena Sussman’s cookbook Sababa.

You might also like other recipes from Sababa’s cookbook and other Israeli dishes on my website.

Eggplant and Tomato Galette

Short Ribs with  Eggplant, Silan and Nigela Seeds 

Tahini Caramel Tart

 

Falafel

Makes about 24 falafel balls

 

Ingredients:

2/3 cups dried chickpeas

1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves

1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

½ onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves

½ small jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying

 

Prepare the Chickpeas: Place the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with 4 inches of water and soak in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, place them in the bowl of a food processor, and process until they’re pulverized into large crumb-like pieces, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the parsley and cilantro to the processor with the onion, garlic, jalapeno, and 2 tablespoons of water and pulse until a unified and bright green mixture is formed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary, 20 to 30 seconds (add an extra tablespoon of water if necessary).

In a small bowl, combine the salt, cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds. Just before frying the falafel, add the spices to the food processor and pulse until incorporated, 10-15 pulses.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until it reads 350˚F on a candy thermometer, or a small piece of white bread begins to sizzle and brown immediately when dropped into the oil.  Set a colander over a bowl or line a plate with paper towels. Using two spoons or a small ice cream scoop, shape the falafel into balls the size of small walnuts. Fry in batches, making sure not to over crowd the skillet or let the oil temperature drop below about 340˚F, until deep golden, 1-2 minutes but no more. Serve hot, seasoning with more salt if desired.

 

 

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Leticia

 

 

 

 

Ground Meat With Oloves, Tomatoes Pine Nuts

Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

This recipe for Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts is a great new addition to your repertoire. Who doesn’t love meatloaf, hamburger or meatballs? Sauce Bolognese? Steak Tartare? We can keep going when it comes to ground meat, one of the most versatile cuts of beef, and the star of many classics from all over the world.

Stores don’t label where the ground meat comes from, but most ground beefs are a concoction of different cuts like chuck, eye round, sirloin, or brisket. Different amounts of fat are injected to add moisture to the meat. The leaner the ground meat, the dryer. Of course, for some recipes, that’s’ what you want; like for croquettes for example where you want to avoid fat inside the meat. For most other recipes like sauces, hamburgers, meatballs and meatloaf, you might want to choose ground beef with some amount of fat in it.

What you do find in stores is the indication of fat: regular, lean or super lean, varies between 10 to 15 to 20% of fat.

In terms of storage, ground meet has to be used within one day after buying since the meat will turn “gray “on the outside. If this happens, remove the gray part and use the remaining “pinkish” part. Technically speaking you can freeze ground meat. Personally, I don’t like to. I usually plan to buy my meat the day of, or the day before cooking.

This recipe is an easy one. It doesn’t have the iconic reputation of the previous classics mentioned above, but it’s a recipe to make over and over again. It’s ground beef cooked with spices and embellished with chopped garnishes. It takes very little time to prepare and once cooked, it’ll give you many meals. You can pair it with plain rice, or potatoes, or rice and beans, or crack a fried egg on top.

Imagination has no limits when it comes to ground beef.

 

Ground Meat with Olives, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 fresh bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb ground meat

2 teaspoons sumac,

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons harissa paste

½ cup chicken or beef stock

7 tablespoons pine nuts

1 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

½ cup chopped parsley

 

Procedure: Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium bottomed frying pan for which you have a tight- fitting lid. Add the garlic and cook until it’s just starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes, then add the onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s soft, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the ground beef, season again with salt and pepper, and brown well, another 4 minutes. Add the sumac, cumin, harissa paste and chicken stock. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, until the meat is moist and tender. Before serving, add the pine nuts, tomatoes, olives and parsley. Mix well and enjoy!

 

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Leticia

 

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

If you’re looking for Olympian baking, this Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart is! For those of us crazy for the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, this is the apex in a tart format.

There are 3 components to this tart: the cookie crust, the peanut mousse and the chocolate ganache.  Don’t fret. It really doesn’t take that long, and the entire tart can be prepared and assembled up to 5 days ahead of time and you’re all set.

This recipe is adapted from one of the most respected bakers in the U.S, Rose Levy Beranbaum, and it’s her attention to details that make this recipe work so well. I love how she mixes a bit of milk and bittersweet chocolate in the ganache. However, if you’d like to incline one way or the other, feel free to use just milk, or just semisweet.

Respect the ingredients – this recipe can handle season patterns from misty rain to artic blast to summer vibes. Remember, because we care about the ingredients, we also care about temperature. When baking, make sure to bring all ingredients to room temperature before starting.

