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Perfect Dinner

I love falafel in small quantities, but I hate the smell of fried foods, so I’ll never make them in the house.  It’s been over ten years since I fried something.  But my friend had a post on her Facebook wall about a baked falafel recipe and said they were fairly decent, so I decided to give them a try.  I made hummus and tehina and Israeli salad.

Israeli Salad

And homemade pita.

Pita Bread

And then I pulled together her baked falafel recipe which turned out to quite good and barely made the kitchen smell.

Baked Falafel

The perfect moment actually came with the chopping of the salad. I was telling Josh a story about making salad with my aunt while in Israel, and the next morning, I woke to a friend request from her on Facebook. Which made the universe feel incredibly small and cozy; that you could think of someone halfway across the world and tell someone else a story about them, and that person would somehow sense that and friend you on Facebook.

For other perfect moments, visit Perfect Moment Mondays.

For people who want the recipes, the Israeli salad is just cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper (amounts are fairly meaningless; it’s all done to taste).  The pita bread is King Arthur flour’s recipe.  The baked falafel is a modified version of this one.

And just to see if this food quirk is weird or common: do you like or dislike the way your kitchen smells after you fry food?


1 Justine { 08.26.12 at 10:53 pm }

Homemade pita … *impressed*.

I don’t like fried foods, either. I consider myself pretty tolerant (heh!) of food smells, but the smell of fried gets into everything, and it lingers. I feel like there’s a film of grease everywhere. Like I’m living in a fast food restaurant. I bake falafel, too.

Love that cozy feeling. I’ve had that happen before, and it’s like the universe reassuring us that we’re really all much more connected than we think.

2 Mali { 08.26.12 at 11:15 pm }

Haven’t fried anything for 10 years? Not even onions? The smell of frying onions is divine. I also have Asian inclinations, so stir-fry regularly. Does that count? Hmmm. Perhaps I need to go on the 10-years-without-frying-food diet.

3 a { 08.26.12 at 11:17 pm }

I like the way things smell when they’re cooking, but if the smell lingers beyond dinner, then I don’t care for it any more.

Around here, cucumber salad is cucumber, tomatoes, onions, vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. At my mom’s, cucumber salad is very thinly sliced cucumbers in sour cream with a pinch of sugar. I like the cucumber salad to be found at Thai restaurants. I wish I had planted some cucumbers this year. But I think I “planted” the idea of expanding our garden next year in my husband’s mind…

4 Robin (noteverstill) { 08.27.12 at 12:05 am }

Do you ever eat at Sweet Green? They have a salad called the chic-P that has baked falafel in it made in mini-muffin tins which A) is genius and B) is delicious.

5 Robin (noteverstill) { 08.27.12 at 12:06 am }
6 Bea { 08.27.12 at 12:17 am }

Modified how? I am unhappy with my felafel recipe. It’s a fried one, but it crumbles apart too easily with the cooking. I’ve tried baking it, but it’s just dry and yuck. I love felafel and am dying to rectify the situation. Any tips appreciated.

As for fried foods… there is fried and there is fried. I know what you and others mean about that lingering greasy smell and accompanying sensation, but to me it doesn’t seem to come with every fried recipe for every food. I would say on the whole I like the fried smell, but I’m mainly talking about shallow-frying of onions, garlic, toasted sandwiches… gosh, I’m scratching to remember what I usually fry now. I do it much more often that that list suggests. I wonder also if the choice of oil/fat makes a difference.


7 Kathy { 08.27.12 at 1:50 am }

Those homemade pitas do look/sound yummy! I like fried food, so I don’t mind the smell, most of the time. Though I try not to eat too much.

Love that you had that moment sharing about your aunt and then getting to reconnect with her. So cool when that happens. Kinda like a vision boarding, but not quite. 😉

8 JustHeather { 08.27.12 at 2:55 am }

I think for me it depends on the food being fried and how potent of a smell it leaves afterward. Salmon (even baked) leaves a smell in the house sometimes that just gets on my nerves. And having to sit next to or near an Indian person on the bus, who fries everything with strong spices and herbs, just makes me gag. Love the food, but can’t stand the lingering powerful smells. Onions gag me too.
In the end, it really depends on the smell and how long I have to deal with it.

Definitely checking out the recipes. 🙂

9 sushigirl { 08.27.12 at 4:38 am }

When you say fried food do you mean deep frying, or cooking onions for the base of a stew or whatever? I’m not too fond of deep frying – the food’s nice but the layer of gunge around the kitchen and the hassle, plus the worry that the oil will go on fire, mean that I seldom bother. I’d find it difficult to live without being able to fry onions, peppers, garlic and so on.

I am so going to try the baked falafel (at the moment I can’t eat anything deep fried cos I have might have gallstones :() and the salad though, although may not get around to doing my own pittas. Thanks for posting this!

