We are in full Christmas mode at the moment and I have to admit, I love it. My weeks are filled with endless catch ups with friends over dinner or brunch, binging on Netflix and to top it off, everything in sight has been mulled. YES.
Now, as much as I live for going out to eat (and spending money that I don't have), I also love pretending to be a real adult by hosting my own cute dinners with the girls. As millennials, I’ve found that we’ve moved away from the more traditional, formal dinner parties that our parents may have had with three distinct courses, origami napkins and way too much cutlery to know what to do with. It’s now all about that shared communal experience with mismatched plates, big platters and where eating with your hands is encouraged. All the host needs to do is put things in the middle of the table and everyone is free to dig in. Those are the types of dinner parties that I really enjoy. That casual yet warm and inviting atmosphere is simply the best.
With so much to do around this time of year, minimizing the number of hours I spend slaving away in the kitchen is an absolute must. Anything that can help me cut down prep time and just generally be more efficient is so welcome. And that's where my trusty food processor comes in. I’d thought about getting one of these for the longest time and it took me ages to decide whether I really needed to add yet another piece of equipment to my kitchen cupboards. But after a couple spins on my Cuisinart Easy Prep Pro, I honestly don't know how I managed without one! Whether it's slicing, grating or blending, this bit of equipment has been such a great addition to my kitchen and I'll never look back!
I've got a few recipes below which I've put together with the help of my food processor. They're all perfect sharing recipes with a middle eastern vibe which come together to create that casual dinner party spread, allowing guests to mix and match and put their own plates together.
We'll start with our base - the flatbreads. This will probably the quickest you'll ever make. Unlike my other flatbread recipe, this one contains no yeast and uses baking powder instead meaning there's no time needed to let it rise and kneading is at an absolute minimum. Just throw everything into your food processor, pulse a few times and you're very nearly done.
The roasted garlic and sage hummus is an absolute winner and you can use this as a dip or spread. Hummus is super easy to make and even easier to customise to your tastes. You can swap the sage for other fresh herbs like rosemary, and play around with the garlic and tahini until you're happy with it.
Homemade falafel when done properly brings me so much joy! Crispy on the outside with a beautifully spiced fluffy interior, it's a thing of dreams. I've found that using dried chickpeas gives a much better result than tinned but it does require you to soak them overnight. If time isn't an issue then I'd definitely recommend going for the dried variety and they also work out a bit cheaper too! I've given these a little festive twist by adding in some ground cinnamon, ginger and allspice but feel free to leave this out of you're after something more traditional.
Everything else I've put on these flatbreads is completely up to you and what you have available. Just stick it all into some small bowls or plates and place in the middle of table along with the bread and falafels. I had some leftover roasted squash and pickled red onions that I piled on as well as some chunks of halloumi that I quickly grilled. A dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of Nigella Seeds and I had the perfect meal to tuck into
R O A S T E D G A R L I C A N D S A G E H U M M U S
1 Medium Garlic Bulb
1/4 tsp Flaked Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp Olive Oil
400g Tinned Chickpeas
Handful Fresh Sage
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
80ml Cold Water
M E T H O D
Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 6/200C. Chop the head off of a medium bulb of garlic to expose the tops of the garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for 30 -40 mins until the cloves have softened and are a golden color. Once baked, squeeze the cloves out and set aside
Place the chickpeas in the bowl of your food processor with salt and black pepper. Pulse for 30-40 seconds until you have a stiff paste. Add in the fresh sage, roasted garlic cloves, tahini, lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and water and process on low for another 40 seconds until you have a smooth paste. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Q U I C K F L A T B R E A D S
350g Plain Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Nigella Seeds
300g Natural Yoghurt
M E T H O D
Add all the ingredients into your food processor and pulse for about 10- 15 seconds until the dough comes together.
Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead briefly until the dough until smooth.
Divide the dough into 10 equal sized balls and roll out each one with a rolling pin. Heat a large griddle or frying pan and cook each flatbread for one to two minutes on each side until they start to brown.
Serve straight away or keep them warm in a preheated oven.
F E S T I V E S P I C E D F A L A F E L S
300g Dried Chickpeas
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsely, finely chopped
1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tbsp Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Sunflower or Vegetable oil for frying
M E T H O D
Start the evening before by soaking your dried chickpeas in cold water. There should be enough water to full cover the chickpeas. Skip this step if you're using tinned chickpeas.
Drain the chickpeas and place them in the bowl of the food processor along with the onion, parsely, and garlic. Pulse for 30-40 seconds until the mixture is finely chopped and beginning to hold together but not mushy.
Transfer to a large bowl and add in the remaining ingredients. Stir by hand to get everything fully incorporated. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1 -2 hours.
Form the falafel into balls or patties making them as big or small as you'd like. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the falafel in batches for about 2 mins on each side until they're a deep brown colour. Larger ball of falafel will take longer so make sure your oil isn't too hot or they'll burn before they cook.
Drain them on a kitchen towel before serving warm.
* Thanks so much to Cuisinart for gifting me with an Easy Prep Pro. All opinions are honest and remain my own