Smooth and Creamy Hummus

I first tried this hummus recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook a few months ago, and it was delicious. Then I remembered seeing Smitten Kitchen‘s quirky take on the recipe, which involved peeling the skin off each chickpea to achieve a super creamy consistency.

Say what? Sure, it seemed slightly crazy, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time shelling pistachios or trying (with much angst) to remove hazelnut skins for homemade nutella. (So sorry to disappoint you; that recipe is still in the works.) So popping the skins off a few chickpeas didn’t seem like that big a deal. And truly, it wasn’t. It took about 10 minutes, and the only side effect was that my fingers felt a little starchy at the end.

So if you’re crunched for time, this recipe is just fine with the chickpea skins included. But if you have a few more minutes, try removing them. The results are truly worth it. As Gabe told me between bites this afternoon, “This hummus is unbe-(expletive)-lievable.” That good.

Smooth and creamy hummus

Smooth and creamy hummus

Smooth and creamy hummus

Smooth and Creamy Hummus

  • 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15-oz. can)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice (plus more, if desired)
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tsp. kosher flake salt (plus more, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • garnishes (optional): pine nuts, olive oil, dried sumac or paprika

Rinse and drain chickpeas. Carefully remove the skins by holding a chickpea between your thumb, index, and middle fingers and gently squeezing until the skin pops off. Discard skins.

Place chickpeas in a food processor and blend for about one minute. Scrape down the sides and add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Blend again until well combined. Slowly add the water and puree until very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice (I added an additional 2 tsp.) and/or salt as needed.

Let stand for about 30 minutes and then serve, or refrigerate if you’re not going to serve right away. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sumac or paprika. If using pine nuts as garnish, first sauté them in a bit of unsalted butter until lightly browned. Serve hummus with pita, tortilla chips, carrot sticks, or whatever you like!

Source: Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, via Smitten Kitchen.

Falafel

Alright, the cat’s out of the bag in my most recent composite recipe series. Along with Israeli salad and pita bread, I made falafel! Props go to my sister Brynna for guessing correctly via text message. :)

When I saw this recipe in the Jerusalem cookbook, it immediately caught my eye. Who doesn’t love falafel? As I read over the recipe instructions, I was even more excited to see that the authors specifically called for the mixture to be ground using a meat grinder. Being the proud (recent) owner of one of these contraptions, I jumped at the opportunity to use it again, this time for something other than hamburger.

Making homemade falafel also fulfilled a couple of my ongoing 2014 food resolutions: make things from scratch, scratchier; and expand my cultural culinary horizons. It also sort of helped me keep working toward my goal of only purchasing humanely raised meat by adding another great vegetarian recipe to the repertoire. I call that a win-win-win.

Note: This is the final part of my recent composite recipe series. If you want to be crazy like me and go all-out, serve this falafel with homemade pita bread, Israeli salad, and tzatziki. The various components of this recipe can be made a day or two ahead. Or you can pull a Krista and make them all in one evening… and eat dinner at 8:00 at night. Up to you!

Falafel

Falafel

  • 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. flour
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
  • sunflower or canola oil for frying

The night before you plan to eat the falafel, place dried chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 2 1/2 cups water. Cover bowl and set aside to let soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas and place back in the medium bowl. Gently toss with onion, garlic, and parsley. Run the mixture through a meat grinder using the finest grinding plate possible. After the first grind, run the mixture through a second time. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor and pulse the mixture until it’s finely chopped.)

Combine ground chickpea mixture with cayenne, cumin, coriander, cardamom, baking powder, kosher salt, water, and flour. Mix well, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour. (You can refrigerate it for longer if you don’t plan on eating falafel for breakfast.)

Remove falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small patties or balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You might need to wet your hands for this step if the mixture is sticky. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

While shaping the patties, heat oil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven with high sides. The oil should be at least an inch deep, preferably two. Heat the oil to 350° F.

Fry the falafel in the hot oil in batches, until dark golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a plate with paper towels. Serve immediately, preferably in fresh pita with tzatziki and Israeli salad.

