Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rosie Makes Hummus.

I have "vegetarian" offspring.  And I have no idea how that happened.
But I roll with it, and today, I'm rolling with one of their favorites - hummus.
As for the vegetarianism, I think the late Anthony Bourdain said it best:
In his book Kitchen Confidential, he wrote “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”

“They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, “I’m not interested,” or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you.”
Of course, he has even worse things to say about vegans. Bourdain proclaims “I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Now that I have that off my chest, let's make some vegetarian hummus!

Hummus  is a creamy spread made from chickpeas along with some other basic ingredients - garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini, which is a sesame seed paste.  It's a Middle Eastern staple and the name "hummus" comes from an Arabic word meaning "chickpea."  And hummus has been around forever.  The chickpea has been cultivated in the ancient Mediterranean, Palestinian, and Mesopotamian areas for thousands of years.

Yes, you can buy a nasty tub of hummus at the supermarket, but why do that when homemade is so much better?  And with homemade, you can tailor the hummus to your own tastes.  Making hummus is not etched in stone.  I'm giving you a basic starter "recipe" and you can take it from there.  If you want more garlic or lemon flavors, add 'em in.  If you like a creamier consistency, you can add water or extra olive.  As for toppings and garnishes, that's completely up to you.  You can make a lovely little pool of flavorful olive oil in the middle.  You can sprinkle cumin and/or togarashi  over top.  (Togarashi is a Japanese blend of dried chili peppers and an assortment of other seasonings - black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nori (seaweed), and orange and lemon zests.)   Other toppings could be roasted tomatoes, paprika, olives, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mint, basil, cucumber, feta, jalapenoes, cilantro, lime, salsa -  you get the picture.  So many variations on a theme and anything goes.

Hummus can be dipped with tortilla chips, vegetable crudités, crackers, or pita bread.  And if you want to make your own pita bread, go right ahead with this recipe.

Now, let's get started with the hummus.
When I decide to make hummus, I want it now.  I don't want to wait to soak garbanzo beans overnight, nor do I want to use canned chickpeas.  So I use baking soda in the soaking and cooking water.  I might soak the beans in water, to cover, with a teaspoon of baking soda, for about an hour.  (If you have the time and the inclination, go overnight for the soaking.)  Then I put a teaspoon of baking soda in the cooking water when I boil/simmer my chickpeas.  The baking soda speeds up the process.  It raises the pH levels of the water, making the chickpeas more soluble, softening them, and thus they're able to cook more quickly.  It also results in a smoother, creamier texture in the finished product.  Another serendipitous effect of the baking soda results in softening of the skins, allowing one to easily peel the chickpeas.  The alkaline environment created by the baking soda helps to dissolve the cell walls by breaking down the pectin in the beans.  The skins soften and the cell walls disintegrate allowing the skins to be virtually rinsed away.

 And yes, I peel Every.Single.Bean.  

Rosie's Version Of Hummus
Yield:  2+ cups 

Prepare the chickpeas:
1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked in water, to cover, with a teaspoon of baking soda
Soak at least an hour.  If you have time, soak overnight.
Rinse beans, then put in pot with water to cover. Add a teaspoon of baking soda.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer 30-45 minutes, then drain and start skinning to remove the peels.  Refresh water, add a little kosher salt, and bring to boil again.  Reduce to simmer and cook until very tender - another 30-45 minutes.  You can't really overcook here.

For the tahini:
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted 
kosher salt
4 TB or so Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
 While the beans are cooking, make the tahini
Lightly toast the sesame seeds until golden.  Let cool.
Put seeds in mini-processor, add a pinch of kosher salt, and process.  Slowly drizzle in a neutral olive oil, processing throughout until mixture is smooth.  I use Bertolli Extra Light since it doesn't compete with the delicate flavor of the sesame seeds.  You want enough olive oil so you have a pourable finished product.

For the hummus:
prepared garbanzo beans
4 garlic cloves
juice of 2 lemons
6 or more TB neutral olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 tsp cumin, or to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper, or to taste 

In a process, combine prepared garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Gradually add in olive oil, processing until smooth.  Add in enough olive oil until you get the consistency you desire.

Taste test and adjust seasonings and ingredients to your tastes.

To serve, I spoon out the hummus into a small bowl and make a depression in the center.  Pour in a nice flavorful olive oil to make a golden pool for dipping.  I happen to like Campo Corto extra virgin olive oil.  Then I like to sprinkle some additional seasonings on top - more cumin and Togarashi seasoning.

Notice the skins here.  I brought my water and baking soda to a boil and simmered my garbanzo beans for about 30-45 minutes.  The beans are peeling already.  You can agitate the beans with your hands, swishing the water around, to release the skins, which will float away. Pick the skins out and refresh the water, return to a boil, and simmer until the chickpeas are softened.  Maybe another 30-45 minutes.  Remove any remaining skins.

Here are my picked over tender chickpeas.

This is tahini paste.  I like it more pourable than paste.

To the tahini, add in the prepared chickpeas and assorted ingredients and process until smooth.

Add seasonings - salt, cumin, cayenne., Togarashi.

Pool a flavorful olive oil in the center.
Now, you can use scoopy dips...
...But I prefer making my own scoopies.
I decided to forego the tortilla scoops and opted for my homemade tortilla triangles.
I took round flour tortillas, stacked them, and cut into wedges.
Heat the oven to 300° and pour a thin layer of Bertolli extra light olive oil over a baking sheet and throw in about 3 TB unsalted butter.  Let the butter melt as the oven heats.
Take each wedge and dredge through the olive oil and melted butter.  Arrange wedges on baking sheet.  (Use two large baking sheets.  You're gonna love these tortilla wedges.)  Lightly sprinkle cumin, red pepper flakes, and Togarashi seasoning over the wedges.  Bake until wedges are light golden and crisp.
And scoop.

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