Bake with love! This recipe is guaranteed to take you to paradise. And dream of Para-para-paradise! Para-para-paradise!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Pie and Pastry Bible, Scribner 1998

Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8 to 10 people

 

For the Peanut Butter Mousse

7 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup peanut butter (smooth)

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup heavy cream, softly whipped

 

For the Chocolate Ganache

3 ounces milk chocolate

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/3 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

For the Sweet Peanut Butter Cookie Tart Crust

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

½ cup smooth peanut butter, preferably Jif at room temperature

½ large egg (beat the egg lightly before measuring out half of it)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Equipment: 9-inch tart fluted pan

Prepare the Cookie Tart Crust:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, process the sugars for a few seconds until very fine. With the motor running, add the butter cubes. Add the peanut butter and process until smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds. With the motor running, add the egg and vanilla and process until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and pulse just until combined. (you can also use an electric mixer if you don’t have a food processor).
  • Scrape the dough into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Press the dough evenly into the tart pan. You can use a piece of plastic wrap to do this and invert onto the tart pan and then press against the sides. If the dough softens and sticks, refrigerate it until the plastic wrap doesn’t stick. If the dough tears, simply press it together or use the scraps to press into any empty areas. Cover the tart pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Bake the tart shell, without weights in a preheated 350˚F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. It will puff at first and then settle down at the end of the baking. The sides will be soft but spring back when touched gently with a finger. Cool on a wire rack.

 Prepare the Peanut Butter Mousse:

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, preferably fit with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar just until the mixture is uniform in color. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla. Beat in ¼ cup of the whipped cream just until it is incorporated. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream, mixing until the mixture is well blended but still airy.
  • Scrape the mousse into the sweet peanut butter cookie tart crust and smooth the surface so that it is level. Refrigerate the tart while preparing the ganache.

Make the Chocolate Ganache:

  • Chop the milk and bittersweet chocolates with a serrated knife very finely and place it a glass or stainless-steel bowl.
  • Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute allowing the heat to melt the chocolate. Whisk slowly from the center out until homogeneous and then a bit more vigorously, making sure the ganache is completely smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk again. Cool to temperature before glazing the tart.

Assemble the Tart:

  • Pour the ganache over the peanut butter mousse in a circular motion, being careful so that it does not land too heavily in any one spot and cause a depression in the mousse. Using a small metal spatula, start to spread the ganache to the edges of the pastry, then spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of the tart. Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours to set or up to 5 days.
  • Remove the tart from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. Unmold the tart and cut it with a sharp thin bladed knife, dipping in hot water after each cut to make a clean cut.

 

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Tahini Caramel Tart

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Chocolate Custard Pie

 

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Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

I’d love to know what you think about this article. Please send an e-mail.

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Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook, I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A cookbook.

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Steak Tartare Recipe

Steak Tartare Recipe

I made this Steak Tartare Recipe for a very special occasion, my father’s birthday. Knowing his passion for Steak Tartare, from the glory days of Rio de Janeiro, back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when Steak Tartare was a delicacy, prepared tableside at special restaurants, I decided to revive the recipe in his honor.

The reason this simple dish is quite extravagant is because you want to make it with the freshest and best quality filet mignon you can possibly find. And let’s be honest here – filet mignon, to this day, can be a little pricey.

It’s important to invest in good quality meat. One gram of fat can virtually threaten the entire dish, given it’s eaten cold and raw. That’s the beauty of Steak Tartare. It’s raw meat seasoned so well, so intensely, that it transforms the flavor of raw meat.

Steak Tartare Mixing

It’s also important to cut the meat by hand. You don’t want to make this with ground meat. Oh no! You want to slowly chop the meat, paying attention to each and every dice and making sure the meat stays cold at all times.

For the potatoes, if you don’t want to make your own shoe-string potatoes, by all means, buy store bought.

Thin Potatoes

Although, if you decide to make it, you’ll be so pleased! Unlike the classic French Fries that need to be fried twice, shoe-string potatoes only need one frying process, making it a much easier operation. Also, you can fry the potatoes up to 3 days ahead of time and store them in a plastic container at room temperature.

For the lettuce, I like to use a combination of arugula and mesclun. Even parsley goes well in the mixture. Be careful not to use a strong dressing for the lettuce or it might overwhelm the meat tartare. I like to use a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, with a few twists of pure Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper. If this seems too plain for you, go ahead and use a more complex dressing.

 

Steak Tartare

Serves 6 to 8

 

For the Potatoes:

2 Idaho potatoes

1-quart canola oil to fry

 

For the Meat:

1¼ pound filet mignon, very cold

½ medium onion, minced

2 tablespoons capers

8 cornichons, cut into small dice

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 anchovy fillet, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

Kosher salt and Freshly grated black pepper

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

 

For the Lettuce

4 cups mesclun lettuce

Olive oil, Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fry the Potatoes

  • Cut the potatoes into a julienne cut, using a mandoline. Let the potatoes soak in cold water as you cut them, changing the water at least once. This will wash away the starch in the potatoes.
  • Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet pan or a tray, covered with paper towels, and let them air dry for 5 minutes. Idaho potatoes will hold color up to 5-10 minutes if exposed to air. After that, they will start oxidizing and turning brown, so be careful not to let too much time pass before frying them.
  • Pour the canola oil into a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole and heat the oil to 350˚F as measured by deep-fat thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop one potato into the oil­ – when you hear a sizzling sound and see it turning golden brown, the oil is ready.
  • Fry the potatoes in batches until they are lightly golden brown. It is important not to crowd the pot with too many potatoes or the oil will cool down and the potatoes won’t stay crunchy. Carefully transfer to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Set aside until they are ready to be used.
  • You can prepare the potatoes up to 3 days ahead of serving, just be sure to keep them in a plastic container, covered with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature.

