Hoummus b'Tahini

Hummus or however you spell it, is a staple in our house. It's popular with us because it tastes good, it's healthy and contains only a handful of ingredients.

It's also one of those mixtures that everyone seems to make with their own "special twist". This special twist scares me. Hummus, as far as I'm concerned, shouldn't have funny things in it (roasted red peppers, chilli powder, bludgeoned with garlic, etc.) and the amount of lemon juice is pretty critical too.

From '94 to '98 I did some federal time at the FDA. While there, an Egyptian friend of mine gave me Lebanese Cooking that has, what I consider to be, the authoritative source for the only hummus recipe we use. The recipe hydrates and cooks chickpeas from scratch - I don't. Aside from that, here's our version of this middle eastern classic. We serve it with a plate of fresh veggies, pita, pickles and a salad.

Don't worry Biggles, I'll be posting some meaty kibbeh recipes soon too.

chickpeas, 2 cans, 14.5 oz with liquid
tahini, well-mixed, 120 grams (1/2 cup)
lemon juice (of 1 lemon, ca. 1/4 cup)
salt, 1/2 t
olive oil, 30 grams
garlic, 2-4 slivers

Process all ingredients until smooth adding additional water if necessary to achieve your desired consistency. I like it smooth and with the water from the canned chickpeas, it gets nice and smooth. Serve slightly chilled with a drizzle of olive oil and parsely (optional garnish).


Rosemary-Infused, Sweetened, Roasted Pecans

sweetened pecansI think the best part of a restaurant salad are those cool sweetened pecans they top it with (although, the crumbled goat cheese is good too). The only problem with these is they're often a bit too sweet, candied. So, I made my own.

The other night, we were still detoxing from too many burgers eaten at a cookout. We had salads with some lentils on the side. Very satisfying. But, at the last minute, I had the urge for some slightly sweetened roasted pecans on the salad. This is how I made mine. Took about 5 minutes on the stovetop with a non stick pan. They were wonderful. Frankie loved them too.

Rosemary-Infused, Sweetened, Roasted Pecans
A handful of pecans (ca. 1/2 cup) were tossed into a non-stick fry pan on medium high heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of rosemary sprinkled over it all. Then, I sprinkled about a tablespoon of sugar over the mixture, continued heating and then poured about 3 tablespoons of water over the whole hot mixture. The water dissolved the sugar and suspended the rosemary. For the next few minutes I swirled the nuts in the hot solution letting the water evaporate. After the water was gone, I continued to heat the nuts for about 2-3 minutes and finally dumped them from the pan onto a wooden cutting board. When the sticky hot nuts cooled they were mildly candied and crisp. The rosemary was a fabulous touch. A friend of ours makes something similar but I forget her process. Thanks for the inspiration Amy!


The Cooling Effects of R-134a on a Ternary Mixture of Cream, Milk, and Semisweet Chocolate

ice_cream... or the making of some killer ice cream.

I got this ice-cream machine a year ago from my dear family for Father's Day and haven't had a chance to use it until now (3-year olds require a bit of attention you know). Anywho, Trish initiated the effort by making a mixture of cream, milk, chocoalte chips, vanilla, some sugar and chilled it in the fridge for a few hours. It was then churned for 25 mintues in the ice cream machine.

Most sub-$100 model ice cream machines use a prechilled bowl to effect the gradual chilling of the ice cream mixture. The refrigerant sealed in the bowl most commonly used in these machines is R-134a (1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane). We prechilled the container (for about a year) in the freezer and let it churn our ice cream to be for 25 minutes. We then poured the grainy mixture into a plastic container (initally dissapointed because the texture seemed off) and placed it in the freezer.

Apparently lots happened in the next few hours. It was like very cold chocolate mousse. Yum. But, not quite like ice cream. The next day, however, upon continued storage in the freezer, it became very firm, very smooth and very much like some of the best "toklit" (Frankie's pronunciation) ice cream we'd ever had - and from such a simple mixture. Definitely worth the minimal effort. Thanks family. A device we'll use too much in years to come.


Mmmm ... steak.

Mmmm. . . steak.I don't remember what cut I bought last night but it was about $9/lb and I cut it into cubes to marinate in a light barbecue sauce. I've been doing thin steaks lately and I've become darn good at them on my Q. The trick to a steak is knowing how much time it should be grilled rather than going by internal temperature (IT). The IT is probably the best way to get to perfect steak finishing point but, it takes too long to take the temperature, especially on small tips like these. By the a stable reading is achieved, it could be way overcooked.

So, for most steaks about an inch or so thickness, I pre-heat thoroughly (there's a cast iron grill on the "Q") and go 3 minutes a side and finally end it by covering the meat with foil for a good 5 minutes. For the steak tips shown here, although I marinated in barbecue sauce, most of it was lost in the cooking and the meat had a perfect amount left on it. Served with rice and steamed cauliflower and broccoli, it was a perfect meal.