Fried Green Falafel and Fennel Cake
"I think this needs to be finer," Sara Kramer said, sifting through the future makings of sweet-pea falafel--ground favas, garbanzos and lots of fresh herbs.
It was early April, and Kramer, former chef of Brooklyn's Glasserie, was working in our Soho Test Kitchen alongside her friend and former Glasserie sous chef, Sarah Hymanson.
The Sara(h)s are planning a new venture together and this meal, the first of our TT Incubator series, was a chance to try out some new recipes--and make a kick-ass dinner for friends.
The pair is good-naturedly tight-lipped about details, though they dropped a few hints ("Let's just say there's a reason we're making falafel," Kramer laughed, using an old-fashioned press her mother brought back from Israel.)
And, it was a chance to get their groove down: "The dynamic was different at Glasserie," Hymanson said. "She was the boss."
"We have a similar approach to the way we like to cook," said Kramer. "It's influenced by both of our experiences at Blue Hill, but it's not strictly new American. We explore different flavor palettes."
At the intimate dinner, that translated into a family-style feast of bright Middle Eastern flavors: those springy falafel (see the recipe), an herby cauliflower salad flecked with nigella seeds (see the recipe), homemade pita to tear apart and plunge into a spinach-and-pine nut dip. Semolina cake was as fragrant as it was surprising, topped with golden half-moons of not-too-sweet candied fennel (see the recipe).
As she checked on the rabbit confit in the oven (which would later be stuffed into savory pastries) while listening to an upbeat 80s soundtrack, Hymanson said, "Neither of us make compromises in the kitchen, but we want to enjoy the moment."