Prepare the Meat:

  • Remove the beef from the refrigerator. It should be very cold. Using a very sharp chef’s knife cut the steak into think ¼-inch slices. Stack 3 of the slices and slice lengthwise, every ½-inch holding the stack in place. Then cut across the stack, again every ½-inch, cutting the steak into ½-inch dice. Hold the chopped steak in a bowl set over crushed ice in a larger bowl. When all of the beef is chopped, add the onion, capers, cornichons, parsley, anchovy, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gently mix with a fork until just combined. Add the mayonnaise and mix gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Dress the mesclun salad with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Serve on individual plates with the potato and mesclun lettuce on the side.

 

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Onion Soup

Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

Chicken Peperonata

Osso Bucco

 

I’m so happy that you visited today. Thanks for reading and browsing my site.

Make sure to share this story with someone who cares about this topic.

I’d love to know what you think about it too, please send an e-mail.

You can find more about my work on ChefLeticia.com;

You can buy my cookbooks on Amazon:

Latin Superfoods is my latest cookbook,

I’m also the author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A cookbook.

Visit my YouTube Chanel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz

The easiest and most impactful thing you can to support is subscribe to my newsletter and to my channel on YouTube. And of course, tell your friends about it.

I’d love to connect with you on social media

 Instagram @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz,

Facebook @ChefLeticiaHealthyCooking

Twitter @ChefLeticia

 

See you next time,

Leticia

 

 

 

Onion Soup

Onion Soup At Home

Talk about iconic French foods and Onion Soup will surely come to mind at top of the list. It just happens that it’s also one of my favorite foods. I can’t make enough of it. And the more I make it, the more I love it.

On a trip to France, I ate plenty of onions soups, and it’s always a special thing to eat typical food in its birth places.

Onion Soup
That’s me, in Paris.

But I have to say, there is nothing about this soup that cannot be replicated exactly at home. I’ve been making onion soup for so long in my home kitchen that I think I’ve mastered the recipe. Specially now, as this pandemic seems unending, traveling to France via the stove is the secret to life!

As simple as this soup may be, there are a few variables that impact on the results. First, the onions. You want to be patient and let the onions caramelize low and slow so that it flavors the soup — I talk about that in the recipe procedure, you will see.

Another important component is the liquid. Of course, you can use store-bought broth, but if you have the chance to make chicken broth, or buy the frozen version of brodo, (you can find plenty options nowadays), your soup will take you straight to France, in one quick shot. Bien sur!

The bread: any country bread will do, but if you have the chance to use a baguette, because of its thin shape, it will fit better in the soup bowl.

The cheese: my favorite for this soup is Gruyere, but Comte or any Alpine cow’s milk cheese will do.

The soup bowl: I have a couple of options at home, but the white soup bowl always wins.

Onion Soup
Soup bowls

Sometimes, I have the colossal courage to turn down the bread and cheese. It’s a way I have developed an appreciation for healthy eating defending my physical condition in the kitchen. Other times, my tolerance for fatty foods in the sake of kitchen travel is deeper that I know it myself.

For those on a diet: The onion and broth are so tasty that’ it’s still worth eating even without the bread and cheese.

When it comes to onions, feel free to use Spanish onions, yellow onions, or Vidalia onions, typical from Georgia. Spanish onions used to be imported from Spain and now they grow all over the U.S. They have a sweet taste and are perfect for all types of cooking. Yellow onions have a medium to strong flavor and are truly all-purpose. Vidalia onions are a bit sweeter than the two above. Any of those are good in this recipe.

 

Onion Soup

Serves 6

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves

5 large Spanish onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ cup dry white wine

8 cups chicken or beef broth

6 slices country bread, sliced

2 cups coarsely grated gruyere cheese

 

Cook the Onions: In a large Dutch oven pot, melt the butter and olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook it ever so lightly, until it just starts to become a little golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Season lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg and keep on cooking. This process is going to take a good 20 to 30 minutes. You don’t want to rush this step, or the onions will burn rather than slowly caramelize. The beauty of this soup lies in the caramelized flavor and color of the onions, so keep the heat at low or medium low at all times and stir very frequently.

When the onions are nicely caramelized, sprinkle the flour and stir for a minute or so to cook.

Add the Liquid: Pour in the wine and let it reduce by half.

Pour the chicken stock and let it get hot. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. It probably will be necessary to add salt and pepper, especially if you use home made broth. If you use store-bought version, it’s the opposite; beware of the sodium component, and you might not need to add any more salt at all. Partially cover the soup and adjust the heat so that the liquid is just simmering; cook for 30 minutes. You can prepare the soup to this point up to 5 days before and keep it in the fridge.

Assemble the Soup and Top with Bread and Cheese:

When it’s time to serve pre-heat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and have six deep ovenproof soup bowls ready to use. Carefully ladle the soup inside each bowl leaving some space for bread and cheese and place them all onto the sheet pan. Place a couple of bread sliced on top. (You don’t need to toast the bread.) and top with plenty of cheese over each bowl. Carefully transfer the heavy sheet pan to the oven and broil just until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve immediately.

 

 

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