Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Quickie Snack/Dinner: Hummus

I've eaten lots of hummus. Everyone seems to have their own recipe. The best that I've ever had, hands down, was in a little tiny restaurant in Tel Aviv on Ibn Gevirol, very close to Pinkas. I wish I could remember the name, but alas, I left the restaurant drunk on hummus and pickled radishes without a clue. Such is often my state when faced with amazing food and no willpower. It was a great thing, one that has left me in a constant search for that perfect hummus (or at least something that came close!). I'm getting there. Myself. My biggest homemade hummus complaint has to do with consistency. I want a smooth texture, and I don't want it to taste overly full of tahina. Last night I played around with some homemade tehina and I came close- Closer than ever before! And I have a backup plan that will only improve things! (More on that backup plan to come when I finally plan ahead and use dried chickpeas instead of the ones from the can...)

Machinery: Food processor

1 can of Chickpeas (or use dried...eyeball amount, soak overnight and boil for 1 hour until soft and skin starts to separate)
2 tbs Chickpea Can Juice (or water used to boil them)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 tbs Sesame Seeds
1 tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Cumin

Toasted Pine Nuts

In the food processor, add the sesame seeds and the olive oil. Spin those seeds until they look like they are as broken down as they are going to get. Then, add your chickpeas, lemon juice and spices. Easy Peasy. This recipe takes a lot of adjusting so taste along the way and add things as needed. If you like a chunkier hummus, don't add as much liquid. If you want it smoother, blend for longer while adding in more chickpea juice and olive oil. If you actually want to serve your hummus and aren't already just eating it out of the food processor with a spoon, spread it on a plate and sprinkle the parsley, paprika and pine nuts on top.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Blog world, meet Fennel."

Fennel was always one of those scary vegetables that I never knew what to do with (and I hear it tastes like black licorice?? Ick!). Well, I'm here to tell you that it's NOT scary, and the licoricey flavor is really quite pleasant. This salad will blow your mind (and impress dinner guests). I made this the first time for a dinner party last summer and have been making it ever since. It's a big winner.
image via epicurious

Fennel and Granny Smith Apples
(adapted from epicurious)
Serves 8

1 Large Fennel Bulb
2 Granny Smith Apples
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
Large Handful of Chopped Tarragon Leaves
1/3-1/2 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper

On a mandolin (or with a knife), slice the fennel and apple VERY thinly. Mix in chopped tarragon and pour in dressing. Grind pepper on top to taste.

The lemon will really work with the fennel to bring out the sweet flavors. You can always adjust the amounts of ingredients to work for you. I usually go easy on the oil and kind of eyeball it, just adding enough to help lightly coat everything along with the lemon juice.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chinese Cabbage Salad

Quick Recipe:  Chinese Cabbage Salad

1 1/2 lbs Shredded Red Cabbage
8 tbs Toasted Slivered Almonds
2 tbs Sesame Seeds
8 Scallions Chopped
1 pkg Ramen Noodles, Crushed

3/4 c. Oil
6 tbs Rice Vinegar
2 tbs Salt
1 tsp Pepper
4 tbs Sugar

Noodles get soggy if dressed ahead of time.

Spring Pasta with Beets

I like the idea of "Head to Tail" eating (also known as "Tip to Tail", "Nose to Tail", etc.). This food philosophy embraces the use of all parts of an animal, vegetable, etc. to maximize your investment and to lessen your waste and impact on the environment. This might sound scary (and I'll be the first to admit that there are some things that are just NOT meant to be eaten), but vegetables are an easier way for me to ease into this mindset, and beets are a great way to dive in.

As far as environmental impact and waste go, vegetables are obviously a very earth-friendly choice, especially if you are supporting local farmers markets (or growing your own). Since I am living in an apartment with an iffy garbage disposal, composting is not the most convenient option. Using more parts of my veggies means less stinky garbage!
This pasta was adapted from a combo of recipes I've seen on epicurious and  It's very simple, and follows the formula "Starch + Veggie + Greens + Protein = Full one pot meal" (and this one comes out a beautiful magenta color from the beets!).

Beet Green Pasta
Serves 2

Orrechiette pasta
2 beets (boiled or roasted with a little bit of olive oil in the oven, then peeled)
Greens from beets, washed and chopped
Pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your noodles separately from your beets if you are going that route.  In a saute pan, toast the pine nuts and add cubed, cooked beets with a little olive oil.  Add a bit of reserved pasta water to the pan and throw in the beet greens until just beginning to wilt.  Mix with pasta and enjoy!