It’s colorful, packed with beautiful photographs and illustrations, and, of course, delectable recipes.
More than that, “MARCUS OFF DUTY: The Recipes I Cook at Home” is a snapshot of the American kitchen today, and we home cooks have never before shown such a taste for adventure. Across the country, at homes and in restaurants, we now regularly experiment with and experience the flavors of countries and cultures from all over the globe.
My own kitchen is a prime example of this. I grew up in the 1980s and 90s with tuna noodle casserole, matzo ball soup, hamburgers and hot dogs, and other thoroughly solid American and Jewish dishes. Lemongrass? What 80s American housewife ever heard of *that?* Ramen? That’s the stuff in the Cup of Noodles, right? But now with this new awakening to and availability of the flavors of the world, I keep prepped lemongrass and homemade dashi in my freezer for when the mood hits me to make my own ramen broth.
Chefs like Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethoiopan raised in Sweden and educated in French techniques, have helped rouse us from our culinary “slumber.” From Comforts of Home to Street Food to Cooking with Kids and six more chapters, Samuelsson inspires us to use a variety of ingredients – Ethiopian, Swedish, Chinese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, etc. – to build our skills and expand our knowledge as home cooks. (If sticky note flags are an indication of inspiration, my copy of the book is looking *very* inspired.)
As Samuelsson states in the book’s introduction, “We live in the United States of Flavor.” (Which is not even on the same planet as “Flavortown.” But I digress.)
After reading through the cookbook and marking recipe after recipe as those I’d like to try or modify, I settled on making the Spicy Shrimp Falafel. A big reason for this is that I already had my grandma Tillie’s Farberware lidded electric fry pan on the countertop after making fried chicken this past weekend. I’m all about efficiency and reusing frying oil before cleaning out the pan and storing it away for another couple of months until the craving to fry hits again.
When I visited Israel, I can tell you I never ate falafel with shrimp in it as shrimp isn’t kosher, so I was intrigued. And Samuelsson’s addition of unique ingredients such as soy sauce and toasted sesame oil sold me on making this dish.
As with almost any recipe I come across (except for a couple of Mama Tillie’s classics), I modified it and used only ingredients I had on hand.
Spicy Shrimp Falfafel
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 or 2 chile peppers (dried or fresh, seeded and chopped)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon parsley (fresh)
- 10-12 shrimp (uncooked, 36/40 size, diced)
- kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose)
- canola oil
- lemon juice
- salad greens
|In a blender or food processor, puree chickpeas, garlic, and chiles. Add salt to taste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and parsley.|
|Transfer mixture to a bowl and add diced shrimp. Wet hands and roll mixture into about a dozen balls, flatten into a thick patty, and place on a wax- or parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes. (Incidentally, this is the same method I use to make matzo balls.)|
|Heat oil in fry pan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine corn starch and flour in a bowl. Dredge patties through flour mixture and then carefully place into hot oil. Fry for 3 minutes on each side. Remove from oil with slotted spoon or spider, and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.|
|Plate falafel balls atop a plate of greens with tomatoes, parsley, and a spritz of lemon juice. Add yogurt sauce, cucumber or other ingredients as desired. Or serve as a sandwich in a pita pocket.|
Remember how I mentioned you can meet Marcus Samuelsson this week in Washington, D.C? Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Northwest is hosting a talk and book signing on Thursday, November 13 at 7 p.m. Get your ticket here, which includes the book. Samuelsson is also speaking to the Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) on Friday, November 14 at 6 p.m. Get those tickets here.
Thank you kindly, Mr. Samuelsson, for your delicious recipes and your inspiration. There is such beauty in everyday home cooking, and your latest cookbook pays homage to home cooks the world over.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of “Marcus Off Duty” from the publisher. That did not influence my opinions expressed in this article.