I have a theory. Well, that implies that it’s well thought-out – at this stage it’s less of a theory, more of a sentence on a blog. But: I swear food can sense fear, like horses can. (I know, I had a horrible horseriding accident at age ten. Sustained whiplash and a respectful terror of horses.) I have been on a ruining rampage in the kitchen lately, and it’s as if the food can tell I’m all nervous and have bad instincts about it. My latest screw-up was a salted caramel slice where I burned one can of condensed milk in the pan, and then, obtusely, the next batch refused to cook. Just wouldn’t. Slid around, off the base, which I’d already baked but which managed to somehow un-bake itself under the liquidy topping. I called it fail-slice. And ate most of it anyway over the next day or two, because the ingredients themselves still tasted okay.
That seemed so much more door-slammingly dramatic in my head, but to be fair, every time I ruin something I’m cooking it feels like the first and only time in humankind this has happened. The waste of ingredients, the bass-drop letdown after all that anticipation, the hangdog way that I have to impart the disappointing news to any expectant eaters. With that in mind, I am amazed that these falafel waffles, with their high level of novelty-induced-anticipation, and with their delicate, unbuttressed structure…worked. Worked just fine. Despite my nerves. So maybe food can’t smell fear, and all I have is a sentence, not a theory, and a lot of coincidentally recent cooking mistakes. The point is, I also have falafel waffles, and their relative success has helped my kitchen nerves no end, like in Sonic the Hedgehog when you gather up lots of sparkly rings, so it doesn’t matter if you lose a few here and there, because you will still have more rings to spare. (I played a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog one time.)
I like a good portmanteau-ing as much as the next person, and “fawaffle” is pleasing, but I think I better enjoy the rolling assonance (hey…oh?) of falafel waffle written in full. I first heard of these when a friend Kat (who I’ve met all of once, but you know, the internet!) emailed me with some suggestions of things to do in New York while Tim and I were there in October last year. She mentioned that we should definitely try falafel waffle. We never made it to this mystical place but the idea stuck in my head. Falafel mix, but instead of baking or frying it, clamp it between the crenellated arms of a waffle maker. There’s significant aesthetic outcome involved, sure, but falafel is delicious and enwaffling it is surprisingly practical. It makes a lot at once, you don’t have to watch it, it’s really cute.
Let me first apologise hugely though, for posting a recipe that you need specialised equipment for. I try not to do this. In my defensive defense, not one of the bajillion ice cream recipes that I’ve posted on this blog needs an ice cream machine. But I really can’t see myself getting around the waffle maker thing in order to make waffles appear. I don’t know if there’s some alternative that involves indenting pancakes with the end of a fork or something. I…hope not.
Makes two. Recipe by me. Concept not mine. To cold-weary to google them.
2 cans chickpeas (I’d really wanted to soak chickpeas overnight and blend them up, but continually forgot.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tahini (or peanut butter, in a pinch)
1 handful chopped herbs: coriander, parsely, chives, or all three. I only had a tablespoon of chives, but still.
1 teaspoon ground cumin, more if your cumin has been sitting around for years
1 pinch ground cinnamon
To serve: anything at all – lemon slices, thick plain yoghurt, more tahini, mustard, chilli sauce, tomato sauce, whatever.
Drain the chickpeas and blend them up in a food processor (more specific equipment, sorry, I’m on a roll here) till quite well-blended but not pureed – you want a a mix that’s nubbly in places yet smooth in places. Basically: be half-hearted about your processing and it will probably turn out how it’s supposed to. Add the salt, tahini, herbs, cumin, cinnamon and egg and pulse briefly to mix.
Heat up a little oil in your waffle iron, putting it on a very high setting. Once you’re sure it’s good and hot, spoon in half the falafel mix, pushing it round evenly with the spoon, and shut down the lid. Leave it for a good solid five minutes, maybe longer – till it really seems cooked through. Use a spatula to carefully lever it away from the bottom grill, then lift it up and onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining mix.