10 Mina { 08.27.12 at 4:48 am }

George sometimes eats falafel. I like the smell when I cook, but not afterwards.
For me, cucumber salad is cucumber with dill and oil and vinegar. Your Israeli salad is ‘just salad’ for us; when we say salad, that is what we mean.
It is lovely when the world gets cosy and people hear our thoughts. 🙂

11 Mud Hut Mama { 08.27.12 at 4:57 am }

That meal looks and sounds divine! I love reading your posts on food because you seem like my polar opposite in that area. Unless I’m sick, I almost always love the smell of food cooking. It doesn’t really matter what food or how it’s being cooked, I just like to know that the next meal is coming soon. I will eat and enjoy almost anything.

This is such a lovely perfect moment – it is really special when something like that happens. Feels like a hug from the universe.

12 Suzy { 08.27.12 at 11:04 am }

Oh I can smell the deliciousness of this perfect meal all the way in Tennessee.

And I love this “Which made the universe feel incredibly small and cozy; that you could think of someone halfway across the world and tell someone else a story about them, and that person would somehow sense that and friend you on Facebook.”

Now that’s perfect!

13 EC { 08.27.12 at 11:18 am }

I love making pita! Although I have been following the king arthur whole wheat recipe, and mine doesn’t seem to get as brown as yours did. Maybe it’s the whole wheat?

I might try your falafel recipe. I made baked falafel in the past, but it always ends up looking sort of like a dry oatmeal cookie.

14 Shana { 08.27.12 at 11:33 am }

Funny, I just fried something last night (chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon – yum) and I remember quite liking the smell, although it was mostly the smell of the spices that was so appealing. I stir fry pretty regularly, although that isn’t the same as deep frying, so I don’t think that counts.

I’ve been on a try-a-new-recipe-once-a-week kick, so I might have to try the recipes you posted here. 🙂

15 It Is What It Is { 08.27.12 at 1:18 pm }

Homemade pita? Please share that recipe.

As of late, I’ve gone through a cook book purge AND this weekend, I purged the binder that I keep my favorite printed recipes in. I cam across my grandmothers recipe for homemade flour tortillas which I plan to make for the first time (she passed away in 2005).

I don’t fry anything mostly because of the calories and I hate the idea of wasting all that oil. I did make bacon this weekend, for the first time in months, if that counts, and I love the way the house smells post bacon making. I have never deep fried anything. The only things I flash fry are eggs (my husband likes his over easy), home made chicken tenders, greek turkey meatballs, schnitzel or scallopini. Frying is messy and now we have wood floors in our kitchen, so I try not to fry if at all possible.

16 Cherish { 08.27.12 at 1:50 pm }

If it was something fried quickly, more like sauteed onions, I’m okay with it. Anything more, and I have to wash my hair and my clothes and air out the house.

17 Billy { 08.27.12 at 1:53 pm }

Amazing how she contacted you the day after telling the story!!

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.27.12 at 2:12 pm }

Your pita bread makes my mouth water.

Um, I can’t think of how my kitchen smells when I’ve been frying, and that’s because I can’t remember doing much frying. Except for Sunday morning diced taters. Yum…

I think I would like baked felafel better than fried. You and your aunt sound very connected.

19 jjiraffe { 08.27.12 at 2:35 pm }

Homemade pitas? RAD. Seriously. That kicks ass.

I don’t love the smell from frying, either, although I love the smell of fried latkes and I love making them too.

20 KeAnne { 08.27.12 at 4:19 pm }

There is drool all over my monitor now. I guess I should stop licking it! I hate how my house smells after we fry something. Seems to last for days!

21 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.28.12 at 1:48 am }

Homemade pita, wowzers.

I don’t mind the smell but I really dislike the act of frying. Sauteing is fine, whatever I do with latkes is very unpleasant, deep frying is out of the question. I don’t like splattering oil, and I don’t like my skin and hair being infused with oil. Plus I almost never eat fried foods so it’s not even worth it.

22 Keiko { 08.31.12 at 3:14 am }

Yum, yum yum on all accounts. How delicious that your friend picked up on your vibe 🙂

And… I love the way my kitchen smells after frying, especially latkes. Oh man, now I’m salivating.

23 loribeth { 08.31.12 at 4:06 pm }

I guess it depends on what’s being fried. ; ) I don’t do a lot of frying these days — mostly ground beef & onions for casseroles, & sometimes bacon.

24 clare { 09.17.12 at 5:55 pm }

I just had the best falafel thus far in my life.. Paris or all places.. with 3 new-to-me people at a conference.. and I raised my glass to you silently with thanks of how you personally and people inspired by and collected around you have helped me get to a place of more joyful : “sadful” days. ta! Seriously, if you win a ticket to Paris, amazing amazing kosher food awaits!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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