Thursday, September 20, 2012

Creamy Hummus

I really like hummus and make it often for an appetizer with vegetables and pita chips. My favorite hummus has been with roasted red peppers added but I think I have found another favorite.   I had a couple of dinners here this week and I was out of roasted red peppers so I decided to focus instead on getting a fluffier, creamier consistencyin my hummus . I think hummus has some pretty basic components but I had been reading online over the years about how the order you add things can have a big impact on the texture of hummus.  (Good explanations of this is on Vegweb .)This is certainly true for things like vinaigrette so it makes sense.
 Anyway, for a while now I have wanted to experiment with emulsifying the tahini and lemon juice before adding other ingredients to see if it makes a better hummus. Begin making a creamier hummus by thoroughly blending the tahini and lemon juice until it is creamy and frothy. You can use a powerful blender or a food processor. Next, add the other ingredients and blend/process until very creamy. The chickpeas are added in a couple batches to help get things really pureed. If it looks dry add water a little at a time. I always add some water. Once everything is consistently creamy,  blend a bit longer to make it light and fluffy. I really love the texture!

So if you like creamy hummus you should try emulsifying the tahini and lemon juice, but first a word on tahini. Tahini is sesame seed butter. It is just toasted sesame seeds pureed with olive oil and maybe a pinch of salt. You could buy it pre made but it can be expensive. I have never had store bought tahini so I can’t compare but tahini is quite easy to make. It is not too expensive if you buy a bag of sesame seeds.  You don’t HAVE to have tahini to make hummus, but it is so tasty you really should use it unless you can’t eat sesame seeds or you can't buy sesame seeds, I would use it. It adds a great flavor and texture to hummus! Tahini is good for you with calcium, B vitamins and healthy fats and some protein.

 I have a simple recipe at the end for the tahini. You can make a batch and use some for salad dressing. It smells so good, I am tempted to sneak a spoon. But it is better added to other things.

Super Creamy Hummus

1/3 cup tahini*
1/4-1/3 cup lemon juice
water, as needed, ( I always add some but only a little at a time)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
5 green olives, optional  ( or 4 pieces of artichoke hearts)
About 1 Tsp salt, to taste
1 (25 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
olive oil
6 drops of sriracha or hot sauce, optional
parsley, to garnish, optional
Drizzle of olive oil
ground cumin or smoked paprika, for garnish

Combine the tahini and lemon juice into a blender or food processor and emulsify until creamy. Add small amounts of water if it is too thick. If you prefer, you may substitute water for some of the lemon juice.  Let it blend a bit longer.
Add the garlic,salt, olives if desired, and blend or process for a minute. Rinse the chick peas well and add about half of the chickpeas to blender or food processor. Process for a minute or so, then add the rest. As you are blending, add just a little water. Add more if it still looks dry  and add hot sause if using. Let the processor run for a couple minutes until everything is light, creamy and fluffy.
Dish up hummus and garnish with a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika or cumin and if desired, a drizzle of olive oil. For appetizer serve with cucumber, celery, carrots and/or pita chips.

*Tahini recipe
1 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup olive oi
Big pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350 and toast seeds for 5-7 minutes till just starting to turn golden. Cool and add to blender (or food processor) and blend for about  1-2 minutes . Slowly add  olive oil, I like to pour it through the hole in the lid in a slow steady stream as it blends, and blend on higher speed until it is paste like.You may continue blending on a med/low speed to get it consistent.
Refrigerate left overs for up to a 1 months or so .Better yet, freeze in ¼ or 1/3 cup amounts and it will keep for months!
Tahini recipe may be used for hummus, baba ganoush, salad dressings, or as a sauce for falafel

Keep the ingredients for hummus on hand so you can whip it up
when a crowd drops by for dinner!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Figs and walnuts, with a honey- brandy drizzle and a dollop of mascarpone

It is a beautiful day here in sunny Colorado so I only have a moment to pop in a share a sweet dessert with you. I wanted to post this since figs are in season for the moment and if you are lucky enough to find some fresh figs, here is a dessert you can try with them.

We had a very casual, quickly put together dinner with good friends last night. I had some Turkish purple figs I wanted to use up so I put together this simple yet sophisticated dessert. I cooked it up right as we finished up the meal, it was that easy to make!
I made these servings small because I actually served up two desserts ("What is that allowed??" Of course! :-) We also enjoyed fresh peach sauce over vanilla ice cream.  I called the fig, walnuts and mascarpone the cheese and fruit course :-)

Once the figs are cooked they could be served over ice cream or with a dollop of whipped cream but they were perfect with a little mascarpone!

It is best to use a quality honey, local if possible.
This recipe was inspired bQuick Fig Recipes by Molly Watson in guide
Figs and walnuts, with a honey- brandy drizzle and a dollop of mascarpone

10 or so Fresh figs, 2 – 3 per person
1-2 TBSP of coconut oil or butter
About 3-4 TBSP or so honey (Generous drizzle plus Several 2 TBSP for sauce)
Generous handful of walnuts or pecans, about a 1/3 cup
1/3 cup ish of brandy, optional (May use orange juice or skip)
Wash and cut figs. 

Heat a skillet to medium and add coconut oil or butter.  Then place figs in, cut side down. Drizzle honey generously over each piece. Sprinkle walnuts in pan. Turn fig over when they are lightly browned and drizzle with more honey. Remove figs and walnuts to plate but leave any sauce in pan.  

Place a small dollop of mascarpone on each plate and arrange figs around it, sprinkle with walnuts.  

 Remove pan from stove to add brandy and another TBSP or two of honey. Return pan to stove and stir brandy and honey until warmed well. Taste and add more honey or brandy as needed. Drizzle sauce over figs. Serve warm.