I know two damn waffles doesn’t sound like much at all, but these are ridiculously filling, and when you think about it, each embossed heart segment is like a whole falafel on its own. There’s not that deep-fried crunch of the real thing, but it’s still excellent, outside of its looks. The cumin is rich and aromatic (that feels stupid now that I’ve written it down but it just is, okay) the indents making for maximum crispness within the baked-not-fried context, and chickpeas have a nutty deliciousness all of their own. Plus I covered mine in tahini and thick plain yoghurt and mustard and lemon juice, which made it look appalling but taste even better.
Is a waffle iron even worth it? Kinda. I adore waffles, but they are best if someone else is making them for you, otherwise I tend to get tired/bored halfway through the bowl of batter. Also they just aren’t as good as ones from a cafe generally. But on the other hand: waffles! Whenever you want them and also have the energy and ingredients! Tim and I got ours through Fly Buys, which is this points-gathering rewards scheme that takes forever to accumulate (one point per $25 spent on groceries. I mean really. Anyone rich enough to gather up enough points to get anything with that kind of system doesn’t need the system!) After seven or so years we scraped together enough points to get this waffle iron though, so…hooray for the system. The system is sound.
As well as apologising for your needing a waffle iron to make waffles, I’d also like to apologise if this particular post seems grave and unenthused: I have a cold and every word I type feels like an effort, the kind of effort when you’re trapped in a dream and you have to try and wake yourself up with an exhausting push of the body because it feels like a house is flattening you. I may also feel like the only person who has ever had a cold before, but it doesn’t help that work is so busy this week that I can’t take a forseeable sick day anytime soon, despite feeling deliriously atrocious. Even with my dramatics, that’s pretty much telling it like it is without too much embellishment. Which is all I’ll say about that – I’m always nervous to talk about work on here in case I get pulled into an office and am told “you said the word ‘work’ on your blog. That crossed a line between the professional and the personal. You’re fired and/or arrested.” (I’m basically always nervous, in fact.) I’m hoping I can outwit this cold with my smarts though, like Liam Neeson in Tooken 2. I still currently retain my sense of smell and taste, and the coughing only happens at night when I’m trying to sleep, so there’s that. I have ginger and whisky and vitamins and determination to get better by the weekend. And an immunity boosting ego trip from successfully making falafel waffles!
Between the cold and work I’ve been either running around or laying low but I had a good wine-fuelled impromptu-dance-party on Friday night, swooned frequently over Lost in Austen (it’s silly, but wins on swoon-per-capita) and saw this cool cat on Sunday at book group. Someone commented on instagram that this cat’s face is a bit like my natural face in photos. What a compliment! (That’s not sarcasm.) Like a horse smelling fear, or a recipe possibly smelling fear, cats can normally tell how badly I want to be their friend and so, being the bloody-minded creatures they are, remain aloof. But despite its sneer here, this cat (Oscar) was in fact super friendly and flopsy and nuzzlingly ridiculous.
Title via: Occasionally I quote things other than songs here. And really, who is more glowingly waffle-proud than Parks and Recreation’s glorious hero, Leslie Knope? (She’s a TV character, in case you don’t know. And if you didn’t: find out.) But also I suspect Leslie Knope would really hate falafel waffles, on account of their being full of legumes and lacking syrup. But still: waffles. So important.
Flip Grater, The Quit. Quiet and smoky, I love it.
What I Did For Love, from the musical A Chorus Line – just one of the most gorgeous songs in the world. The lyrics are so, ugh, just so good. “Look, my eyes are dry, the dream was ours to borrow…” I predictably love Idina Menzel’s version which she sang for President Obama, no big.
Robin Thicke, TI, Pharrell, Blurred Lines. Cannot quit this song.
Next time: Something non-specialised like waffles, something gleaming with triumph because I definitely won’t have this cold anymore, no way. No ma’am.