Source: Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Israeli Salad

Alright friends, it’s time for my latest composite recipe post. Today I’m writing about Israeli salad, that lovely mix of tomatoes and cucumbers that accompanies many dishes in Jerusalem. (And believe it or not, this salad also starred alongside some dishes in the cafeteria of my Norwegian-Lutheran alma mater. That’s a big hint there, Oles.)

As this long winter has drawn to a close, I’ve found myself craving the colorful produce of summer. Remember those days? When I was actually growing fresh dill, mint, and jalapeños on my tiny city balcony? Kirby misses the catnip, for sure, and I miss everything else. Alas, winter tomatoes are not the same as summer tomatoes, so I swapped out some nice looking cherry tomatoes from the grocery store in this dish. Extra points to whoever can guess what I served with this Israeli salad on a recent sunny-and-getting-sunnier March evening!

Israeli salad

 Israeli Salad

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In large bowl, stir together cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.

In small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Homemade Bagels

Returning from a lovely but busy vacation, I had little motivation to cook. I basically just wanted Indian food or sushi delivered to my door for days on end. But now I have my mojo back. This became rapidly apparent when I decided to make homemade bagels last night. Starting at 9:00 PM. Hey, when inspiration strikes, go with it!

I’ve made bagels before, but they turned out a little lumpy and flat. I think it was my shaping method. Take note: I highly recommend sticking your thumbs in the middle to make a hole rather than forming a log and joining the ends. It makes for prettier bagels. I also think the overnight resting period in this recipe plays a key role in developing the flavor.

Making homemade bagels takes a fair amount of time and some strong biceps, but it’s so worth it. Next up, homemade cream cheese? Hmmm, I’m thinking about it… that would take some serious mojo.

Homemade bagels

Homemade bagels

Homemade bagels

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Homemade Bagels

Sponge

  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Dough

  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour

To Finish

  • 1 Tbs. baking soda
  • egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs. water)
  • cornmeal, for dusting the baking sheets
  • desired toppings (see below)

Make the sponge: In large bowl stir together yeast and flour. Stir in water until a sticky dough forms. Cover and place in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or until bubbly and doubled in size.

Make the dough: When the sponge is ready, stir in the additional yeast, salt, and honey. Stir in 3 cups of bread flour until a ball forms. (You can use a stand mixer for this step if it’s easier.) Turn the dough onto a counter and knead for at least 10 minutes by hand, or 6 minutes if using a stand mixer. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour. If it seems too dry, add a few drops of water. The dough is done when it’s firm but pliable and satiny smooth, not tacky. It should also pass the windowpane test.

Divide the dough evenly into 16 pieces and form each piece into a roll. (I used a kitchen scale to help divide the dough, and each piece weighed 3.3 ounces.) Cover with a damp towel and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with oil.

Shape each roll into a bagel by sticking your thumbs through the middle and carefully turning the dough until an even hole forms. The hole should be about 2 inches in diameter. Place the shaped bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets and spray lightly with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for another 20 minutes at room temperature.

Time for the float test: Place a bagel in a bowl of water to see if it floats within 10 seconds. If the bagel doesn’t float, place it back on the baking sheet and let the bagels continue to rest for another few minutes. Try the float test again. Once the bagel floats, place the baking sheets (still covered with plastic wrap) in the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight, or up to two days.

When it’s time to bake the bagels, preheat oven to 475° F. Bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil and stir in baking soda. Prepare egg wash by beating together egg and water, and gather your toppings. Remove bagels from refrigerator.

Carefully place bagels in boiling water– 3 or 4 at a time– and boil for one minute. Flip bagels over and boil for one more minute. (You can boil them for two minutes on each side if you want chewier bagels.) While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the empty spots on the parchment-lined baking sheets with cornmeal. Using a slotted spoon, remove bagels from boiling water and place on baking sheets. Brush bagels with egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings.

