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April 23, 2024

Falafel Cucumber Hors D’oeuvres

By

by Chris Riding

Sous Chef

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When I was younger, I always wanted to be one of two things, either a general contractor or a chef. Plenty of people in my family had worked in construction, but no one had ever been a professional chef before. I wasn’t ever told that I couldn’t be a chef, but it just seemed kind of impossible. So I took the more familiar route and decided to go into construction.

The Long Road to the Kitchen

As I earned my construction certificates, I took a job as a meat clerk at a grocery store to pay my way through school. The longer I worked in that job, the more I learned about food, and the more I wanted to keep learning. After a few years, it occurred to me that I could just stop school and become a butcher instead, so that’s what I decided to do.

Before long, I’d become assistant manager in the meat department and was training new people who came to work for us. One day, a crazy thought came into my head. What if I did that thing that had always seemed impossible ever since I was a kid? What if I became a chef?

Of course, becoming a chef meant going back to school, so I moved to Utah and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Institute at UVU. I learned from some amazing chefs who had dedicated their lives to the art, but I also learned that there’s a lot more to the job than just making great food. I had to learn how to work in front of house, how to function as part of a team in back of house, and how to handle all the logistics of the warehouse. It wasn’t easy, and I had some pretty embarrassing moments like on my first event when I broke a glass wall box and the head chef yelled, “Anyone need a job? We’ve got an opening.” I wasn’t sure if he was joking.

Coming to Culinary Crafts

I was lucky to get a working internship at Culinary Crafts, and after I graduated in May 2022, I went to work there full time. Learning from Brandon, Hunter, Robert, and so many people who are masters in their field has been the best part of my education so far. Even though it took me a long time to decide on my career, I feel lucky to be doing what I love.

For my recipe, I’ve chosen the falafel cucumber hors d'oeuvres we were serving that night I broke the glass wall. They’re delicious, but I also love that they remind me of how far I’ve come.

cucumber, falafel, falafel cucumber hors d'oeuvres

FALAFEL CUCUMBER HORS D’OEUVRES

(serves about 40)

Falafels

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Add first nine ingredients to a food processor and pulse a little bit at a time until coarsely ground. Be careful not to grind too much. It should have a nice gritty consistency.
  2. Squeeze the falafel into firm 1.5” balls, then flatten them into patties about ½” thick. Place falafel patties in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat vegetable oil over medium high (around 375° F) in a pot that is deep enough for falafel patties to be completely submerged in the oil. The oil is hot enough when a drop of water dropped into the oil will sizzle and pop.
  4. Carefully lower several falafel patties into the oil and let them fry 1.5 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot.
  5. Use slotted spoon to remove falafels from oil and let them cool on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoon fresh dill chopped (save some dill sprigs for garnish)

Instructions

Whisk ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembly

  1. Make 40 slices of cucumber cut ¼ inch thick on a bias.
  2. Arrange cucumber slices artfully on serving tray. Top with falafel balls and a dallop of sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

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