Bake on center rack of oven for 5 minutes, turn the baking sheet 180° and bake for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. (At this point you can bake for an additional 3-5 minutes if you want darker bagels.) Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 16 bagels.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart via Smitten Kitchen

Bagel Topping Ideas:

Everything: Stir together 1 Tbs. each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dehydrated minced onion, and dehydrated minced garlic. (You can also add caraway seed and kosher salt, but I’m not a fan.)

Cinnamon sugar: Stir together 1/4 cup of brown sugar with 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon.

Cheese: Freshly grated parmesan or asiago.

Garlic: Simply sprinkle with dehydrated minced garlic.

Onion: Simply sprinkle with dehydrated minced onion.

Sesame: Yup, just sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Poppy seed: Okay, you get it. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Preparing for Thanksgivukkah

Gobble tov! I’m busy preparing for our first (and last) ever Thanksgivukkah, a once-in-a-chaim event, if you will. While I don’t want to totally ruin the surprise for my guests, here’s a little sneak preview of the menu I’m planning, two days out. I’ll do a full recap, for sure, but I wanted to throw out some helpful links before the main event in case anyone is still looking for Thanksgivukkah recipes.

Thanksgivukkah Menu:

The decor will revolve around the two complementary colors of blue (for Hanukkah) and orange (for Thanksgiving). Seems like even the color wheel wanted these two holidays to collide. Alrighty, gotta run. Challah’s going in the oven!

Preparing for Thanksgivukkah

Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

Gabe and I had dinner at a Jewish deli in Minneapolis for the first time last week. We were frequent visitors at Zaftigs in Brookline, and I’m proud to say that I’ve eaten the as-tall-as-my-face pastrami sandwich at Brent’s Deli in Los Angeles. So it was borderline absurd that we’d made it eight months in Minnesota without a stop at Rye Deli.

Despite the fact that a crazy hailstorm rolled in and we had to grab our food and run– getting the car safely under covered parking just in the nick of time– it was a fantastic experience. And now I’m even more obsessed with trying Jewish recipes. Matzo ball soup? Check. Challah? Check. Next up? Pickles!

I was one of those kids who used to drink pickle juice for fun, so it was with glee and a slightly manic expression that I bounded through the grocery store carrying four ginormous cucumbers and declared for all to hear, “I’m going to make pickles!” Sometimes I can be embarrassing to shop with.

This recipe was super quick to whip up and easily multiplied. The hardest part was an agonizing two-day wait while the pickles cured. But then, bubbling with anticipation, I broke into a jar and Gabe and I tasted them for the first time. He looked at me with a sense of wonder breaking over his face and said simply, “You made pickles.”

Yes, yes I did.

Spicy refrigerator pickles

Spicy refrigerator pickles

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Spicy Refrigerator Pickles

This recipe is really easy to multiply! For each 16-oz. mason jar, you need the following:

  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced into spears
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. distilled vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt

Place garlic and red pepper flakes at the bottom of the jar. Add two sprigs of dill and the cucumber spears. Make the brine by stirring together water, vinegar, and salt until salt is dissolved. Pour brine over cucumbers in jar. Top with another sprig of dill and tighten lid on jar.

Place in refrigerator and wait two days before eating. Enjoy!

Source: Very slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Homemade Matzo

Gabe and I hosted a Passover Seder last Friday night, my first time as hostess! I handled the food (since that’s what this Lutheran girl knows!) and Gabe was in charge of the Seder plate and Haggadah.

One of the symbolic foods of the Seder is matzo: unleavened bread. Since store-bought matzo tends to be less-than-appetizing (unless it’s covered in caramel and chocolate), we decided to try our hand at making homemade matzo. This crispy, saltine-like cracker was a big hit among all our guests.

The whole evening was a lot of fun. The wine was flowing (Elijah got his wine served in a flashing Dodgers cup) and we sang and laughed and celebrated. One of my favorite moments was watching six twenty-somethings turn our apartment upside-down as they searched for the afikoman.

I posted more recipes and place settings over on the “menus” page. Despite a whole lot of worrying on my part, our first Seder was a rousing success!

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